Future of projection

I’ve often been wondering, what’s the future of projecting film?

I have several years of experience trying to make projections work in diverse surfaces, as part of a improv film projection festival. We’ve gone through everything from taped-together bleaced shoe soles to smoke in a large, thin aquarium, and the results have been on average quite good. The uncontained smoke thing worked quite well - in fact so well some of the participants asked if there were a rig they could buy and set up for private outdoors theatres.

But I was wondering, where is the industry going? I’ve heard of some quite successful laser-mattes being used in Korea and a friend of mine’s got his money on that.

So, what is the future of projection surfaces?

I’ve heard that one of the big electronics companies has developed a projection screen which looks black when not in use. It reflects only in very narrow spectral bands centered on red, green, and blue, corresponding to the colors used in their top-of-the-line projectors. So all of what’s projected on it will show up, but almost no sunlight or other ambient light will, so it can be used even outdoors in the daytime without getting washed out by glare.

Some of these big LED matrix screens are getting good enough to compete with projection methods - there are still some issues to be dealt with, but I think they stand a chance of being a contender in the near future.

That’s very interesting, what’s the technology behind it?

They’re basically just made up of a very large array of red, green and blue LEDs - the brightness of each LED can be varied to create a full-colour image. They’re used for many of the stage background effects in X Factor and several other TV shows. Big outdoor TV screens based on this technology are already available - the fidelity isn’t on a par with projection yet (at least as far as I know), but they can be made daylight-visible, which is a big advantage.

How about a curtain of falling water, as in this clip of Mylène Farmer’s live Avant Que L’ombre.
May not be technically perfect but very effective for the purpose.

Probably a bit OT for the OP, but I love the water projection screens at the Fantasmic show at Disney-MGM Studios. Very clever in that the projection screens can be made to appear and disappear instantly as needed for the show.

I doubt it, at least for Cinema uses. They’re fine for high-brightness long-viewing-distance outdoor applications, but indoors their brightness and expense make them unsuitable. As an example, a 1920 x 1080 image requires 6,208,000 LEDs. At $.10 each, that’s $620,800 just for LEDs, without any drivers or mounting hardware. A typical price for a 7’ x 14’ video wall is $170,000 (this is around 1/6 the area of movie screen). A 2K Cinema projector is in the $150,000 range. LED video walls also have some very objectionable problems - the color and brightness matching between sub-modules is usually not good enough for discerning applications, and their failure modes (where one LED or a sub-module fails) are not very “graceful.” Also, the LED light cone causes a very distinct “graininess” which isn’t present in other projector technologies.

My bet would be on DLP and LCOS projectors, with scanned LASER being a possibility in the future.

Granted, the technology isn’t right at the moment for cinema, but most of those objections could be overcome with a bit of development - not sure if anyone is attempting it though.