Gone are the days of large film canisters traveling through the mail or ups system. Those huge, heavy big orange colored metal boxes have been replaced with the advent of digital movie projection in cinemas. Digital movies can be sent via the internet, satellite link or on a small media storage device of nearly any kind. This allows for better speed of distribution to theaters, and is a cost savings over the big orange cans of film.
The first generation of digital movie projection for the public was in June, 1999 in five American theaters. The first projector of this type was from Texas Instruments and was called DLP Cinema. DLP is short for digital light processing and has become a common symbol in the film industry. Currently there are only four digital projector manufacturers in the world, and three of them use the DLP system. Sony being the fourth uses SXRD technology which they developed. A large majority of cinema theaters have adopted digital projection today. It is estimated that over have the theaters have digital 3d projection capabilities. Digital projectors are normally 2k (2.2 megapixels) or 4k (8.4 megapixels) providing very good quality for the viewer.
Digital projection does require some additional equipment. The file type movies come to theater in is DCP (Digital Cinema Package). This requires a DCP compliant screen, a DCP compliant digital projector and a computer server. A typical feature film will contain roughly 90 to 300 GB of data and be separated from trailer media which will contain between 200GB and 400GB of information. Typically, the movie and trailers are copied to the computer server via USB drive port. The movies typically have an access code delivered separately by email, which must be entered to allow them to play. The access codes are time limited to expire at the end of the period for which the film has been booked.
Digital movie projection is a growing industry with exciting technological innovations on the horizon. One example is the use of lasers to produce darker blacks and more vibrant colors. In the very near future film projection will be completely a thing of the past.