The Studios, the Standards Committees, the Government, the Laws of Capitalism, the Laws of Physics, and several other supreme entities are all stare down at the manufacturer. They say “embedded”, the manufacturers make Embedded. They say FIPS Compliant, "FIPS Compliant - You bet.". They say, we need it cheap enough to replace the 50 year old system in Lower Oshkosh, they say..."Uhm, how can we do that, plus give support to the system, and keep research going to fill your next unfunded mandate, and make a profit for the investors who have paid the way for the last ten years?"
Manufacturers get the worst of the heat.
Let's see who they are (and have been), and let's see what they are doing for us lately.
A projector with the same light engine, generally configured the same but without the security system required by the Compliance Test Plan, could sell for less than half of the cost of a digital cinema projector. Texas Instruments showed the first digital light engines before the year 2000, yet it wasn't until 2007 that the number of installations passed the 10,000 mark. These years of expensive and simultaneous engineering and marketing are an amazing feat in this era when profits are usually demanded every quarter by large company boards of directors.
It's amazing that it took so long. It's amazing that it all stayed together.
The Media Player
The fancy name for the digital cinema server is the Screen Management System, or SMS. It is the media player with a sophisticated video device wrapped inside a security device, with hard disks attached.
When the 4K Texas Instruments systems were introduced, one of the specifications was that it required an internal media block. In other words, the fancy part of the SMS was being stripped out, attached to the media player with a fast connection. This leaves what? The hard disk array and whatever fancy user interface that the server teams have developed over the years.
It seems obvious that eventually all projector systems will go the IMB route. Which means that anything you learn in this section will be dated information, useful for telling your grandkids someday.
But, you paid for a lesson so you may as well get your 2 euros worth...about servers.
3rd Party Integrators
Movie distribution is always filled with games within games. With the advent of the virtual print fee, another player was added between the studio and the exhibitor. At first glance the word 'integrator' seemed to imply a glorified equipment installer. But that was never the main idea.
The Theater Management System (TMS) is so straightforward that it hardly need describing. A user interface, a database, some storage and the ability to talk to everything. What more needs to be said?
Speakers and Screens; Behind the Scenes
With all this talk about digital, we can't forget the analog bits that the audience actually sees and hears.
Knowing what your speakers should sound like is an art. Listening for glitches, and finding them before anyone else is part of your responsibility to the director of the movie you are playing.
Likewise, identifying screen problems, including the subtle ravages of age, is part of your responsibility.
Here are some tips from experts.
Those Who Didn't Make It
It seemed a natural when a hard disk manufacturer got involved in digital cinema. And why wouldn't a huge military company with a satellite division do well?
Just for fun we'll take a little stroll down memory lane before heading into serious territory.