FOUNDED IN 2002, the DCI's main objective was to establish a digital cinema framework that would ensure a universally standardized model for technical performance, reliability and quality control. With only approximately 600 screens installed worldwide to date, it is still unclear what impact digital cinema will have on the global film market. What is certain is that, like many technologies preceding it, the introduction of digital cinema will polarize the international industry and generate heated debate about its value.
Since the Internet revolutionized mass communication, major technological developments have been accompanied by utopian visions of social change. But for all the predictions of a paperless society and the global village, new technologies often fail to meet such grandiose expectations. For the proponents of digital cinema--most of whom, especially the motion picture consortiums and digital technology giants, have a vested financial interest in its implementation--this new technology is now capable of ending celluloid's 100 year reign over film production, distribution and exhibition. One of the most famous advocates for conversion from celluloid to digital is Star Wars creator George Lucas. Before releasing Star Wars: Episode 11--Attack of the Clones (George Lucas, 2002), Lucas declared that the film would only be screened in cinemas equipped with digital projection facilities. But with so few cinema screens fitted out for digital delivery, Lucas later swallowed his words and released the film globally on 35mm film prints.
In September 2005, the Digital Cinema Initiative aims to deliver recommendations for industry-wide standards, at which stage the official rollout of the new technology will commence. Currently there are only two screens in Australia with high-end digital projection facilities: Hoyts at Fox Studios in Sydney and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne. For Andre Bernard, ACMI's Cinema Technical Manager, digital cinema is a complex concept and one that is often misunderstood:
There are so many tags for digital cinema, such as e-cinema and d-cinema and at the moment it can refer to everything from a $10,000 LCD projector …