CinemaCon: Barco, Christie Previewing 4K Laser Projection Technology

The aim is brighter pictures, particularly for 3D presentations.

The ongoing issue of how to make digital cinema screens brighter for 3D has put a lot of attention on the potential of laser projection, and this week at CinemaCon, projector makers Barco and Christie will both be previewing models.

Barco will show a laser projection capable of reaching up to 60,000-lumens as well as a high frame rate of 60 frames per second and 3D in 4K.

According to Barco, Cinemark will house the first installation in North America. Then it plans to make the projectors available in the U.S. and China during Q2, and worldwide during Q4.

The laser projector is a piece in Barco’s new “CinemaBarco” branding initiative, which will also encompass its Auro 11.1 immersive sound system, and social and interactive media. "CinemaBarco" will be demoed at CinemaCon.

Also this week, Christie will preview its 6-primary (6P) 4K DLP Cinema laser projector, which it plans to make available beginning in early 2015.

It previously announced the sale of its first laser projector to the Seattle Cinerama Theatre.

Both Barco and Christie plan to demo their projectors’ ability to display stereo images with Dolby 3D systems.

Proponents say these developing projectors could deliver a brighter picture while reducing power consumption. Others argue that this technology will be cost prohibitive. Also, regulatory issues are a challenge as laser projectors are subject to safety regulations and currently require an FDA variance to operate at certain brightness levels.

The Laser Illuminated Projection Association has been urging regulatory bodies to lower requirements for laser projection, arguing that such light sources “emit almost identical radiance” as the Xenon lamps currently used in digital cinema theaters. And LIPA believes the regulations will soon be loosened.

Last month, LIPA president Pete Lude reporte that international standards body International Electrotechnical Commission “is well on its way to redefining what a laser projector is,” meaning that laser projectors would no longer be considered a laser emission device. Instead, they would fall under lamp regulation, possibly as early as spring, he said.

In the U.S. this classification would eliminate the need for a variance to use a laser projector, and so LIPA is encouraging the FDA to adopt the IEC revision, when completed.

Twitter: @CGinLA