4K and Beyond
Oct 8, 2014 10:42 PM, By David Keene
In Search of the Perfect Projector
The panel session “Next Generation Video Projection: 4K, HFR, Super High Lumen, Laser Light Engines, and More” at the Rental & Staging Roadshow New York, with (left to right) Bill Beck from Barco, Jeff Schneider from Digital Projection, and Mike Garrido from Christie exploring the cutting edge of large venue projection. Garrido showed examples from Christie’s recently published book “The Book of Transformations” (you can download at www. christiedigital.com/projection-mapping).
The InfoComm 2014 show is wrapped. The Rental & Staging Roadshow New York City, done. As I write this, another major film festival– the Toronto Film Festival– is under way with lots of new projection technology on hand. And through it all– through all of 2014, a great year for the industry not just large venue projection– several technology trends continue entice the market. At the top of the list, 4K hardly needs an introduction to anyone reading these pages. But it’s time to put aside the 4K hype from the TV/flat panel world, and assess what impact 4K is having in the staging world– not just edge blending any number of 1080P projectors to get 4K and more– but getting 4K and other improvements from one big gun and more importantly leveraging quantum leaps in performance like 4K with other new developments.
The Insight Laser 4K from Digital Projection is not just about laser. Yes, it’s a laser phosphor projector with 12,000 lumens, 4096x2160 resolution and a 20,000 hour replaceable laser light source. But note it’s the larger size of the 4K DLP chip, not any light source difference, that gives the boost in lumens– from 10K lumens to 12K on the Insight model vs the 2K version of the projector. And this unit supports frame rates up to 144 Hz with full support for most 3D formats.
The introduction of true 4K from one projector is a welcome development. And one about which we got some interesting insight on Wednesday July 23rd at the Rental & Staging Roadshow in Manhattan, in the panel session “Next Generation Video Projection: 4K, HFR, Super High Lumen, Laser Light Engines, and More”, with Bill Beck from Barco, Jeff Schneider from Digital Projection, Mike Garrido from Christie, and myself as moderator exploring the cutting edge of large venue projection. It could have been a recap of the “laser projector wars” panel at InfoComm but this panel was focused on large venue, live event projection, not cinema. That being said, it would have been remiss of me as moderator to not have the presenters explain and outline the genetic heritage– spawned in the cinema market– of the high lumen laser projectors we’re now seeing. Bill Beck, one of the world’s top experts on laser-light source video projection and recently having joined Barco– opened the panel by outlining the advantages of laser projectors for any large venue: brightness 2-3 times that of Xenon lamp projectors; increase of uniformity, CR, gamut and color saturation; longer lifetime with more than 30,000 hours at full brightness; higher efficiency as the laser source cuts power consumption by 30-50% vs. Xenon; and the option of placing the light source remote from the projector head. And Beck pointed out that the big gun laser projectors (both Barco and Christie have units with 60K lumens) will drive innovations across the board for large venue projection. For example, improvements in HDR (High Dynamic Range), higher res (8K), and HFR (High Frame Rate).
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this yearscreened 392 features and 139 world premieres from 79countries. The Festival was held September 4 – 14. With 4Ksubmissions to the festival having doubled from 2013, Christie,the official projection sponsor for fourteen consecutive years,offered 4K screening capability at Roy Thomson Hall (shownhere), Princess of Wales Theatre, The Elgin Theatre’s VisaScreening Room and Ryerson Theatre. All TIFF Bell Lightboxcinemas also feature Christie 4K projection. In addition tothe use of Christie Solaria Series 4K and 2K DLP Cinemaprojectors, Christie is providing the Christie HD10K-M projectorwith dual HD-SDI input module, and six Christie CineIPM2K digital cinema image processors. Christie also supportedlegendary filmmaker and Academy Award winning visualeffects pioneer Douglas Trumbull, who led a discussion, “AdInfinitum: Bigger, Faster, Brighter Movies – The ChangingCreative Landscape of Digital Entertainment,” on September11th as part of TIFF’s Industry Conference, addressing the powerof 3D 4K 120 frames per second (fps) projection by presentinghis groundbreaking short film, UFOTOG, on a Christie Mirage4K projector.
Christie of course is in the race with Barco to market next gen, super high lumen DLP Cinema projector, but Mike Garrido from Christie focused, in the panel, on case studies showing some of that company’s participation in a variety of prestigious jobs that used high lumen projection mapping– similar to the case studies presented in the morning’s Media Server Panel. Garrido showed examples from Christie’s recently published book “The Book of Transformations” (you can download at www.christiedigital.com/projection-mapping).
Rounding out the session nicely, Jeff Schneider of Digital Projection also presented some interesting case studies including the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City that included video projection onto the ceiling of the venue. And in a good contrast to Barco and Christie’s laser projector offerings, Schneider explained Digital Projection’s different approach to the market– offering laser projectors that are more targeted to live events. Those projectors are DP’s new Insight Laser 4K, a laser phosphor projector with 12,000 lumens, 4096x2160 resolution and a 20,000 hour replaceable laser light source; and the HIGHlite Laser, the 1080P version with 10,000 lumens. (Interestingly, the it’s the larger size of the 4K DLP chip not any light source difference that gives the boost in lumens on the Insight model.)
At the Roadshow, Bill Beck demo’d how the new generation Laser light source projectors– like the DP4K 60L from Barco– are not just about more lumens on the screen but also facilitate other “building blocks” of large venue projection including pixel mapping in 4K, achieving 60+ KLM without roll-off. The Barco DP4K 60L does 4K 6P Laser 3d and 4K 60fps 2D (with the Barco Alchemy Alchemy Cinema Media Processor).
There are great things in store for video projection for live events. And my biggest takeaway from the panel at the Roadshow: when it comes to laser, staging pros should take extra comfort in the fact that the old lumen spec issues are being turned on their head. The days of actual projectors in the field struggling to live up to the official published lumen rating from the factory– well, we’re entering a new world now. All the big manufactures that are showing– and shipping– laser light source projectors, are actually doing all their demos and even rating their products conservatively, and using a kind of a sliding lumens output, depending on the need of the room, to get maximum efficiency not just max lumens. So those incredible 60K lumen ratings that you’re hearing about– the units can actually do more than that.