Movie Theater Streams 2K Resolution Film Using BitTorrent

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The MPAA has previously been critical of the negative effect it says BitTorrent has on the movie industry, but a recent experiment in a Norwegian movie theater shows that it might actually be of use to them. Researchers from The Far North Living Lab managed to stream a full 2K resolution film at 19mbit/s - with BitTorrent of course.

The Far North Living Lab started by the Northern Research Institute (Norut) aims to create a platform for digital creativity. Recently the lab kicked off with a spectacular experiment in which they used the (EU funded) Tribler BitTorrent client to stream a 2K resolution film onto the big screen.

The lab’s launch was held at a local movie theater where the film “Carved” by Jonas Rejman was projected, with consent from the copyright holder of course. To our knowledge this is a digital streaming world premiere for BitTorrent, and one that shows how the technology can actually help digital cinema and independent filmmakers.

Many independently produced films never make it onto the big screen simply because the costs involved are too high. At the moment most digital movies are distributed “over land” on hard disks costing up to $2000 for each copy. BitTorrent has the power to change this outdated distribution method and get smaller budget films onto the big screen.

The Far North Living Lab’s experiment shows that it’s even possible to stream movies if the connection is good enough, but Dr. Njål Borch, a senior researcher involved in the project added that downloading the film beforehand is probably a better option.

For this test run the researchers did not use a real-life BitTorrent swarm, since that would make it pretty much impossible to get the 19mbit/s download speed required to stream the film onto the big screen.

“We didn’t use a publicly available torrent, as not many would put out those kind of bitrates,” Borch told TorrentFreak. “We seeded it from our own computers including some local seeds in order to get the speed up, but we’re currently upgrading the connection to the cinema to a 1 Gig fiber optic cable that will allow us to perform these kind of experiments with no local seeds.”

The lab’s next stunt will be to stream a live concert to the city of Beijing as well as a few selected rural areas. “We want to participate in the world even though we are physically placed way beyond what most people find inhabitable,” Dr. Borch said. “We’re not afraid of the future, the Internet will not kill creativity. Quite on the contrary – we are very exited!”

We only hope that this excitement will get the movie industry interested, so BitTorrent can actually be used for what it’s intended – promoting unlimited creativity. The MPAA will probably be scared to death though, since it allows independent filmmakers to compete with large budget blockbuster productions.

BitTorrent enters the Movie Theater


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