Christie Digital has received a prestigious Thea award from the Themed Entertainment Association for the groundbreaking work on its Eclipse 4K RGB Pure Laser projector.

TEA, a 26 year-old organization serving the creative, technical, and production communities responsible for experiential entertainment in theme parks, museums, hospitality, retail, and other venues, recognized the Eclipse with its Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement: Technical Innovation. The award was announced last fall, and finally presented earlier this month in a virtual presentation following the COVID-related cancellation of the group's annual live award ceremony.

Christie Eclipse angle 800
The Christie Eclipse is a one-of-a-kind 6-chip DLP HDR projector capable of ultra-deep black levels.

The Eclipse is a one-of-a-kind HDR projector developed over a five-year period with help from 90 Christie team members, initially to meet the needs of one key customer—the renowned Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. A system comprised of six Eclipse projectors serving the Planetarium's large domed theater was debuted in July 2019 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing in 1969 and the museum's own 150th anniversary. A birds-eye view of the lunar module landing, as would have been seen from above the spacecraft, was modeled from actual flight data and recreated on the dome.

But it was the projection system's specular highlights and, notably, its remarkable black level that set the show apart—a true absence of light with no detectable idle brightness. Carter Emmart, the Hayden's astro-visualization director who has since created a new feature program to utilize the system's capabilities, has referred to it as "the holy grail" for a fulldome planetarium show. During the Thea award presentation, Larry Paul, Christie's Executive Director for Technology & Custom Solutions, Enterprise & Entertainment, noted that the planetarium uses the Eclipse system for scientific research during the evening hours, and that "Astronauts have been quoted as saying that this is the closest they've been to being in outer space without being in outer space, because the blackness of space is exceptionally black, and that's what this represents." I personally saw a demo of the Eclipse projecting some planetarium footage on a flat screen at Christie's Canadian headquarters last year, and put my face within inches of the screen in an effort to detect light coming off the black areas.

Christie's big breakthrough here is in the successful execution of a six-chip, dual-modulated laser projector. In simple terms, a trio of digital micromirror DLP chips as might be found in any 3DLP projector actually precedes the three primary projection chips in the light path and is optically coupled to them. It is the combination of the signal processing applied to the two sets of chips in the dark and bright areas of the image that permits an enormous boost in contrast for the end result, both in deeper blacks and brighter highlights. The Eclipse boasts a 20 million:1 sequential contrast ratio.

The combination of this inherent contrast and the wide gamut of the pure RGB laser light source in the Eclipse allows Christie to claim something close to the full Rec. 2021 spec, which denotes a similar color space to Rec. 2020 but with a minimum contrast ratio of 200,000:1, which the Eclipse exceeds by a magnitude of 100x. The projector is also capable of up to a 120 Hz frame rate with full 4K resolution for strikingly clear rendering of motion.

Yet another unusual capability of the Eclipse is that, thanks to its consistent pure black floor, edge-blending of multiple projectors, as is done in the Hayden, does not result in overlapping areas that create bands of higher brightness which must then be optically filtered or otherwise managed.

Officially introduced in September 2019, the Eclipse can be customized for brightness levels from 2,000 lumens to 30,000 lumens by configuring the laser modules that attach to a separate projection head. It's also configurable with an optional Christie Terra input card and can connect directly to a Christie Terra SDVoE system. The projector supports Christie's Mystique automated warping and blending software for multi-projector arrays.

Comments (5) Post a Comment
Joey Posted Oct 18, 2020 2:00 PM PST
You never see a price tag associated with this. I understand it has many options, but can't we at least see the low to high range? Also, wouldn't this be the ultimate projector in a private premium home theater?
James Posted Oct 20, 2020 8:57 AM PST
What’s the price range for this kind of projector
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Oct 20, 2020 9:02 AM PST
James/Joey, Christie doesn't issue public pricing for specialty projectors like this but I'm sure they cost well into six figures. I get the curiosity behind it, but it's the equivalent of an exotic automobile -- "if you have to ask...". I would expect this particular projector will have as its customers major cultural institutions, theme parks, perhaps research institutions, maybe the U.S. government or military (for simulations that benefit from the dark black level), and other high-rollers.
Joshua Posted Oct 21, 2020 6:59 PM PST
The irony. DLP right now is notorious for horrible contrast. So you’re telling me it takes only a million dollars to give DLP the ability of high contrast.
Neil Posted Dec 7, 2020 2:52 AM PST
This is indeed the ultimate projector for high-end home theaters. The Christie Eclipse is quite literally the best video display in the world as of right now. It has pixel level luminance control as per OLED TVs and MicroLED Video Walls, however where these struggle to cover 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut the Christie Eclipse far surpasses this and achieves towards the full BT.2020 color gamut which is the ultimate target as all HDR video content is graded with respect to BT.2020 not DCI-P3 and many consumer HDR movie releases make good use of BT.2020 beyond 100% of DCI-P3, even 20-year old movies such as The Matrix. But that's not all.

There are numerous other aspects where the Eclipse outperforms other displays as well and it has some unique features as well. For example, it supports 4K120 with respect to 2D, and 3D with 4K60 into each eye. Incredible. And then there's the Christie View Multiplayer Gaming, where in addition to supporting single player gaming at 4K120, via use of active glasses you can have two players see the whole screen at 4K60, but a completely different screen to each other, in other words it will be akin to the two players each having their own full size Christie Eclipse gaming screen at 4K60. 4 players at 2K60 each is also technically possible.

There's dedicated threads regarding the Christie Eclipse over on AVSForum and some folks have already ordered one for their home theaters. This includes people who currently own a Barco Thor who are going to upgrade this to a Christie Eclipse. That only does around 5000:1 sequential contrast... The Eclipse is 20 MILLION: 1! That's 4000 times better luminance dynamic range, contrast and black levels!

Also, regarding price, these types of products don't tend to advertise their prices online. However, what I can reveal is that the price of a Christie Eclipse is essentially the same if not very slightly less expensive as compared with a Barco Thor; and very similar in price to a 146" 16:9 Samsung The Wall. So not even close to a million dollars Joshua! A fraction of that cost.

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