Lowry Digital’s 600 Power Mac G5s are forging the future of 4,000 line ultra HD DVD

“On the second floor of an unassuming office building on the edge of Burbank, John Lowry is forging what might be the future of the DVD – and, with it, the way that classic films will be stored, preserved, telecast and watched,” Fred Kaplan reports for The New York Times. “Mr. Lowry, who has worked for decades at enhancing video imagery, is responsible for some of the best-looking DVD restorations in recent years, including transfers of ‘Casablanca,’ ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in the West.'”

Kaplan reports, “Since last November, he has been immersed in a project that promises to advance the state of the art – and that has been kept secret, even among most industry insiders, until now. What he is doing will make a DVD look nearly as sharp and detailed as a 35-millimeter film print. It will produce images with six times the resolution of today’s high-definition television sets. In video quality, it could turn home theater into a true rival of the neighborhood cineplex.”

Kaplan reports, “Walk into the suites of Lowry Digital, the company that Mr. Lowry started six years ago, and the first sight that strikes you is the computer bank – rack after rack of Macintosh G5 computers, 600 of them, holding a combined memory of 2,400 gigabytes.”

Full article here.


  1. Not even in the right ballpark for HD space.

    For a 35mm scanned at 4,000 lines per frame with:
    1.85:1 aspect,
    only 24 bits per pixel (8 bits per RGB color),
    24 frames per second,
    90 minute movie
    — yields: 11.5 terabytes of raw, uncompressed data.

    If they are going with 16 bits per RGB color rather than 8 bits per RGB color (which is MUCH more likely) then this is about 23 terabytes per 90 minute film — and most films are longer than 90 minutes.

    So mike’s “24,000 Gigs” would barely be enough for one movie.

    Going to the other extreme… if they did a 70mm film at the same resolution:
    8,000 lines per frame
    2.35:1 aspect ratio
    48 bits per pixel (16 bits per color)
    24 frames per second
    4 hour epic movie
    — yields: 312 terabytes per movie of raw, uncompressed data.

    And if you are going to all the trouble of doing this kind of “master” scanning and archiving then you won’t be using very lossy forms of compression. You might even go completely lossless. For motion imagery the current state of the art for lossless compression is only about 1.8:1. Thus this is still about 173 terabytes.

    Sony does have 0.5 terabyte tapes (their SAIT tapes) which translates into 346 tapes per 70mm, 4 hour epic.

    Clearly someone needs to come up with a breakthrough in storage media!

  2. The PowerMac G5 in the corner was enough porn for me. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    If there is anyone who has large amount of processors they are willing to donate the nightly cycles to a lifesaving project.


    Make sure you introduce yourself and state your hardware, we have various tweaks and helperware to make contributing a breeze.

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