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 Monday, October 31, 2005

ITU is working on technology with the potential to radically transform the large screen entertainment industry. While much of the work on large screen digital imagery (LSDI) is handled in ITU's Radiocommunication sector (ITU-R), a meeting of ITU-T's Study Group 9 has just consented a standard that completes a vital link in the chain meaning that from a film being shot to its display in a cinema-like environment, all processes involved in the making of LSDI movies can be truly digital.

Large screen digital imagery (LSDI) is a family of digital imagery systems that includes very large screen presentation of programmes similar to the non-digital IMAX and OMNIMAX systems. LSDI is described as an optimal approach to the presentation of high-definition television (HDTV) programmes, to a collective audience on cinema-like screens in a cinema-like environment.

The ITU-T Recommendation defines how “super HDTV” images – up to four times the quality of standard HDTV - can be delivered to cinema-like venues, bypassing traditional distribution methods. It defines transport technologies for LSDI with resolutions 3840 x 2160 and 7680 x 4320 pixels.

Currently all movies, even those that are produced digitally, are distributed on film. This method is costly. Electronic distribution via satellite and/or fiber-optics or cable television, will eliminate these costs and also allow a much more efficient distribution channel. In addition it could give cinema owners a much greater level of independence.

Traditional broadcast channels such as terrestrial transmission will not generally be used to deliver LSDI content. But the ability to broadcast in real-time means that live broadcast to LSDI equipped theatres will be possible. This convergence between telecoms and broadcast permits the presentation of new types of content unavailable until recently to cinema audiences.

Sports, concerts, dramas, plays, cultural, educational and industrial events can now be presented to audiences alongside traditional features.

According to the Draft New Report on Large Screen Digital Imagery produced by ITU-R: "In North America, the transition to LSDI is proceeding at a rapid pace and as of now, there are over 9000 LSDI theatre screens in daily operation with more being planned and installed this year... LSDI is a reality in North America." In Asia, China according to the report is taking the lead supported by high-level government commitment, and in Europe there are numerous implementations.