Tag Archives: FDA

Lasers…somebody knows…Barco? RED???

The basic exception was Laser Light Engines (LLE), who have a deal with IMAX to put lasers into the big room cinemas. If ever there were a nice niche to start this adventure with, this is it. Specialized, contained to dozens and hundreds instead of 10’s of thousands, able to absorb any exceptional pricing, able to evolve. Delivery was scheduled to begin in Spring 2012.

Then the film maker turned digital imaging specialist Kodak shows a system that they clearly are not productizing. But they are playing in the game. They helped set up the organization which is working (throughout the world?) to take projection booth laser systems out of the field of laser entertainment systems, which require a special technology variance for every set-up. Kodak was able to get one by themselves, but the Laser Illuminated Projection Association – LIPA – includes Sony and IMAX, plus LLE and Kodak in this effort. In the US, the over-riding entity is the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, which is in charge of ensuring laser equipment safety.

This spring, LLE showed up in Hollywood at that chapter’s SMPTE meeting with Sony and Barco giving powerpoint presentations. Sony had made a couple of public remarks previously, but one had to be culling their online tech papers to notice. And until this point Barco had been quiet…except that the week before they did a demo at the RED Studios Hollywood lot. Nice splash.

Then nothing. No remarks from anyone at CineExpo or CineEurope. The idea has gelled that digital laser projection is 2 years away, or more.

Then this week. The RED user group message board lit up after two pre-viewer comments placed at the head of a thread by RED owner Jim Jannard: Mark L. Pederson of OffHollywood and Stephen Pizzo, Co-Founder of Element Technica and now partner of 3ality Technica, make remarks about having watched a demo of RED’s laser projector. “Vibrant”, “clean”, “never seen projection so …”, etc. Then a few non-answers to poorly phrased guesses (for example, that 4K is a benchmark, and passive 3D did leak out, but both could mean several things) and that was that…25 pages of wasted time thereafter. [Can anyone please vouch for the merits of Misters Pederson and Pizzo as to their ability to discern whether the technology they viewed is comparibly better than what has been seen otherwise?)

Barco, on the hand (and yet similarly) have made an announcement that 9 and 10 January will be their big days. – D3D Cinema to Present Giant Screen 4K 3D Laser Projection Demo at 2nd Annual Moody Digital Cinema Symposium – Well, actually, no. Barco only said, “We’re fully committed to providing the highest quality solutions for giant screen theaters” and some similar non-relevent info about how wonderful their partner is. Basically though, their name is on a press release announcing that they will butterfly laser driven digital cinema light against 15 perf 70mm and 4 other “revolutions”:

  • The FIRST demonstration of Barco’s revolutionary laser light engine on a giant screen
  • The FIRST demonstration of true DLP 4K resolution 3D on a giant screen
  • The FIRST 4K 3D comparison of ‘ultra-reality’ 48 frame/sec & 60 frame/sec content
  • The FIRST giant 3D 500 mbps comparison, nearly double the current cinema bit rate standard

Not withstanding the lack of filtering for marketing bits, and regardless of how some of the terms have been ill-defined in the past (4K 3D, for example), this is still a pretty good line-up.

Prediction: 2012 will be the year that several studios tell their exhibition partners a final date for film distribution (in 2013) and 2012 will have more than one commercial laser system in the field.

Prediction 3 – there may not be more than one DCI compliant system in the field though. RED might find that, if they thought bringing a small camera to market was a difficult trick, supporting projectors is a whole different matter…even if it is only to post-houses and their owners.

Regardless, this is mostly good news. That the RED is using passive doesn’t exactly mean silver screen passive. Perhaps Dolby passive, which would certainly be good news. If it is silver screen passive, that is bad news. Since silver screens don’t comply with SMPTE standards, they may end up on the scrap heap of history. But that is a different story for another article.

KODAK Advances Lasers’ March on DCinema

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.


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