This month’s ISDCF meeting delved into a number of interesting topics. First was a review of progress towards the March demonstration of SMPTE DCP standards compliance. In discussing the readiness of products, the most significant report was that from TI. TI re-ordered its priorities, and will pursue the upgrade of Series 1 projectors to support SMPTE DCP subtitling prior to developing subtitle software for the Series 2 projector. The effort required to bring the Series 1 projector into compliance is less than that required for the Series 2. With luck, they’ll have prototype subtitling software available for Series 1 in time for the March demonstration.
In a discussion of closed caption support for the demo, Doremi provided an awkward moment by asking that its non-standards-compliant closed caption system be demonstrated. Jerry Pierce, chairperson, said he would stick to the testing of compliance to standards, and that this wasn’t geared to be a demonstration of all closed caption systems. The awkwardness came when Doremi tried to grandstage by saying that its method was superior to that of the standards. (This, even though the method utilized in standards was originally suggested by Camille Rizko, CEO of Doremi.) It was not a pleasant discussion, but fortunately one which quickly ended.
The discussion moved on the audio track assignment problem introduced in the SMPTE DCP. In the SMPTE DCP, sound channel slots are reused within the package for efficient transmission. The sound formats are labeled so that the server will now be aware of the sound format and can take appropriate action. If a theatre is wired to support both 5.1 and 7.1 sound formats, for instance, the server must reassign the audio output to prevent the user from having to rewire the system. The chart below explains the problem in a visual manner. Note the differences in the last 4 rows between left and right tables. The table on the right shows the recommended output assignment pattern to be implemented within the server.
In the prior meeting, it was suggested that ISDCF recommend a naming scheme for emailed KDMs. The naming scheme would address that for the subject line, the ZIP files containing a complex-worth of KDMs, and the individual KDMs themselves. Users of similar schemes have encountered name length issues in Windows systems, which are limited to a path name of 260 characters. The latest version of the naming scheme can be found at http://kdmnamingconvention.com. Note that the version posted will be subject to change until agreement is reached within ISDCF.
Ghost-busting for 3-D has been a favorite topic of this group. From discussions with RealD, ghost-busting at the distribution level is being eliminated on a country-by-country basis. To eliminate the distribution of ghost-busted files in the US, server hardware upgrades must first be implemented. It is their estimation that the US will be the last to eliminate the distribution of ghost-busted files.
There have been reports of failure of servers to read content correctly due to hard drive formatting issues. There are at least two distinct issues behind these failures. One is due to procedural errors at the time of disk formatting that lead to read errors in Windows systems. The other is due to a formatting issue introduced by the latest upgrade to Linux. A draft recommendation to guide mastering houses in such issues was reviewed and should be ready in December or January.
The validation of forensic marking in digital cinema servers has been an area of concern. It was learned in this meeting that audio watermarking has not been turned on in digital cinema systems, even though required by DCI. Apparently there were audible issues in early versions of the audio watermark. Audio marks are useful in tracking audio-only pirate activity. In pirated content, image and sound files are usually recorded at different times, and no way exists today to track where pirated audio comes from. No indication was given as to when this feature will be turned on in products.