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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Large Format Forum   » IMAX to partner with Barco for laser projection (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: IMAX to partner with Barco for laser projection
Dick Vaughan
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 - posted 02-07-2012 08:26 AM      Profile for Dick Vaughan   Author's Homepage   Email Dick Vaughan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Press release just out from IMAX

here

IMAX PARTNERS WITH BARCO TO CO-DEVELOP NEXT-GENERATION LASER PROJECTION TECHNOLOGY
NEW YORK, Feb. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- IMAX Corporation (NYSE: IMAX; TSX: IMX) today announced it selected Barco (NYSE Euronext Brussels: BAR) to co-develop ground-breaking new laser projection technology for IMAX® theatres. The new IMAX digital laser projector will present greater brightness and clarity, a wider color gamut and deeper blacks, and consume less power and last longer than existing digital technology. This state-of-the-art solution, which will implement the patents IMAX exclusively licensed from Eastman Kodak Co. last year, will allow IMAX's entire global theatre network to show the highest-quality digital content available.

Under the 7-year agreement, Barco will be IMAX's exclusive worldwide partner in the development of digital projection technology for use in IMAX theatres. As part of the partnership, the companies will collaborate to co-develop cutting-edge, next-generation laser projection technology based on IMAX intellectual property in image quality, Barco's unique laser innovations and the Kodak digital laser patents, which IMAX will sub-license to Barco.
The companies expect to deliver a joint solution to the market in the second half of 2012 for use in IMAX's current backlog and new system signings. Simultaneously, the companies will work together exclusively to manage the transition from Xenon-based to high-performance, laser-based projectors, which are expected to be deployed in 2013.
"As we continue to expand globally, it is critical that our technology partner keep pace with our ambitions around innovation and growth," said IMAX Chief Business Development Officer Robert D. Lister. "Barco is that partner. A leader in advanced digital and laser technology, Barco is well-known for its quality and integrity. We believe the result of this collaboration will further differentiate The IMAX Experience® for consumers, strengthening our value proposition for studios and exhibitors."
"We are honored to have been selected by IMAX as their worldwide and exclusive digital cinema technology partner," said Wim Buyens, Senior Vice President of Barco's Entertainment Division. "Together, we are committed to bringing the full weight of our operational excellence, integrity, and ability to deliver cutting-edge technology to bear in order to redefine the movie-going experience."
About Barco
Barco, a global technology company, designs and develops visualization products for a variety of selected professional markets. Barco has its own facilities for Sales & Marketing, Customer Support, R&D and Manufacturing in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. Barco (NYSE Euronext Brussels: BAR) is active in more than 90 countries with about 3,500 employees worldwide. Barco posted sales of 897 million euro in 2010.
About IMAX Corporation
IMAX Corporation is one of the world's leading entertainment and technology companies, specializing in the creation and delivery of premium, awe-inspiring entertainment experiences. With a growing suite of cutting-edge motion picture and sound technologies, and a globally recognized entertainment brand, IMAX is singularly situated at the convergence of the entertainment industry, innovation and the digital media world. The industry's top filmmakers and studios are utilizing IMAX theatres to connect with audiences in extraordinary ways, and as such, the IMAX network is among the most important and successful theatrical distribution platforms for major event films around the globe. The Company's new digital projection and sound systems - combined with a growing blockbuster film slate - are fueling the rapid expansion of the IMAX network in established markets such as North America, Western Europe, and Japan, as well as emerging markets such as China and Russia. IMAX theaters deliver the world's best cinematic presentations using proprietary IMAX®, IMAX® 3D, and IMAX DMR® (Digital Re-Mastering) technologies. IMAX DMR enables virtually any motion picture to be transformed into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience®.
IMAX is headquartered in New York, Toronto and Los Angeles, with offices in London, Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing. As of September 30, 2011, there were 583 IMAX theatres (441 commercial multiplex, 23 commercial destination and 119 institutional) operating in 48 countries.
IMAX®, IMAX® 3D, IMAX DMR®, Experience It In IMAX®, An IMAX 3D Experience® and The IMAX Experience® are trademarks of IMAX Corporation. More information about the Company can be found at www.imax.com. You may also connect with IMAX on Facebook (www.facebook.com/imax), Twitter (www.twitter.com/imax) and YouTube (www.youtube.com/imaxmovies).

Wonder where this leaves D3D who are partering with Barco to install 4k dual projector systems to replace existing IMAX 1570 film systems?

