October 25, 2007
Streaming 'On-Demand' from Around the World to Prague with Four Times the Resolution of HDTV
In an historic proof-of-concept demonstration that could revolutionize the way movies and other media are distributed globally, CineGrid, the international media networking research organization, successfully demonstrated how high speed networks can be used to deliver cinema quality 4K digital motion pictures at four times the resolution of HDTV, streaming 'on demand' in real-time from seven different playback servers situated in Japan, Europe and North America to an audience in Prague watching on a large screen with surround sound.
The CineGrid 4K global-scale streaming demonstration was presented as part of the GLIF 2007, the Seventh Annual Global LambdaGrid Workshop, held 17-18 September 2007 in Prague, Czech Republic. Workshop demonstrations were held at Charles University in central Prague and at CinePOST, a cinema post-production facility within Barrandov Studios, one of the largest and oldest film production centers in Europe.
"The CineGrid international research community is establishing a globally distributed development environment, or testbed, for members to experiment with both streaming and file-transfer of very high quality video and audio," explained Laurin Herr, President of Pacific Interface and a co-founder of CineGrid. "We believe that increasing access to fast optical networks around the world with capacity of 1 Gbps or more will forever change the way we enjoy movies and concerts, engage in scientific and medical research, or deliver distance learning curriculums using rich media content."
Anurag Mehta, the director of the short 4K feature, 'The Trident', said, "I'm very pleased that my work was shown in such high quality to audiences in Prague. CineGrid’s pioneering efforts to show the potential for networked distribution of digital cinema on a global scale promises to help independent directors like myself reach new audiences around the world."
Showcasing 4K-over-IP Media Delivery on a Global Scale
This CineGrid @ GLIF 2007 demonstration took advantage of the 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps optical networking infrastructure of the Global Lambda Integrated Facility (GLIF) to establish a series of dedicated 1 Gbps Ethernet links configured as virtual local area networks (VLAN) to carry 4K digital motion pictures (3840 x 2160 pixels with 10-bit dynamic range) compressed using JPEG 2000, the technology adopted by the major Hollywood studios for commercial distribution of digital cinema formats to movie theatres at the highest quality. Before compression, the data rate of 4K motion pictures is approximately 6 Gbps. After compression, the data rate was reduced to 200600 Mbps, allowing transmission within 1 Gbps circuits without visible loss of image detail. The 4K clips streamed from around the world were decoded in real-time in Prague using a JPEG 2000 decoder originally developed at Japan’s NTT Network Innovations Laboratory. Large screen presentation of the decompressed 4K motion pictures was accomplished using a Sony SRXD digital projector and a 5.1 surround sound audio system.
JPEG 2000 pre-compression of 4K content was performed by CineGrid colleagues from Keio University’s Research Institute for Digital Media and Content (Keio/DMC) and University of California San Diego’s California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (UCSD/Calit2) collaborating remotely. The 4K streaming playback servers hosted at CineGrid member sites around the world were hardware-configured locally and then software-configured and tested by Keio DMC engineers working from Tokyo. Network lightpaths connecting the distributed playback servers to the screening rooms in Prague were engineered by CineGrid members at StarLight and CzechLight, the GLIF Open Lightpath Exchanges located in Chicago and Prague, respectively.
his CineGrid @ GLIF 2007 demonstration was one of the largest scale streaming 4K-over-IP experiments done to date in terms of the variety of clips played, the number of playback servers and their very wide distribution geographically, according to Naohisa Ohta, professor at Keio/DMC.
Working with CineGrid colleagues around the world gives our researchers invaluable experience learning how to remotely collaborate on international networked-media projects.
4K compressed playback servers were hosted at the following CineGrid member sites:
The 4K content used for the CineGrid @ GLIF 20007 demonstration included: