Digital Cinema in Japan
HPA Tech Retreat 2005
Laurin Herr
Pacific Interface, Inc.
Digital Cinema in Japan
Japanese cinema industry, market & trends
Japanese digital cinema organizations
Japanese digital cinema technology
Japanese 4K digital cinema activities
Pacific Interface
Self Introduction of Laurin Herr
1980 - present; founder and President, Pacific Interface Inc., an international
consulting company based in Oakland, California that coordinates research and
business between people in Japan, America and Europe, primarily in the fields
of high technology and media.
1982 - 92: ACM SIGGRAPH representative to Japan. Organized seminal
computer graphics conferences in Japan. Produced two public exhibitions in
Japan of the SIGGRAPH Computer Art Show. Conducted various market
research projects for Japanese, American and European clients. Produced
television programs in America for TV Asahi, NHK and TBS. Produced five
Special Issues of the SIGGRAPH Video Review.
1995 - present: consultant to NTT Labs for Super High Definition (SHD) and
Photonic Networking Applications
2000 - present: Advisory Member of the Digital Cinema Consortium of Japan
In parallel, 1992 - 2004: senior executive at SuperMac, Radius, Truevision, and
Pinnacle Systems
Japanese Cinema
A Few Over-Simplistic Generalizations
•While the Hollywood movie production business is often played as a highrisk, high-return, global “big hits” business, in Japan production is often
approached more as a low-risk, low-return domestic “don’t fail” business.
•Production budgets for Japanese feature films typically average less than
$5M with investment “consortium” formed by the Japanese studios from
broadcasters, book publishers, and ad agencies that have
distribution/marketing channels of their own. The members of the
consortium gain seats on the “production committee” which jointly holds
the copyright. Actual production is then entrusted to a producer/director
who is in the relatively weak position of making a movie as a subcontractor to a committee.
•Japanese cinema distribution and exhibition are less independent of each
other than in USA, making the biggest domestic players quite dominant
and offering less variety and choice for cinema audiences in Japan than in
Japanese Motion Picture
Producers Association (Eiren)
• Top 4 Japanese Cinema Studios
– Toho
– Shochiku
– Toei (T-Joy)
– Kadokawa
• All do production, distribution and exhibition to
varying extents
• All are medium-size, diversified, well-established
Japanese entertainment companies
• Top 3 (Toho, Shochiku & Toei) dominate domestic
cinema distribution/exhibition with combined market
share of 38% by revenue in 2001, up from 26% in
Japanese Cinema Market
2003 (% of 2002)
• Theatre box office revenue $1.9B (103%)
– Japanese films $639M (126%) [33% of total]
• Anime films generate more than 30% of “Japanese” revenues
– Western films $1.3B (95%) [67% of total]
• Hollywood major releases generate 70%+ of “Western” revenues
Audience size
Screen count
Average ticket price
Films released
– Japanese
– Western
162M (101%)
2681 (102%)
$11.92 (102%)
622 (97%)
287 (97%) [46% of total]
335 (97%) [54% of total]
• Hollywood major releases account for about 50% of “Western” films
• Retail video sales/rental of movies
– Revenue $4.77B
– Viewers 819M (total population 127M)
Japanese Cinema ¥ Depends (Largely) on Hollywood $
Box Office
Box Office
Box Office
• A new trend is that Japanese anime films are a growing share of domestic
Japanese revenues, and increasingly exported overseas to swelling nonJapanese audience
• Hollywood films dominate Japanese box office revenues from imported
cinema, but recently Korean and Chinese films are also gaining popularity
in Japan
Japanese Screen Trends
• Conversion to Cineplexes underway in Japan since mid-90s
– 1996: 1004 theatres with average of 1.8 screens
– 2001: 914 theatres with average of 2.8 screens
– 2003: 53% of 2681 total screens in mini/multi-plexes with 5+ screens
• Japanese population density in major urban centers is among
highest in the world, so cinema screens in Japan are
geographically concentrated
– 53% of screens and 66% of box office in just 10 markets
– Two biggest metropolitan areas are focus for marketing and promotion
because combined they account for 33% of screens and 48% of box
office revenues
• Greater Tokyo/Yokohama = 23% screens and 35% box office
• Greater Osaka = 10% screens and 13% box office
Comparing Japan | USA Cinema Markets
Box Office Revenues
Screen count
Theatre count
Worldwide Rank
by Revenue
Average screens/theatre
Average ticket price
Films released
Comparing Japan | USA Cinema Markets
(2000 Census)
Box Office/Population
Japanese Digital Cinema Deployment
• 12/02 T-Joy opened first digital screens in Japan
• 3/03 Sapporo Cinema Frontier 12-plex with Xebex DLP projectors;
joint venture by Toho, Shochiku, & T-Joy; operated by T-Joy
• 11/03 Yokohama 8-plex; same ownership/operation as Sapporo
• Additional digital screens in suburbs of Tokyo and Hiroshima
• 22 digital screens operational end of 2004, expected to increase to 31
in early 2005; some Black Chip 2K DLP
• Slow deployment of digital cinema in Japan primarily due to lack of
global standards and paucity of big digital releases from Hollywood for
Japan (with subtitles)
• Only 1% penetration to date, but Japan could convert faster than other
markets once Hollywood starts ramping-up digital release schedules
Japanese Digital Cinema Organizations
• DCTF - Digital Cinema Technology Forum
