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Journey of an Epic’s Global Release

Vinita Bhatia learns how Qube Wire issued over 18,000 key delivery messages to release Kabali across 3,500 global cinema screens

September 2016, Digital Studio India

Say ‘No’ to piracy; do not download the internet from Kabali’ – this was one of the many jokes spawning across the internet before the movie opened to sold out shows in India and abroad. While several companies in southern India gave employees a day off to watch it, some AirAsia flights even had actor Rajnikanth’s face painted on it. Such is the euphoria that the actor evokes amongst his fans.

With so much riding on the much-anticipated movie, it was important for its makers to ensure that Kabali was released globally in a uniform, scalable, cost-effective and secure manner. Director Pa Ranjith and producer Kalaippuli S Thanu therefore decided to
rely on Real Image Media Technologies’ new innovation, Qube Wire, for the distribution of Digital Cinema Packages (DCP) to issue over 18,000 Key Delivery Messages (KDMs) worldwide in over 3,500 screens across 2,400 sites. This mechanism manages the global theatrical distribution cycle from a single point with multi-party collaboration, mirroring the existing distribution agreements between the production studio, global distributor, regional distributors and other intermediaries.

Impressed by the technology, Kabali’s producer, Thanu, said, “I was amazed at Qube Wire’s ease of use and how well it handled the scale of this movie’s release. Kudos to the Qube team for this pioneering product, which is quite revolutionary.”

SECURE FILM CONTENT DISTRIBUTION


Evolving from another Qube Cinema product called KeySmith, Qube Wire simplifies and expands the original technology to en- able producers and distributors to distribute their content globally using a stronger web interface with a simplified front end. To do this, the security at the backend and a global database of screens had to be improved, which was undertaken by a dedicated team for over two years.

Are you wondering what necessitated
the creation of Qube Wire? Well, earlier to distribute an Indian movie worldwide, the production company would enter into an agreement with service providers like Real Image Media Technologies, which would then digitally master the movie based on the producer’s instructions, and would assign the rights to distribute it in specific territories within India or various countries to other companies. Later, each of these distribution rights holders would then approach Real Image for keys to be made for their release theatres and Real Image would verify the chain of rights manually and release keys if these requests were valid for the individual theatres. “The biggest disadvantage of this manual system was the time taken for the verification process and the lack of scal- ability since a highly trustworthy internal team was needed at Real Image to verify and cross-check everything,” stated Senthil Kumar, co-founder of Qube Cinemas.

He further explained that Qube Wire’s patent-pending feature lets content owners pick specific territories where a Distribution Key (DK) works. A company can issue a DK to other companies within the Qube Wire ecosystem with restricted rights to issue DKs only to theatres within certain cities, states or countries, with the added ability to specify exclusions within a territory. Together with multi-level approvals, territorial restrictions allow one company to provide DKs to an- other company that mirror the contractual distribution terms between them.

“When a content owner issues a DK to another company, they can specify whether they need to approve each booking made by the other; or can ask to simply audit what the other company is doing. This continues to work even if the new company in turn issue

a DK to another company. So when a content owner distributes internationally, they get
to retain overall control of their movie while ceding the part that requires local knowledge – picking the actual theatres and creating a booking,” Jayendra Panchapakesan, Qube Wire’s co-founder added.

WHO STANDS TO GAIN?

Since this service is cinema-centric, it is aimed at producers and filmmakers. How- ever, it can be used by other content creators who want a secure and auditable distribution platform for their media assets. And the good news is that they can currently use it for free by registering on Qube Wire, where they can manage their company and user information. However, they will soon be charged based on the number of sites for which keys are generated or assets are delivered.

The most notable benefits for companies using Qube Wire is the simplicity if affords in executing a complex set of business rules – covering all critical agreements to enforce rights managements within arbitrary territory definitions, as it delivers a complete audit trace to the rights owner and maintains a comprehensive database of worldwide theatre information. For exhibitors in particular, this affords reliable delivery methods for both content and authorization keys, ensuring theatre uptime and no loss of shows.

Besides exhibitors, Qube Wire also eases matters for the movie’s producer and distributor as they no longer have to worry about the minutiae of distribution logistics. Once the movie is mastered, they can upload it on Qube Wire’s cloud network and assign someone to manage the key. The process has been simplified, digitised and made more secure.

Perhaps on the film’s release day, these stakeholders could even consider going to theatres to enjoy it, without having to worry about discrepancies of its release across various screens – knowing that Qube Wire has got that part covered. Of course, the anxiety about the movie’s performance will continue to haunt them, but that is part of their job!

SECURITY MATTERS!

Qube Wire use redundant Hardware Security Modules (HSMs) to encrypt every Private Key and these are never decrypted outside Qube Cinema’s FIPS 140-2 Level
3 secure boundary. The service’s platform provides multiple levels of authorization, both within a company, as well as across companies; multiple levels of user access, each having a specific subset of roles that they are allowed to perform within the platform; and finally, a comprehensive auditing framework that reports up to every single instance of any given media asset or authorization key being used.

Also, Qube Wire uses a security solution with multiple layers; from the media asset level, all the way up to the identification of users of the platform, across all exhibition locations and everything in between. The security of the platform is entirely self-contained, and does not rely on the cloud providers in any capacity – in fact, it is designed to thwart a rogue actor as highly placed as the cloud provider itself!