Samsung to Roll Out New DCI-Compliant LED Cinema Screen

Samsung’s LED digital cinema display, first unveiled during invitation-only events at CinemaCon in March, has passed DCI compliance tests. The company is expected to have a commercial product available before the end of the year. Keio University in Japan, one of the affiliated partners of Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), completed the compliance test plan certification. Until now, only cinema projectors from Barco, Christie and NEC based on Texas Instruments DLP Cinema tech and Sony’s LCoS SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) panel were considered DCI-compliant display devices.

Celluloid Junkie reports that, “the KEIO-SAMSUNG-RAK0116ZZ-F7PG-20170322 report found that the Samsung RAK0116ZZ-F7PG digital cinema display (model 1.0), using an SX-4000 media block by GDC Technology, passed the Compliance Test Plan version 1.2,” adding that, “the LED module tested was a BN40 with 24 modules per cabinet and 96 cabinets in total.”

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Samsung, which is expected to have a commercial product by the end of 2017, has been “engaging with cinemas through its partnership with GDC Technology, whose integrated media block (IMB) its displays use.”

One outstanding issue that Samsung will have to tackle is audio. The DCI Compliance Test Plan (CTP) does not indicate how audio should be directed at audiences. Samsung can’t put audio behind the screen, and putting stereo speakers on either side “will not achieve the desired effect.” There is also no equivalent to the Dolby Atmos soundbar.

UNIC president Phil Clapp said that, “probably the most anticipated technological development will be that around LED screens, which if a viable operational model can be found could offer something of a ‘game-changer’ for the sector,” but he added that, “the investment context for [cinema] operators has changed,” and that “with little or no prospect of another industry-wide funding mechanism to help [cinema operators], then those decisions become necessarily more challenging and their outcomes uncertain.”

According to Celluloid Junkie, “LED Cinema is fundamentally based on the same technology as its consumer LED televisions, though with some critical differences such as Samsung LED Cinema believed to be 16-bit, to offer high dynamic range (HDR), while consumer devices are usually 10-bit, even if they offer consumer-level HDR.” But Samsung’s technology offers an ultra-bright 500 nits (146 foot lamberts), meaning that content must be “specifically mastered,” which could pose a hurdle to adoption. Studios also ready deliver DCP in IMAX, Dolby Cinema, EclairColor, Barco Escape and others.

Sony, which is working on its own Crystal LED (CLEDIS) display, welcomed Samsung’s entry into the field. For the meantime, however, Sony is focused on its laser projector project rather than going full-steam ahead on CLEDIS. HSI reports that its own 3D LED is “currently undergoing the DCI certification process.”