• DCCSDPC - Digital Cinema Common Specification
Development Project & Committee
• VIPO - Visual Industry Promotion Organization
• DCCJ - Digital Cinema Consortium of Japan
• Japanese Content Distribution Act of 2004
– Government should implement policies and measures to promote
the creation, protection and use of cultural/entertainment contents in
Japan; eg. movies, music, theatre, literature, photography, manga,
anime, & computer games
– Cultivation of human resources, promotion of technical R&D,
protection of IPR, development and deployment of more efficient
distribution, support of legal and fiscal measures, encouragement of
regional creativity, promotion of global business
Established May 31, 2004 with the cooperation of the Ministry of Internal
Affairs and Communication (MIC)
– Support development of fundamental technologies for networked distribution
of digital cinema
– Support experiments and tests to advance understanding of the techniques
for distribution, image quality evaluation and security of digital cinema based
on the so-called “4K” format with the support of all Japanese stake-holders
from production to distribution to exhibition
– Cultivate relations with similar organizations in America, Europe and Asia to
promote the development of digital cinema and global standardization
– Conduct surveys to understand requirements for early deployment
– Sponsor events, demonstrations and symposia related to the technology and
usage of digital cinema
Corporate and institutional members
– DCCJ, National Institute for Information and Communication Technology
(NiCT), Japan Society of Cinematographers, Kadokawa Pictures,
NAMCO/Nikkatsu, Sony, Ikegami, Olympus, JVC, NEC, Mitsubishi Electric,
Keisoku Gikken, IMAGICA, Nac, NTT , KDDI Labs, NHK, TV Asahi, TV
Tokyo, Fuji TV, Tokyo Broadcast System (TBS), many Universities, others
Chairman: Tomonori Aoyama, Professor of the University of Tokyo
• The Digital Cinema Common Specification Development Project (DCCSDP)
led by the Digital Cinema Common Specification Development Committee
(DCCSDC) was established on July 1, 2004.
• Purpose of the DCCSDP is to study the basic technology components
necessary for a total digital cinema system and to make a Digital Cinema
Common Specification which can be widely adopted for digital cinema
environments above HD levels.
• Since its inception, the Working Groups (WG) of the DCCSDP have made
efforts to develop common specifications in an HD level digital cinema
environment. The first important achievement is the construction of a “High
Quality Theatre” for evaluation of color reproduction, scheduled to open in
Spring 2005. Color space conversion methods, metadata sets, scalable
image coding schemes, semi-automated CG movie creation methods and a
DRM system with new watermarking schemes to be developed.
• 5 Working Groups
WG1: Common specification for video image processing and color management technology dev.
WG2: Common intelligent creation and management system development for total production process
WG3: Technology development for content transfer and storage
WG4: DRM and DRE (Digital Rights Expression) technology development for digital cinema
WG5: Digital Cinema archive technologies
• Chairman: Hiroshi Yasuda, Professor of the University of Tokyo
Established December 6, 2004 in order to strengthen the international
competitiveness of Japanese visual content industries such as cinema, television,
animation and video games. In process to be registered as Non-Profit Organization
(NPO) and start operations April 2005.
VIPO modeled on the AFI, UK Film Council, National Film Board of Canada, French
CNC, German FFA, and Korean KOFIC
VIPO structured to benefit from the support and cooperation of the Keidanren (Japan
Federation of Economic Organizations) and solicit additional support from various
government ministries and regional/municipal agencies to achieve its goals
• Support the cultivation of human resources for visual-content businesses through education and
professional re-training programs in university and graduate level institutions
• Support production of content “works” by enabling reduced cost access to studios and production
equipment through such means as encouraging low-interest loans and various forms of subsidies
from public and private financial institutions
• Support business operations by making available low-cost office space and equipment through
various forms of public assistance
• Support the development of visual-content related “markets” such as film festivals, animation fairs,
and gaming shows domestically and internationally, as well as promoting communication amongst
related Japanese organizations
VIPO will have 35 directors drawn from the senior executives of Japan’s major
studios, broadcast networks and hardware companies, leaders from the animation,
video gaming and music industry, prominent academics, and others
Chairman: Junichi Sakomoto, President of Shochiku
• Established in 2000 as voluntary association of dues-paying individuals;
formally incorporated as a Non-Profit Organization (NPO) in May 2002
• Created to promote advancement in culture and art through the
development, test, evaluation and standardization of very high quality digital
cinema formats and related infrastructure
– Gather and disseminate info on development of D-Cinema to encourage its use
– Liaison with organizations inside and outside of Japan to assist the establishment of global
standards for digital cinema.
