The Digital Cowboy 

CineCanvas

Among the many benefits if DCinema is software-based subtitling. When US Studio releases a film internationally, subtitles must be “burned into” each release print, in each language. This is an expensive and time-consuming process.

Texas Instruments licenses the imaging devices to 3 major DCinema projector manufacturers, Barco, ChristieDigital and NEC. CineCanvas is a TI software application, which allows the projector to overlay subtitles in the projected image. CineCanvas is language and font independent. Only one version of the digital release print is needed globally.

The subtitles and a script, loaded into the dcinema player, and called to the projector using Internet Protocols and an Ethernet connection. Only the font package is unique, per country. Each projector has an Ethernet switch inside, which is connected to the player, and often to the Internet. This connection allows feature and advertising content to be sent to the player without the time consuming and unreliable process of using data tapes, or DVD-ROMs.

Regardless of brand, all permanently installed DCinema Projectors have an Ethernet switch (not hub). The CineCanvas subtitle “script” is written in XML form and is server “agnostic”. When things work right, one copy of a feature, one copy of the subtitles ands one copy of the script can be loaded to any brand of server and a successful screening happens. When it does not work right, subtitles fail to appear, appear out of sequence or out of place. Viewers are unhappy, ticket refunds are made, and manufacturers are held responsible.


As TJoy added converted more Cinemas to digital and the use of CineCanvas increased, reports of subtitling issues increased as well, primarily from Asia, and Japan in particular. Even with DStorm’s excellent support team, the problem was extremely difficult to track down. The failures were varied and intermittent. At some sites just one show failed in a month’s time. At other locations, the problems were more frequent but still inconsistent.

TI released several firmware updates to resolve the issue, how ever each projector manufacturer used their own software over-laid on TI’s so a TI update could take additional weeks to implemented by the 3 other companies.

QuVIS engineers, working with TI, also released firmware updates. Lab testing seemed to show resolution, and weeks might of field use appeared to confirm, then the problem would reappear.

Schiffman made several trips to Japan for customer meetings, troubleshooting, and testing. TJoy demanded resolution or they would change out all their cinema players to another brand, even though there was no definitive proof QuVIS machines were at fault. Finally, a pattern began to appear.

Using “Ethernet sniffer” software to monitor the connection between the player and projector, some Internet protocol violations were uncovered in the CineCanvas software. In addition, as Schiffman had been suspecting for sometime, additional Ethernet traffic was found on the system, sufficient to slow CineCanvas communications and disrupt the subtitling.

As many exhibitors do, TJoy runs advertising and trailers before a feature presentation. DCinema projectors, and its Ethernet switch, are only powered on during a show. TJoy’s contracted advertising agency was pushing advertising and trailer updates into the cinema players at the same time the players were “getting subtitle calls” from the projector. The frequency and volume of this external traffic varied depending on cinema location, screening schedules, ad sales etc.

Schiffman asked multiple times, “What other traffic could be going through that switch?” TJoy was not aware of the agency’s activities, and insisted such was impossible.

Below is a partial sample of a CineCanvas "subtitle script". (the subtitles are in Japanese).

 

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes" ?>

<!--
 *** XML Subtitle File *** 
  -->
<!--
 *** Created By CANVASs Co.,LTD. *** 
  -->
<!--
 *** Wednesday, February, 18, 2004 *** 
  -->
- <DCSubtitle Version="1.0">
  <SubtitleID>B396FFBC-75CB-4738-AAB1-2BC7E10D9B94</SubtitleID>
  <MovieTitle>Kamen Test</MovieTitle>
  <ReelNumber>1AB</ReelNumber>
  <Language>Japanese</Language>
  <LoadFont Id="theFont" URI="Font/FANRG7BFCONV.TTF" />
- <Font Id="theFont" Color="FFFFFFFF" Effect="shadow" EffectColor="FF000000" Size="60">
- <Subtitle SpotNumber="1" TimeIn="01:00:42:125" TimeOut="01:00:43:177">
  <Text HAlign="center" HPosition="0.0" VAlign="bottom" VPosition="13.00">??</Text>
  </Subtitle>
- <Subtitle SpotNumber="2" TimeIn="01:00:46:219" TimeOut="01:00:47:167">
  <Text HAlign="center" HPosition="0.0" VAlign="bottom" VPosition="13.00">??!</Text>
  </Subtitle>
- <Subtitle SpotNumber="3" TimeIn="01:00:54:010" TimeOut="01:00:55:031">
  <Text HAlign="center" HPosition="0.0" VAlign="bottom" VPosition="13.00">??</Text>
  </Subtitle>
- <Subtitle SpotNumber="4" TimeIn="01:00:58:052" TimeOut="01:00:59:021">
  <Text HAlign="center" HPosition="0.0" VAlign="bottom" VPosition="13.00">??!</Text>
  </Subtitle>
- <Subtitle SpotNumber="5" TimeIn="01:01:05:010" TimeOut="01:01:05:219">
  <Text HAlign="center" HPosition="0.0" VAlign="bottom" VPosition="13.00">???!</Text>
  </Subtitle>
- <Subtitle SpotNumber="6" TimeIn="01:01:06:219" TimeOut="01:01:07:208">
  <Text HAlign="center" HPosition="0.0" VAlign="bottom" VPosition="13.00">??!</Text>
  </Subtitle>
- <Subtitle SpotNumber="7" TimeIn="01:01:09:010" TimeOut="01:01:10:156">
  <Text HAlign="center" HPosition="0.0" VAlign="bottom" VPosition="13.00">??! ??!</Text>
  </Subtitle>
- <Subtitle SpotNumber="8" TimeIn="01:01:11:052" TimeOut="01:01:12:219">
  <Text HAlign="center" HPosition="0.0" VAlign="bottom" VPosition="13.00">???! ??!</Text>
  </Subtitle>
- <Subtitle SpotNumber="9" TimeIn="01:01:13:125" TimeOut="01:01:14:135">
  <Text HAlign="center" HPosition="0.0" VAlign="bottom" VPosition="13.00">(??)?? ??</Text>
  </Subtitle>
- <Subtitle SpotNumber="10" TimeIn="01:01:17:115" TimeOut="01:01:18:115">
  <Text HAlign="center" HPosition="0.0" VAlign="bottom" VPosition="13.00">???</Text>
  </Subtitle>
- <Subtitle SpotNumber="11" TimeIn="01:01:20:073" TimeOut="01:01:21:083">
  <Text HAlign="center" HPosition="0.0" VAlign="bottom" VPosition="13.00">??…</Text>
  </Subtitle>
- <Subtitle SpotNumber="12" TimeIn="01:01:25:188" TimeOut="01:01:29:198">
  <Text HAlign="center" HPosition="0.0" VAlign="bottom" VPosition="13.00">???? ????…</Text>