[Tig] Compression

Martin Euredjian ecinema
Mon Jun 13 17:40:41 BST 2005

> an extra bit of color depth (from 8 to 9 bits) costs an arm and 
a leg, whereas the transition between 7 bits and 8 bits cost almost 
nothing at all.

I went through the trouble of doing a first-phase estimate of costs to get
one of the major LCD manufacturers to do a 10 bit per pixel LCD.  The NRE's
for the design phase would be in the order of US$15 to $20 million.  At this
point all you would have would be a handfull of mid resolution prototypes.  

The tough part is getting the manufacturer to modify a production line to
insert the new panel in to the workflow.  This number is a little harder to
get as the mere suggestion of changing their workflow gets you a free "this
guy is a derranged lunatic" sign to wear on your forehead whenever you meet
with them.  Once past that, the number I've been offered ranges from US$20
to 50 million, depending on the details of the design and just exactly what
they'd have to change.

Taking the low numbers we have 15 + 20 million to get a 10 bit display.
Assuming you make 10,000 of these per year, the added MANUFACTURING cost to
go from 8 to 10 bits would be in the order of $3,500 per panel.  In retail
terms this would mean that monitors would cost US$40K to $50K for 24 to 30
inch sizes.  The problem is that I can't see the industry consuming 10,000
monitors per year at this price point, not by far.  

And so, unless a company like Sony decides that they want to use displays as
loss leaders and loose money in every sale, companies like Samsung have no
real incentive to manufacture 8+ bit displays for years to come.  While
competitive differentiation might push to change this, I'll venture to say
that you will not see a OEM 8+ bit panel in at least five years.  Just a

> I could point to other critical areas in the delivery chain 
(satellite compression, for example) which incur a far worse visual
penalty, but is apparently acceptable to a majority of consumers.

To quote myself, years ago I said:  "Digital Cinematography must abandon all
links to Television".  

I think we can safely say that the 8 bit world is becoming a de-facto
standard for broadcast television.  And, put in context, it makes sense.

The question is:  What will digital cinema become?  If economic forces water
it down to 8 bit highly compressed delivery then this world will become an 8
bit world as well.  We will have to build post facilities that can actually
see exactly what the bulk of the digital theaters of the future will

> It simply is getting less and less cost-effective to make 
small runs of really high-quality equipment for our industry.  

You don't have to tell me about it.  I was happy to live in ignorance of
this as a telecine engineer.  

While the grass might be greener on the other side.  It isn't until you jump
over the fence that you realize just how deep in fertilizer you have to be
to achieve that.

Martin Euredjian
eCinema Systems, Inc.
voice: 661-305-9320
fax: 661-775-4876
martin at ecinemasys.com

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