What is DIGSS and why do we need it?
Download a PDF of What is DIGSS? here.
Digital Immersive Giant Screen Specifications (DIGSS) is an
initiative to establish technical specifications for digital theaters with
giant flat and dome screens. DIGSS shares many of the goals of the Digital
Cinema Initiatives specification (which standardized digital projection for
multiplex movie theaters), and presents specifications for the unique
requirements of ultra-high resolution digital giant screens that were not part
of the DCI specification. DIGSS-compliant theaters may be fully DCI compliant,
partially DCI compliant, or non-DCI compliant.
DIGSS describes the technical specifications for immersive
cinema films and theaters with the goal of maintaining and expanding a global
network that is clearly differentiated from conventional movie theaters, and large
enough to support a robust market of films designed specifically for giant
DIGSS is intended to be modified and adapted to the needs of
the community it serves as circumstances change. The original DIGSS 1.0
document was published in 2010, and the first minor revision, version 1.1, was
finalized in June 2014. DIGSS 1.2 was finalized in September 2015, and DIGSS
2.0 was released in January 2018.
What was the origin
DIGSS 1.0 is the result of the DISCUSS Colloquium (organized and hosted by the White Oak Institute and partly
funded by the US National Science Foundation), at which 20 science museum
leaders and technical experts met for a three-day conference in Marblehead, MA,
in June 2010. There they reached consensus on the first draft of specifications
for digital giant-screen theaters in the international museum market.
The intent was to support science museums’ needs for
immersive learning, particularly with regard to the giant-screen sizes and
image aspect ratios that would most clearly differentiate institutional
theaters from conventional movie theaters.
By a unanimous vote on September 22, 2011, the board of the
GSCA accepted the role of stewardship of DIGSS 1.0, with a goal of further
developing the recommendations.
current primary goals of DIGSS are:
establish specifications for the image and audio portions of GS content that
represent the minimum acceptable levels of quality and additional aspirational
standards that may be achieved as technology advances.
- To create
theater quality specifications.
like the DCI Specification, DIGSS establishes technical requirements and
specifications for digital GS theaters, including screen brightness, screen
characteristics, speaker placement, theater layout, and more. Establishing
these standards will help ensure consistently high-quality audience
- To grow the
will help create an open-access global network of compatible giant, immersive
theaters large enough to support viable production of films intended primarily
for those theaters.
DIGSS will help create an open-access global network of
compatible giant, immersive theaters large enough to support viable production
of films intended primarily for those theaters.
DIGSS is intended to provide the following benefits
the maximum number of films available in a compatible digital format.
confusion and costs by providing a competitive selection of equipment.
the superior exhibition quality for which GS films are known, while
differentiating GS theaters from commercial theaters, technically and
Only a handful of digital multiplex theaters were in place
before the development of the DCI Specification. Today, more than 150,000 screens,
or 98% of the worldwide commercial theater market, have converted to digital
under the DCI specification.
In contrast, according to LF Examiner, as of December 2017 there were 231 giant-screen
institutional and commercial standalone theaters worldwide that play
documentary content, 148 of which (64%) are digitally equipped, most with
DCI-compliant systems. (Not all of the 231 are giant screens by GSCA’s
definition.) Fifty-one former film domes have been converted to fulldome,
DCI-compliant digital, or some other digital system.
There are more than 1,400 digital fulldome theaters with
projection systems from about ten vendors, each with its own standards and
specifications. They exchange programming using the Dome Master specification first drafted in 2004 and now maintained by IMERSA. Over 160 fulldome theaters
are giant screens by GSCA definition, but even non-GS fulldomes represent a
substantial ancillary market for giant-screen films, making compatibility with
fulldome an important feature of the DIGSS specification. Another ancillary
market for GS films is the growing number of non-GS flat-screen theaters in
museums and other venues.
The conversion to digital is well under way for many of
GSCA’s members. It may be beyond the scope of DIGSS to standardize all existing
digital theaters, but establishing standards for new construction, new
installations, and conversions is where the DIGSS specifications have the
potential to be most valuable.