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Pixel Ponderings

ProjectorCentral editor-in-chief Rob Sabin shares insights on the latest front projection trends, technologies, and products.

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Integrators, Show Us Your Stuff!

Throughout its 20-year history, ProjectorCentral has arduously covered the evolution of projection technology and the introduction of thousands of new projectors. It's a different world we're living in today than the one we started out with in 1999. Laser and LED light engines were on the distant horizon, and the great marvel at the time was that anything so small and lightweight as a digital projector could compete with the giant and cumbersome CRT projectors that dominated the corporate and nascent home theater markets.

For some perspective, have a look at one of our earliest articles from November of that year flagging the exciting announcement of Sony's pending VW10HT, a three-panel LCD home theater projector that boasted a powerful 1,000 lumens of output and groundbreaking 1366 x 768 XGA resolution, delivering (wow!) true native 16:9 aspect ratio. It cost $6,999. A 3LCD projector today with the same pixel count and nearly three times the light output can be had from the same manufacturer for less than one-tenth of that price. And several other manufacturers now offer respectable 1080p models near that $700 threshold. We've come a long way.

Through the years, thanks to their relatively compact form factors and increasingly brighter images, digital projectors have found their way into many types of spaces and applications, from theme park rides to museums, houses of worship, schools and universities, simulators, boardrooms, medical facilities, public spaces, retail environments, even seminal works of modern art.

Yet, here we are on the brink of another revolution brought on by the advent and sudden growth of solid-state laser and LED light engines. The elimination of lamp replacements coupled with low (or non-existent) maintenance requirements, along with new ALR screen materials, will surely open projection to a variety of new applications where it was previously unsuitable, not to mention allowing creative placements that would have been prohibited in the past. And, if the near tidal wave of recent laser projector introductions at the ISE show in Amsterdam is any indication, A/V integrators will have a host of new options to throw at their most challenging and demanding commercial and residential projects. Toss in the potential for cutting-edge projection-mapping and image blending, and it's a sure thing we'll be seeing some truly impressive statements made by projection technologies in the coming months and years.

Panasonic-MuseumofScienceandIndustry-2-500
Chicago's famous Museum of Science and Industry now uses Panasonic laser projectors for many of its passive displays and interactive exhibits. (Photo: Museum of Science and Industry)

So...if you're an integrator on the front lines with a completed projection project you're especially proud of, we'd like to hear from you at the email address shown below. We'll be regularly featuring case studies and install profiles going forward in the hopes of inspiring and educating all of us about how modern-day projectors can do what other display technologies can't, or can achieve the required image size and quality more cost-effectively. In a recent case study shared by Panasonic, for example, the company describes how Chicago's famous Museum of Science and Industry worked with its long-time local A/V partner, the nearby Arlington Heights, IL-based division of nationwide integrator AVI Systems, to update the museum's extensive projector deployment. A shift to laser models is now driving significant long-term cost savings at the highly interactive museum, which uses Panasonic projectors to help create some of its most impressive exhibits. These include generating the ancillary imagery required for its live 40-foot tornado, and a realistic farm landscape in its Farm Tech exhibit area executed with multiple, edge-blended projectors.

Another recent case study publicized by Casio describes how one of their integrators worked closely with a nearby arcade game manufacturer to spec the perfect projector for what turned out to be a hit game that ended up being featured nationwide by the Dave & Buster's restaurant chain.

Bay-Tek_Connect4_Hoops-2
Bay Tek Entertainment, a maker of arcade games, found the perfect fit with a Casio Lamp-Free projector for its successful Connect 4 Hoops kiosk.
Camera Corner/Connecting Point, out of Green Bay, WI was approached by the game manufacturer, Bay Tech Entertainment, when they needed to squeeze a big, bright image out of a small space for their new Connect 4 Hoops basketball arcade game, based on the classic Hasbro game where participants drop discs into vertical slots. The combination of high lumen output in a compact size, maintenance-free laser/LED hybrid light engine, wide-angle lens, and affordable cost enabled Bay Tech to reduce the size of their prototype and make it viable for commercialization.

Not every application is quite so unusual as an arcade game or as prominent as a renown museum exhibit, but we're interested in seeing how projection answers the call every day in more conventional installations. How did you and your team overcome issues with ambient light or limited placement options? In what way did your upgrade of an existing installation improve your client's or their patrons' visual experience? If you've done a high end home theater install that would make anyone want to settle in for a full-length feature, or an impressive media-room that demonstrates how projection can effectively replace a flat-panel with a larger and more impactful image while integrating into a multi-use space...we'd like to hear from you.

To submit a project for a possible feature, send us a brief description with the following info:

  • What were the client's objectives with the project?
  • What challenges were presented and overcome in achieving the end goals?
  • Describe the projector(s) (brand and model) and screen(s) employed (size, brand, and material). For commercial installations involving automation, mention the control system used. For home theaters, please also include a list of audio and control equipment.
  • Attach sample images for us to look at. Snapshots are okay for purpose of our review and may be suitable for web publication, but preference will be given to projects illustrated with professional photography. If your project was an upgrade, include before and after photos if available. Include a wide shot of the finished installation and some details shots showing projector placement(s).

You can email your description and images to us at installs@projectorcentral.com. We'll look forward to seeing and sharing your work!

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