October 31st, 2014

What Happened Last Night

Fascinating story on the perils of digital distribution from Melbourne’s Astor Theatre, which was scheduled to play Take Shelter last night before technical issues nearly got in the way.

The key required to play the film’s digital cinema package (DCP) for some reason didn’t work, meaning that cinema staff had to call a London-based helpline to get another… while the audience was in the theatre, waiting for the feature to start.

This meant another 5-10 minute delay as we waited for the distributor to confirm that we were indeed allow to show the film at this time. Once confirmation was received we waited for the new KDM to be issued. The KDM arrives as an email zip attachment that then needs to be unzipped, saved onto a memory stick and uploaded onto the server. This takes another 5-10 minutes. Once uploaded the projector needs to recognise the KDM and unlock the programmed presentation. Thankfully, this worked. However, until the very moment when it did we were as unsure as our audience as to whether or not the new KDM would work and therefore whether or not our screening would actually go ahead.

It blows my mind that this system doesn’t crumble in a heap more often.

DRM and technologies that media distributors employ to fight piracy are almost universally a bad idea: they don’t stop piracy, and cause problems for legitimate users often enough that only the most user-hostile companies would consider using such technologies.

About Bradley J. Dixon

Bradley J. Dixon is a freelance writer and blogger from Melbourne.

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