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Knowledge & Content Technologies

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IP-RACINE - Integrated Project "Research area CINE"


IP-RACINE advanced the state of the art by creating technologies to deliver enhanced "cinematic" entertainment, thereby promoting European competitiveness.

Impact

IP-RACINE's ambition has been to secure the future of the European Cinema industry in the change from film to digital. It improved the competitiveness of European Digital Cinema (DC) by developing workflow techniques for integrating the digital process "from scene to screen", and advancing the state of the art of digital cameras, virtual cinema studio production, cinema object description, processing and postproduction, and digital playout and display of sound and image for better user experience. Its partnership involved key European players in these areas which liaise with relevant organisations such as BKSTS, ASC, BSC, and the Digital Cinema Provider's Group (DCPG) and standards bodies such as EDCF, ITU, and SMPTE. The project performed dissemination at different professional, research, and public levels.

Main innovation

IP-RACINE brought innovations in several areas "from scene to screen" which promoted the competitiveness of European Digital Cinema industry:

  • At the scene level by making digital acquisition easier and cheaper, through cameras with integrated storage, very high bandwidth digital output and metadata from on set capture, which allow film makers creative freedom similar to that offered by current film cameras, and additional digital workflow functionalities, while eliminating the cost of film stock.
  • Very high quality and robust digital cinema virtual studio techniques, with real time previsualisation of hybrid real and synthetic environments, high quality dailies production and support for improved offline postproduction, with improved visual effects and group dynamics.
  • New techniques for managing digital cinema raw data including facilities for metadata generation and browsing of both metadata and essence, as a first step in a digital workflow.
  • Formats ensuring seamless transfer of media and metadata in the workflow with enhanced interoperability allowing for dramatically increased throughput in the digital laboratory, supporting enhanced creativity and higher reusability.
  • Scalable architectures for dealing with essence and metadata and enhancing the colour information and processing.
  • Pioneering novel representation methodologies for scene content that improve efficiency and increase creative freedom at the postproduction stage.
  • Increasing the quality of experience for people attending cinema theatres by improving the quality and lowering the cost of digital projectors and servers.
Results
Industrial outcomes

Several IP-RACINE developments have been presented at NAB and IBC, which are the key events for the cinema industry:

  • Viper camera and Venom Recorder from Thomson-Grass Valley
  • DVS Spycer (TVBEurope Editor's Pick of Show award at IBC'06)
  • Filmlight and Pandora color processing hardware and software
  • Brainstorm eStudio new versions
  • Several new Barco digital projectors, and XDC Solo G2.1 and G2.5 servers

These industrial outcomes are related to RTD results of the project described below.

Data handling and workflow, with special mention of colour

IP-RACINE followed a flexible approach to workflow aiming at supporting a range of technologies, both old and new, to suit different needs and production budgets. Thus, metadata are retrieved and generated in a context-dependent manner and emphasis is placed on making accessible the information that is actually available, through specific application programs and infrastructure tools. The applications collect, extract and visualise available metadata, and provide easy access to information on the content being edited.

DVS Spycer provides a database centric peer-to-peer data tracking and management system for cinema productions; while a workflow metadata organizer for viewing, sorting and classifying metadata, including pictorial summaries is evolving.

FilmLight Baselight products provide large scale interoperability with a high-performance parallel file system. This allows new Digital Cinema workflows, enabling powerful sharing with complete interchangeability of image and data. The all important colour in cinema is receiving a basic contribution in the form of a new X?Y?Z? transform submitted for standardisation which is incorporated in Filmlight Truelight who have also introduced new hardware calibration tools.

Filmless capture systems and Virtual film studio

The Thomson group partners of IP-RACINE, Grass Valley Netherlands and Deutsche Thomson Brandt, have created a solid state recorder that can be docked on the VIPER camera, and includes the recording of embedded metadata. A first metadata set was implemented providing dual HD-SDI output. Improvements in capacity and reliability have been made, while there has been an extensive redesign of the camera for adoption of 10Gig Ethernet output.

Brainstorm has been developing an on stage low cost real time preview prototype of Virtual Film Studio. This enhances the overall control of the film director and saves costs both at the image capture stage and at the postproduction stage. The real time on stage prototype is continued by a non real-time final quality prototype which has also been developed, validated and tested. The work involves a number of visual effects based on shaders including new Chromakey, Phong, Motion Blur, Bloom, and DoF. A 3DSMax new group dynamics simulation plug-in has been developed.