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Bobby Henderson
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quote: Press Release Mumbo Jumbo
The new IMAX digital laser projector will present greater brightness and clarity, a wider color gamut and deeper blacks, and consume less power and last longer than existing digital technology.
Naturally, nothing was mentioned about the issue of improving native resolution beyond the near-1080p HDTV level of 2K. Something like 4K would be an improvement, but still far below what 15/70mm film can accomplish. For all we know this new laser-based stuff could just be a brighter, higher contrast version of 2K digital.

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Joseph L. Kleiman
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 - posted 02-07-2012 12:10 PM      Profile for Joseph L. Kleiman   Email Joseph L. Kleiman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This new projection system will be based on Barco's 4K projectors. One other clarification that was included in Barco's press release, but not IMAX's is that the laser deployment will not take place until 2013. Until then, backlogged and new order IMAX projectors will be xenon-based Barco (I assume 4K) while existing systems will remain Christie until the conversion to laser takes place.

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Jonathan Goeldner
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so I'm confused, IMAX, Kodak and now Barco are all teaming up now?

nevermind, it makes sense now.

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Paul H. Rayton
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There's another article more or less along these same lines that recently appeared in the publication "Film Journal International". It's about a set of meetings and demonstrations held in Jan. 2012, at Moody Gardens, FL. They seemed to be primarily interested in "giant screen" applications, but it would seem to have effects that will spill over to all theaters soon enough.

For quick and easy access, the article follows, in full. Note all the various industry participants -- virtually a "Who's Who" of players in movie exhibition today. Also interesting are the various technologies that are evolving even now -- faster frame rates, brighter images and, as described in this thread, laser illumination. It tends to be a bit of a plug piece for Barco, but has some useful information, too:

quote:


Laser focus: With new technologies, Barco proposes premium cinema experiences for all

Jan 25, 2012
-By Andreas Fuchs -- FILM JOURNAL

filmjournal/photos/stylus/1306298-Barco_Feature_Md.jpg

Preparing the Barco demo at Moody Gardens

“It is important that the market gets a good view and perspective on what is possible and coming,” Wim Buyens tells Film Journal International about the newest technology on hand and latest developments in store for cinemas at Barco. “We want to show people what is possible right now, and let them feel and envision the possibilities. Then, later on, we will present them with different solutions tailored to the types of auditoriums that they have.”

Buyens, senior VP of the company’s global Entertainment Division, which covers events, corporate A/V, digital cinema and more, exclusively briefs our readers about a company-wide effort for providing “premium-screen” solutions. “It’s a combination of visuals and audio together that creates the most immersive experience,” he elaborates. “We are making sure that the bundling is flexible, dependent on the size of screen and what our customers want.” After all, for Barco, great and immersive technology is not “just for a few customers, but for all exhibitors who want to invest in a special experience. We believe that every cinema will have premium-experience screens, not in all their auditoriums but in several of them. It is definitely a broader focus and market than just large-format exhibitors alone.”

Nonetheless, the largest of screens are a great place to start when it comes to showing off innovations and improvements. Enhanced 4K DLP Cinema 3D (http://scr.bi/barcodcin), Auro-3D multi-channel and truly multi-dimensional sound (for access to Barco’s White Paper, go to http://scr.bi/barcoauro3d), along with projection at higher frame and higher compression rates (very smartly dubbed “ultra-reality), are all part of the package. And then, shining brightly in the not-so-far-away future, we are looking at the amazingly promising light output from laser sources.

The Jan. 9 world premiere of a fully functional laser-illuminated prototype projector was far from the only first that the Barco team of engineers and designers from Belgium, along with their North American colleagues in sales and marketing, showcased in Galveston, Texas. The “full complement of immersive digital-cinema innovations driving the future of cinema” included the first demonstration of true DLP Cinema Enhanced 4K resolution 3D, the first 3D comparison of high-frame-rate content (48/60 fps and at various compression rates), the first 4K digital versus 15/70 film “shootout” at full 4:3 giant-screen aspect ratio, and the first-time integration of Auro-3D sound into a large-format film venue. And you’re reading about it all here first in FJI.

Barco co-presented the Moody Gardens Digital Cinema Symposium jointly with the generous hosts at the public, nonprofit, educational facility that lends its name (www.moodygardens.com), and with D3D Cinema, the Chicago-based provider of complete digital solutions and services to the museum and attraction industries worldwide.

