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'Super screen' takes TV viewer to the stadium

19 Oct 2006

Hot on the heels of hosting the football World Cup, a novel projection technique from Germany gives the highest resolution ever live images, and seems to take viewers closer than ever before to a live event.

"The viewers' experience of large screen sports projections has become more and more like actually being a fan there live in the stadium," says the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications / Heinrich-Hertz-Institut (FIT-HHI) of its new Super Resolution projection system. The display presents more than eight megapixels of live image data for applications such as public-viewing, promotional, sports and music events.

"Such large, detailed and realistically colorful electronic images have not previously been seen," the developer adds. The displays were first demonstrated last month at the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Exhibition in Berlin and at the International Broadcasting Convention 2006 in Amsterdam.

FIT-HHI has enhanced its special panorama projection technology for large-screen digital projections which convey a near-to-real impression to viewers. "Be in the stadium" is the motto according to which large-scale events can be broadcast "almost live" in future with more than "5K" (equivalent to more than eight megapixels) in public event areas.

Large public areas with a high number of viewers make demanding requirements on digital projectors because the huge screens call for extremely high resolution (super resolution), determined by the number of image points that can be generated by a projector.

Even in the medium term, it will not be possible for commercial projectors to achieve this. A familiar way to avoid this is to break the image down into sub-images and to project these using several projectors. Point-precision reassembly of the images and the use of curved screens (so-called ball/cylinder projection) pose difficulties here.

Research work at Heinrich Hertz Institute has come up with a solution to this problem that enables fully image-precise synchronization of sub-images as well as transition-free and line-free merging of the projectors arranged parallel. In this case, a modular concept is used to implement application-specific formats and at the same time reduce costs. This patent-pending principle is to be marketed on a licensed basis.

Digital video projection in panorama format

With digital projectors, the limits of what is technologically possible in resolution terms is currently at 4096x2160 pixels ("4k"). There is only a single product on the world market that can achieve this and there are only a few such prototypes. All other devices have a resolution that is below this limit, in most cases of 2048x1080 pixels ("2k").

This means that the image size possible with good image quality is insufficient for large events. This is where more pixels are needed than can be achieved by commercial projects, even in the medium term.

Digital, large-screen projection for events, cinema or advertising purposes with the growing demand for higher resolution is only possible by overlapping several single projections. These multiple projections are already in use today. However, their quality is not sufficient, i.e. a smooth transition between the sub-images is often not achieved, not suitable for spherically curved screens and also with insufficiently robust synchronisation between the sub-images.

The overall impression of a "mosaic image" remains and is not satisfactory for the viewer. Another restriction is posed by the limited bandwidth available, so that large-screen projections must frequently be restricted to just three horizontally arranged projectors.

However, there is a growing demand for panorama projections with high horizontal and vertical image resolution and flexible, adaptable projection surfaces, both for cultural and sports events, as well as in theme parks and in cinema applications.

System concept

The concept follows a high quality projection for transition-free and line-free large-screen projection, even for spherically curved screens using several projectors arranged parallel. Each projector generates a sub-image whilst the individual transitions remain invisible thanks to overlapping, the curvature of the screen is calculated and included in the image geometry.

Key components of this fully unique, high-resolution multi-projection technology is the CineCard for the PCI bus of PCs developed by Heinrich-Hertz-Institut. This enables the fully synchronous operation of any number of digital projectors arranged horizontally or vertically for transition-free and line-free large screen projection.

Omicron-Laserage Laserprodukte GmbHPhoton Engineering, LLCAVANTES BVDIAMOND SASantec U.S.A. CorporationSchaefter und Kirchhoff GmbHSPECTROGON AB
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