As more films like "Nemo" are created, however, the technological tide may be turning. Just as DVDs enable the display of sharper images than videotapes, digital cinema should make it possible to project sharper, brighter pictures than film. But are digital images really better than film images?
To help clarify the situation, scientists and engineers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are helping the film industry to measure the quality of images on the screen. NIST is working with Digital Cinema Initiatives LLC (DCI), a consortium of film studios that is creating a test bed to measure and evaluate the performance of digital cinema systems, including projectors. DCI plans to look at the results of human evaluation and of scientific measurements to evaluate image quality. NIST is providing technical expertise for the project via test patterns and procedures that measure brightness, contrast, resolution and other variables that influence image quality.
The results could have implications for other fields, such as high-resolution satellite imagery and telemedicine, where the quality of X-rays and other images is critically important.