September 7, 2015
After a year of R&D, D3D Cinema and Christie just finished testing a new laser-illuminated digital projection system for giant domes. The system will be ready for client demonstration this fall, with the first installations expected in 2016. Although movie theaters have essentially all migrated to digital projection, large dome theaters have found it more difficult to find a digital solution. Executives at D3D Cinema and Christie say the new laser projection system fits the bill, with regard to price and image quality.
“This dome solution, at long last, will bring the economic and qualitative advantages of digital and laser to our dome partners — a contingent that was largely excluded from the digital revolution without laser projection capability,” said D3D Cinema executive Derek Threinen in a press release. The “ultra-bright single projector solution takes advantage of existing theater and doghouse configurations, warrants no theater capacity loss, limits construction requirements, and assures regulatory approvals.”
The technical tests were held at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, Florida. According to another release posted on DCinema Today, D3D Cinema and Christie are working with “a host of third-party partners, from veteran dome cinematographers and post-production labs to optics specialists and test bed theaters,” and D3D plans to shoot original dome test footage “in multiple digital and 70mm formats in the next few months.”
The 70mm content will be scanned at 11K resolution, mastered and frame-interpolated for high dynamic range (HDR) and high frame rate playback (HFR) up to 120fps.
The projection display is the first and only to be capable of displaying Rec2020 color space, a parameter of UHD TV. Other options include DCI- compliant window playback modes and Dolby Atmos surround sound on the Christie Vive Audio platform. Christie will oversee any required regulatory approvals, with D3D assisting with the application process and regional clearances.
D3D Cinema SVP Andy Wood states that the new system will save dome owners “hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in operating costs.” “And with D3D’s ability to provide upfront lease financing, we can offer a CFO-friendly business model,” he adds.