For the second year in a row, industry experts with an interest in giant screens—from the institutional and destination segments as well as from general theatrical exhibition—gathered in front of the 60 by 84-foot main screen (18.3 m x 25.6 m) of the MG3D Theater, which hosts some 275,000 visitors at 3,000 shows annually. Dubbed “the largest in Texas” for 3D, Moody Gardens recently switched from branded 15/70 film projection to a Barco-projected and polarized, 3D-enabled, Qube-served digital solution.

In another industry first, one Qube XP-I server and two Xi 4K IMBs in Barco DP4K-32B projectors delivered a single, high-bit-rate, stereoscopic 4K DCP.

Even before any discussions of sight and sound enhancement, Moody Gardens general manager Robert Callies made his case for “the value and savings of moving to digital.” At the opening-day panel, Callies brought numbers for backup. MG3D attendance was up some 20% because of a higher turnover of films over the course of a day and from the expansion of traditional offerings into new content. In addition to savings on print, shipping and staff costs similar to (and sometimes higher than) those experienced by commercial theatrical exhibition and distribution, licensing costs connected with branding also fell, with electrical dropping as much as 70% over the heavy-duty 15/70 equipment, he noted.

Not too surprisingly then, event moderator Toby Mensforth of Mensforth & Associates assured attendees that “unless you have lived in a giant-screen cave, digital is here and the future looks bright.”

That future already exceeds 55,000 ANSI Lumens, but Todd Hoddick, Barco’s VP for entertainment, North America, was even more precise in his outlook. After holding Guinness world-record status as the brightest single projector with 43,000 ANSI Lumens since December 2010, Barco has upped more than the amperage. New bells and whistles include high frame rates; true 4K resolution on each of two projectors for the right and left eye for 3D, delivered at a high image-compression rate of 250 Mbit/per second from server to projector (and as high as 500 Mbps for the 4:3 format); and creating height and height reflections for true dimensional sound. For Hoddick, these are all “objects that enable storytellers in their storytelling. And a means for you to run your business. Our business is not to get into your business.” Owning their equipment, he opined, empowers large-format venues in particular “to fit their mission, and to improve upon and differentiate the audience experience.”

Among the audience of more than 300 registrants from ten countries were representatives from AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark, Cinecitta (Nuremberg, Germany), Cinergy Cinemas, Cobb Theatres, Empire Theatres (New Glasco, Nova Scotia), Fairchild Cinemas, Landmark, Malco, Moore Theatres, Northshore 8 Cinema (Portland, Texas), Premiere Cinemas, Rave and Santikos. Technology, service and content providers present included Ballantyne, Cinedigm Entertainment Group, Christie, Dolby, Doremi, E&E Theater Services, Franklin Designs, Harkness, IMAX, Kooptech-ASL, MacGillivray Freeman Films, MasterImage 3D, Moving iMage Technologies, National Geographic, NEC, Projectiondesign, Qube, RealD, Schneider Optics, Sony Electronics (check out next month’s edition featuring an interview with Peter Ludé), Strong Technical Services, Texas Instruments, Tri-State Theatre Supply, Universal Cinema Services, Ushio and XpanD, to name some with relevance to the cinema business.

“We are trying to educate and answer questions,” Hoddick stated, further setting the Barco tone of collaboration and transparency prevalent throughout the two-day proceedings. Introducing the demonstration of the laser-illuminated prototype projector, Hoddick noted, “Outside of Barco, this is the first time that anyone is seeing this. And we are doing it in front of our competitors. We are inviting everyone into the conversation.”

Joining the screening required being wrist-banded after signing an “experience at your own risk”-type waiver that the FDA requires when it comes to lasers. In addition to their cost having to come down substantially, this is another one of the hurdles en route to seeing the laser light. In response, Barco joined with other industry leaders in founding Laser Illuminated Projector Association (LIPA, www.lipainfo.org), advocating necessary revisions to outdated regulations that do not apply to our industry. “The lasers inside are no more dangerous than Xenon,” Hoddick reassured.

The demo on the 72-foot-wide (22 m) Harkness Unity 1.0 gain standard screen via Doremi server went off without a glitch, even though Buyens had cautioned this author earlier about what proof-of-concept means. “You are going to see a working system that is doing what it should do: not anything odd, but where the colors are right, the light output is strong.” Adding with a chuckle, “And it doesn’t take up an entire room.”

