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TI/DLP projector screening at Burbank AMC14

Hi Everyone

I caught the last night of the TI/DLP projector screening at Burbank AMC14.
My wife also came along as a casual observer. The AMC14 was screening the
latest Star War's epic with the Texas Instruments DLP projector prototype.
Please note I was looking at the technology and performance issues not so
much plot and story line. I have been following Electronic Cinema
development for quite some time. As an aside I got stuck in traffic and
made a wrong turn so my wife and I came into the theater a little late and
the middle row of seats was packed solid. Therefore we sat about 20 rows
from the front on the right hand side. From my seat I have to say the TI
DLP projector display was stunning indeed!! The picture was sharp corner to
corner, image was rock steady, shading was flat and the tonal scale was
very good.  I had heard from friends that they had previously had some
problems with the screen but it must of had been replaced and looked fine.

The negative's I saw was that on some shots the blacks were a little
crushed. However the peak whites were not blown out at all and I could see
all kinds of fine detail in the shadows and darker areas of the image. The
problem with black detail was only with a few very dark night scenes.  The
other tech. problem I saw was a fair bit of aliasing on motion clearly
noticeable when smaller objects moved quickly at a linear rate over a large
area of the image with a large static reference in the foreground. Lastly
the image looked blocky at times and the pixels looked kind of elongated. 

After the showing I stayed and hanged around the door of the projector
booth until a guy from the TI-DLP team came out and gave us a quick run
down on things. Unfortunately we were not allowed in for a peak. He was
holding a card with a picture of the prototype projector, diagram of the
DLP and passed around a sample of the DLP device for all of us nerd's to
"Ohh and Awe" at. I was surprised that the projector looks so simple. The
light source thay were using was a standard off the shelf Strong Xeon light
housing. When we asked about contrast he said they were now achieving an
impressive 1000 to 1 contrast ratio!!  The film was being played off a very
large Pluto HD Disk array. They said the film content was stored at 4 to 1
compression was about 275 Gbytes (not including audio). The film was
transferred from a 35MM Interpositive "IP" from a Spirit Telecine at 1280 x
1024 and squeezed to keep all the image content from the Anamorphic aspect
ratio of the original film. I was told the transfer was originally recorded
to a Panosonic D5 format VTR. Then that was recorded to the Disk Array.
During the projection the image gets processed through some proprietary
hardware in the booth and is re-formatted which   converts it from 60HZ
interlace to a 24 FPS non-interlace for the projection display (in real
time!!). Then the processed image data gets applied directly to the DLP for
the display. 

I am not sure if the aliasing was from the reverse 3/2 process, from the 4
to 1 compression or limited res. of the DLP? Probably some artifacts were
present in the image caused by a variety of factors. I must say all things
considered the E.C. projected film image looked extremely good. My wife who
is not a Techie (Thank god!!) enjoyed the film as did the most everyone in
theater. My opinion is that Electronic Cinema has made tremendous strides.
Clearly from a purely technical point of view the technology looks close to
being ready for deployment.

Best Regards
Eric Mercer
Eric Mercer
Video Engineer 
Digital Domain 
300 Rose Ave, Venice CA 90291 

Direct Tel.:(310)314-2856 Main Tel.: (310)314-2800 
Fax:(310)314-2888  e-mail:emercer at d2.com 
Tel Pager : (310)960-4827  
e-mail Pager: 3102395116.10242 at pagenet.net

Thanks to Rich Torpey for support in 1999
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