Anyone who has been to a signage trade show in the last two or three years has likely looked at fine pixel pitch LED screens and concluded they were starting to look pretty damn good, but I doubt few though they were the sorts of things that could replace big movie theater screens and projectors.
But that’s what’s happened in Seoul, where a high-profile moviehouse in an equally high profile skyscraper is using an LED display instead of a conventional projection screen set-up.
Samsung Electronics announced last week that it has installed its first-ever commercial Cinema LED Screen at Lotte Cinema World Tower in Korea. “Designed as a High Dynamic Range (HDR) LED theater display,” says a press release, “the Cinema LED Screen creates a more captivating and vibrant viewing experience through next-generation picture quality and true-to-life audio thanks to collaboration with HARMAN Professional Solutions.”
The screen is 34 feet wide (10.3m) and has a resolution of 4,096 x 2,160.
The LED screen is touted as having peak brightness levels (146fL), “nearly 10 times greater than that offered by standard projector technologies. Additionally, the Cinema LED Screen’s futuristic, distortion-free presentation leverages ultra-contrast and low-tone grayscale settings to showcase the brightest colors, deepest blacks and most pristine whites at a nearly infinite contrast ratio.
To go with the stunning video technology within the ‘SUPER S’ theater of Lotte Cinema, Samsung has paired its Cinema LED Screen with state-of-the-art audio technologies from JBL by HARMAN. This integration includes powerful speakers bordering the screen, proprietary audio processing technology, and JBL’s Sculpted Surround system, producing an unparalleled sight and sound experience the way the content creators intended.
As demands within the cinema space evolve, Samsung’s Cinema LED Screen offers the versatility to expand services to meet a wider range of audience needs. The display maintains its advanced presentation capabilities in a range of dark and ambient lighting conditions. This flexibility makes the Cinema LED Screen ideal for venues wishing to use their theater space for corporate events, concerts, sports event viewing and gaming competitions.
“‘SUPER S’ theater is a new paradigm of movie screening,” says Wonchun Cha, Lotte Cinema CEO. “We look forward to working with Samsung to introduce new, high-quality technology to the movie industry in the future, and we are excited to drive customer satisfaction through an improved viewing environment that brings a variety of content to life.”
Prior to its commercial debut, Samsung ran the Cinema LED Screen through a series of the industry’s most rigorous tests to validate its performance and presentation. In May 2017, the Cinema LED Screen became the first product to achieve full compliance with the highly-esteemed Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) theater technology standards prior to its commercial release. This certification acknowledges the display’s ability to showcase the complete color spectrum with unaltered accuracy.
I don’t know much more about the cinema projection business than a typical movie-goer, and suspect there will be many counter-arguments from projector and screen firms about this. It should also be noted this is an installation in Samsung’s backyard, and the sort of high-profile job that tends to be subsidized (though I don’t know that).
Regardless, it’s a sign that fine pitch, direct view LED has reached a visual quality point that it can touted as an alternative canvas in environments where people pay to look.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 13 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia.