ISDCF’s agenda this month focused on its goal of bringing SMPTE DCP to market. Preparations are underway for the upcoming Plugfest, scheduled for September 26 and 27. The Plugfests have been used to determine the readiness of both mastering software providers and of digital cinema playback systems for the transition to SMPTE DCP distribution. Recent Plugfests focused on the performance of on-screen text and closed caption text, looking at font size, position, and timing. This coming Plugfest will utilize content having burned-in subtitle text to better view the timing performance of on-screen and off-screen (closed caption) rendering. Audio performance will also be tested, not in terms of quality of audio, but by learning if the playback system correctly assigns audio channels to the right outputs. This is because SMPTE DCP works very differently for assigning audio outputs than Interop DCP. There have also been reports of playback equipment transmitting the wrong digital audio flags, as prescribed in the AES3 standard. This Plugfest will take a closer look at this kind of product behavior, too.
An ISDCF recommendation has been suggested to prescribe where and when the different formulations of KDMs are to be used. Originally proposed by John Hurst of Cinecert, the presence of the “ContentAuthenticator” element of the KDM should allow a system should be capable of determining if a SMPTE DCP or an Interop DCP is present. Interestingly, not all equipment manufacturers have agreed on this point in the past, and it remains to be seen if they’ll agree now. But it’s a logical scheme, and one that appears to be gaining traction among mastering houses, where KDMs originate. Documenting this method as a Recommendation is an important step for interoperability, preventing wrong system-level actions when interpreting if the package is SMPTE DCP or Interop DCP.
ISDCF continues to plan a high frame rate demonstration during the two day Plugfest. Both stereo 48 fps and stereo 60 fps will be shown. The difference between this demonstration and the one at CinemaCon is that the ISDCF demo will use a single media block and a single projector. Single projector high frame rate has been demonstrated elsewhere. Notably, GDC gave a demonstration this month at BIRTV in Beijing using its server and IMB. Doremi will provide a modified high frame rate IMB and server for the ISDCF demonstration.
This journal reported incorrectly last month that Fox has proposed a replacement for the Digital Cinema Naming Convention. In fact, Fox is only proposing a recommendation for the presentation of DCP information on GUIs. However, the Fox recommendation is a stepping stone to revising the carriage of information within the Composition Playlist (CPL), as not all of the information Fox (and others) would like to have displayed is carried by the CPL. The discussion for both a GUI recommendation and additional data within the CPL continues.
The next ISDCF meeting will be on September 28, following the Plugfest.