Getting Ready for High Frame Rates in Digital Cinema

By Tom Bert, Product Marketing Manager Barco

Introduction

The digitization of cinema projection started around the year 2000. Since then, multiple forces and sources have both accelerated and decelerated the conversion. For example, the release of Avatar, the most popular box-office hit in history, was an important driver for the success of 3D cinema and for the digitization of cinema in general. More recently, discussions and demonstrations are being held on high frame rates in cinema. Again, multiple sources of information are flowing into the industry.

This paper, written in this context of an emerging technological development, is offered as an objective source of information for all those looking for more understanding. This paper has been written from the viewpoint of a projector manufacturer – Barco – and so it will take a more pragmatic approach than a scientific paper would. The goal of this paper is not to prove a link between frame rate and image quality, nor does it intend to promote (the standardization of) certain frame rate values. Its primary aim is to lower the implementation threshold for those that want to convert their digital cinema projection setup to higher frame rates (independent of any standardization). This paper will answer questions such as: “What do I need in order to play out higher frame rate content?” and “What is the difference between higher frame rates in 2D and 3D?”

Note that the frame rate is just one of the many parameters contributing to a good overall image quality on the cinema screen. Others parameters such as brightness, contrast, color and resolution impact image quality even more. When selecting a digital cinema setup, don’t get distracted too much by the ongoing discussion on frame rates, but consider all parameters that contribute to the creation of the best possible image on your screen(s).

Also note that a transition to higher frame rates impacts the entire workflow: from production, post-production and packaging, to distribution and exhibition. The industry – including DCI standards and SMPTE standards – will have to evolve to make maximum use of these higher frame rates. [more...]

Source: Barco

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