There are two kinds of satellite connectivity systems which can be set up for distribution needs. The Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) system was mandated worldwide, as a standard protocol to be adhered to, for release of movies.
The other system is a proprietary encryption technology developed by UFO, with an aim to reduce the cost associated with the DCI system. Currently, UFO boasts of around 3800 non-DCI screens, and 1400 DCI ones. Till the year 2011, UFO was a deployer of only non-DCI systems. “The file size in a DCI system is quite large as compared to a non-DCI system, and hence is not a viable option for delivery through satellite. It requires a large bandwidth to transmit a file. It becomes virtually impossible to release 25-30 films a week using DCI equipment,” explained Mishra.
Mishra vouched for a non-DCI system to be more reliable as compared to a DCI system. He attributed this to the capability and flexibility it provides – multicasting and multi-transmission. With a single download, the file can be transferred to the VSAT receiver, which then stores it on the server. To further optimise the model, UFO designed the servers in a way to enable one to download and play the film simultaneously. A DCI system doesn’t allow this flexibility, stated Mishra.
“India is a vast country. It is almost impossible to release movies in varied languages in a single day, without the help of a satellite. It allowed us to grow very fast, at reduced costs and a high up- time. The ability to deliver to multiple cinemas at the same time across boundaries was a huge advantage,” said Mishra. UFO has set up cinemas in remote locations like Andaman & Nicobar, Rinchen in Leh, amongst others. This has helped the movies reach audiences in far-off locations, thus helping wipe out the disparity and inaccessibility that once haunted remote villages.
By use of satellite connectivity, we spared ourselves the headache of physically delivering prints to cinemas. We can concentrate on theactual business of doing business!
Hughes communications has been providing VSATs to UFO since the start of the latter’s journey. They have partnered to provide VSATs, satellite uplink facility and bandwidth to UFO for its operational needs over the years. “Our DCI projectors come from Christie, and non-DCI ones from Panasonic. All our servers are provided by Dolby. These have been our primary partnerships,” added Mishra.