Doubling the 3D experience


At IBC (12 to 15 September), Christie (Stand 9.D15) will demonstrate, among
other products, its 6P laser cinema projector system, which is designed to
perfect and enhance the exhibition of 3D films. Richard Nye, Cinema Sales
Director at Christie spoke to Screen Africa about the new solution and its

Not long ago, after the resurgence of 3D cinema – a technology originating from
the 1950s and revived at various intervals since then – it seemed as though the
novelty of the form had run its course.

Particularly after the failure of 3D in the home viewing environment and recurring
complaints from cinema viewers and makers about the problems experienced
with 3D exhibition (annoying glasses, eye strain, not enough light, etc), it
seemed as though the technology, which had already begun to develop to a
point previously undreamt of and had captured the imagination of several high-
profile filmmakers, was dead in the water.

3D is alive and well

Not so, says Christie’s Richard Nye. “Media promoted digital 3D as a format that
would replace 2D. I don’t think system manufacturers, studios or exhibitors ever
set such high expectations for 3D digital. When cinema moved from film to
digital, the immediate benefits were to the quality of the product and the
benefits for work flow / production of a digital print for a 2D movie. Other
benefits highlighted by technology providers included the possibility for
exhibitors to screen digital 3D content (with an upgrade to the projector),
alongside other new in-theatre products like alternative content and streaming
live events.

“For studios it presented an opportunity to return to their back catalogue of
content to recreate box office successes in 3D, but much more importantly it
offered directors and producers another way to bring their vision to the screen
and engage an audience in ways that 2D cannot.

“So digital 3D is really a story of freedom of choice. And to call 3D digital a failure
when the top five 3D grossing movies alone have generated revenues of over
US$2.5 billion in the USA and Canada alone would seem a little churlish,’ Nye

“An investment in cinema’

Nye continues: “The reason why Christie and other providers of Digital Cinema
Initiative (DCI) approved systems invest so heavily in 3D, I think, is that we see
it more as investing in cinema. We all want to provide the best cinema
experience we can and, through it, continued demand for our products.

“We know we can improve the digital 3D experience, after all we’ve been at it
for a little less than 10 years by comparison to our 85-year heritage of
developing 2D movie screening technology. And in that short time we’ve also
introduced 4K DLP cinema, high frame rate, ribbon driver technology for cinema
sound and are developing laser technology now. These advances don’t just
benefit the digital 3D experience, but everyone’s cinema experience.’

Christie’s solution

Christie identified a number of challenges faced in the development of 3D cinema
projector systems and set out to address them with their 6P laser projector
solution. What it comes down to is a large increase in the brightness of light
hitting the screen and then the viewer’s eye, and a system that doubles up the
image being projected, using a dual-head projector that puts out a 6-primary
(6P) colour range, rather than the usual three (3P).

Nye explains: “Irrespective of whether we address digital 3D with a laser or
conventional short-arc xenon illumination, the challenges remain the same.
Firstly when we put on our 3D glasses, passive or active, we filter out a large
percentage of light on screen. There are varying opinions and statistics on this
point, but cinema-goers would typically experience three to four-foot-lamberts
(the measure of luminance) brightness for digital 3D.

“We believe that for digital 3D to match a 2D experience for light levels, we
should be screening at 14-foot lamberts. We can achieve that for smaller
screens using xenon illumination, but for larger screens and premium large
format, laser illumination is required.

“Additionally, we believe that the best 3D is achieved by offering a dedicated
image for both left and right eye, rather than a single system projecting both,
which lowers perceived resolution. We achieve this using a dual projection
system like Christie Duo (either with xenon or laser illumination).

“For laser systems utilising this dual head configuration, we also eliminate laser
speckle. This is not achieved with a 3P laser system.’

The 6P 3D projector solution consists of the following components: two Christie
3P RGB lasers mounted in the Duo alignment system that enables the projectors
to offer simultaneous left – and right-eye images, rather than switching from
one to the other as more conventional systems do. A pure white screen –
offering the best image with minimal crosstalk is required, along with Dolby 3D
glasses – the only ones on the market with 3D colour separation built in, which
help to deliver the highest possible brightness with 6P laser.

At IBC, Christie will be in Hall 9 at Stand 9.D15 and will also be showcasing their
6P laser projector system at IBC’s Big Screen Experience at the RAI Auditorium.


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