Technologies Behind DLP Cinema
HWZ : What kind of technologies are found in DLP Cinema products and how different are they from normal DLP projectors used for video and graphics?
Well, we did a lot of things. There are really four feature sets underneath DLP Cinema that we've trademarked. They are CineBlack for contrast management, CinePalette for color management, CineCanvas for image management and CineLink for security management. Those four feature sets differentiate DLP Cinema from DLP. Now, under each of these, CineBlack is all about very high contrast images and managing that contrast with high bit-depth. We have 15-bit per color and that allows us to get a very smooth tonal scale from black to white. This is the number one driver in image quality. The second is how you manage your colors and so we created CinePalette color management system. It's a very sophisticated color management system that emulates the look of film and that's very different from video. And so we've taken a typical video color gamut and expanded that because film has more color capability than video. And so it's a radically larger palette of colors. For videos, typically, we have 16 million colors, but in cinema we have over 35 trillion different colors that we can select within that expanded gamut. So we have more colors to choose from and that enables us to (make the image) look like film.
CineCanvas is an image management system which does a couple of things. The main thing is that it enables us to overlay subtitling onto the original data master, so in other words, Hollywood could release a movie, say Shrek 2, in digital in the U.S. without subtitles or anything and then that same print could be used in Singapore with Chinese subtitles. You don't have to re-master the digital print. You just add a file with the Chinese subtitles and those are sent to the projector and overlaid onto the original master. So it makes it very inexpensive to add subtitles to movies where in the film world, adding subtitles cost between $400 to $600 per print, which is a very expensive process. We can add subtitles at virtually no cost to the print. This gives digital cinema a lot of flexibility and you can turn those on or off just like DVDs. You can have multiple showing in Singapore with or without Chinese subtitles. You could do any language that you want, any time at the press of a button. So it's a very flexible system. That (CineCanvas) is also use for security purposes where we add watermarks to the print with this overlay feature.
HWZ : One thing we hate about subtitles is when it appears at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong color. Can CineCanvas overcome any of that?
A Texas Instruments DLP Cinema prototype projector, similar to systems used at the digital demonstration of Toy Story 2. These systems were designed to fit easily into standard theatre projection booths.
It's very flexible. Anything you can do on the computer monitor with text, colors or different fonts, vertical or horizontal. The studios really like this feature. It's really stable too because a lot of times in film, they jump around quite a bit. These are rock solid characters that are extremely readable. That actually improves the subtitling.
CineCanvas also does some special things of matching the picture size to the screen. Most digital projectors have keystoning and things like that, but we have very advanced capabilities to adjust the picture to meet the screen without cropping the image. We can adjust for distortion and all kinds of things. So it's a very powerful resizing engine to match the picture to the screen size.
And finally, CineLink which is all about making sure that the digital master is protected. There's an encrypted link between the server and the projector. If you unplug the link and plug it into a recorder, it would be a scrambled and encrypted signal. So, you can't capture the pristine digital master within the booth. We're also working on technology that would defeat camcorder capture. Because it's a digital image, you can put a pattern into the image that your eyes can't see but a camcorder does. Your eyes see things very differently than a camcorder and so we would take advantage of that fact and add whatever it is, whether vertical bars or some pattern which makes a camcorder copy unwatchable. That's under development. I don't know when that's going to be available but it's something that TI sees as a big priority because the number one issue in the film industry right now is probably piracy. It devastated the music industry and it has the potential to do the same to the movie industry. So, we're very conscious of the fact that piracy is a big problem and we're going to help fight that.