2012 SMPTE Symposium Program:
High Frame Rates for Digital Cinema
October 22, 2012

As the initial Digital Cinema conversion nears completion and creatives have embraced the new digital technologies, film makers (Directors and Cinematographers) are looking at enhancements to their story telling. The most notable of recent requests is to support higher frame rates for capture, distribution and theatrical playback for a presentation that appears closer to how humans see real life.   This symposium will bring creatives to the stage to share their desires and reasons for applying high frame rates to their work, and to illuminate changes in cinematography that should be considered before undertaking such a production.  Researchers will also present studies on the impact of high frame rates on the psychophysical human experience.

In the past, there were attempts to increase the frame rates for film (ShowScan), but the costs of film processing and the ability to project more film created a barrier.  The cost impact for Digital Cinema is much less but challenges are still significant.  High frame rates will impact storage and delivery times for any digital deliveries.  More importantly, the movie production and distribution workflows will need to be able to accommodate the flow of over a million frames.

The Digital Cinema exhibition space is challenged as well to enable public viewing of these new creative works.  As of June 2012, no theaters were yet equipped with all the hardware and software needed to exhibit high frame rate content.  Updates will be provided at the symposium on manufacturing progress to get products integrated, tested, and deployed.  Exhibitors will also be present to address the positioning of these new product offerings.  Do they add even more formats choices for their audience?  How do they market this new format and how do they clarify the differences?

This Symposium on High Frame Rates for Digital Cinema will fully explore the impacts that high frame rates presents on the entire movie system, from production camera capture, through post-production processes, through distribution, and up onto the big screen.  The symposium is particularly geared for creatives, technical, and production staff who are involved in the creating of images or working with systems that handle the images.  More than just talking panels and presentations, this event will provide concrete examples and actual demonstrations that attendees will be able to apply immediately to their own work situations.


08:45 - 09:00    Welcome and Introduction
                          Speakers:  Paul Hearty, Sony Electronics, Inc.
                                            Jim Whittlesey, Deluxe Digital

09:00 - 10:00     Psychophysics and Storytelling
                          Session Chair: Dave Stump, Photography, Visual Effects Supervisor
                                                           and Stereographer

With the relatively recent emergence of high frame rate (HFR) technology in the process, several questions arise, not least of which is how HFR will impact storytelling. This session will delve into HFR as a storytelling tool, how research suggests the human visual system responds to it and what challenges exist to best leverage the benefits of HFR in storytelling. From a creative point of view, discussions will include when and where to use HFR to help tell story and how HFR affects visual and brain (neuro)systems.

                          Speakers:                  Marv White, ESPN
                                                            Andrew Watson, NASA
                                                            Vince Pace, CAMERON – PACE Group

10:00 - 11:15     Acquisition
                          Session Chair: Glenn Kennel, ARRI

HFR acquisition has both creative and practical implications.  Proponents of HFR acquisition talk about an immersive, hyper-real experience.  Others say it looks more like video and less like film.  Today’s digital cinema cameras can capture motion images at up to 60 FPS, some as high as 120 FPS.  But shooting at high frame rates means shorter exposure times, and/or longer integration times, which impacts motion rendition and image aesthetics.  These and other issues will be discussed in this session, along with practical demonstrations of higher frame rate photography.

                         Speakers:                  Vince Pace, CAMERON – PACE Group
                                                           Harald Brendel, ARRI  
                                                           Howard Lukk, Disney
                                                           Moe Shore, Abel Cine

11:15 - 11:30   Break

11:30 - 12:30   Post Production
                        Session Chair: Paul Chapman, FotoKem

As with many innovative technologies, HFR pushes change deep with in production process.  HFR acquisition produces more data, requires more storage and increases the amount of work performed by certain jobs within a post production workflow. Is current post production equipment able to handle the data rates required?  Presenters during this session will explore these considerations and more.

                        Speakers:                   Siegfried Foessel, Fraunhofer
                                                           Nicholas Recagno, SGO Mistika

12:30 - 14:00   Lunch

14:00 - 14:45   Keynote Speaker
                        Doug Trumbull,
Magnetar Productions LLC

14:45 - 15:45   Mastering and Versioning for Various Distribution Channels
                        Session Chair: Jim Whittlesey, Deluxe Digital

Understanding that, at least for the foreseeable future, the frame rate for content captured at higher frame rates will need to be reduced for some distribution and display platforms, the discussion turns to how best to do this. Speakers during this session look into whether completely separate versions are required or lower exhibition frame rates can be extracted directly from HFR content. In addition, the challenges with 2D and 3D subtitles will be examined.

                        Speakers:                  Nick Mitchell, Technicolor, Inc.  
                                                          Laurence Claydon, Deluxe Digital London
                                                          Peter Wilson, High Definition & Digital Cinema Ltd

15:45 - 16:00   Break

16:00 - 16:30   HFR Standards Update
                        Session Chair: Michael Karagosian, MKPE Consulting

In order for HFR to achieve its full potential, interoperability of equipment is necessary, and acceptance by cinematographers of quality level is essential.  The SMPTE 21DC Technology Committee created a study group to examine these issues.  Please join this session for an update on this work.

                       Speakers:                 John Hurst, Cinecert
                                                        Jean-Francois Nivart, Image Matters
                                                        Michael Karagosian, MKPE Consulting

16:30 - 17:30  HFR Meets Exhibition
                       Session Chair: Matt Basford, Regal Entertainment Group

Go to any theatre and the expectation is flawless playback of content. To accomplish this with HFR content, there are both technical and business considerations. Some changes may prove to be expensive. Others will not. This session will present impacts to the exhibitor and sift through the state of projectors, servers and engineering support to uncover important evolutionary steps needed in exhibition facilities to propel HFR forward.

                       Speakers:                  David Pflegl, Carmike Cinemas, Inc.
                                                         Damian Wardle, Cinemark
                                                         Kirk Griffin, Harkins Theatres
                                                         Mark Collins, Marcus Theatres Corporation

17:30 - 18:00  Bridging Today and the Future
                       Speaker: Wendy Aylsworth, Warner Bros.

Building on discussions in the day’s program, the moderator will highlight the main points. In an interactive session, the moderator will work to plot a forward looking course, exploring a variety of questions to include how the industry might move from accommodating a modest increase in frame rate to an ideal state with better contrast, luminance and motion rendition.

Program subject to change.