Precision Projection Mapping using CANVAS and Christie Digital Projectors

High Precision Projection Mapping at the Air Canada Centre

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High Precision Projection Mapping at the Air Canada Centre

Like something straight out of a 1980s sci-fi movie, high-lumen projectors are helping artists illustrate virtual reality.  The year might be 2015, the year that Marty McFly traveled to in Back to the Future, but the video below (make sure to switch on 1080p) looks like something straight out of Tron:

With the use of twelve 20K lumen Christie Digital projectors and their proprietary CANVAS media server, Immersive Design Studios helped the Maple Leafs put together this impressive on-ice show at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

What caught us off guard was the incredible pixel precision and alignment with the on-ice graphics, so we reached out to Immersive Design Studios to learn more. (Disclaimer: We were NOT paid by Immersive to write this article and we do NOT have any monetary interest in the success of their products).

The Set-Up

To learn more about the set-up, we spoke with Immersive’s co-founder, Thomas Soetens.  According to Thomas, the Air Canada Center was set up with two rigs of six 20K lumen Christie Digital Projectors, double stacked for luminosity, blending together 12 high resolution images.  While the resolution is impressive and allows for the image clarity seen in the video, what truly impressed us was the fact that all 12 projectors were driven by ONE media server.  Yes, a single media server driving 12 WUXGA (1920 x 1200) resolution projectors.  What kind of media server has that kind of power?  Turns out it’s a neat, compact proprietary design by Immersive Design Studios called the CANVAS.

CANVAS Media Server

The CANVAS Media Server is a technical powerhouse, with the ability to drive up to 16K of output resolution per unit without issue.  But what makes the unit so unique is Immersive’s projection mapping software, which allows for on-the-fly pixel calibration down to 1/10th of a pixel.  It was also designed from the ground up for game-engine inputs, resulting in ultra-realistic, virtual reality experiences.

Precision Projection Mapping using CANVAS and Christie Digital Projectors

The difference between precision projection mapping with CANVAS and without.

On the Fly Projector Calibration

One of the challenges of large scale projection mapping is projector alignment and calibration:

“We hear these stories all the time: Temperature changes in the venue can affect the projector trusses and then there’s an alignment issue.  With our solution, we can make the repair then and there.”

Many large-venue projectors like Barco’s HDX series ship with onboard warping/alignment software, but with additional inputs from multiple media servers, one can imagine the complexity in aligning all of these projectors.  Immersive believes that with their software and media server, they have reduced dark time (the time to set up for a show) down to just minutes.

“For example – to redo the lines on the ice [rink], others would have to re-do the perspective mapping.  Re-doing the lines with our system would be done on the fly with vector mapping.”

Thomas wasn’t willing to share too many specifics on the calibration software due to trade secrets, but he assured me that the interface is ultra-simple.

“As an artistic design company, we understand the technical challenges artists face.  With our simplified media server, we take control away from hardware operators, and put it in the hands of content makers.”

And we think that’s a good thing.

Decreasing Points of Failure in Projection Mapping

More components means more points of failure; centralizing the media server and driving more outputs from one device leads to increased reliability.  By using only two of these media servers, the team can guarantee uptime by powering half of the double-stacked projectors with each device; if one goes down, the brightness only drops to half-luminosity without loss of image.

“Crunching 4k resolutions will be a massive increase in compute requirement, and having a single source to your projector is the most intelligent solution as it reduces latency, points of failure, and forward-compatibility.”

On these large venue projectors, one of the most expensive projector repair issues we find is a conflict from the ancillary onboard PCB’s related to Image Processing.  By offloading this functionality on to the media server which is lighter, easier to work on & ship, and cheaper to fix, we believe that large venues and rental houses can cut costs on projector repairs as they switch to PCB-light projectors.

Realtime Game Content Engine for Projection Mapped Virtual Reality

According to Thomas, the main difference between CANVAS and its competitors is that the CANVAS was designed from the ground up for game content with live inputs.

“We were never interested in building just a better playback server, CANVAS is the first server supporting game engine content and therefore opening the door to an entire new medium.”

How can Projectors Better Accommodate Projection Mapping?

Key challenges for large venue projectors are size, heat, and noise.  Rather than focusing on high tech features and software, Thomas believes that the projector manufacturers should leave that to the media server and focus on making brighter, lighter, smaller, and more reliable projectors.

