How are digital movies distributed?

Discussion in 'books, films, TV, radio & writing' started by Buddy Bradley, Jun 16, 2010.

  1. Buddy Bradley

    Buddy Bradley Pantheistic solipsist


    Films that are shot on film have thousands of duplicates made, which are then shipped out to cinemas all over the world. Projectionists have to thread them into the projector and then show the film.

    But how are films that were shot digitally distributed? Does the cinema get a DVD, or a laserdisc, or a hard drive, or what? :confused:
  2. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    They are emailed to the projectionists' iPhones.
  3. Buddy Bradley

    Buddy Bradley Pantheistic solipsist

    Thought someone might know this. Guess I have to do my own research, then:


    There's lots of other interesting stuff in that article. :cool:
  4. Redeyes

    Redeyes Ptooff!

    I'm a projectionist at an all digital multiplex, we converted from 35mm in February.

    Here's the hard drive (called a DCP - Digital Cinema Package) for The Lovely Bones


    File size for that film was about 150 gig. Avatar 3D is about 280.

    We get the drives couriered to us and generally the keys to open the files are emailed to us.
  5. ExtraRefined

    ExtraRefined Better than you at everything you love

    Upload them to bittorrent kthx
  6. WWWeed

    WWWeed Bandwidth Bandit

    I find it fascinating that even through its digital you still use couriers to move the data around!

    I take it its just a standard hard drive in a special caddy?
  7. Redeyes

    Redeyes Ptooff!

    Yeah, it's a standard hard drive, the caddy slips off so we can upload the data via a CRU port on our main server. Takes about 40 minutes to transfer a feature across from a portable drive.

    The technology is in place to deliver the files via satellite but from what I'm lead to believe there's still concerns from the distributors about the satellite feed being intercepted, security of the data etc.

    The current method is pretty solid though. Even when the file is on our main server we still can't play the film until we get a 'key' from the distributors. The 'key' is a coded file made specifically for our site telling the computer which screen we can play the film in and also to only allow it to be played within a specific time period.
  8. Buddy Bradley

    Buddy Bradley Pantheistic solipsist

    Cool, thanks. :) Is it entirely done with drives or do you ever get them on other media like DVDs? What about short films (if you ever show those)?
  9. Redeyes

    Redeyes Ptooff!

    All the 'mainstream' films come on hard drives. We have played a couple of films from DVD but they don't look too good upscaled to 4K (we're using the Sony 4K projectors). Luckily pretty much everything we need is available on hard drive, we're a mainstream cinema in a fairly large town so our film booker tends to stick with the run of the mill crowd pleasers.

    Blu-rays look really great, though we've yet to have anything supplied to us on that format. I've tried out a couple of my own though...
  10. skyscraper101

    skyscraper101 0891 50 50 50

    Surely shipping Blu-rays with encryption keys would be a whole lot more cost effective than shipping hard drives. I'd have thought anyway.
  11. Redeyes

    Redeyes Ptooff!

    The files on the drives are JPEG2000 and come in either 2k or 4k resolution with the files size being anything from 50gig to 400gig+. I'm not sure if a Blu-ray could carry that data (I think standard Blu-rays can hold up to 50gig?), plus it would still need ripping from the disc and transferring to the main server.

    Also the disc would still have to be sent via courier to assure the distributors that the item was being sent securely. I doubt the charges would be that much different between sending a box with a Blu-ray in or a box with a hard drive in?
  12. Buddy Bradley

    Buddy Bradley Pantheistic solipsist

    You could just order them from LoveFilm. :D
  13. Redeyes

    Redeyes Ptooff!

    If we worked the timings out and got the staff to keep signing up for the free trials I reckon we could get about 18 months worth of free rentals off them.

  14. pesh

    pesh Well-Known Member

    what sort of signal is the server sending the projector out of interest?
    and whats stopping you recording the output ;)
  15. pesh

    pesh Well-Known Member

    double post
  16. Redeyes

    Redeyes Ptooff!

    Not sure what you mean by 'signal', the files are JPEG2000 and are either 2k or 4k in resolution. The 3D is 2k dual image using the Sony RealD system.

    We can't record the output as the part of the projector where the 'key' unlocks the 'film' is housed in an enclosure that is riddled with security devices. If I was to try and take a panel off that part of the projector the whole thing would shut down and we could only get back up and running after security checks are done and Sony re-set the server. Plus there's no 'out' sockets to take a feed from, you'd have to hack into the electronics to get a signal output.

