SkyArc is Coming!

While Ireland is gearing up for a nationwide digital-cinema network (see news story), the best the US can do is a network for digitally distributing advertising to commercial movie theaters. The project was recently announced by Thomson and Screenvision, a joint venture of Thomson and ITV. Technicolor Digital Cinema, part of Thomson's Services division, will provide technology, network operations, and digital-content management systems on an exclusive basis to Screenvision and its theater-advertising customers. Screenvision provides advertisement services to nearly 15,000 screens in the US, of which approximately 5,000 will be included in the initial rollout.

Screenvision will invest over $50 million to deploy the network, leveraging Thomson's expertise in post-production, media-asset management, digital cinema, and network operations as well as their new digital-advertising management system called SkyArc. Through SkyArc, Thomson and its Technicolor Digital Cinema business will operate a national network-operations center providing content preparation and distribution, playlist management, network operations, and field services. The network will be capable of distributing effectively and securely via satellite, broadband, or physical digital media.

The SkyArc system represents a significant step forward for cinema advertising, including the first completely high-definition cinema-ad network in North America. As part of the rollout, Thomson will install high-brightness digital projectors in Screenvision partner theaters and provide an upgrade path to true digital cinema projection. At least the ads will be sharper and clearer with surround sound, but I can't help wondering if SkyArc will turn on us mere humans. Where's John Connor when you need him?