Technology Profile – Video
A Virtual Projectionist for Your Home Cinema
Kaleidescape provides the definitive luxury cinema experience in the home.
By Geoff Stedman
WHAT IF YOU COULD HAVE your own personal projectionist hang out in your home cinema space? Someone to slowly bring up the floor lights when you pause the movie so you can slip out for a bathroom break or to grab a fresh bowl of popcorn, or lower the lights and resume the movie when you hit the Play button? Or better yet, how about your projectionist going directly to the opening frame – bypassing movie trailers and the FBI warnings – when you want to start a movie? That would be pretty cool, right?
And what would you say if I told you that your personal projectionist could deliver a picture and soundtrack that is not only better than anything you’ve ever seen, but clearly outperforms your neighborhood theater? Now that would be really cool, wouldn’t it?
All of that and more is now possible with the latest movie content source we’ve developed here at Kaleidescape. Let me walk you back through time and talk about our roots and how we’ve gotten to a unique place of being the only company providing the definitive luxury cinema experience in the home.
We began life in 2003 as a manufacturer of DVD Movie Servers – storage devices that imported the DVD, stored the content securely, and made it possible to access those movies from any room within the home. The process was very similar to how you imported CDs to store them in your iTunes account. Simply put, we made it possible for you to access your movies conveniently, instantly in the best quality available at that time. From the very beginning, one of our main strengths was in how we valued metadata (valuable information about movies to deliver a cinematic experience). For example, we would play back a title from the first frame of the movie that was sourced from the DVD onto our movie server and then we would adjust the screen masks precisely to every single movie, and send the right audio/video format settings to the front projector and the sound processor. We set the gold standard for using the DVD cover art as a way to surf your movie collection, and to use the metadata to make suggestions to other titles similar to the one you had selected. We could also categorize movies by various criteria as another way to explore your library. A better home cinema experience meant an engaging way to interact with movies you cared about collectively on a big screen and enjoying watching one in your home theater.
The Golden Age of home cinema has finally arrived. Technology developed during the past few years has profoundly changed what is now possible in a home cinema – whether that’s a great room, a spare bedroom, or a dedicated theater. The latest generation of surround sound systems, together with true 4K Ultra High Definition video, create an immersive experience that isn’t even possible in most neighborhood movie theaters. That means homes are where the cutting edge of the cinematic experience is taking place. So, let’s take a closer look at how our company has transformed our products to benefit from the latest home A/V technologies to create a cinematic re-production.
Kaleidescape’s latest movie players are similar to our original movie servers. The major difference is that instead of importing a movie from a shiny disc, we now prepare our own source file for each movie which is downloaded via an Internet connection to the player. Our basic player holds about 200 movies, which is a lot, but if you outgrow this there is an easy option – you can buy more hard disk storage. With an Internet connection of 100 Mbps, a 4K Ultra HD movie takes about 40 minutes to download.
If you own multiple properties, your library can be available in each location where you have a Kaleidescape. And with today’s wired Gigabit Ethernet in-home network connectivity, a qualified technology designer can easily give you the ability to access content throughout the house.
Our license agreements with the major Hollywood studios have enabled Kaleidescape to provide the first and only Internet delivery of full-quality Blu-ray and 4K HDR movies. Wait a second, you’re thinking to yourself – what about all the streaming services? They also have 4K movies, but those movies are formatted to simply cover every pixel on a 4K television or projector, and not meant to reproduce the highest-fidelity picture quality. In explaining exactly what that means, let me take you behind the scenes and share how we bring hit movies to your home theater.
It all begins with what is called a Mezzanine File. That’s the master file that the content owners provide to online retailers. These files are huge, like 3 terabytes (TB). Much like you don’t share the uncompressed full quality 4K picture from your high-end camera for social media posts, it’s not practical to share the master file to almost any device or app on the planet. So, the information is selectively removed in order to minimize the size of the transmitted movie file. This “compression” results in loss of important audio and video information that matters most for people who own a home cinema with high-end audio and video investments and less so for mobile devices, tablets or small screen TVs. Too much compression and unpredictable streaming performance results in a degraded cinema experience.
Kaleidescape’s movie source files use proprietary methods to transform the master files into the highest-fidelity audio and video and include extensive proprietary metadata to provide the Kaleidescape movie player with information that can be integrated into home control systems that are typically performed by a real projectionist in a cinema theater. This metadata includes unique embedded information within movies for automatic playback preferences, lighting control, screen masking, Kaleidescape Scenes and Songs, and 2.35 CinemaScape onscreen display support, all of which enhance the cinema experience.
Kaleidescape focuses on picture and sound quality whereas streaming services primarily cater to convenience, immediacy and portability. For example, with the amazing Dolby Atmos immersive sound technology combined with the lossless Dolby TrueHD format, the difference between Kaleidescape and streaming content is night and day. Streamed content uses a highly compressed version of Dolby technology, and given that sound makes up at least 50 percent of the movie experience, it’s not possible to have a cinematic experience.
The quest for perfect picture and sound reproduction at home makes Kaleidescape a have-to-have content source in your home cinema.
just press play
When you go to a movie theater, you don’t do anything more than find your seat and get comfortable. A projectionist is responsible for setting the temperature, adjusting the lights, and starting the film and many of these functions are automated.
In many homes, technology designers are integrating control systems that reside in the background of your life, while performing multiple tasks to automate your lifestyle experience. Names like Crestron, Control4 and Savant are familiar to many of you. That metadata I explained earlier? We share that with the control system, so when you select Play on the remote, the control system can dim the lights, adjust the screen masks to the precise aspect ratio of the movie, set the proper lighting conditions in the room depending on main feature, intermission or end credits roll, and audio format settings, automated subtitle and language-track selection, to optimize the viewing experience. It would be, in effect, as if you had your very own projectionist.
The immersive audio, the stunning picture, the dimming of the lights, the suddenly silent audience. The thunder, the lightning, the whispers, the sunset, the roar of the lion – all faithfully reproduced, just as the director intended. Right in your own home.
A great film is best enjoyed with friends and family all settled into your luxurious seating.
The fun of choosing a movie begins. Browse a genre. Read a synopsis. Watch the trailer. With over 11,000 titles to choose from, deciding may be the hardest part.
Then, with the touch of a button, the lights dim, and screen masking adjusts – all automatically. Cell phones go down. In an instant, everyone is immersed in the big screen and the incredible sound. Eventually, end credits roll, lights slowly come back on, and reality intrudes. Then, someone says, “Let’s look at the extras.”
Awards are nice (we’ve won many) but what matters more is all the movie lovers we’ve won over. People choose Kaleidescape because they know the most important component in a luxury home theater is the one that enables all the other components to perform at their best. That means managing the full experience – lighting, audio, screen masking, projection – every detail.
Paired with our meticulously curated content, the care and craftsmanship of a Kaleidescape movie player delivers an immersive home theater experience you can’t get anywhere else.
Check out this review of the Kaleidescape Strato S Movie Player from our friends at Audio Advice: