Digital cinema gets a boost with 4K

Sony is cashing in on the emerging digital cinema market with the introduction of two new 4K projectors that promise better picture quality for digitally-made movies.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  June 7, 2004

Sony is cashing in on the emerging digital cinema market with the introduction of two new 4K projectors that promise better picture quality for digitally-made movies. The technology could save film makers millions of dollars in annual costs for duplicating and shipping movies because film would be replaced by digital files sent via satellite, the internet or on DVD-like disks. The two projectors – the 10,000 ANSI lumen model (SRX-R110) and the 5,000 ANSI lumen model (SRX-R105) offer 4096 x 2160 pixel resolution and a high contrast ratio and both use a Silicon X-tal Reflective Display (SXRD) imaging device that enables them to achieve nearly four times the pixel count of current HD displays. Complementing the projectors' pixel resolution is a high contrast ratio, which allows the new models to achieve high-quality images with rich and precise colour tonal reproduction. "A 4K projector has long been considered the holy grail of digital cinema," said John Scarcella, president of Sony Electronics' Broadcast and Production Systems Division. "This is what the industry has been waiting for, and that desire will soon be satisfied." With SXRD technology, pixels are set at a pitch of 8.5 micrometers, from the centre of one SXRD pixel to the center of the next, with an inter-pixel gap of 0.35 micrometers. "A narrower pitch and thinner gap translate into a quicker refresh rate to produce much smoother moving images," said Tom Mykietyn, director of content creation for Sony Electronics. "When an image is projected onto a large screen from a 4K projector, the typical `cross-hatch' pattern just about disappears. For example, on a 27-foot wide, 16:9 screen, each pixel is only about the size of the letter `e' in Liberty on a quarter." The 5,000-lumen model is recommended for screen widths of up to 25 feet, while the 10,000-lumen model is designed for screens of up to 40 feet. Sony is also planning to introduce a higher brightness model for larger screens. "4K is important in order to display as much of the content that was originally captured," said Andrew Stucker, general manager of digital production systems for Sony Electronics. "It becomes even more important with larger capture formats, such as 65mm, since there is more information to be displayed. Another way to think of the differences between 2K and 4K is to realize that a 2K device is equivalent to one full high definition image. Our 4K device can literally hold four 2K images." Stucker added that Sony incorporated the specifications and guidelines established by Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) into the design of the new projectors to "fully support" DCI's efforts and provide an enabling technology that will allow the industry to move to a digital environment. In addition to d-cinema, the projectors are also suitable for large-venue applications, such as live events, staging, auditoriums or command-and-control, since they are capable of simultaneously displaying multiple high-definition images. In single-screen mode, the full 4096 x 2160 pixel image is projected. In dual-screen mode, two 1920 x 1080 images are projected and in quad-screen mode, four 1920 x 1080 images are projected. This multi-image capability makes the projectors ideal for applications where multiple, simultaneous high-definition views are required.

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