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First Film To Be Sent Via Satellite

Title: First Film To Be Sent Via Satellite

Anyone know how big a movie is (in GB's)?  I'd like to figure the transfer rate. 

Shawn Rogers

First Film To Be Sent Via Satellite

AP Business Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Movie-goers in New York's Times Square will get a glimpse of the future Friday when they see
Miramax's ``Bounce'' -- the first film to be beamed via satellite to a theater.

Hollywood has been experimenting with digital projection for several years. A handful of movies, from Warner Bros.' ``The Perfect Storm'' to Disney's ``Tarzan,''

have already been shown on special projectors that use computer discs rather than bulky and brittle film.

In those experiments, a movie is transferred from a master at a post-production house to a digital file, then compressed onto several discs. The discs are shipped to

theaters where the files are decompressed and stored on large computers.

This summer, Twentieth Century Fox sent a digital version of its animated ``Titan AE'' to a theater over a fiber optic cable.

But history was made earlier this week, when a digital copy of ``Bounce'' was converted to an electronic stream and bounced off a Boeing satellite using

military-strength encryption. The movie was also sent separately via a fiber optic cable. It was the first test of a system that may one day eliminate the scratches and

pops and stray hairs that routinely mar the movie going experience.

``You can't scratch a zero or a one,'' Phil Barlow, executive vice president of the Disney Motion Picture Group, said Thursday. Miramax is owned by The Walt

Disney Co [NYSE:DIG - news].

``Bounce'' is a love story between an advertising executive (Ben Affleck) and the widow (Gwyneth Paltrow) of a man to whom he gave his ticket on a doomed


A master of the movie was transferred to a highly-compressed digital file using equipment made by QuVIS Inc. of Topeka, Kan.

The file was encrypted by Boeing, which then added a second layer of encryption to the electronic stream it sent via satellite. It took 8 hours to send the file from

Tulsa, Okla., to a satellite dish atop the theater in New York.

Once in the theater, a QuVIS computer decrypted and expanded the file and stored it on several computer hard disks. From there, it was projected using equipment

made by Texas Instruments.

Williams Communication of Tulsa, Okla., provided uplink services for the satellite and also relayed the movie via its broadband fiber optic network.

Movie studios are searching for a way to eliminate costly prints, which can range from $1,500 to $2,000 each for as many as 4,000 copies for a major release.

Studio executives feel that the better quality provided by digital copies will also generate more revenue by luring more people back to state-of-the-art theaters.

``The savings will not accrue to the studios for some time,'' Barlow said. ``The best way to make more money is having more people coming in to see the movies.''

Right now, the cost of digital projection equipment is steep -- anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000 per screen. That compares with about $35,000 for a

conventional projector.

Barlow estimates that digital projection won't become widely accepted until the costs come down under $75,000.

Theater owners are reluctant to shoulder the cost, especially when many chains are struggling with massive debt incurred to build new theaters. Studios and theater

chains are discussing a formula to apportion the capital costs, especially since the studios will reap the initial financial benefits.

``We understand that the burden needs to be shared in proportion to the benefit received,'' Barlow said.

For now, chains such as AMC Entertainment Inc., which owns the AMC Empire Theater in Times Square, are working with the studios and technology companies

to test new systems.

``We see our role at this point as being a proponent of digital technology because we see it as right for our business and our customers,'' Rick King, an AMC

spokesman said. ``We'll put the cost issues aside for now. If the returns are there for the investments, then money will be found to make the investment.''

Shawn Rogers,   PMP
Serial Gigabit Products Dev. Mgr.
Texas Instruments/ 12500 TI Boulevard
M/S 8732/ Dallas, Texas 75243
Tel: 214-480-2678, Fax: 214 761-6954 Pager: 972-597-1803