Laser projection and the future of cinema: promises kept

Posted by (@BillTheLaserGuy) in Cinema

Bill Beck retirement
A short three years ago, Barco introduced the first commercial Laser Cinema Projector at Cinemacon 2014. An unprecedented, 60,000-lumen 4K single projector with integrated 6P 3D. At that time, Barco made a number of promises about Laser projection and the future of Cinema. This week at CineAsia in Hong Kong, visitors and the entire Cinema world saw all of those promises kept.

First and foremost, Barco has delivered on its commitment to Laser innovation and promise to be the first to provide a comprehensive portfolio of Laser Cinema projectors. First to market with its super-high-brightness Flagship; and first to market with the highest brightness Smart Laser. At CineAsia, they showed the brightest (35,000 lm) “Smart Laser” (Laser Phosphor) Cinema projector in the world. In three short years, Barco has lead the world, introducing 16 models of DCI compliant Laser Cinema projectors delivering three performance levels, each with its own mix of image quality and TCO-reduction benefits. 

A perfect match for any screen

Barco delivered on its promise to provide “the perfect laser for any… and every screen”. From 6,000 to 60,000 lumens; 2K and 4K; high and very high contrast, the range is now complete and already powering the next wave of higher performance, lower TCO cinemas around the world.

Why 16 models ? To keep another promise: to eliminate all lamp-related hassles and costs throughout the entire multiplex, in fact, across the entire circuit! Now exhibitors can optimize the configuration of each of their new or existing multiplexes, driven by their own unique marketing strategies and local opportunities and needs. From the largest All-Flagship location in Dubai (22 Premium screens) to cost-effective, all-Smart Laser multiplexes, Barco’s Laser technologies deliver on the promise to provide our customers with flexibility, simplicity; reliability and lower TCO.

Better images at a lower TCO

Barco’s twin commitments to exhibitors have guided the development of its extensive product portfolio. First is the promise of a better, more consistent show - Barco Laser projectors always improve image quality. And second, to provide better image quality at a lower or much lower total cost of ownership (TCO). The goals are simple – to attract and retain more discerning moviegoers and to save operating expense on a long-term basis.

At the top of the line is Barco’s Flagship 4K “Laser High Contrast”, or “DP4K-LHC”. These new models add very high sequential and ANSI contrast to an already unprecedented RGB image quality. High brightness, spectacular color and now contrast three times DCI specs. SEE MORE of the Flagship line at CineAsia, where the DP4K-20LHC will be demonstrated in use in a local theater venue. 

Next, the Flagship L series, which has fast become the projector of choice for exhibitor-branded Premium Large Format (PLF) and VIP rooms around the world. With an installed base of over 275 screens, the Barco L series is the most widely-deployed PLF system in the world. Whether as an anchor screen for an All-Laser Multiplex (ALM) or one of a fleet of all-Flagship systems, this series delivers on the promise to provide unprecedented image quality while delivering greatly reduced operating costs. No lamp costs; reduced power consumption; less maintenance and more simplified operations. 

In Hong Kong this week, Barco presented the DP4K-36BLP and DP2K-36BLP, the two brightest members of its extensive Smart Laser series. These two models are record breakers on a number of dimensions: at 35,000 lumens, they are the brightest laser phosphor-based cinema projectors in the world. Even so, they consume only half the wall plug power to deliver 35,000 lumens compared to the brightest Xenon projectors. And of course, they consume no Xenon lamps at all during the unprecedented 10-year, Laser light source lifetime, guaranteed by Barco’s new SmartCare, peace of mind warranty program

Laser benefits for every screen

Another big promise kept – to provide the key benefits of lasers to every screen. Superior image quality from 5,000 to 35,000 lumens; lower TCO and greatly reduced operating expenses for 10 years/40,000 hours via SmartCare, a Barco Services innovation.

But the long list of Barco Laser promises does not stop here. Exhibitors that bought lamp-based projectors in the last three to five years were promised that they would be able to upgrade to laser in the future. Now, the full lumen range of Barco series 2 projectors can be upgraded to Smart Laser in the field, allowing Cinema operators to say goodbye to Lamp costs…forever. And the brighter the system, the faster the payback.

This was perhaps the most significant promise made, given that Barco projectors now light up more than 50% of screens worldwide. That’s an installed base of over 80,000 projectors, nearly all of which can be upgraded to Smart Laser. 

I first visited Barco in 2003 - with a “crazy dream” – to light up movie screens with beautiful, high brightness Laser projection. After pursuing that dream for 14 years, I can retire now, knowing that the Barco team has made it all come true and is rapidly bringing this wonderful new experience to movie-lovers throughout the world.

Laser Promises Kept. The Future, Delivered.

A Post Script:

I will formally retire from Barco at the end of 2017, and would like to thank all of my friends and colleagues for this fantastic opportunity to help them write the next chapter of global Cinema technology…

About the author

Bill Beck, the Laser Guy

Bill Beck is a photonics visionary with diverse start-up, general management and technology marketing experience, having founded two companies dedicated to furthering laser illumination technology. As “The Laser Guy,” Bill helped Barco commercialize and further develop laser projection for Cinema and other applications in key markets. Bill retired from Barco at the end of 2017. He holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is a member of SMPTE, LIPA, ISDCF, EDCF, OSA and NEFC.

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