Cinema is an application-neutral approach to large data analysis, visualization and exploration. The foundation of Cinema is database specifications that provide a way for common data to be written and read by any application. We provide reference implementations of exporters and viewers, but these are by no means intended to be the only applications within the Cinema community. A good way to get started is to read the Supercomputing Paper that first described Cinema’s approach. From there, you can move on to reading the specifications, creating databases with our tools, or including Cinema-compliant components in your own workflows.


  • Dietrich (specification ‘D’) This is an updated specification D, which includes multiple files and arbitrary data. This is the current Cinema specification.
  • Previous specifications. Some applications still operate on these specifications.
    • Chaplin (specification ‘C’)  This includes mobile cameras, floating point images (which can be recolored interactively), and fixes to previous specifications.
    • Bacall (specification ‘B’)  This has been deprecated.
    • Astaire (specification ‘A’)  This is a basic embodiment of the Cinema vision, and is the best way to get started with cinema. It includes both static and spherical cameras, and includes the capability to turn elements on and off as detailed in the SC paper.

Download or Create Cinema Databases

You can download these databases and explore them with the reference viewers, or dig through the databases themselves to understand the Cinema system.

Or, you can create your own databases:

  • Write your own (starting simple). The specification documents have examples of simple databases, and you can use them to simply write your own databases using text editors.
  • Export a database from a standard tool We have a reference implementation of exporting Cinema databases within the current version of ParaView. Using ParaView, you can view your data, and export either Astaire or Chaplin databases, depending upon your use case.

Download Viewers

You can explore these databases by visiting our Downloads Page and getting either executables or code.