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Interview with Sanjay Chavan, Chief Technology Officer, UFO Moviez

September 27, 2018
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Interview with Sanjay Chavan, Chief Tech...
The media and entertainment sector has been rapidly increasing the use of technology to enhance business performance and efficiency. Information and communication technology (ICT) is playing an important role in various functions of the industry such as operations, product enhancement and service delivery. Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and data analytics hold a promising future in this space and are already seeing deployment at various levels. However, the deployment of new-age technologies and cutting-edge ICT solutions is laden with several challenges, including the lack of adequate IT infrastructure. Sanjay Chavan, Chief Technology Officer, UFO Moviez talks about the ICT trends in the media and entertainment industry…


What role is ICT playing in the media and entertainment industry? How has data explosion impacted the way business is being conducted?

ICT is bringing in a lot of changes in the media and entertainment industry. The industry has moved from radio to TV and now to smartphones. People do not have to download music or videos any more, which can be streamed live or on demand. Cloud infrastructure has been instrumental in facilitating streaming. Now, people are moving to the “internet of anything” concept, wherein any and every form of content can be attached to the internet or to a digital network and accessed from remote places.

What ICT solutions are being adopted by your organisation and how have they benefited business performance and efficiency?

Earlier, the movie business was running on celluloid print, which we referred to as the analogue format. Movies were shown using a print projector. On the commercial side, every print had a cost – distributors had to pay producers for content rights, and bear the costs of print material, logistics, storage and safety. Further, there were commercial arrangements between theatre owners and distributors.

We enabled the industry to move from print towards a digital format using ICT. While the modus operandi and the commercial arrangements broadly remain the same, there has been a reduction in costs as well as a significant improvement in reach. Piracy has also lost its market.

At the company level, we convert the print or digital intermediate file into digital format, which is then encrypted. We also install a server, which has a mechanism to deal with the content and play back on the screen. We also provide a digital projector to the theatre, which is compatible with the server and the sound system. We use a satellite-based network to transfer the content from our lab (where it gets digitalised) to all the theatres. To this end, we have installed a satellite dish at each theatre.

The encryption of files also means that the process is more transparent and the digital file cannot be exploited or misused. A theatre can play a file only as many times as the licence permits, after which it gets encrypted again. The systems have also addressed the issue of piracy. If someone tries to take a camera print from the UFO server and convert it into a DVD, it is possible to track the culprit down based on the information of the theatre from which it has been copied and time of theft through the water-marking system that all our content is enabled with.

What is the role of emerging technologies such as big data analytics, AI, and IoT in the media and entertainment industry?

We have experimented with IoT and have put it to commercial use.

What are the key challenges in the deployment of new technologies and management of the existing IT and telecom infrastructure?

The key challenges are technology adaptation and migration cost. Technology is changing so fast that it is difficult to upgrade infrastructure at the same pace. It is required that we build infrastructure that can be easily transformed as per future needs. However, designing such infrastructure is a big challenge both expertise-and cost-wise. Further, the advent of new technologies may bring some hesitance on the part of people who have to deploy it. For instance, when we moved from print to digital projectors, theatre cinema operators were hesitant to use the technology as they were not computer literate. So, we modified our interface to make it more user-friendly.

Additionally, the power conditions are bad especially in rural areas resulting in failures of the equipment and we have to put the additional equipment to protect them from bad power conditions.

Lastly, the cleanliness of environment also poses an issue as dust is an enemy of the electronic equipment. We have to educate the theatre staff about keeping the cleanliness of projection room, to put an AC, etc. We have to show the measurement of dust using the dust meter, which we specially bought to show the amount of dust and its effect on the equipment.

What ICT trends will shape the media and entertainment industry going forward?

The obvious trend we see going forward is that digital content will reach users even in the remotest corners of the country. In fact, we have been using technology to reach our consumers in media-dark areas with our initiative called Caravan Talkies. But in the years to come, it’s going to be all about advancement in digital technologies; although the scale of their impact on the entertainment industry is going to be huge, there is no quantifying it.


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