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Universal Pictures Debuts Flick Based On Digital Specs

The movie, called "Serenity," was the studio's first to be created and distributed based on the Digital Cinema Initiative LLC technical specifications.
As part of the DCI specifications, "Serenity" was encrypted using Advanced Encryption Standard 128-bit compression and JPEG 2000 encoded at an average of 190 megabits per second. The encrypted 186 gigabyte digital file package, which includes audio, subtitles, and more, took 45 minutes for the file to load onto the projector server at ETC-USC theater, and decrypted in real-time as the movie played on the screen.

The encryption key is delivered in a separate message that unlocks the movie and allows the projector to play. Digital cinema as a method to protect movies against pirates who take camcorders into the theater and attempt to film the movie as it plays on the screen has been a consideration as well. "You can always put up a camera on a tripod in a theater, but it's illegal, a felony in this county now and there are people going to jail for it," Hanniball said. "Another aspect of these digital servers is they do forensic markings for audio and images."

The technology is still a little unstable, Hanniball admits. Integration issues to incorporate forensic marking technology into servers still exist. But to have that kind of file security inside the server, which feed the digital film to the projector, is quite impressive. Universal will test interoperability between server manufactures. It has made the movie "Serenity" available to both server manufacturers Kodak Digital Cinema and QuVis Inc.