It is no exaggeration to state that cinema has just experienced the next phase in its storied history, and the next step in an industrial revolution. At the center of each of the phases in the history of cinema, has been the source material and display device. As we all know, the first phase of cinema was based on 35MM film projection, with 70MM as a later iteration for increased quality and differentiation. The second phase (only recently hitting maturity) has been the adoption of digital cinema, starting with 2K to today’s 4K. The third phase, that was quite unexpected, has now been recently introduced by Samsung at Cinemacon 2017. Going from a film projector to direct view LED will showcase theatrical scenes in high definition using bright and bold color spectrums.
With an array 40 feet wide and utilizing 96 LED cabinets attached to a custom engineered visual structure, this was truly a harbinger of things to come. The upside of this is that direct view LED offers a lot more than traditional displays. It exceeds current DCI standards for visual quality evidenced by Samsung demonstrating 10x the brightness compared to standard digital cinema. Their “Infinity to One” contrast, high dynamic range (HDR), and true color with wide color gamut, you have movie content that is vibrant and creates an unparalleled viewing experience. The icing on the cake is 100,000 hours (up to 15 years) of service life for a lower amortized total cost of ownership (TCO). There are, however, some downsides to direct view LED to cinema settings. This technology is currently more expensive than digital projection and lacks the variable screen sizes that digital projection can provide. Taking it all into consideration, the prices will decline and when the price intersects with TCO, the migration will accelerate as the experience draws a crowd.
As new technologies (or new uses for existing technologies) come onto the scene, these advances don’t take place in a vacuum. It often takes dedicated partners to raise innovative technologies to the level of recognition and industry acceptance. Partners are not simply vendors, but rather part of the design process. The biggest quantifiable difference between vendors and partners is that vendor does not have their own skin in the game and partners do.
In the case of the Samsung direct view LED at CinemaCon 2017, their key partner was Premier Mounts and their dedicated LED team, Premier Dedicated Solutions (PDS). Shaun O’Brien, Director of Technical Solutions for PDS understood the magnitude of the undertaking and noted that “in a broad sense we are enabling LED technology to move forward in new environments. It’s extremely exciting, to say the least!” PDS’ part of this project involved several critical steps, including needs analysis, engineering, creating scaled dimensional drawings, manufacturing, on-site consultation, installation assistance, and final testing. Their team focused on working with installers and end users to make sure that the all of the project’s needs are met on time. Recognizing the industry significance, the solution was entering into a partnership with PDS. With their successful track record of taking responsibilities for projects of this scale and a history of delivering a finished product that exceeds expectation, there was no better partner that compared.
The opportunity was clear. Samsung took their focus and responsibility seriously to up the ante in the cinema viewing experience, and there was a full recognition that they were breaking the mold of using existing technologies.
Samsung’s real challenge was that this had never been done before, and although the individual display modules existed, the frame and mounting structure did not. A focus was incorporating 96 cabinets in perfect alignment with full-service access and doing so in a nonpermanent installation environment. If done properly, the mounting system would be invisible. If not done properly, this part of the final product could outweigh the overall positive effect they were striving for.
Before going onsite, PDS’ engineers examined all the variables and dynamics of the project. The preliminary engineering and design were tested at their headquarters to ensure the highest quality is delivered. The final solution was building a one-of-a-kind visual structure that created 9 modular 2×8 sections, weighing in at 2,380 lbs but supporting 5,000+ lbs. of LED cabinets and speakers. In addition, the structure included two walkways, an upper and lower, and housing location for JBL speakers on the sides and top. In the end, it was a massive 16×6 free-standing visual structure.
Once tested in full scale, the mounting system was delivered to the site in the 2×8 component form. All the preliminary work went a long way toward facilitating ease of installation at the final venue. At this point, it is all about solving unforeseen problems that always seem to arise from project installation. It is how well this last critical step is handled that determines the overall success or failure of a project. PDS’ team onsite specializes in that final mile of the race.
Ultimately each project has a character and life of its own and so it was with Samsung Cinema Screen at CinemaCon 2017. A true partner will recognize the unique nature of what is required and adapt their resources and capabilities to that. At PDS, problem-solving is elevated to an art form. From design, engineering, and manufacturing, coupled with on-site consultation and installation, PDS delivers the core foundation for successful project integrations.