This issue, our display column addresses how difficult it has been to bring widescreen, HD imagery to the staging of modest events in small venues and rooms. Columnist Gary Fuller of Christie Digital points out that the use of 2k, high-def, DLP projector technology in the staging world remains relegated mainly to the large-venue, big-budget experience.
That said, all major manufacturers are working on low-cost, compact DLP options to bring this technology and imagery into small venues, breakout rooms, and the like — traditional LCD territory. Digital Projection, Inc., is focusing on this emerging market, according to company president and occasional SRO display columnist Mike Levi.
Levi says the push is to find ways to make 3-chip DLP technology viable in the low-cost, low-weight, low-end universe. That's been the driving force behind Texas Instruments' Mercury initiative with several OEM partners, including DP, in the last year. Now, however, the notion of evolving any and all DLP digital cinema products into staging products, and vice versa, has become strategic and institutionalized at companies like DP.
For example, according to Levi, DP's recent debut of its compact iS8-2K and iS15-2k 3-chip DLP projectors, designed specifically for digital cinema applications on small and mid-size screens and in postproduction facilities, were strategically linked to the company's upcoming launch of its Highlight 12000DSCPLUS projector. Highlight will feature the same chassis and most of the same mechanical features as the compact iS8-2K, but with a slightly bigger lamp to make it useful to stagers. The idea is to present the staging market with DLP options at varying image quality, size, and price levels, starting with the Mercury line in the $20,000-and-under category, then at the mid-range, offering the new Highlight products, and at the so-called high-end, Lightning projectors.
“Highlight will weigh about 120lbs. and feature all the mechanical capabilities of the iS8-2K, but it's geared specifically to the needs of the staging community,” Levi explains.
Thus, DP, and others, are connecting rollouts of their digital cinema products to similar versions — Levi calls them “sister products” — geared to the staging industry, including even more compact, low-weight, and modestly priced models, all designed to make DLP feel at home in small venues, at intimate events.
“It makes good business sense to do this, and it's relatively easy to cross these products over each way,” adds Levi. “We can give the staging community any relevant digital cinema features, and vice versa, if needed. The coming year, we expect to have a whole lineup of DLP projectors aimed at the staging industry. The proliferation of DLP projection has been so strong, probably about 80 or 90 percent of the market, in the large venue category. We see no reason this can't eventually happen with the small venue products.”
So while most staging professionals will tell you that quality LCD products work just fine for most small rooms and events, DLP will eventually be the primary projection approach for the staging of virtually all live events. After all, the need to evolve the technology for digital cinema applications will inevitably benefit the staging world, as well.
Although cinema-level resolution is not usually required for live events, the resolution and size advancements happening with digital cinema projectors at a rapid pace, combined with the mechanical flexibility and agility required for staging applications, will eventually combine to advance the art and science of projection to the benefit of anybody and everybody with compelling images to show off, regardless of the setting, application, or venue.