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Barco Higher Frame Rates White Paper

Barco Higher Frame Rates White Paper

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Published by cinemafuchs

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: cinemafuchs on Jan 16, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/16/2012

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A pragmatic look at higher frame rates in Digital Cinema
Page 1 of 8
Barco
A pragmatic look athigher frame ratesin Digital Cinema
Author
 
Tom BertProduct Marketing Manager Barco
 
A pragmatic look at higher frame rates in Digital Cinema
Page 2 of 8
The digitization of cinema projection started around the year2000. Since then, multiple forces and sources have bothaccelerated and decelerated the conversion. For example, therelease of Avatar, the most popular box-office hit in history,was an important driver for the success of 3D cinema and forthe digitization of cinema in general. More recently,discussions and demonstrations are being held on higher framerates in cinema. Again, multiple sources of information areflowing into the industry.This paper, written in this context of an emerging technologicaldevelopment, is offered as an objective source of informationfor all those looking for more understanding. This paper hasbeen written from the viewpoint of a projector manufacturer –Barco – and so it will take a more pragmatic approach than ascientific paper would. The goal of this paper is not to prove alink between frame rate and image quality, nor does it intendto promote (the standardization of) certain frame rate values.Its primary aim is to lower the implementation threshold forthose that want to convert their digital cinema projection setupto higher frame rates (independent of any standardization).This paper will answer questions such as: “What do I need inorder to play out higher frame rate content?” and “What is thedifference between higher frame rates in 2D and 3D?” Also note that a transition to higher frame rates impacts theentire workflow: from production, post-production andpackaging, to distribution and exhibition. The industry –including DCI standards and SMPTE standards – may need toexpand to make use of these higher frame rates.
INTRODUCTION
 
 
A pragmatic look at higher frame rates in Digital Cinema
Page 3 of 8
Belgian scientist Joseph Plateau was the first person toproduce the illusion of a moving image by presenting a rapidsequence of static images that contained small increments of motion. This illusion is based on a property of the human eyecalled ’persistence of vision‘. Plateau used rotating disks tocreate his animation, calling his device of 1832 thephenakistoscope.The same principle was used with the introduction of motionpictures on film. Moving picture film was originally shot andprojected at various speeds using hand-cranked cameras andprojectors. Research indicates that most films were shotbetween 16 frames per second (fps) and 23 fps and projectedfrom 18 fps on up [1]. When sound was added to film in thelate 1920s, a constant speed was required for the sound headto maintain synchronization with the film. 24 fps was chosenbecause that was the slowest (and thus cheapest) speed thatallowed for adequate sound quality.Today, in digital cinema projection, feature films are still beingplayed back at 24 fps. Every 1/24th of a second, a new imageis projected onto the screen. The image is no longer a physicalframe on a film reel, but a digital picture representing eachframe. This is not completely identical to digital television,which typically divides the picture into horizontal lines, firstplaying back odd-, and then even-, numbered lines. Digitalcinema projectors play the complete picture in every frame.’Higher frame rates’ usually refer to speeds of 48 fps or 60 fps.In theory, rates even higher than these are possible (e.g.some television sets boast 240 fps), but then the entire chain– from camera to cinema – must support the rate. (In practice,the 240 fps televisions use 60 fps input and flash each image 4times: the extra impact on image quality is negligible, but itlooks good in marketing brochures.) The higher frame rates wediscuss here do not repeat frames to achieve their speed butactually process and project different frames at the higherrate.Based on current camera and post-production technology, webelieve that 48 fps and 60 fps will be regarded as sufficient forDC projection for many years.
WHAT ARE ‘HIGHER FRAME RATES’?

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