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Tracking the light

Transcontinental transmission of high definition film inaugurates 10-gigabyte optic fiber for academic Internet

MARIO LADEIRA/FILETeatro do Sesi theater: screening of digital film in resolution which is four times higher than that of high definition TVMARIO LADEIRA/FILE

The lights of the cinema and the lights of photonics met at the simultaneous viewing of a digital film transmitted in super high definition, in real time, from São Paulo to San Diego, California, in the United States, and to Yokohama, in Japan. The experiment highlighted the inauguration of an optic fiber line with Internet transmission capacity of 10 gigabytes per second/Gbps connected to countries abroad; this line will cater to São Paulo’s academic community. The event took place during the 10º Festival Internacional de Linguagem Eletrônica/File, Electronic Language Festival, held on July 30 and 31 at the theater located on the premises of Sesi, in the city of São Paulo. The film Enquanto a noite não chega, directed by Beto Souza, is the first long-feature film to be produced in Brazil in 4K, a video technology equivalent to four times the resolution of high-definition digital TV used around the world or to 24 times the resolution of traditional commercial TV. “The 4K technology does not make us miss the standard long-feature film,” says professor Jane de Almeida, from the post-graduate program in Education, Art and History of Culture at Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie university, who coordinated the event together with professor Eunézio Antônio de Souza, from the Photonics Lab of the same university. The experiment, which had never been performed in the Southern Hemisphere, also included a conference in real time with screen projection in the theater. The conference included participation by Brazilian researchers from Mackenzie and researchers from abroad, from the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts/CRCA and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology/Calit2 at the University of California in San Diego/UCSD, and the Research Institute in Digital Media and Content/DMC at Tokyo’s Keio University.

During the transmission, the researchers’ film and images were transformed into photons by lasers and delivered by optic fibers from the theater in São Paulo to the universities abroad, without going through any copper wire or the like. Incoming and outgoing 1.5 Gbps connections were made at each point, totaling 3 Gbps. “We worked at the cutting edge of optic and cinema technology,” says professor Souza, also known as Thoroh in the academic community. Each frame of the film, in digital 4K file, equivalent to one frame of photographic film in traditional film, contains 8 million pixels (4.096 x 2.160 pixels) in comparison to the existing 2 million pixels in the best current television technology (1.920 x 1.080), even though commercial or demo TV 4K screens still do not exist. Digital film needs 30 frames per second. Such a massive size of data could only go through a connection with a transmission band equivalent to or much higher than the current commercial standards. “To transmit the film, we used a 3,5 Gbps band for the transmission, equivalent to the capacity of 3,500 homes connected to the Internet at 1 megabyte per second (Mbps),” says professor Thoroh. His lab is part of the KyaTera network, a structure of optic fiber cables that interconnects research centers, in 20 Gbps, in the cities of São Paulo, Campinas and São Carlos, São Paulo State. This is part of the Programa Tecnologia da Informação no Desenvolvimento da Internet Avançada/Tidia, Advanced Internet Program headed by FAPESP. “The 4K event, held in July, was an exercise for the KyaTera network with the objective of connecting definitively to an international link this year.”

Expanded KyaTera
So far, this network has been used by researchers from São Paulo universities in experiments in the fields of photonics, network protocols and equipment use applications requiring broadband for transmission (see Pesquisa Fapesp nº 139). “Now that the researchers from the KyaTera network are connected to the academic network, called internet 2 [internet 1 is the commercial one], they will be able to establish speedy connections with other researchers around the world. This is already possible, as attested to by the 4K transmission, but requires the intervention of many people to achieve routing along the way. The idea is that they will be able to do this automatically in the future because the researchers from KyaTera will probably be the main users of this 10 Gbps link,” says professor Hugo Fragnito, from the State University of Campinas/Unicamp and coordinator of the KyaTera project.

The contracting and management of connections with foreign countries was done by the Academic Network at São Paulo/Ansp, which is financed by FAPESP. The Ansp also provides internet services to universities and research centers in São Paulo. The 10 Gbps connection is an extended agreement between Ansp and the US’s National Science Foundation/NSF. In 2005, these two entities created the Western Hemisphere Research and Education Networks-Links Interconnecting Latin America/Whren-Lila to provide optic fiber connections between São Paulo and Miami, initially at 2,5 Gbps. The new laser-illuminated optic fibers channel was leased from Latin American Nautilus, the company that owns cables with several fibers installed along the Brazilian coast and which extends from the Caribbean and Central America to Miami. From Miami, the transmission travels equally as quickly across the United States or to Europe or Asia. “The 10 Gbps connection will cost US$ 3 million a year, US$ 1,4 million of which will be provided by the NSF and the remaining amount by FAPESP,” says professor Luís Fernandez Lopez, coordinator of the Ansp network and of Tidia.

mackenzieThoroh and Jane at the conference with researchers from the United States and Japanmackenzie

The conventional or special Internet transmissions, as was the case in the film and videoconference held in July, leave Brazil through an optic fiber cable located in the town of Praia Grande, on the southern coast of São Paulo State and travel under the sea to Miami. In Florida, the cable is connected to the International Exchange Point for Research and Education Networking in Miami/ Ampath, which works as a traffic exchange point, also referred to as Network Access Point/NAP, between the US’s and international academic and educational networks that are also connected to the commercial Internet. The traffic exchange points consist of one or more pieces of equipment, called routers, where the Internet providers connect, under the form of bilateral agreements, so that the e-mails being exchanged ” in this case, for example, between a researcher from Mackenzie and another from the University of California – can be delivered. From this traffic exchange point in Miami, the Ansp has agreements with other networks connected to the Ampath, which, as Internet 2, provides access to the rest of the world. The Internet 2 is a high speed internet network comprised of more than 200 universities, 70 companies, 45 US Government agencies and 50 international organizations.

