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Barco Residential plans to lead the way in providing a true CinemaScope experience in the home with a new Loki 4K model…

Ever since its first stirrings in the 1920s when French inventor Henri Chrétien developed and patented his film process called Anamorphoscope, through the format’s true birth in the 1950s, CinemaScope had held its own as a format in an ever-changing world. In the America of the 1950s, TV was eating into cinema’s audience.

Studios and cinema owners needed a new weapon to impress audiences. Spyros P. Skouras, president of 20th Century Fox at the time, green-lighted the creation of CinemaScope movies, the first being classic sword and sandals epic, The Robe. The format was a hit, delivering an experience movie fans had simply never had before.

The cinemas loved the format because it was relatively easy to move over to the new system; all that needed to happen to the projector was to fit an anamorphic lens over the existing kit. Maintaining them and keeping alignment correct was relatively easy, as a technician was always on site.

Fast forward a few decades and the modern home cinema installer can also deliver CinemaScope to clients in the same way, however anamorphic lenses are more problematic for the opposite reason to the commercial theatres of the 1950s.

Many installers have often wished: ‘would it not be great to have a projector that could just switch between formats with no extra lenses, no fuss and no need for return calibration checks?’ Well they don’t have to wish anymore: enter the Loki CinemaScope to join the Optix and Orion models – which already offer CinemaScope functionality (with the added bonus of 4K and 5K performance on Loki).

Barco Loki 4K CinemaScope projector

 

Loki Is Up To New Tricks!

 

Due to ship in April 2017 (in the UK, Barco Residential projectors are available through Genesis Technologies and via Meridian Audio’s Design and Specification Service), the latest addition to the Barco CinemaScope family can natively deliver this classic format loved by many, that despite huge changes around it, has held its own when other enhanced formats like 3D have had mixed results.

The resolution of the Orion and Optix CinemaScope projectors is 2560×1080, while Loki Cinemascope is 5120×2160, an aspect ratio of 2.37:1. Many modern TVs made today are described as 21:9, but the real format is actually 64:27 which is 2.37:1. Barco Residential asserts the only way to get the real experience, is via projection.

Would it not be great to have a projector that could just switch between formats with no extra lenses, no fuss and no need for return calibration checks? Enter the Loki CinemaScope

Most movies in commercial theatres that are released today are in 2.39:1(2.40:1). A more commonly used term is 2.35:1, but in truth that format has not been in use since the 1970s when the standard switched to 2.39:1. Despite the technical differences, the CinemaScope term is used to cover all these different versions.

Important for the residential market, 4K UHD Blu-rays are released in 3840×2160, an aspect ratio of 16:9, however CinemaScope movies end up using only 3840×1620 pixels of that resolution for the actual picture; the full image is still 3840×2160, but because of the limitations of this approach, part of the image is shown as the dreaded black bars with resolution effectively thrown away and the resulting experience greatly diminished.

If you increase the resolution of the display to 5120×2160 and show the same native content, the viewer will see the same black bars at the top and the bottom, but also black bars on the sides.

Barco Loki 4K CinemaScope projector

This is where Barco Residential’s technology comes in as on its CinemaScope 4K projectors the image is scaled diagonally, which is a uniform process and maintains perfect geometry while utilising almost 2.7 million additional pixels. The result is an image filling the complete 5120×2160 space available, or true CinemaScope.

The manufacturer refers to this as ‘cropping’ and there are different features under the cropping function in the menu. The procedure works by cropping off the black bars above and below the image and changing the aspect ratio to CinemaScope. That means Barco Residential scales an image that fills the complete available height of 2160 and the complete available width of 5120 to maintain the full CinemaScope aspect ratio.

Handily, the machines also have an auto cropping feature, which recognises CinemaScope content and automatically scales the image to fit the full resolution and of course changes back to 16:9 if the content is in that format.

The result is an image filling the complete 5120×2160 space available, or true CinemaScope

Barco has developed its own unique algorithms to make this happen. This type of functionality requires some processing power, so at the heart of the system is one large FPGA circuit which handles all the computation, performing the pre-setup of the image, verification and tuning.

The image is processed through one of many fully separable video processing channels inside the FPGA, each featuring full 12-bit input and output. This allows the projector to measure, adjust, scale and present the best possible image on the screen. Barco Residential says there is no other projector that can match its processing power.

Great performance is one thing, but installers also want to know if it’s easy to set up. Barco Residential says professionals will be surprised at how flexible and easy setup is. Unlike an anamorphic lens system which must be used in the horizontal centre of the image, there are no limitations other than the maximum available horizontal and vertical lens shift to determine placement.

There is also no limitation to which lens is used, meaning installers can even get a CinemaScope image using the wide angle 0.3:1 lens for rear or front projection. Full adjustment of focus and zoom is available via the remote rather than the manual adjustments needed on an anamorphic lens.

The CinemaScope functionality is of course bundled with all the other standard Barco Residential features including RealColor, extensive profile system and IP control and monitoring.

Barco Loki 4K CinemaScope projector

Loki CinemaScope Detail

 

The Barco Residential Loki CinemaScope offers all the same Ultra HD enhancements as its Loki projector, but now with the high-capacity 2.37:1 aspect DLP engine. The projector also employs Barco Residential’s single step image processing and low latency scaling technologies.

By basing Loki CinemaScope on a proven optical architecture, custom designed aspherical glass elements and enhanced low dispersion glass lenses, Barco Residential says image quality is in a class of its own.

Contrast is not only increased, but the details within the darkest parts of the image are more visible. As well as the CinemaScope functionality, Barco Residential says the Loki CinemaScope offers outstanding image quality via its brand new dual laser engine.

Alongside improved image uniformity, lasers of course last longer than traditional projector lamps, are more robust than other approaches and offer fast start and shutdown cycles. Light life is up to 40,000 hours. Loki CinemaScope has departed from a purely fan-based cooling system to a liquid cooling PID regulation system, allowing the projector to operate at any angle.

But all technological prowess aside, in the end this is all about creating an exceptional home theatre experience; the ‘suspension of disbelief’.

“I didn’t realise how contrast-deprived I was until now, not to mention missing colour accuracy.” – Theo Kalomirakis, legendary US home theatre designer

Theo Kalomirakis, legendary US home theatre designer, had this to say about his Barco Residential CinemaScope experience: “After installing the Barco Residential Orion CinemaScope projector in my theatre, I spent a lot of time checking out how some of my favourite movies look. The experience has been nothing short of amazing. I didn’t realise how contrast-deprived I was until now, not to mention missing colour accuracy.

“The other thing that has spoiled me is the smooth switch between aspect ratios without having to deal with presets; the projector’s CinemaScope functionality does it for me automatically. Bottom line: no more compromises. I continue to check the movies in my collection whenever I have a moment and enjoy them as if it is the first time I saw them!”

The CinemaScope unit costs £52,000+VAT and includes the standard lens, although other lens options are available for an additional cost.

Those seeking more information are encouraged to contact Neil Davidson, managing director, Genesis Technologies UK on +44 7879412280 or at neil@genesistechnologies.co.uk, and Barry Sheldrick,
director of sales, Meridian Audio on 07841181864 or at design@meridian.co.uk.

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