May 2007
Socializing Cyberinfrastructure: Networking the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Larry Smarr, Calit2; University of California, San Diego
Laurin Herr, Pacific Interface, Inc.
Tom DeFanti, Calit2; University of Illinois at Chicago
Naohisa Ohta, Keio University
Peter Otto, University of California, San Diego


From inception, CineGrid was conceived as a global effort, with collaborators linked by various national and regional research networks, many of them linked into cooperative peering systems like the Global Lambda Infrastructure Facility (GLIF) to create an international, non-profit testbed for distributed experiments using the highest possible quality pictures and sounds over 1Gbps and 10Gbps photonic networks. We believe CineGrid can stimulate development of new network-centric approaches optimized for digital media production and training/education. We have already seen that CineGrid experiments stimulate very useful testing and refinement of emerging middleware, specialized transport protocols, and collaboration tools, many of which were originally developed for scientific research, visualization, and Grid computing but which can be adapted to the needs of digital media of all types.

CineGrid sets out to define an architecture that enables secure, fast access to the digital media assets at all stages in production, post-production, distribution and archiving. The CineGrid initiative is aligned with four major trends:

  • Spreading deployment of a new generation of 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps digital networks, capable of moving extremely high-quality digital media very quickly between devices, systems, users and collaborators
  • Maturing implementation of Grid computing, which fosters the development of software tools to securely manage the high performance distributed workflows needed in support of digital media applications
  • Increasing demand for higher quality digital media exchange among remote collaborators in science, education, research, entertainment and art, as well as increased demand for networked distribution of high quality digital media around the world
  • Requiring development of new digital security tools to protect intellectual property rights

Because these are also the trends that drove the invention of the OptIPuter architecture, it is well suited to provide a first working prototype of the cyberinfrastructure needed for a complete digital cinema workflow environment. CineGrid is a new application for the OptIPuter, tailored to meet the special characteristics of networked digital media, particularly the multi-stream 1Gbps and 10Gbps requirements of digital cinema and real-time 4K compressed and uncompressed imagery, and other high quality digital image and audio formats.

We have rapidly found that in addition to the original application of 4K to digital cinema, this super high resolution format is also being adopted by the supercomputer simulation visualization, computer graphics, and scientific imaging communities. Thus, a wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary alliance is emerging to investigate the uses of this new medium. CineGrid enables new kinds of distributed media production, remote mentoring, remote-controlled scientific research, networked collaboration and international cultural exchange. Areas of investigation range from visual special effects for theatrical-quality, digital cinema production to high-resolution scientific visualizations.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Computer graphics of JPL supercomputer simulations of Monterey Bay currents, rendered as a 4K video by the NCSA team of Donna Cox, Bob Patterson, Stuart Levy and their colleagues. Note each quadrant of the 4K is equivalent to full-spec 1080 HDTV.

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Reference this article
Smarr, L., Herr, L., DeFanti, T., Ohta, N., Otto, P. "CineGrid: A New Cyberinfrastructure for High Resolution Media Streaming," CTWatch Quarterly, Volume 3, Number 2, May 2007. http://www.ctwatch.org/quarterly/articles/2007/05/cinegrid/

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