The Future of Projection Mapping

Seeing this kind of projection mapping in a sports arena makes us wonder about other applications.  Immersive has already worked with two ice hockey rinks, as well as NBA teams like the Raptors.

But what about more immersive applications, like virtual reality games?  Turns out that’s already in the works.  The CANVAS media server has the ability to integrate live data into the projection mapped feed via a proprietary game engine.  We hope this means full-scale, virtual reality experiences in the near future.

Projection Mapping At The Super Bowl Half Time Show

How Barco Projectors Made Katy Perry’s Dark Horse a Bright Reality

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Projection Mapping, Barco Projectors, and The Super Bowl Left Shark

Last Sunday, 161.3 Million Americans tuned in to watch the Super Bowl on NBC.  With the big game aside, many tuned in for the spectacular Half-Time performance by Katy Perry and her now sensational Left Shark.  Viewers were delighted by the visual representation of a tropical paradise, 3D fireworks, and a super realistic Chess Set projected on stage using a technique called Projection Mapping.

Projection Mapping At The Super Bowl Half Time Show

Projection Mapping At The Super Bowl Half Time Show – Photo Credit: projection-mapping.org

 

What is Projection Mapping?

We first saw Projection Mapping hit the mainstream at Coachella 2012 when performers resurrected Tupac for a surprise performance.  By using multiple high-brightness projectors, uneven surfaces, and intense pre-rendered or-on-the fly rendered graphics, artists are fooling the human brain into the illusion that the 2D projection is actually a 3D object with holographic tendencies.

Barco Projectors Dominate the Market

When it comes to live venue projection, especially in challenging or bright venues, Barco seems to dominate its competition.  In 2012, Barco FLM HD20s supported international events including Roger Waters’ The Wall, the Eurovision Song Contest, and the Bacardi Togetherness worldwide brand campaign.  It is rumored that for the 2015 Super Bowl, 80 Barco HDF-W26’s were chained to produce Katy Perry’s half-time show.  The projectors were set up redundantly in pairs to prevent blackouts in case of failure. The HDF-W26 is a 26,000 lumen DLP projector from Barco that is designed for Projection Mapping applications.  It is out of the box ready for projecting on to warped surfaces, connecting to multiple other projectors in a series, and is ruggedized and weather-sealed.

Who Runs the Show?

In order to understand more on projection mapping, we sat down with Eric from Imaginex to talk about the intricate details of Projection Mapping projects.  His company, Imaginex specializes in displays and shows on the East Coast including Virginia, Maryland, and New York.  According to Eric, Projection Mapping is a foreign concept to many entertainers, and entertainers often hire a firm that offers a Turn-Key solution.

“We offer an end to end solution.  Depending on what the client is looking for, we would provide the system control software, select the media servers and projectors, and set up the rigging.  We would even find animators if that was part of the project.”

Laying Out the Projection Mapping

Laying Out the Projection Mapping – Photo Credit Projection-Mapping.org

What are some of the challenges with Projection Mapping?

It seems that every show can be as simple or as complex as the plan calls for.  When working with 2, 50, even 100 projectors, you can imagine how complex the computing power can be.  Owning this type of equipment is prohibitively expensive, and so it is important to find a rental company with reliable equipment.  As we know at Digitron Electronics, poorly maintained projectors can suffer from power issues, blown lamps, and bad power supplies all the time.  We asked Eric from Imaginex about the biggest concerns:

“Things can always come up last minute – power issues, the 3D model doesn’t fit the stage perfectly, or there are issues with the hardware.  We’ve always got to be ready for last minute problems.”

Digitron Electronics is a repair center for high-lumen large venue projectors, and we frequently work with Barco, Christie, Digital Projection, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, and Sony Projectors.  We often work with rental companies that provide Projection Mappers with their equipment, and we work with projection mapping companies who own their equipment.  From our experience, large venue projectors like the Barco FLM-HD20 are in need of constant preventative maintenance, especially since their standard lamp life is less than 1,000 hours, and they rely on a complex liquid cooling system.

