How would you watch movies the same way Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, Lionel Richie, Rupert Murdoch, Barry Manilow, Prince Saud al-Faisal and about 400 other super-wealthy individuals in Hollywood’s famed “Bel Air Circuit” do?
Very soon, Quantum Media Systems might be able to make that happen. Quantum, which makes high-end media servers, is working with a third-party entity to create a “Day and Date Release” service to allow super-wealthy individuals to watch first-run Hollywood movies in the comfort of their own home theaters that same way members of the “Bel Air Circuit” do. That group is an exclusive club of about 400 affluent individuals in the Los Angeles area who are able to watch first-run Hollywood movies in the comfort of their own home theaters. Cruise and the others are reportedly members.
In the Bel Air Circuit, Hollywood movie studios literally send a projectionist to the member’s home. He screens the movie using the member’s home theater, then packs up and heads back to the studio. It’s an expensive undertaking for the studios, but one that has been in existence for more than 50 years.
Several years ago, the Bel Air Circuit changed from being a free service supplied by the studios to a money-making enterprise available to anyone with deep enough pockets. The Bel Air Digital Circuit, as it is now reportedly known, reportedly requires a $100,000 initiation fee and $4,000 monthly expense. Those people are the targets for the new Day and Date Release service.
Irvine, Calif.-based Quantum Media Systems is working with an unnamed third-party entity for the service to install its new Q3000 Digital Cinema Servers starting in Q2 2015.
Commercial theaters currently receive an Integrated Media Blocks (IMBs) to screen movies. These are products which are inserted into Digital Cinema Projectors (Series 2 DLP based). In some cases the media, like the Quantum unit, plays the movie content and is connected via PCI Express cables, or a similar method, to the IMB. The IMB receives the encryption key and allows the movie to be played and the process is controlled via the Theater Management System (TMS). An additional method is for the IMB to incorporate hard drives (sometimes called Integrated Media Servers) and the movie is stored in a server and then played within the projector. Commercial theaters also screen movies using Digital Cinema Packages (DCPs), which are hard drives mounted in a Dataport (portable housing). These are sent to theaters and are inserted into the server. The entire process is defined and governed by the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) specification.
The Q3000, which has a $10,000 price point, plays an IMB, which is a little bit bigger than an old 8-track cartridge. It cannot be copied. The Q3000 has eight IMB bays.
Each member of the Bel Air Circuit, which is named for an uber-affluent enclave in L.A. and was originally established by movie moguls Louis B. Mayer and Daryl Zanuck, has an encryption key just like the movie theater get that gives them access to the movie for a certain time period.
Ken Hoffman, CEO of Quantum, showed off the 32TB server at the CEDIA Expo 2014 in a demo in the Stewart Filmscreen booth using a top-of-the-line Christie digital projector. The demo included incredible detail in scenes from “Avatar” and other clips.
“This is a different level of 4K,” he notes. “It’s not the content being compressed at 125Mbps that Sony, Samsung and other manufacturers want the masses to see. We are moving 50,000 to 75,000 bit rates and up to JPEG2000.”
Among the attributes of the 3U rack space Q3000 system are its ability to reproduce Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) P3 color space, 12-bit color depth and High Dynamic Range (HDR) using enhanced video processing, 4K image optimization, precision playback, and image color and brightness calibration. The unit handles 4K, Ultra HD and HD live-stream concerts, special events and post-produced video content.
As a traditional media server, other features include:
- Simultaneous recording and time shifting via DVR functionality
- JPEG2000 (DCI and on-DCI), low- and high-bit rate High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) and Advanced Video Coding (AVC) encoding
- Internal solid state drive and RAID 5 content backup
- 2Gigabit Ethernet, quad HDMI 2.0, dual display port.
There is also a corresponding Q2000 server at a 2U rack space size with a 16TB drive with 4 IMB bays.