Laser-driven cinema projectors have long been a holy grail of technology, but now they are finally becoming commercial, as projector maker Christie Digital announced its first permanent laser projector installation in a commercial movie theater.
The theater that embarks on the adventure is the Seattle Cinerama, owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The theater is the first to acquire Christie’s laser projectors after the FDA recently approved the system for sale in theaters. Seattle Cinerama has purchased a 4k digital laser projector and, according to theater manager Greg Wood, they expect the laser projector to be up and running on their 68-foot-wide screen in February or early March 2014, replacing their digital projection system. Current Christie.
Federal approval for laser projectors is required because the devices are subject to the same regulations as laser light shows, even though the light exiting the projectors
Christie says the laser-driven projector will produce over 60,000 lumens of brightness. The exact light levels that will be provided will depend on the choice of screen and 3D cinema hardware, but Christie says the system will exceed current standards for brightness. Laser projectors are expected to solve many of the dark and muddy imaging issues that have plagued 3D digital projection throughout the format’s history.
While laser projectors allow cinemas the luxury of not having to worry about replacing bulbs and cooling their projection booths, Wood said he doubts they make it much easier behind the scenes, at least at least. start.
âWe’re taking the risk that it’s of high technical quality, and it’s going to have a period that we have to get used to and adapt to,â said Wood. “I hope everything is fine, but this is new technology.”
Wood said the laser system costs considerably more than their current projector, but theater management decided it was the future of cinema. âWe’re not doing this behind the scenes to try to save on light bulbs or save money in the long run or something like that,â he added. “It’s the best technology and we want it, so let’s grab it.”
The public got a glimpse of the new technology earlier this year when, in March, Christie teamed up with Paramount to broadcast a two-week public test of their laser technology, playing “GI Joe: Retaliation” at AMC Theaters Burbank. 16. The test allowed the company to see how the technology would work in a real environment.
Imax has also jumped on laser technology, announcing in January that in 2014, three of its theaters will install laser projectors developed by Kodak. Wood predicted that the rest of the industry will start adopting lasers in two years. âThere is just something magical about lasers,â he said.