Industry collaborates to realize Singapore's digital-cinema dream

Latest industry effort aimed at positioning Singapore as a global distribution hub and trading center for digital content.

SINGAPORE--The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore announced Wednesday a collaboration between the government and the industry to pilot digital content processing and distribution.

Called the Cross Continent Digital Content Transmission (CCTx), the collaborative effort was unveiled at Asian D-Cinema Summit held in conjunction with the Infocomm Media Business Exchange (IMBX).

CCTx is a pilot to demonstrate Singapore's ability to receive digital content from the US, process it in Singapore and re-distribute it to other markets. Two years ago, IDA announced its hopes for Singapore to become a digital content clearinghouse for the region.

"CCTx offers a secure and reliable working model for digital content delivery. Singapore, as a digital exchange, is able to offer the necessary services and capabilities to receive content from anywhere in the world, process and package it and deliver it across continents, globally," said Thomas Lim, director for games and entertainment, IDA, in a statement.

"Standard Evaluation Material" (StEM), an 11-minute movie produced by the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) and Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), has been used to test the cross-continent digital delivery via CCTx.

The 170GB file was first transmitted from GlobeCast in Culver City, California, to 1-Net, a data exchange in Singapore, and then localized with Chinese subtitles and Mandarin voiceover by Singapore media companies Mega Films and VHQ.

The localized content was then re-distributed digitally to the United States and Thailand via satellite through GlobeCast, a subsidiary of France Telecom. The localized StEM was also transmitted directly via fiber by StarHub to a cinema in Singapore where it was successfully screened.

According to IDA, the CCTx currently uses the MPEG 2–MXF format but has plans to use the universal JPEG2000 platform, a recommended standard by Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), once it is commercially available. DCI is a standards body set up by several major Hollywood studios to define the requirements and processes necessary to gain acceptance by the studios for release of their content to digital cinemas.

Several international digital media players are already partnering with Singapore companies to tap on this new opportunity. For example, Camarillo, Calif.-based Technicolor Network Services has partnered SingTel to ride on Singapore's infrastructure to digitally distribute content to the rest of Asia.

Singapore media content producer Mega Media has also set up a local digital cinema encoding facility to offer content owners and advertisers a cost-effective way for processing and managing digital content.