Bonus Left Shark:

Katy Perry's Left Shark.  Not a Projection Mapped Shark

Not a Projection Mapped Shark

**Disclaimer: The Left Shark is not projection mapped

Used Professional Audio Visual Sales

Solaris Network – Used Audio Visual Equipment

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Used A/V Sales

We often work with businesses across the US providing services like Reverse Logistics, Repairs, and Warranty Administration.  Sometimes we work with companies that excel in what they do, and Solaris Network is a great example.  Solaris procures high-end A/V assets like Moving Head lights, LED Panels, High Lumen Projectors, Speaker Systems, and Mixing Consoles.  Often times, users of Pro A/V gear can find high quality gear out of their price range.  New Barco LED Walls, Martin Lights, and Christie Digital Projectors can cost a fortune, making these things out of reach for Churches, Schools, and small production companies… Solaris helps bring down the total cost of ownership of these kinds of items.  Solaris goes above and beyond by shipping gear internationally and they sell hard to find items like projector lenses and vintage gear.

Reduce E-Waste

We strongly believe in reducing our e-waste footprint.  At Digitron Electronics, we encourage people to repair their broken pro A/V equipment like projectors, mixing consoles, and moving head lights.  Take it a step further and buy used if you can!

Used Professional Audio Visual Sales

Used Professional Audio Visual Experts

Superbowl Discount for Your A/V Equipment Repairs

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The Superbowl is a national hallmark, it is a day that Americans celebrate, whether at a home, a local bar or restaurant, a Vegas casino, or even a football stadium.  Last year, The Nielsen Company showed that the broadcast of Super Bowl XLVIII on Fox had an average audience of 111.5 million viewers and was said to be the most-watched television program of all time. The game was viewed in roughly 53.7 million households.  Some watch for the Football, some watch for the commercials and the half time shows; either way, there’s no doubt that the Super Bowl is a big deal.

Whether you are hosting friends and family at your house, or a crowd of 500 at your restaurant, if you are hosting a Super Bowl Party this February, make sure that all of your equipment is in good shape to handle the big show.  Projectors, Amplifiers, and other equipment can malfunction at the worst possible time, leaving you empty handed (except for the 100 pounds of wings and disgruntled guests).  In honor of the Super Bowl, we are waiving diagnostic fees from now until February 1st.  Just mention Superbowl14 when shipping your equipment and we will waive the diagnostic fee so that you can rest easy knowing your equipment will be functional when you need it most.

 

In business since 1992, Digitron Electronics specializes in Projector Repair, Pro Audio Repair, and Broadcast Camcorder Repair

 

Fix your Projector just in time for the Super Bowl game

Fix your Projector just in time for the Super Bowl game

 

Projector Lamp Repair

Should I Replace my Projector Lamp? (The Answer is Usually NO.)

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Should I Replace my Lamp?

People often call us looking for advice on their projectors.  The most common complaint we hear is, “I just changed the lamp on my projector, but it still won’t turn on!”  Projector owners are well aware that projector lamps are consumable and that they need to be periodically replaced.  What is poorly communicated is the fact that the lamp is usually the least important aspect of projector maintenance and ownership. Clogged cooling channels, burnt polarizing plates, broken fans, and overheated components are the most likely culprits of your anguish, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Projector Lamp Repair

When do I need to replace my projector lamp?

Economics of Modern Projectors

When purchasing projectors for home or small office use, most consumers will purchase the projector which is most accessible in their local Costco and Best Buy, and opt for either the brands that are the least expensive or the brands most recognizable from their high school classrooms.  While neither of these brands are bad in any way, it is important to note that less expensive projectors are NOT built to last.  Certain unnamed projectors have come to our work benches with melted lens assemblies and melted components, that is to say, that the construction of these units were so cheap, that they melted during normal use and warped the lens assembly.  The units were of course out of warranty, and left the owners in a position where repairing the unit cost more than the scrap value of the projector.  And that is to say, these units were expensive to repair not because of our labor rates or margins, but rather the unavailability of parts.  Just like with cheap TV’s, laptops, and consumer electronics, cheap projectors are designed to last until the warranty expires, then fail.  When the manufacturer receives units for repair, they will actually scrap the broken unit and send a new one… that’s how cheap they are.

Are OEM Lamps really Original?

When purchasing lamps, it is important to read the fine print.  More often than not, an OEM lamp simply means that the lamp is manufactured by one of the 6 or so major manufacturers, and is not actually an original lamp.  It is important that you evaluate your needs; if projector uptime is critical, under no circumstances should you use a cheap OEM bulb from an unknown source.  Most critically, these cheap lamps are known to cause power fluctuations, leading to damaged PCB components and blown ballasts.  Last month, a Southern California church saved $300 by installing an ‘OEM’ bulb in their Sanyo PLC-XF46.  The OEM bulb subsequently caused over $1500 worth of damage to the projector, as we needed to replace the ballast (as well as the lamp). Many manufacturers share common components, which means purchasing lamps for your Sanyo projector from Eiki is a totally acceptable practice, as Sanyo is no longer in the projector business.

