16.09.14

Christie invests heavily to revive 3D cinema with 6P laser projection system

The decline in 3D movies (figures are N America only)

Christie has shown the first demo of its 6P laser projection system at IBC 2014 in Amsterdam. It hopes 6P can reverse the trend for falling cinema audiences for 3D movies.  The dual-head 3D system produces almost twice as light as existing 3D systems, and doesn't need a high gain, non-uniform silver screen.

Speaking to InAVate yesterday at IBC in Amsterdam, Richard Nye, EMEA director of cinema at Christie said the technology to develop 6P laser projection represented the biggest R&D spend in the company's history.

Audiences for 3D films have been falling since 2008 (see graph below) and in 2010 Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg went on record in a Variety interview saying filmmakers and studios had 'killed the goose that is delivering us golden eggs' through mass production of 'terrible' 3D films.

Christie still sees huge potential in 3D cinema however, and feels that lack of brightness in 3D systems, in comparison to 2D cinema, and the loss of detail that occurs as a result, is a contributory factor in audiences losing interest in 3D.

Christie’s 6P system works with two projectors, each one displaying the left or right eye images, which are generated using a distinct set of RGB primaries (1 x reg, 1 x green, 1 x blue, two sets of these equals 6, hence the name 6P) onto a low-gain white screen. 

Christie 6P produces 40-45 per cent light efficiency using dual projection, with current 3D systems working at around the 28 per cent efficiency mark. Colours are split at source for the specially designed Dolby glasses, so that  less light is lost with the low-gain white screen.

Christie’s system uses simultaneous left and right eye vision rather than sequential, so doesn't use the flashing technique (showing a left eye image followed very quickly by a slightly off-centre right eye image) which has been a factor in causing headaches in some cinema-goers. This is also known as 'triple-flashing'.

Specially-designed glasses are tuned to the colour wavelengths of each of the source projectors.

The 6P system cannot be retro-fitted to existing Christie digital cinema projectors and Christie has warned potential buyers a single-head 6P sequential 3D system will not only show signs of 'triple-flashing' but will also be nowhere near as light efficient.