The three individual laser beams, which Barco sends through a series of prisms until they bounce off the DMD chip, surely lit up the room with screen luminance of 22 foot-lamberts measured on a 100-foot throw (30.5 m). To be clear, Barco’s design does not use interlacing lasers to create the image on screen, but quote-unquote “simply” replaces the traditional Xenon bulb with the solid-state, uniform and long-lasting source of laser illumination. No matter how much Barco’s golden-eyed team talked about inherent artifacts that needed to be addressed by “de-speckling,” and no matter how hard an equally critical seat neighbor tried to point out image flaws caused by air conditioning, none were visible to me (an observation later shared by many). What blew me away, however, other than the overall brightness, amazing sharpness and clean crispness of the images, was the expanded range in color gamut that laser can facilitate. And the superbly rendered wet “shine” on the noses of Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo. (What can I say, I love animals and was reminded of my dogs.) If James Cameron could make his next two Avatar adventures even bluer, laser would be the way to go! Come to think of it, The Abyss might benefit from a laser-lit re-release too.

With Cameron and Peter Jackson very actively pushing existing standards, and Barco making sure to facilitate their wishes, DCI specifications come to mind. “Some rules do not yet exist,” Buyens readily admits. “There is no DCI regulation regarding lasers. We are looking at a large audience, targeting all cinemas worldwide. So DCI compliance is a mandatory piece [of the development process].” Barco is trying “to be in the driver’s seat with the studios, [talking with many of them] to see what should be next and making sure that all the necessary requirements will be included in the DCI specifications,” he insists. “Our customers have to be assured that this technology is secure and future-proof.”

“Premium experiences might want to go above and beyond some of the DCI requirements,” adds Hoddick. “Right now at Cinemark in their XD theatres, it has to be six foot-lamberts for 3D,” he says of light output. “The image quality that this generates, and the experience that audiences have, is above [DCI compliance]… We want to be able to deliver more light in that it provides a more natural, immersive experience.” So, “in some places we make the extra effort for the audience to go above and beyond,” he says. “Just because it isn’t mandated, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.”

“We can get one hell of a quality picture,” concurs Buyens. “Studios have reacted very positively,” he assures. “We are buying the lasers—Barco is not a laser manufacturer—and put them together in a very special way. Different companies have come up with different ways of implementing lasers. Ours was designed by people with projectors in mind, not just lasers. We own the technology and can replicate it. Optically, it’s very efficient with maximum output from minimum input.” In other words, “we are not putting in a lot of lasers to get a lot of light, but only a few lasers with a lot of light coming out. Design and engineering is where our expertise lies as a projector manufacturer.”

That same expertise guarantees that compatibility is Barco’s “number-one development goal.” Buyens indicates these advances will be designed as retrofits for Barco Series II projectors. “We are not throwing in a technology that is disruptive to what has been installed,” he reassures. “We don’t want anyone to think that—after having spent millions and millions—they have to go out there in two or three years and buy completely new systems. No. Barco’s approach to these innovations is to be retrofittable. People will have the option to choose different modules depending on how much light output they want to use. We want people to explore what a premium experience means to them. For Barco, it is all about creating technology and higher standards that elevate moviegoing to electrifying new levels.”

Source link here: Barco and laser projection developments, Jan. 2012

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Frank Angel
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If it is so easy to retrofit, wouldn't it be great if they could stick that laser source in my Pearless Lamphouse and just aim it at the XL's "media block" (the aperture). There's nothing I'd like to do more that to "electrify" my audience to new levels!

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Caleb Johnstone-Cowan
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Dick, I think we met at the Star Wars exhibitor screening two Wednesdays ago and it didn't click at the time you were also on Film-Tech!

I'm a bit ignorant on the laser technology, does it mean you can fill the 15/70 sized screen with a digital image?

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Mark J. Marshall
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I don't care if they use magic pixie dust - until they get back the resolution they lost I'm not payin for it.

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Monte L Fullmer
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Wasn't SW:EPI shot in digital in the first place?

Then, be a natural to put a digital movie on the screen that was shot in digital.

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Frederick Lanoy
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quote: Caleb Johnstone-Cowan
I'm a bit ignorant on the laser technology, does it mean you can fill the 15/70 sized screen with a digital image?
You just change the light source. The 4 K chips (4096 X 2160) are still 1.90 format far from the 1.44 IMAX aspect ratio...

