Christie introduces world’s first 4K 60 fps projectors

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UPDATE: These projectors are actually part of Christie’s Pro AV series; intended for business and large screen applications, not for the cinema. Don Shaw, Christie’s Senior Director of Product Management, explains:

These are not cinema projectors… they are actually intended for our ProAV markets.

With that said, they have similar light engines and optical characteristics as a cinema projector, but totally different electronics that are not compatible with cinema security protocols and movie playback equipment.

As a stretch, you may be able to use them in film post-production, but only for unencrypted content; perhaps for reviewing dailies and for DI processing.

So although 4K HFR in the the movie theater is still beyond the horizon for now it’s encouraging that projector light engines, optics, and data storage / transfer are good to go in terms of 4K HFR.  Now we just need to wait for exhibitors and motion picture engineers to provide updated theatrical distribution protocols and infrastructure.

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Christie Digital has announced the world’s first 60 fps capable 4K (4096 x 2160) projectors: the Christie D4K2560 and D4K3560.

“Christie is the only manufacturer providing full 4K (4096 x 2160) resolution at 60 Hz and the reliability and image clarity of 3-chip DLP® all in one package. Both projectors are a quantum leap forward in video image processing and a breakthrough in high frame rate and high resolution video projection,” said Mike Garrido, senior product manager, Business Products, Christie.

The projectors, which replace the Christie D4K25 and D4K35, are available now for pre-order. They are priced at $125,000 for the 25,000-lumen DK2560 and $161,000 for the 35,000-lumen D4K3560, according to Engadget.

It’s great that Christie has pushed the boundaries with these projectors, but this announcement may be only one piece of the puzzle that has to be completed before we get to watch even 4K 2D movies at 48 or 60 fps.  Christie Senior Director of Product Management Don Shaw told me back in January that the infrastructure for handling such high bandwidth doesn’t yet exist, and may not arrive for quite a while:

“A 4K HFR [3D] projector would require up to 4X the input bandwidth of our current cinema projectors (up to 120 fps total)… this would be a forklift upgrade (i.e. new projector) and the reality is that none of the current cinema infrastructure (IMBs, servers, routers, content delivery systems, etc) can handle this bandwidth. It will be a long time before we see 4K HFR in theaters and we currently have no plans for building such a projector for general Cinema usage.”

Maybe things have changed since January?  At least, maybe infrastructure capable of feeding a single 60 hz 4K projector now exists.  If this is the case, I’d imagine a theater could achieve 4K HFR 3D by having two of everything (server, IMB, etc).  Such a setup would be quite expensive, but wouldn’t it be cool if a few select cinemas show The Desolation of Smaug in glorious 4K 48 fps 3D?

RED taking preorders for 4K REDRAY Cinema Player

redray_978x513_01Thanks to JL for giving me the heads up on this 4K media player by RED: The REDRAY 4K Cinema Player. The REDRAY player is capable of high frame rate (HFR) 3D at up to 60 fps per eye.

From RED’s site:

There is nothing like a true 4K 3D experience and REDRAY delivers with playback of 3D media at up to 60 fps per eye in 4K. Whether in a home theater or at the office, REDRAY’s flexible HDMI 1.4 connectors let you leverage the latest 3D and 4K LCD flat panel and projection display technologies.

RED describes REDRAY as “the first 4K Cinema Player to bring ultra high-definition content to your home, business or local theater using internet file based distribution.” It utilizes a 1TB internal drive and “advanced networking and low data rates” which allow for content distribution via FTP transfer or solid-state media.

In addition to providing content for Ultra HD flat panel displays and 4K projectors, REDRAY can also be used for “digital signage applications to drive up to four 1080P displays.”

RED’s site doesn’t specify a release date, saying that it’s “coming soon.”  You can preorder it for $1,450.

The only other 4K content delivery platform I’ve heard about so far is Sony’s server that comes preloaded with 10 4K-mastered titles, offered alongside the Sony Ultra HD TV.  But from what I’ve read it seems like Sony’s server is a closed platform: you can’t freely move files to and from it without someone from Sony doing it for you.  Sony is currently working on a 4K content download service, but whether it will offer non-Sony content remains to be seen.

JL also notes: “3D HFR 4K Projector to follow soon…”  From RED I assume. Once we have such a projector only a few small hurdles remain on the path to 3D HFR 4K content, primarily involving content distribution, digital file security, and date routing (although all of these could feasibly be overcome by operating entirely within RED’s ecosystem).  However it would be quite a sea change for the movie exhibition community to move to RED projection solutions when they currently use Christie, Sony, Barco, or NEC projectors / integrated media blocks.  I’m sure these companies won’t let RED be the only way to get 4K 60 fps 3D content to the screen.

A question for anyone who may know the answer: does HDMI 1.4 actually have the necessary bandwidth to deliver 4K content at 60 frames per second, in 3D? Wikipedia says that 4K at 24 fps in 2D is the maximum that HDMI 1.4 can handle, while RED’s site says that the REDRAY player can indeed deliver 3D content at 4K 60 fps per eye using “flexible HDMI 1.4 connectors.”

Is there anyone out there who can help clarify this?