According to the Wall Street Journal, IMAX is teaming up with Laser Light Engines, a small start-up company that develops laser light sources. The two companies' partnership would make IMAX an investor in Laser Light Engines. Just how much of an investment was made was not disclosed, however it is known that Laser Light Engines would provide its technology exclusively to IMAX for two years and would not offer it to any other large-format operators for three years.
One reason IMAX is turning to laser is because it should prove to be cost-effective. The company currently uses digital dual-projectors to lower costs, but the larger screens are still film-based and that can be extremely expensive. Another reason the company is hoping to switch to laser is brightness.
Richard Gelfond, CEO of IMAX, told the Wall Street Journal, "What Laser Light brings to us is not only the ability to do larger screens in digital, which we've been unable to do before, but also to create brighter images in our existing theaters."
IMAX movies are known for bright lights and brightness is key for 3D production because 3D glasses "degrade the light and imagery projected on the screen," according to the Wall Street Journal. Gelfond also noted that IMAX looked into several different types of technology before settling on laser.
The company says that if its use of Laser Light is successful, the larger IMAX screens should switch to digital in the next couple of years. The hope is that the entire system will not have to be replaced and instead, they will be able to integrate the new light source into existing projectors.
Doug Darrow, CEO of Laser Light Engines, told the Wall Street Journal that his company's technology is ideal for 3D. He said that while all aspects of cinema have been modernized, light has not because the industry is still dependent on lamps as a light source. Darrow says his company's technology can "put up the best quality digital image in the world."
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