UPDATE! Kaleidescape is coming back to the CEDIA 2017 custom electronics show in a big way this week to unveil a new solution that bridges its older Premiere disc-based HD media players with its latest 4K-Strato players that download up to Ultra HD Blu-ray quality movies with HDR from the company’s cloud-based Movie Store.

It is also announcing the addition of Paramount to its list of supporting studios to the Kaleidescape online Movie Store, as well as the addition of the first titles in 4K Ultra HD with HDR10 from 20th Century Fox.

Sony also announced at the show that it has reached a cross-marketing deal on Sony native 4K SXRD projectors and Kaleidescape Strato players that will give purchasers of Sony native 4K projectors a bundle of 10 free classic and new release movies for the Kaleidescape 4K Strato players through the Kaleidescape online Movie Store, in an offer valued at up to $350 running through March.

The new activity in San Diego this week is nothing short of miraculous given the state of Kaleidescape a year ago. In fact, the company’s mere appearance will be something of a Lazarus story.

Last year, Kaleidescape was still licking its wounds after being forced to temporarily shut its doors due to an unavoidable financing pinch and an inability to raise necessary capital to continue operations.

With financing now in hand, a long list of supporting Hollywood studios providing content, and propelled by the strength of its advanced video technology, the 14-year-old company is back. It’s also ready to embrace not only new Strato player customers but those long-time Kaleidescape enthusiasts who own one of its Premiere products, which were intended to import content from physical discs into the home media ecosystem.

Read more on Kaleidescape’s plans for CEDIA 2017 after the jump:

Cheena Srinivasan, Kaleidescape CEO, said that at CEDIA the company will unveil its Co-Star product, consisting of a $495 hardware based video switcher and sophisticated, yet-easy-to integrate software that will bridge legacy Kaleidescape (Premiere) systems with the newer Strato 4K UHD-enabled and Alto Blu-ray-enable (Encore) media players, enabling access to the formerly incompatible device libraries through a common and updated on-screen user interface.

“We are going to give our customers, who own any of the tens of thousands of Kaleidescape M Class BD-quality movie players out there, the opportunity to purchase a dedicated HDMI switch that will connect an M Class (Premiere) movie player and a (4K UHD capable) Strato (Encore) Movie player to a TV or projector with an accompanying software release that would make it possible for the customer to use a single on-screen user interface,” Srinivasan told HD Guru. “The interface will come from Strato and will let the user play 4K Ultra HD content with high dynamic range directly from a Strato or Terra (server). If the title happens to be stored on a prior generation product like any of the traditional Premiere products, the system will present that listing on the Strato user interface. Then, by pressing play, the title will play seamlessly on the television screen. But in the background the system has created an alternate path from the M Class player to the television.”

Customers will need to purchase a Kaliedescape Strato 4K player to access and playback 4K Ultra HD content from the Movie Store, but with the Co-Star product they can circumvent newer copy protection gatekeeping and integrate their legacy libraries into the modern system, without the need to repurchase that content for use on the newer hardware.

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Kaleidescape M Class products were introduced in 2015 in conjunction with Kaleidescape’s online digital movie store. When connected to a new Strato media player, the Encore products add the ability to play 4K Ultra HD content with high dynamic range (HDR).

To tap into the Premiere players so that owners can preserve their old disc-based libraries and enjoy content, including 4K/HDR titles, from the Kaleidescape Movie Store, the Co-Star HDMI switch linking system was necessary.

“The reason this is so important is that as long as we’ve existed, we’ve always tried to provide an upgrade path for existing customers,” Srinivasan said. “As audio and video formats changed, we made sure that we brought our loyal customers to the current technology, which is better and delivers a more immersive experience. But [with 4K Ultra HD and HDR] we had a difficult time doing it, and it took us a while, but the Co-Star integrated solution we came up with made great business sense and was very customer centric. Now we can bring our longtime loyal customers over to enjoying the benefits of Strato without having to think of all their different Kaleidescape products as the Kaleidescape HD system or the Kaleidescape 4K system, etc.”

When pressure from Hollywood studios forced Kaleidescape to change it business model from one that cloned discs (DVDs at the time) to its players and servers to one that downloaded digital copies of movies purchased directly through the online Movie Store, Kaleidescape started going for the very finest quality content it could license, which required supporting the various new content security technologies that came along with them. That made it impossible to store that content on older Kaleidescape players and servers, which also lacked the necessary mechanisms to playback newer digital formats for HD and UHD/HDR titles.

Srinivasan estimated there are between 65,000 and 70,000 Blu-ray quality M Class Kaleidescape players in the marketplace that are potentially upgradeable via the Costar system. In addition, the number of viewing locations per Kaleidescape system varies greatly, from one in a household to more than 100, in the case of a mega Yacht with 105 cabins, for example, he said.

Interestingly, Kaleidescape will be attending the Monaco Yacht Show at the end of September because Kaleidescape has become the defacto entertainment standard for the Yacht and Mega Yacht set, Srinivasan said.

Kaleidescape will soon begin notifying customers with legacy M Class products that they can upgrade and link their systems by buying a new 4K Strato player and a Costar system link. Notices will go out through email and through players’ on-onscreen notification systems, Srinivasan said. In addition, Kaleidescape dealers/installers will also notifying customers who could benefit from the Costar capability.

In related developments, Kaleidescape also has been working with Lumagen on solutions to maintain a standard frame rate and HDMI version compatibility for various video projectors with different handshaking issues, Srinivasan said.

Additionally, the company announced it has added 20th Century Fox 4K Ultra HD titles and Paramount to the list of major Hollywood studios supporting the Kaleidescape Movie Store. Intitial titles from Paramount will include recent 2016 and 2017 releases in 4K/HDR, and those will gradually be joined by studio catalog titles.

Fox has offered movies through the Kaleidescape Movie Store since 2016, but is now expanding that participation to include for the first time 4K Ultra HD titles with HDR10, as well. Both Kaleidescape and Fox are members of the Secure Content Storage Association (SCSA), which promotes the expansion of downloaded movie content to storage devices for home and mobile use.

Fox recently announced that it would be supporting the HDR10+ dynamic metadata format developed by Samsung, and Srinivasan told HD Guru that he has asked for the format specifications and his development team will be investigating system compatibility.

“With some of these things it’s a mere matter of graphics processing power and compute power. We have both in the SoC that we use, but until by engineering team really takes a look at the specifications it will be hard for us to make a comment on it. Needless to say, with the changes that have been happening within HDR — be it Dolby Vision, HDR10+, Hybrid Log-Gamma, we are going to have to stay very close to what’s happening here. Most importantly it all boils down to the content owners — what is the format that they want to support, when you peel that onion further you find out that they all want to ensure there is a fair distrubtion of royalty across the board. That’s why HDR10 has been so popular within the studios, because it’s open standard HDR. But we are a high-end brand and as such we are going to have to ensure that our products remain compliant and provide a spectaular experience for our customers.”

Kaleidescape will offer demonstrations of the integrated systems at its CEDIA in the San Diego Convention Center September 7-9th.


By Greg Tarr


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