The industry group is named Laser Illuminated Projection Association, or LIPA and was co-founded by IMAX and the company they have contracted with to supply laser light engines for their projectors, the New England based Laser Light Engines, plus Sony and according to their press release, “other cinema-industry players”.
Kodak made a statement in October 2010 that said they supported LIPA’s goals, but had already made an application to the FDA for a waiver on their projection design, which they expected soon. Soon has arrived. Following is the press release from Kodak.
Kodak has also said that they are laser system agnostic in their design, and though their demo unit uses Necsel devices (from California), they could also use a system from other companies, including Laser Light Engines. The two companies are a 400 mile (650 kilometer) drive apart.
So, let me guess? What does the public want to know? Ah! Time. This press release states “within two years.” Earlier releases have said, “12-18 months.”
For a concise look at the KODAK system at the time of its first demonstations in October 2010, see:
Large Display Report: KODAK Demonstrates Laser Projector
This magazine is editorially in favor of switching over ASAP. The advantages of an even wider gamut will be a great device for differentiating home entertainment from the cinema experience, and 3D will never look right until it is able to get out of the mud of <10 candelas. Lasers help this because they can not only push more light through the system economically, they can also put a coherent ‘spin’ on the photons. Typically, lasers put out a linear polarization which isn’t quite right for 3D…think about not having to move your head for 2 hours to keep the linear glasses aligned properly with the screen. But circular polarization is possible. It is just one more thing on the research plate, no doubt.
Cost? If a Xenon bulb costs $5,000 and a typical cinema spends that 3 times per year per projector, and if a laser system will last 10 years, that gives us a simple comparison to measure against; $150,000. Lenses for Xenon systems cost on the order of $15,000, while similar spec’d lenses of higher f# will be significantly less. Add savings for personnel costs (and the danger of handling Xenon bulbs) plus the advantages of 10 years of significantly lower air conditioning needs…against…against…hmmm…no one is talking figures for cost just yet.
FDA Greenlights KODAK Laser Projection Technology
ROCHESTER, N.Y., February 24, 2011 – The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved a variance that allows for the sale of KODAK Laser Projector Systems using KODAK Laser Projection Technology to cinema exhibitors without the need for individual site or show operator variances. This is an important step forward in delivering brighter 2D and 3D images that provide higher dynamic range and a wider color gamut to theaters.
“The FDA approval brings KODAK Laser Projection Technology significantly closer to the marketplace and validates the work we’ve done to ensure that this technology is safe and dependable,” says Les Moore, Kodak’s chief operating officer for Digital Cinema. “In addition to allowing the sale of KODAK Laser Projector Systems using KODAK Laser Projection Technology, the FDA variance serves as a template to be followed by manufacturers that we license to incorporate this new laser technology.”
Typically, digital projection systems using high power lasers fall under the definition of a “demonstration laser” and must follow existing regulations for conventional laser projectors, such as those used in laser light show displays. Kodak has been working in conjunction with laser safety consultants and the FDA to address potential safety issues. The unique optical design of KODAK Laser Projection Technology manages the projector output so that it can be considered to be similar to conventional Xenon projection systems. The FDA variance allows the sale of KODAK Laser Projector Systems with KODAK Laser Projection Technology and theater/show configurations incorporating them.
KODAK Laser Projection Technology promises to bring vastly improved image quality to theater screens, including significantly brighter 3D viewing, and to dramatically reduce costs to digital projection in cinemas through the innovative use of long-life lasers, lower-cost optics and more efficient energy usage. Kodak introduced its laser technology in September 2010. The technology has been received enthusiastically by exhibitors, manufacturers, studios and viewers who have seen the demonstrations.
Moore notes that KODAK Laser Projection Technology is a key ingredient to potential improvements in digital cinema picture quality for both filmmakers and movie-goers. “This laser technology is a significant breakthrough that promises to have a positive ripple effect throughout the cinema world,” adds Moore. “We at Kodak have always endeavored to provide filmmakers with the best possible tools with which to tell their stories. That philosophy has served us well for more than a century, and we will continue nurturing that partnership long into the future.”
Kodak is in discussions to license this advanced technology, with an eye toward marketplace implementation within the next two years.
For more information, visit http://www.kodak.com/go/laserprojection.
About Entertainment Imaging
Kodak’s Entertainment Imaging Division is the world-class leader in providing film, digital and hybrid motion imaging products, services, and technology for the professional motion picture and exhibition industries. For more information, visit:
Twitter at @Kodak_ShootFilm.
Sally Christgau/Lisa Muldowney