DLP Takes Cinematic Leap

Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology has been gaining ground in the home theater market over the last several months, in large part due to the implementation of Texas Instrument's native 16x9 display chip as seen in Sharp's popular XV-Z9000U projector, released late last year.

Texas Instruments, which developed the DLP, format announced last week the latest version of DLP Cinema technology aimed at the motion picture industry. TI says the new technology, to be known as m15, includes "wide-ranging enhancements" compared to the previous version, and is now in production and available in digital cinema projectors from Barco and Christie.

According to TI, the enhancements provide support for advanced security, increased flexibility in usage, and improved usability. The first public demonstration of some of these enhancements will take place at the ShoWest conference, March 4–7 in Las Vegas. The company says the m15 enhancements have been made as a result of dialog between TI's DLP Cinema development team and key companies in the movie industry.

The enhancements include:
CineLink Security Management, which supports encryption at the local link between server and projector for greater security, as well as support of watermarking and fingerprinting, which make it easier to track "pirate" copies, and the ability to remotely diagnose and maintain projectors
CineCanvas Image Management, which enables DLP Cinema technology to be used in a wider variety of movie theater locations
CinePalette Color Management, which extends the color gamut of DLP Cinema technology from 14 bits per color to 15 bits per color, allowing some 35 trillion colors to be represented on screen
CineBlack Contrast Management, which provides the ability to deliver a "pure tonal scale between deep black and pure white which faithfully reproduces the subtlest nuance in any image."

TI's Dave Duncan explains that his company's "dialog with the industry has been the foundation on which DLP Cinema technology has been built, and this latest set of enhancements has been requested by the studios, by the distributors, and by the exhibitors. What's interesting about them is, firstly, that enhancements relating to image quality are very few—indicative of the fact that, for the large majority of industry stakeholders, DLP Cinema image quality already surpasses that of current film presentation. Secondly, the emphasis on usability and on the features required to support a broad range of installation profiles—not to mention the 'future-proofing' features—tells us that those same stakeholders already have a clear vision that wide deployment of digital cinema is inevitable."

TI says all projectors currently installed are capable of being upgraded to the new functionality, although the decision to upgrade will be an individual "value" decision on the part of current owners. The total number of installed DLP Cinema projectors is now over 40, with installations in cities around the world, including Los Angeles, London, San Diego, Seoul, Boston, and Brussels. Further installations are expected in the coming months.