From Hollywood to Berlin in 30 mins

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This year, it will only take 30 minutes for some Hollywood productions to reach the International Film Festival in Berlin. “Provided the remote site has a fast connection, this is how long it takes to upload 100-200 GB data packets to the Berlin data centre via Colt’s 10 Gigabit internet access,” says Ove Sander, Berlinale’s Technical Manager Digital Cinema.

That internet access is provided to Berlinale by Colt – along with all other international network services that the festival requires. Deployed for the first time last year, the service was well received, with more than 12 terabytes of data transmitted. The 10Gbps line is connected directly with the central internet node DE-CIX in Frankfurt. The high bandwidth is required to allow 5-10 films to be transmitted simultaneously by the Berlinale deadline.

We’ve already connected the 16 permanent Berlinale venues to our global fibre-optic network for digital transmission of films to the cinemas and central storage of the film data in our data centre. The next step is providing internet access for film delivery. This will replace the existing processes for the festival with innovative and modern IT infrastructure.

“Two or three years ago we got the first enquiries, above all from foreign post-production companies, who wanted us to download their films”, says Ove Sander. “That would have been a lot of work for us because of all the different systems involved. It would have meant downloading the films from the various studios, then uploading them to our own systems. That’s why we set up the connection with a partner and implemented it together with Colt. Now we ask the post-production companies to use it because it cuts our workload right back.“

Before they can use it, the post-production companies have to briefly square it with the Berlinale technical team. In particular, IT security has to be synchronised. Both sides benefit. The Berlinale Film Office has less work with package handling. But above all, the team gains time if there are problems with a film, because it can be retransmitted quickly. The time saving is also a major advantage for the studios because it gives them more time to work on the productions. It also makes logistics simpler and cuts costs. The system is easy to use, so it’s also suitable for small post-production companies. That’s provided they themselves have the bandwidth needed for the IP upload. Berlinale recommends 50 Mbps. Otherwise, especially within Germany, classic courier transport could still be faster than transmission via data line. That would make using the infrastructure pointless.

“This year, after last year’s success, we used the IP access in a 1-Gigabit version for the pre-selection in Berlin”, says Ove Sander. “We received 100 films that way.”

In coming years, the Berlinale Festival expects a further decline in the use of carrier media and wants to encourage this by actively recommending the IP connection for delivery of films.

Make Do

11 February 2016

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