– Support the making, distribution and presentation of digital cinema to promote better
understanding of the technology and creative capabilities
• Corporate and Individual Members
– Sony, JVC, NTT, Olympus, NEC, Mitsubishi Electric, IMAGICA, Ikegami, NAC,
Skip City, Keisoku Giken, DNP,Nippon CineArts, AstroDesign, others
– Advisory members from Matsushita, KDDI, NAMCO/Nikkatsu, Japan Society of
Cinematographers, University of Tokyo, Keio University, Kyoto University, Tokyo
University of Technology, Tama Art College, Pacific Interface, others
• Chairman: Tomonori Aoyama, Professor of the University of Tokyo
Japanese Digital Cinema Technology
• Japanese technology, and the interaction between
Japan and Hollywood, has been central to the
evolution of digital cinema for nearly 25 years.
• Regardless of which “flavor” of digital cinema you
favor, Japanese technology companies are among
the leading suppliers of critical components for
commercial implementation
SMPTE 1981
Francis Ford Coppola with
Dr. Takashi Fujio (NHK Labs)
“First Look” at
Déjà vu all over again!
Pioneering Japanese
technology sparks the
imagination of a powerful
Hollywood leader who sees
attractive future potential if
only the Japanese
engineers will modify their
design to meet Hollywood’s
demanding requirements.
Which they do… eventually!
Japanese Digital Cinema Technology Today
• Projectors
Sony: SXRD at 4K and Full HD
JVC: D-ILA at 4K and Full HD
NEC: Black Chip DLP at 2K
Ushio (Xebex and Christie): Black Chip DLP at 2K & Projector Lamps
Panasonic: DLP “HD Cinema” at SXGA
Sanyo: LCD “Digital Multimedia” at Full HD
• Cameras and VTR
Sony: HDCAM, CineAlta, HDCAM SR, R&D partner Panavision Genesis
Panasonic: D5-HD, DVCPRO HD, Varicam
JVC: Prototype Quad HD (3840 x 2160) with 3 x CMOS (RGB)
Olympus: Prototype Quad HD (3840 x 2160) with 4 x CCD (RGGB)
• Optics
– Fujinon
– Canon
• Film Scanners
– IMAGICA: IMAGER XE at 2K and 4K with ADVANCED option for 10K
• System Integration
– NTT: JPEG 2000 DCI-compliant 4K/2K secure distribution via IP networks
– NHK Labs: Ultra HD at 8K x 4K (RGGB) camera, disk & projection R&D
A Sampling of Japanese 4K Digital Cinema Activities
– June: DCCJ Digital Cinema Symposium in Tokyo - 1st prototype 4K demo in Japan
– August: NTT demo at SIGGRAPH in LA - 1st prototype 4K demo in USA
June: DCCJ Digital Cinema Symposium in Tokyo
June: DCCJ 4K demo at Paramount Theatre in Hollywood
October: DCCJ 4K demo at ETC in Hollywood
October: NTT 4K streaming demo from UIC in Chicago to USC in LA via Internet2
– June: DCCJ Digital Cinema Symposium in Tokyo
– June: DCCJ 4K demo at EDCF Digital Testbed in London - 1st 4K demo in Europe
– July: DCCJ 4K demo at Cinecitta in Rome - 1st 4K demo in Italy
June: Sony 4K demo at ETC in Hollywood - 1st commercial introduction of 4K projector
June: DCCJ Digital Cinema Symposium in Tokyo - 1st 4K screening of ASC/DCI StEM
August: IMAGICA10K scanner option for 4K digital cinema intro’d at SIGGRAPH in LA
October: Tokyo International Film Festival
• DCTF Digital Cinema Symposium - 1st public event using two different 4K systems
• NTT Festival Screenings of Shitsurakuen - 1st public screening of 4K digital cinema full-length
Japanese feature
– November: Japan Society of Cinematographers (JSC) screening at IMAGICA of
ASC/DCI StEM at 4K digital side-by-side with 35mm film answer print, with ASC
Thank You

Digital Cinema in Japan, Laurin Herr