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Texas Instruments eyes Indian entertainment industry

By Shivani Shinde & Aminah Sheikh in Mumbai
April 02, 2008 12:06 IST
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With hundreds of theatre screens coming up across India in 2009, Texas Instruments (TI) - a leading semiconductor technology company - is eyeing the Indian cinema market with its digital light processing (DLP) technology.

TI has patented the DLP technology. In DLP projectors, the image is created by small mirrors laid out in a matrix on a semiconductor chip known as a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD).

Each chip is said to have nearly two million mirrors. A three-chip projector can produce 35 trillion colours, which is far more than what the naked eye can detect.  TI is bullish about the Indian market. The Indian digital cinema group, Scrabble Entertainment, has already signed up with Christie - provider of digital cinema solutions - for 200 DLP projectors.

Scrabble will act as an intermediary between content owners including major studios and independent distributors, and the exhibitor. Under a Virtual Print Fee (VPF) business model, Scrabble will finance the exhibitors' transition to digital by collecting a negotiated "virtual print fee" from movie distributors.

Ganesh S, business development manager, DLP Products, TI, said, "We expect to have 250 installations in the next 12 months. Adlabs has announced a pilot run of 20 projectors. Sathyam Cinema of Chennai already has 6 installations and we are also in talks with several post-production houses."  

Scrabble has signed up with the first exhibitor, PVR cinemas for this technology. PVR will deploy this technology in all its upcoming multiplexes. TI has licensed its technology to three manufacturers -Barco, Christie and NEC.  Ranjit Thakur, CEO, Scrabble Entertainment, said, "To build the market, we are trying to subsidise the cost. Setting up an analogue projection system costs about Rs 16-18 lakh and we hope to get the prices of DLP projector systems to this level."

Out of the 300-400 screens being built every year, the company is targeting 50-60 per cent." Thakur is confident of selling close to 300-350 projectors in a year's time.

"This technology has the advantage of saving the print cost. Depending on the length of the movie, a single print costs Rs 55,000-60,000. When a producer wants to release say 1,000 prints or so, it involves huge capital. With a digital format in place, they can easily release a picture anywhere and in short time," said Thakur.

Tony Adamson, manager, DLP Cinema marketing, TI, said, "DLP complies with the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) standards that are followed in Hollywood. With nearly 200 screens coming up across India in 2009, this technology will allow the exhibitors to be truly digital from day one."

The technology is already being used by exhibitors for some of the movies. For instance, Shringar Cinema tested this technology to showcase Salaam-e-ishq last year.

"We used this technology to create a better viewing experience for the audience and thought this is an opportunity to explore. While it allow us to increase the ticket price substantially, we chose not to do so as we wanted a larger share of the audience," said Abhishek Raina, head marketing, Shringar Cinema.

Shringar Cinema had increased the ticket prices for Salaam-e-Ishq by 10-15 per cent. Shringar has 15 properties with 54 screens and plans to come up with 8-9 additional properties. "The theatres can increase the ticket price. Secondly, the movie is encrypted till the projection level since it is digitalised. This reduces the chances of theft and piracy," added Adamson.

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Shivani Shinde & Aminah Sheikh in Mumbai

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