When Should I replace my Lamp?

Most people who purchase a projector neglect to fully understand the longevity of a projector lamp.  For example, the popular Panasonic PT-AE2000U’s lamp is rated to 2,000 hours on Eco mode.  That means for a business or classroom environment, where the projector is used 3 hours a day, 3 days a week, you could go 222 weeks or about 4.25 years before you would meet the manufacturer’s expected lifespan for the lamp (and we’ll give you a hint, it usually lasts longer than that).  As you can imagine, if you are a church that runs your projector once a week, your lamp might last you 5-10 years.  Some tips: run your projector at a reasonable brightness level, in a clean and dust free environment to maximize the lifespan of the lamp and follow the guidelines posted on Projector Central.  If your lamp has exploded, it should be pretty obvious, and this is the only time that a lamp replacement is the first point of repair.  However, it should be noted that a burst lamp could be caused by other issues.

Why is my Projector Malfunctioning?

There are many causes for a malfunctioning projector, and they depend on the symptom.  Very rarely is the correct answer, “My projector is malfunctioning because of the lamp.”  Is your projector discolored?  This is probably caused by dirty and burnt polarizing plates.  Does your projector power off on its own?  Then it is probably overheating and the fans are blocked and the cooling channels clogged with dust.  No power at all?  Then it’s probably the power supply or ballast module. There are many causes and many symptoms, and none of these are user-serviceable.  You can see a thorough list of issues and causes on our page projector repair, or you can send your projector to us for an estimate.

Need a new lamp? No you need to clean your projector!

The Projector Lamp Light could mean your projector is clogged, not that it needs a new lamp

 

Is my projector worth servicing?

As we discussed earlier, there are many low-cost, high-resolution options available to you to replace your malfunctioning projector.  But chances are your projector is a high-lumens, long throw projector, or business class projector that cannot be as easily replaced.  If that is the case, help reduce E-waste and repair your projector.  Read our most recent blog post on Pro A/V E-Waste here.

How can I maximize the lifespan of my projector?

Your projector is like a powerful, light-emitting vacuum.  The hot components require a lot of cool air to keep the components in functional shape, and you can help maximize the lifespan of your projector by running it in intervals, keeping it in a cool and dust free environment, and bringing it in for a semi-annual cleaning, calibration, and service.

What qualifies Digitron Electronics to make these statements?

We have been in the projector repair business for nearly 20 years, and we are an authorized serviced partner for Panasonic, Sanyo, and Eiki, as well as for Sony and NEC.  We’ve repaired thousands of projectors in the last year alone including Dell, Epson, Optoma, InFocus, Viewsonic, Christie, Mitsubishi, Barco, Runco, and Digital Projection.

Sanyo PLC Projector Repair

Who Repairs Sanyo Projectors Now That Sanyo was acquired?

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Who Repairs Sanyo Projectors Since Sanyo was acquired?

Sanyo PLC Projector Repair

 

Is Sanyo Out of Business?

For years, Sanyo have been a dominant player in the high-lumens projector category. In 2010, Panasonic finalized its purchase of Sanyo, leaving many Sanyo Projector owners confused regarding warranty, service, and support issues.

We are an Authorized Sanyo Projector Repair Center

As a result of the acquisition, Sanyo Projector service requests are now handled by Panasonic Authorized Service centers. We are authorized to service all Sanyo PLC, Sanyo PDG, and Sanyo PDV Models including the PLC-HF10000L and PLC-XF46 under warranty for preventative maintenance, bulb replacement, color management issues, and more.  Sanyo units last shipped with 3 year warranties, and we service those units that are no longer under warranty.

Why you absolutely should service, maintain, and repair your Sanyo Projector

With low end projector models, it’s easy to say let’s buy a new one, instead of repairing an old one.  But in today’s world, it’s simple, high-lumen high-brightness projectors still cost the big bucks.  The 15,000 lumen PLC-HF15000L cost $22,000 new, the older PLC-XF45 cost nearly $15,000.  While older models might not be HD or might not have the latest HDMI inputs, they still offer the best in class image brightness, which is usually what matters for classrooms, churches, and businesses.

