ShoWest trial for Kodak TMS

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Kodak Digital Cinema plans to launch its Kodak Theatre Management System next week at ShoWest.

The company also said Wednesday that beta units of the digital cinema content management and distribution system are scheduled to be installed next month at six exhibitors in North America and one in London. Kodak expects to have the systems ready for full deployment by the end of April.

Kodak is billing the new technology as a "universal" digital system designed to manage all content from all suppliers while adding efficiencies. According to Bob Mayson, GM of Kodak Digital Motion Imaging, the new system will include support for JPEG2000 per the Digital Cinema Initiatives specification, MPEG for preshow content including advertising, and 2-D and 3-D features.

TMS includes a server driven by Kodak-written software connected to the cinema's ticketing system. Directed by that system, TMS is designed to automatically load all content from multiple suppliers via hard drive or satellite and distribute it to targeted screens over the in-cinema network. Decryption keys also are loaded, migrated and managed over the network.

TMS could operate as a part of an integrated Kodak system that would include the Kodak Content Player and projectors, though Mason emphasized that the system is being developed as an open system that would support players and technologies from any third-party manufacturer.

As for the business model, Mayson said, "Our plan is aimed at exhibitors intending to convert at least half the screens in their complex, because we believe a commitment of that scope is necessary for them to experience the benefits of a network solution — and to have the same print movement flexibility they now enjoy with analog."

He said that Kodak would offer a lease purchasing plan through which the exhibitors and content owners share the cost of the system. "It's an easy decision for new builds, but it's also attractive for those willing to shuffle equipment in their current facilities," he said.

"There are no requirements that customers buy lamps from Kodak, no hidden usage charges for exhibitors, and there is no limitation on their sources of content," he added. "Those choices are up to the exhibitor; we respect the ways they need to run their business."

Mayson reported that the roughly 1,500 currently installed Kodak Advertising Cinema Operating Systems, designed for preshow use, are upgradable to TMS .
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