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Getting Better Video with the Cygnus IMX Image Processor

Evan Powell, March 21, 2000

Why doesn't someone invent a filter that you can put on your projector's lens that makes all the pixels go away, leaving nothing but a smooth film-like video image? Oddly enough, someone did. Cygnus Imaging Corporation of Walled Lake, Michigan, markets a product called the IMX Image Processor. And while it is not right for every projector on the market, on some projectors it works wonders.

What is the IMX Image Processor? It is a multi-component, adjustable optical filter that attaches to the front of a projection lens of an LCD or DLP projector. As light rays travel through it they are refracted or bent just enough to soften the pixel structure, but not enough to blur the focus of the image. The result is a smoother video image on the screen. In addition to reducing or eliminating the screendoor effect, it has the additional benefit of taking the digital edge off the image, and making it look more like a continuous analog display. With the right projector, the resulting video image is beautiful.

What is the right projector?

Unfortunately, the IMX Image Processor is not compatible with every projector. You must be able to physically mount it onto the front of the projection lens. To accomplish this the projector must have a lens which protrudes from the casework at least 6 mm. Furthermore, the outside diameter of the lens housing needs to be at least 68 mm and not greater than 107 mm. If the projector in question meets these basic specs, so far, so good-at least you know you can attach the IMX to your projector.

The issue: how bad is your pixel "screendoor" effect?

The primary function of the Cygnus processor is to make the pixel structure invisible. The visibility of a projector's pixel structure depends upon several factors including screen size, normal viewing distance from the screen, the resolution of the projector, and its display technology (LCD or DLP).

As you increase the size of the projected image, the pixels will get more visible. As you move closer to the screen, the pixels will become more visible. If you have a low resolution VGA projector, the pixels will be very noticeable. If you step up to an SVGA resolution machine, the pixels get a bit smaller. And moving up to XGA and then to SXGA resolution, the pixels continue to get smaller and less apparent at any given viewing distance.

But there is no magic formula here. You can either see the pixel grid or you can't, and it either bothers you or it doesn't. If you can see it and it bothers you, the IMX Image Processor can help solve this problem.

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