Global Lambda Integrated Facility

CineGrid Demonstrates International Networked Distribution of 4K Motion Pictures

25 October 2007 -- Streaming 'On-Demand' from Around the World to Prague with Four Times the Resolution of HDTV

In a historic proof-of-concept demonstration that could revolutionize the way movies and other media are distributed globally, CineGrid, the international media networking research organization, successfully demonstrated how high speed networks can be used to deliver cinema quality 4K digital motion pictures at four times the resolution of HDTV, streaming 'on demand' in real-time from seven different playback servers situated in Japan, Europe and North America to an audience in Prague watching on a large screen with surround sound. The CineGrid 4K global-scale streaming demonstration was presented as part of the GLIF 2007, the Seventh Annual Global LamdaGrid Workshop, held 17-18 September 2007 in Prague, Czech Republic. Workshop demonstrations were held at Charles University in central Prague and at CinePOST, a cinema post-production facility within Barrandov Studios, one of the largest and oldest film production centers in Europe.

The CineGrid international research community is establishing a globally distributed development environment, or testbed, for members to experiment with both streaming and file-transfer of very high quality video and audio, explained Laurin Herr, President of Pacific Interface and a co-founder of CineGrid.

We believe that increasing access to fast optical networks around the world with capacity of 1 Gbps or more will forever change the way we enjoy movies and concerts, engage in scientific and medical research, or deliver distance learning curriculums using rich media content.

Anurag Mehta, the director of the short 4K feature, 'The Trident', said, I'm very pleased that my work was shown in such high quality to audiences in Prague. CineGrid’s pioneering efforts to show the potential for networked distribution of digital cinema on a global scale promises to help independent directors like myself reach new audiences around the world.

Showcasing 4K-over-IP Media Delivery on a Global Scale

This CineGrid @ GLIF 2007 demonstration took advantage of the 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps optical networking infrastructure of the Global Lambda Integrated Facility (GLIF) to establish a series of dedicated 1 Gbps Ethernet links configured as virtual local area networks (VLAN) to carry 4K digital motion pictures (3840 x 2160 pixels with 10-bit dynamic range) compressed using JPEG 2000, the technology adopted by the major Hollywood studios for commercial distribution of digital cinema formats to movie theatres at the highest quality. Before compression, the data rate of 4K motion pictures is approximately 6 Gbps. After compression, the data rate was reduced to 200­600 Mbps, allowing transmission within 1 Gbps circuits without visible loss of image detail. The 4K clips streamed from around the world were decoded in real-time in Prague using a JPEG 2000 decoder originally developed at Japan’s NTT Network Innovations Laboratory. Large screen presentation of the decompressed 4K motion pictures was accomplished using a Sony SRXD digital projector and a 5.1 surround sound audio system.

JPEG 2000 pre-compression of 4K content was performed by CineGrid colleagues from Keio University’s Research Institute for Digital Media and Content (Keio/DMC) and University of California San Diego’s California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (UCSD/Calit2) collaborating remotely. The 4K streaming playback servers hosted at CineGrid member sites around the world were hardware-configured locally and then software-configured and tested by Keio DMC engineers working from Tokyo. Network lightpaths connecting the distributed playback servers to the screening rooms in Prague were engineered by CineGrid members at StarLight and CzechLight, the GLIF Open Lightpath Exchanges located in Chicago and Prague, respectively.

This CineGrid @ GLIF 2007 demonstration was one of the largest scale streaming 4K-over-IP experiments done to date in terms of the variety of clips played, the number of playback servers and their very wide distribution geographically, according to Naohisa Ohta, professor at Keio/DMC.

Working with CineGrid colleagues around the world gives our researchers invaluable experience learning how to remotely collaborate on international networked-media projects.

4K compressed playback servers were hosted at the following CineGrid member sites:

  • Keio University, Research Institute for Digital Media and Content (Japan)
  • University of Amsterdam/SARA (Netherlands)
  • University of California at San Diego, California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology (USA)
  • University of Illinois at Chicago, Electronic Visualization Laboratory (USA)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, National Center for Supercomputing Applications (USA)
  • University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts (USA)
  • University of Washington, Research Channel (USA)

The 4K content used for the CineGrid @ GLIF 20007 demonstration included:

  • "Flight to the Center of the Galaxy" - Donna Cox and Bob Patterson University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, National Center for Supercomputing Applications
  • "Tornado Chase" - Cox and Patterson
  • "Scaleable City" ­ Sheldon Brown, University of California San Diego, Center for Research in Computing and the Arts
  • "Julia 4D Quaternion" ­ Dan Sandin, University of Illinois at Chicago, Electronic Visualization Laboratory; music by Stefan Vancov
  • "24 Flowers per Second" ­ Richard Weinberg, University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts
  • "Mystic India" ­ BAPS
  • "The Trident" ­ Anurag Mehta and Wildcard Entertainment LLC
  • "Sound and Vision" ­ Jaap Drupsteen
  • "7 Bridges of Amsterdam" ­
  • "Era la Notte" (from the Holland Festival 2007 performance) ­

CineGrid -- CineGrid’s mission is to build an interdisciplinary community focused on the research, development and demonstration of networked collaborative tools, enabling the production, use and exchange of very high-quality digital media over high-speed photonic networks. More information is available at

GLIF -- The Global Lambda Integrated Facility is an international virtual organisation of NRENs, consortia and institutions that promotes lambda networking. GLIF provides lambdas internationally as an integrated facility to support data-intensive scientific research, and supports middleware development for lambda networking. It brings together some of the world's premier networking engineers to develop an international infrastructure by identifying equipment, connection requirements, and necessary engineering functions and services. More information is available on the GLIF website at

CESNET -- The CESNET association was founded by all the universities and the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. The association deals with the research and development of information and communication technologies, building and developing the national gigabit optical network, CESNET2, designed for research and educational purposes. More information is available at