The agreements on traffic exchange based in Miami also includes access to the Atlantic Wave, maintained by research and educational entities in the US’s southeast. This network provides access in 40 Gbps to European and federal networks in the United States; National Lambda Rail, a US network comprised of universities and technology companies, that provides the infra structure for research and experiments; Florida Lambda Rail, a network of State of Florida institutions and Pacific Wave, which makes connections with Asian and Oceania networks in 10 Gbps. Another agreement is the one between the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California/ Cenic network, maintained by research institutes from the State of California.

Thanks to 10 Gbps transmission, the Ansp has begun to actually participate in the Global Lambda Integrated Facility/Glif), a virtual, global organization that promotes the integration of networks or lambdas (the various wave lengths emitted by lasers, also referred to as colors), to support scientific experiments. In addition, the organization promotes the exchange of experiences among network engineers that work in this field. “Glif is like a club or a consortium, where members do not have to pay a membership fee to exchange information among the academic networks that work in 10 Gbps,” says Lopez. The entity’s members include the European Center for Nuclear Research/Cern, Internet2, Fermilab, the UK’s Janet academic network, and the Trans-European Research and Networking Association/ Terena. In Brazil, the Rede Nacional de Ensino e Pesquisa/ RNP network, linked to the Ministry of Science and Technology, provides the structure for the research networks in Brasil and acts as an Internet provider, out of the scope of the Ansp, for universities and other research and educational institutes in the country. The RNP, which also participated in the preparations for the transmission of the 4K technology, expects an additional connection of 10 Gbps to Miami, through an underwater optic fiber cable owned by the Global Crossing company and connected in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Thus, the Brazilian academic network will have a shared 20 Gbps Internet connection with countries abroad.

But before the academic network’s Internet connection leaves through Santos to arrive in Miami and all the other networks around the world, it goes through a compulsory passage by the traffic exchange point in São Paulo, considered by the Glif, as being one of the 18 traffic points in the world’s academic networks. Still referred to as NAP do Brasil, this point is used for traffic exchange. It is managed by the Terremark company, the same company that manages Miami’s NAP. The São Paulo traffic exchange point has been installed in the city since 2004 in the municipality of Barueri, in São Paulo City’s Metropolitan Region. This traffic exchange point is the result of an agreement between FAPESP – which operated the academic and commercial traffic exchange point from 1998 to 2004 at its head office – and the US company.

Linked to the world
To transmit the film and the conference, it was necessary to reserve traffic connections along the Internet lines in the United States. A 10Gbps connection was reserved between Miami and Los Angeles, California, operated by C Wave, an experimental network run by the Cisco company, and part of the National Lambda Rail. A line owned by Cenic was used from Los Angeles to San Diego. From San Diego, the signal was transported to Tokyo by a cable that crosses under the Pacific Ocean; this cable is operated by the Japanese network Gigabit II. Part of the network also had to be prepared and reserved on the São Paulo side. This was the 10 Gbps line between the traffic exchange point in Barueri and USP. A special fiber network owned by telephony operator Telefônica was used by Mackenzie. Thanks to an agreement entered into in 2007 and renewed this year, this line was used by the Tidia network. “We used a disconnected, useless fiber, which means that the laser was not working there,” says professor Thoroh. Connecting the laser in the optic fiber and passing the 10 Gbps was possible thanks to the loan of optic transmission equipment owned by the University of São Paulo and the Foundry company, and lasers and amplifiers owned by the Padtec company, from Campinas, State of São Paulo. Another agreement with Telefônica for the event provided a connection from Mackenzie University’s Photonics Lab with the building owned by the Federação das Indústrias do Estado de São Paulo/ Fiesp (São Paulo Federation of Industries), where the theater is located. This connection was supplied through a high-speed dedicated optic fiber.

Eduardo cesarMackenzie: connection of the optic fibersEduardo cesar

This kind of international technical venture had only been held between the United States, Europe and Japan. Professor Jane had the idea in Brazil. “At the File 2008, together with researchers from UCSD, we ran some films in 4K and the next step would be to transmit the films,” says Jane. “So this year I contacted professor Thoroh, as I had become acquainted with his work on the KyaTera network, to ask about the possibility of transmitting the film to the United States. He bought my idea.” The two of them went chasing after the equipment, the film and the transmission. ” It was hard work,” says Thoroh. The projector and the cameras, which are still sold upon specific order, were lent by Sony.

To send the film, the researchers from UCSD had to bring two Zaxel Providers with 4 terabytes (TB) memory each. The film has approximately 5 TB, equivalent to one thousand standard DVD disks of 4,7 gigabytes. The 70-minute film is based on the novel Enquanto a noite não chega, by Rio Grande do Sul writer Josué Guimarães (1921-1986). The story is about an elderly couple, Dom Eleutério and Dona Conceição, who live in an abandoned town while they wait for death to come and get them. The gravedigger is the only other person living in that town and he is merely waiting to bury the old couple and go away to another town. But the gravedigger dies before the old couple. “Beto Souza made a film with extensive landscapes and rural colors. There is a scene where the old couple nostalgically tries to watch a film whose images have deteriorated,” Jane describes. “In the context of our transmission, this theme evokes an immediate connection with the end of traditional film ” which dies too late. Current opinion is that Hollywood is taking too long to substitute film,” she says. “The art is changing because of the new technologies. After 1915, traditional movies on film became established, but the 4K technology can change the movie industry.”