Projectiondesign Don't Need No Stinkin' Anamorphics

There are, at present, two ways to view 2.35 movies on a 1920 x 1080 HD projector. First, you can tolerate the black bars on a 16:9 screen (or use a 2.35:1 screen and zoom the image out to let the black bars spill off the top and bottom). Second, you can use an anamorphic lens, together with video processing, on that same 2.35:1 screen. Engineers at Projectiondesign have a third way. Working with Texas Instruments, they have incorporated a 2538 x 1600 0.9"DLP chip into their new Avielo Optix SuperWide 235, a single-chip, 2-lamp, 2D digital projector. Using a 2538 x 1080 central area of this chip, they can project a 2.35:1 image onto the screen with 1080 pixels of vertical resolution.

A casual reading of the press release might lead you to believe that this will magically give you a true vertical resolution of 1080. It does not, as Projectiondesign clearly noted in its press conference. The active image area on a 2.35:1 Blu-ray disc transfer is approximately 1920 x 820 pixels (the other 260 vertical pixels are taken up by the black bars), and nothing can increase these 820 pixels to a true vertical resolution of 1080. But by using processing via Sigma Designs VSP, the Optix SuperWide 235 converts the disc's 1920 x 820 to 2538 x 1080. While the result is similar to the use of an anamorphic lens, this technique avoids the optical issues an added lens can produce and the expense of that lens as well. The projector will be priced at $39,000 when it becomes available in a few months.

The image produced by this 2D projector looked outstanding with only one lamp operating on a 13-foot wide, 1.1-gain screen (a DaLite Affinity screen, developed in cooperation with video expert Joe Kane).