But, i guess that dual IMAX laser 4 K system (mostly on 3 D) will look pretty good.

And Star Wars : episode one was shoot on 35 mm. I saw about 20 minutes of the 3 D version : very poor conversion.

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Bobby Henderson
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quote: Monte L Fullmer
Then, be a natural to put a digital movie on the screen that was shot in digital.
That doesn't make any difference. The only advantage of using a digital-based source and digital-based projection together is preserving a pure RGB video image basically preserving the pure look of video. Movie people don't want to do that.

"Digital" won't overcome an image lacking in native resolution. Lack of detail is only lack of detail. Throwing in a buzzword does absolutely nothing to solve that problem.

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Jerry D. Cox
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 - posted 02-10-2012 12:29 PM      Profile for Jerry D. Cox   Email Jerry D. Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
So all of the Theatres that have put in Deg.
will need to change out there new Eqp.next year
so they can get more light on the screen.So all
of you who jump on the BAND wagon to make the
change from Film will be out more money,And the Drive-In's
need to wate and see what is going to happen befor they
change over ,They should have had every thang fix befor
they started to try and do away with film.as I have said
befor If it is so good why dont they shoot it in Deg.not FILM

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Darryl Spicer
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quote: Jerry D. Cox
So all of the Theatres that have put in Deg.
will need to change out there new Eqp.next year
so they can get more light on the screen

No so long as your digital equipment will reach the digital standard of 14fl +/- 2 for 2-D you can use Xenon lamps as long as you want. You can get that 22fl out of xenon too. You just really don't want to be that high since you would then be out of the DCI spec of the 14fl and that would mess with the colors. The selling point really for the Laser technology is the fact that they would last a very long time without having to replace the lasers. The biggest downfall would be laser failure. You definetly would need to make sure that a backup laser lamphouse was on sight.

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Frank Angel
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It is much more than just higher light output -- it's a much wider color gamut -- the ability to get very deep, very rich color saturation. Not to mention that you'll be able to plug that digbox into a standard 15A, single-phase outlet and use MUCH less electrial energy than xenon. Plus, light output doesn't deminish throughout the life of the laser -- by no means are these insignificant improvements.

Then there is the marketing thing -- those who have resisted the rush to convert to xenon-based digital and will have the option to install laser digital insteadn will have a real advantage over their competition because audiences will ACTUALLY be able to see REAL difference in picture quality -- anyone who has see laser projection can't find enough superlatives to praise the image clarity and stunning color redition that's immediatly apparent, even to the most casual moviegoer. And unlike all the hype they were shouting about the first digital, how much better it would be over film (no scratches, no dirt, no fading -- you know, all the bullshit that never amounted to a hill of beans in terms of audience preference or more tickets sold, laser CAN be perceived by audiences to be a much better presentation, and that DOES translate into more asses in seats.

And if you think the word "digital" had sale-ablility and sounded impressive to the moviegoer, no question slapping the work laser on the marquee will impress even more. Laser is super sci-fi...lasers is super hi-tech...they fix retinas, they do minimal invasive surgery with lasers; in short, the word has a great mystique, much more so than even digital has. Digital is old school already, in fact it was from the get go -- too much mundane stuff was digital and it had been around since the first digital mechanical flip digit alarm clocks 30 years ago. Lasers are where it's at.

IMHO, those who put in xenon digital early on will be way behind the curve once laser technology takes off and will be banging their heads against the wall when they realize they will need to upgrade where possible (Barco, yes or maybe; the others, not) or re-purchase entirely.

As for Drive-Ins with those beautiful 80 and 90 and 100ft screens, laser is the only way to go in order to get a really bright, impressive presentation. It's almost as if the laser light source was MADE for DIs; evidently IMAX thinks it was made for their big screens too.

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Stephen Van Vuuren
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The huge color gamut, brightness and saturation of laser vs. resolution is a really important issue. The advantages of high resolution are over emphasized. This was completely clear with Sony's 4K projectors - resolution was clearly superior to 4k but low brightness, washed out colors and gamut limits made the image look poor on large screens.

Great color, dynamic range, contrast and brightness greatly enhances perceived resolution. 15/70mm loses resolution via shadow contrast issue, film grain, print stock variation, gate weave etc. as well as a much lower color gamut than even DLP much less laser.

This was very apparent to me in the Barco 4k vs 15/70mm tests with my own footage.

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