Film object description and processing

Development of a real-time processing system has been carried out at different levels: the upper software layer (called Hardware Image Library - HIL), the connecting software layer (the driver), and the Pandora hardware board. At the upper level a Hardware Image Library was designed and implemented which caters to the flexibility requirements coming from the cinema industry and project partners. At the connecting layer a platform independent functional specification was developed interfacing hardware to a specific operating system and, further, to upper layers, such as HIL and user applications at the top level. Finally, a memory block and interfaces design for the new board has been achieved.

The research in image related to this area has led to: novel algorithms for the segmentation of foreground items from their background; 2D video-based representations and methodologies for rigid objects and articulated figures (for single-viewpoint footage); an improved near-real time view interpolation algorithm, which serves as the cornerstone towards developing a 3D video-based object representation (for multi-viewpoint footage); high-level metadata with automated annotation and indexing, providing metadata fusion, and with a unified metadata representation which serves as a hub for mapping and editing.

Digital playout and display

An initial specification for exhibition systems with their link to distribution was later updated to reflect the technical recommendations published by DCI and the evolution in various industry organisations and standardisation committees.

Enhancements and cost reductions in the optical architecture, lamp, illumination system and cooling for projectors have been prototyped and implemented in a highly light efficient, cost optimised electronic cinema platform with 1920x1080 resolution. For postproduction purposes, a special Barco projector was derived with wide colour gamut, optimised contrast ratio and brightness uniformity. Research on concepts for resolution enhancement of the projection has been conducted.

DC server architecture has been improved and more integrated and cost-reduced prototypes of single screen servers have been built. Compatibility with the MXF based distribution standard was demonstrated. Software for remote management and key distribution was developed and field tested in XDC fast growing installed base.

Research on state of the art de-interlacing and frame-rate conversion algorithms has been completed. With geometry based temporal and spatial interpolation using variational methods, results have been achieved which outperform state of the art motion compensated de-interlacers.

IP-RACINE partners aim at producing a plug-in for simulating sounds in different environments. Results in this area include a development of a first version of a hybrid algorithm (finite-differences in time-domain and ray-tracing) and the construction of an extensive gallery of real and virtual acoustic environments. This research is complementary to quadraphonic measurement and recording systems, including the audio enhancement of the intensimetric probes, and the development of a theoretical frame for the controlled diffusion of the acoustic field on an intensimetric basis (velocity feedback model), while improving the integration of quadraphonic audio into the digital workflow.

Testbeds and interoperability

In June 2006 the first IP-RACINE testbed took place in Madrid, with two different goals: testing the interoperability of different systems, and generating challenging raw material for research. Interoperability for use in DC production was tested (with success, while uncovering new challenges) with the Thomson group, DVS, and Brainstorm equipment, while involving also HU, UG, and UPF in research oriented experiments designed. The raw material is expected to be publicly released when it is processed and analysed by the partners. A specific audio testbed on the DC workflow integration has been successfully conducted, while two more testbeds are expected before the end of the project.

User involvement, promotion and awareness

An international network of Experts and Users from the entire cinema "chain" is the basis for a continual update of requirements. Some of the professionals? input has been turned into a "Digital Cinema Perspectives" interviews book (available at http://www.i6doc.com/I6Doc/WebObjects/I6Doc5.woa/wa/DocumentDA/doc?d=1008326 .)

Besides the industrial results of the project, its achievements have been publicised through the website, through leaflets, public presentations at selected times and places and with the presentation at IBC of the book mentioned above.

More details
Administrative Details
  • Start date: 1 October 2004
  • End date: 31 March 2008
  • Budget: 14.235.477 €
List of Participants
  • Universitat Pompeu Fabra - UPF - Spain
  • Grass Valley Nederland - GVN - Netherlands
  • Deutsche Thomson Brandt - DTB - Germany
  • Pandora International Ltd - Pandora - United Kingdom
  • Filmlight Ltd - Filmlight - United Kingdom
  • Barco nv - Barco - Belgium
  • Hasselt University - HU-EDM - Belgium
  • Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH - JRS - Austria
  • The University of Glasgow - UG - United Kingdom
  • Fondazione Scuola di San Giorgio - FSSG-CNR - Venice
  • Fundació Barcelona Media Universitat Pompeu Fabra - FBM-UPF- Spain
  • Mediaproducción S.L. - MEDIApro - Spain
  • Digital Video Systems GMBH - DVS - Germany
  • XDC S.A. - XDC - Belgium
  • Brainstorm Multimedia S.L. - Brainstorm - Spain
Contact persons
(email removed) , UPF
(email removed) , FBM-UPF
Events in connection with IP-RACINE