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berlinale2017

Colt: supporting Berlinale’s unique digital needs

Picture the scene: lights flashing on the red carpet, stars signing autographs, journalists conducting interviews and numerous fans waiting anxiously for the latest cinematic masterpieces.

With more than 300,000 tickets sold, Berlinale is one of the largest public film festivals in the world and is one of the most important events in the film industry. Over ten days, about 2,500 performances of more than 1,100 films take place across 25 venues in a total of 64 rooms. Yet with the films being so new and exclusive, many are only completed just as the festival begins. How are the films arriving at the festival in the right format at the right time?

Fiber optic festival venues

Colt plays a central role in the festival’s network infrastructure, alongside other official digital cinema partners of Berlinale. The global high bandwidth provider has been a digital cinema partner of the film festival for many years. No longer are films mostly stored on physical data carriers such as film reels, video tapes or DVDs - the era of having to physically deliver films to a projection room in a cinema on time is over. In fact, without the right digital infrastructure and network, today’s festival goers would see nothing but a flicker across the festival’s cinema screens. The majority of the productions shown at Berlinale are now delivered and presented in digital form. Over the duration of the festival, about one petabyte of film data is transmitted through Colt’s fibre optic network – the Colt IQ Network – which all 16 festival venues with a total of 51 rooms are connected to. This requires the corresponding technical specifications, which Colt’s high-capacity network can deliver.

Since 2014, Berlinale has also been using the Colt IQ Network over the course of preparation for the festival, including using the network over the film preselection process. Since 2015, the Colt data centre has been the digital hub of Berlinale. The safe and high-availability environment provides optimum conditions for power, cooling and protection of the film data. From there, the digital data is distributed directly into the venues after extensive tests at the Berlinale Film Office.

"In contrast to regular cinema operators, we have a lot more films that we have to transfer to theatres in a much shorter time. As such, we need much higher bandwidth and storage capacities," said Ove Sander, Technical Director of Digital Cinema at Berlinale. "It is also essential that our network solution is reliable but flexible at the same time – because the festival only lasts ten days, the lines are switched every year. Colt can do all this thanks to its own high-speed fibre-optic network here in Berlin."

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From Hollywood to Berlin in 30 minutes

From the festival preparation process, through to final delivery of the film data, Berlinale uses Colt's High Bandwidth 10-gigabit internet connection. Studios and postproduction teams can upload their film data directly to the Berlinale servers in various file formats. The 10 Gigabit connection is linked via a direct line to the central node DE-CIX in Frankfurt. This high bandwidth connection is required as five to ten films are usually transmitted at the same time to their final broadcast destination at Berlinale.

Many US film studios are using this service - thanks to the ability to flexibly upload film data, studios can spend more of their valuable time working on refining their cinematic masterpieces rather than on figuring out logistics. Prior to this connection, studies had to factor in at least a whole two days to send the festival contributions by mail. Today, for a 100 to 200 gigabyte data packet, the journey from Hollywood to Berlin takes only 30 minutes.

Using this connection only requires minimal coordination between post-production and the technology team of the Berlinale. The advantages lie on both sides – not only have the studios simplified the logistics involved, saved costs and gained time, the team at the Berlinale Film Office also has greater control over the digitised process when there are problems with a film because it can be quickly re-transmitted. In addition, no resources need to be dedicated to physically transporting film data around.

Highest quality viewing

A quality viewing experience is undoubtedly one of the key focuses for Berlinale, and the technical components behind the scenes must work smoothly to make it happen. Colt works closely with the Berlinale team across the year, and has already begun planning the next festival, to adapt the network offering to the specific requirements of Berlinale. Colt technicians are on call 24 hours a day not only at the opening ceremony and the award ceremony, but over the entire festival.

Learn more about Colt IQ Network On Demand