CinemaCon 2012: Sony Introduces Projector Upgrade to Support High Frame Rates

The company believes that with this software update, the majority of its 13,000 installed 4K projectors will be ready to show "The Hobbit" at 48 frames per second.

Sony Digital Cinema unveiled its High Frame Rate upgrade, allowing existing Sony 4K digital cinema projector owners to offer high frame rate playback with a software update. This update will be available in the fall for $3,000 per system.

Tuesday at CinemaCon, up to 10 minutes of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be screened in 3D at a high frame rate of 48 frames per second during a Warner Bros. slate presentation.

This will become the first major motion picture to be made at the high frame rate of 48 per second.

Frame rate is the number of images displayed by a projector within one second. The cinema standard has long been 24 fps, but Jackson is among those who say a higher frame rate will greatly reduce or eliminate motion artifacts.

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Sony expects the majority of its 13,000 installed 4K digital cinema projectors to support high frame rates by the time The Hobbit is released Dec. 14, though the film also will be available in 24 fps.

"We’re providing a straightforward way for customers to realize even better picture quality, extending the investments they’ve already made while readying them to take advantage of the next phase in super smooth 3D viewing," said Gary Johns, senior vice president, Digital Cinema Solutions, Sony Electronics.

Sony’s High Frame Rate upgrade includes support for 24, 48 and 60 fps for 2D 2K and 3D 2K content. In addition to higher frame rates, the upgrade will also give a quality boost by upping the maximum bit-rates from 250 Mbps to 500 Mbps.

Also at CinemaCon, Sony is demonstrating for the first time its Content Exchange Platform, a proof-of-concept global "marketplace" for alternative, independent and repertory content. Sony aims offer more types of content to exhibitors, while providing content owners with a standardized distribution model for reaching exhibitors.

Explained Johns: "The content marketplace driven by Sony’s Content Exchange Platform seeks to put a vast library of content at exhibitors’ fingertips, managing rights and distribution so that they can focus on building stronger relationships with their patrons and generating more revenue."

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