    The only way to record the film would be to film it off the screen and even then each projector puts an invisible watermark on the film which can be used to identify which cinema was showing the film, what time the show was played and even which member of staff was on duty at that time.
  17. skyscraper101

    skyscraper101 0891 50 50 50

    Perhaps a courtroom artist could draw frantically during the film and create an animation as a workaround?
  18. bi0boy

    bi0boy Power User

    Do you still have jobs? I thought digital multiplexes could operate with just one guy running round the different screens and pressing play, rather than having one projectionist per movie?
  19. Zabo

    Zabo Il est interdit d'interdire

    Thank You Redeyes. Most informative and appreciated.

  20. Redeyes

    Redeyes Ptooff!

    Yes, I have a job. Though instead of having three projectionists we now have just the two. One person on duty at a time. The automation that digital alows means we can finish our shifts before the last film has finished, whereas with 35mm we had to stay until the end, hence the loss of hours for our department. We don't need to run around pressing play either, it's all controlled from one main control centre.

    Then again when we had 35mm we didn't need to run around pressing play either as the projectors set themselves off as they had onboard timers. There was also still only one person on duty at a time then too and we have 9 screens to look after.

    Back when we had 35mm the main bulk of my day was taken up by threading the projectors after each show and building up and breaking down the prints that were either coming in or on their way out. These days now we're digital my job is more IT based with most of my work involving the transferring of the film files from the hard drives to our server, chasing up keys, scheduling the shows and maintenence around the building and in the projection box.
  21. Flavour

    Flavour hang the bankers

    THATS CRAZY :eek:
  22. bi0boy

    bi0boy Power User

    Oh I thought projectionists had to sit through the film changing reels every so often (when the black oval pops up in the top right?) and trying not to get their hair caught in the thing (I saw a copy of Natural Born Killers get melted in two places this way by one unfortunate guy). I guess maybe you had more advanced projectors that you could load the entire movie onto?
  23. Redeyes

    Redeyes Ptooff!

    No, back in the 60's platter systems were invented that effectively changed the cinema industry. These systems allowed a film to be made up into one big reel and played from start to finish without the need for reel changes. This meant that multiplexes could have loads of screens and not have to pay someone to sit next to the projector and change reels every 40 minutes or so.

    Here's one of our old platters with a copy of AVATAR on...


    We'd take the film from the centre and thread it through the projector so that when it came out the otherside it would wind back onto the spare platter...


    When the film had finshed it was ready to go again, we'd take the film and lace it through the projector and it would run back onto the platter it was on previously.

    Here's one of our old 35mm projectors...


    And the new digital projector that repaced it...

  24. TitanSound

    TitanSound Mr Beardy Drummer

    Wow, look at the ventilation on the new digital one. I am guessing that's sucking the hot air out?
  25. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    Rarely has a poster's question been so comprehensively answered - nice one Redeyes!
  26. Motown_ben

    Motown_ben Well-Known Member

    This thread is :cool:.
  27. Hoss

    Hoss ...It was the blurst of times...

    Great thread :cool:

    Thanks, Redeyes.
  28. yardbird

    yardbird Understands love.

    Facinating. Thanks Redeyes
  29. alsoknownas

    alsoknownas some bloke

    Just wanted to point out that acquisition (what you shoot a film on) and exhibition (what you screen it on) are quite independent of each other. So for example, if you saw The Blair Witch Project (which was mostly shot on video) in the cinema it would have been screened on film, having been transfered frame-by-frame.
    Alternatively, if you go to Redeye's cinema and watch say, Rashômon (out on re-release :cool:), you'd be watching a film shot on film, but screened using a digital projection system.
    Just pointing this out as I thought there was some room for confusion in the OP.
  30. kyser_soze

    kyser_soze Hawking's Angry Eyebrow

    Do the HDs get delivered to multiple cinemas, or does each site get it's own HDD? I realise that a load of HDs is still going to be a lot cheaper than 35mm (I used to book cinema advertising and the first time I was presented with the bill for the film I nearly fell over!), but that seems like a lot of wasted HDs (or do you send them back when they've been copied?)

    Possiboly the most interesting thread on Urban for a while.

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