Why choose Digitron Electronics to service your Sanyo Projector?

No one services more Sanyo projectors than we do, plain and simple.  We use authentic Sanyo parts, we offer quick turn-arounds, and our experience with these projectors means more accurate repairs on popular large body Sanyo projectors like the PLC-XF40, PLC-XF45, PLC-XF46, PLC XF-47, PLC XF-70, PLC-HF-10000, and the PLC-HF-15000.

More organizations choose us to refurbish their projector inventories than anyone else.  In 2013, we refurbished 127 Sanyo projectors for the University of Southern California (USC) and in 2014, we did a project for the City of Los Angeles, handling over 30 high-lumen Sanyo projectors.

About Digitron Electronics

Digitron Electronics is a consolidated A/V Repair Services firm. We help consolidate A/V Repairs for Event Production Companies, Corporate Entities, Schools, and Broadcasters.

As an authorized service center for 62 different manufacturers including Panasonic, JBL, and Mackie, our team of engineers is trained to work on Projectors, High-End Video Camcorders, Lighting, and Mixing Boards, among other miscellaneous A/V equipment. We help production companies save time and money by consolidating all repairs in one convenient location with a net 30 account and free pick up/delivery for large orders.

B-52 Authorized Service Center

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We are proud to announce that we are an authorized warranty service center for B-52 Professional Audio products including Prodigy DJ Workstations, US series amplifiers, Guitar amplifiers, and ACTPRO Active Systems.  B-52 Pro Audio systems are built in the US, here in Southern California, and are known for their excellent sound and competitive price points.  As always, we accept warranty service requests that do not fall under the abuse category with proper proof of purchase.

Standard Warranty

LIFETIME Warranty on Cabinet Construction
FIVE-YEAR Warranty on High Frequency devices
FIVE-YEAR Warranty on Loudpeakers
TWO-YEAR Warranty on Digital Amplifiers

 

This new warranty authorization brings our total count to 70 brands that we are authorized to repair including Soundcraft, JBL, and Panasonic.  Digitron Electronics has been in the business of Professional Audio repair, Professional Camcorder repair, and Projector repair since 1992.  We help event production companies, schools, churches, and other institutions simplify product maintenance by centralizing all warranty and out of warranty repairs in one location, with one purchase order.

Warranty Information: http://www.b-52pro.com/Service.html

B52-Pro: http://www.b52-pro.com

Press Release – NEC Projector Authorized Service

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In Q3 2014, Digitron Electronics joined the NEC Display Self-Servicer network. Our partnership with NEC display means better pricing and quicker service for our customers who need NEC Projector Repairs and NEC Professional Monitor Repairs.

Digitron Electronics works with institutions like schools, hospitals, and event production companies to consolidate all audio visual repairs in one central location with one purchase order. We reduce administrative headaches, shipping mistakes, and increase convenience in times when broken equipment can seriously disrupt productivity.

FilmmakerFriday: An Aerial Shot of LA

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 For our first #FilmakerFriday , we wanted to share something special. We love +Sony Professional Solutions of America‘s PMW-EX3 camcorder, and we love #LosAngeles  so here’s an epic aerial shot of LA’s majestic Freeways, Beaches, and Mountains by Mount Airy Films.

We love the +Sony PMW-EX3.  Pay attention to the impressive image stabilization – according to the filmmaker, this was all shot handheld.

Follow us for our weekly #FilmmakerFriday  & #MusicianMonday Features

Press Release – Onkyo Authorized Service Center

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Montebello, CA, 05/07/2014

Digitron Electronics is now an Authorized Service Center for Onkyo USA

As of May 2014, Digitron Electronics is proud to announce that we have become an Authorized Service Center (ASC) for Onkyo products. We are now able to perform both in warranty and out of warranty repairs on Onkyo amplifiers, receivers, speakers, high-end home entertainment systems, and more. This authorization compliments our ability to service Yamaha, Denon, and other high-end amplifier/receiver systems.

Digitron Electronics is proud to be Southern California’s primary destination for Professional Audio/Visual repairs. Whether it’s projector repair, speaker repair, or receiver repair, we always do our best to keep your equipment in top shape.

For more information on repairs or reverse logistics partnerships, please visit www.digitronelectronics.com, or contact us by phone at (323) 887-0777.

Digitron Electronics is an Onkyo Authorized Service Center