Digital cinema has hit a major milestone with over 50% of the estimated worldwide commercial cinema screens now converted to digital technology.
Texas Instruments, a developer of digital cinema technology, estimates the digital numbers will reach near 100% by the end of 2015.
Digital cinema is a major transition in the movie business from celluloid films to digital technology.
Although digital cinema is perceived in popular parlance as a shift to digital distribution and projection of films, the folks at Texas Instruments have a wider definition:
Digital cinema encompasses every aspect of the movie making process, from production and post-production to distribution and projection.
While digital cameras are nothing new, and post-production houses have been using digital equipment to edit and master movies and animation for some time, the all-digital distribution and projection of movies has only recently arrived to complete the chain.
A digitally produced or digitally converted movie can be distributed to theaters via satellite, physical media, or fiber optic networks. The digitized movie is stored by a computer/server which “serves” it to a digital projector for each screening of the movie.
We don’t have the numbers for India but China is projected to go all-digital by 2013.
Texas Instruments’ projections are based on data from IHS Screen Digest report “Goodbye and thanks for the memories…the end of 35mm.”
Since 1889, 35mm has been the major projection cinema format.
IHS estimates that by the end of 2012 the share of 35mm will fall to 37% of global cinema screens, with digital accounting for the rest. This represents a significant decline for 35mm, which was used in 68% of global cinema screens in 2010.
By 2015, 35mm will become a niche projection format used in just 17% of global movie screens.