It’s not all black and white: a journey through projector contrast specs

October 18, 2018
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Cinema has come a long way since the first digitalization wave. Initially, together with the forming of the DCI initiative, the target was to replace film projectors with digital projectors that comply with a set of requirements that would guarantee a minimal and consistent level of quality compared to film. Now, more than a decade later, and looking towards the prospects of the “second wave” in cinema, the market expectations are changing.

On one hand, we have the strive for operational efficiency: reducing operational costs by going to laser projectors, less service and maintenance, and other operational savings on a level of the whole multiplex. On the other hand, there is an increased focus for creating better, different, and premium audience experiences, which lead to concepts like premium cinema, VIP or boutique rooms, PLF concepts, etc.

One of the key differentiators for a premium image quality is good contrast (or a deep black level) which, in combination with a higher 2D brightness, paves the way towards true cinema HDR.

When talking about contrast, we can make a distinction between projector contrast and ANSI contrast, as explained in a Barco white paper by Tom Bert. We warmly recommend reading that paper first.This white paper takes the story further and provides guidance about:
–    modelling on-screen contrast values for different auditorium designs
–    how average image brightness impacts on-screen contrast
–    different projector technologies

Download the white paper