China claims cinema-laser first, but details sketchy

By | July 22, 2008 5:28 am PDT

Paul Simon sang about ‘the are the days of lasers in the jungle’, but these days it is cinemas in China where lasers are putting an appearance. Or so an article in THR.com would have us believe:

 “Beijing Phoebus Vision Co. provided us with the world’s first set of laser-screening instruments” Han Jie, spokeswoman with Beijing UME said Monday.

The projector was installed in an existing 120-seat hall in the Chinese capital at a cost of about 1.2 million yuan ($176,000).

“It is the first laser-screening set in the world,” a Beijing Phoebus Vision spokesman said. Han said that UME’s normal cinema projectors cost about 700,000 yuan ($102,000).

Several companies, including Mitsubishi, have demonstrated laser projection systems, said industry analyst Matt Brennensholtz of Norwalk, Conn.-based research firm Insight Media. These systems are usually very costly, he added.

“I’m not aware of anybody that’s used a laser projector in a movie theater before,” Brennensholtz said. “There were a number of tests, but I’ve never head of a public theater where you pay your ticket and go in and see one of these.”

A Google search for Phoebus Vision does not yield any results other than the THR.com article itself. That an unknown company should have come out of nowhere and perfected laser technology is not impossible, but it is highly unlikely.

The only time lasers have been used for a paying audience was at the 2005 Expo in Japan where Sony demonstrated the GLV projector (based on techonlogy developed by Silicon Light Machine) in the ‘Sony Dream Theatre’ (PDF link here) that it has since kept under wraps while it promoted its SXRD 4K projector.

There is no mention of the brightness, resolution or even of the laser are direct projection CRT-style or whether they are just used as a light source. So for now this one is to be taken with a big pinch of salt.

Patrick von Sychowski
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Patrick von Sychowski

Patrick was a Senior Analyst at Screen Digest, went on to launch the digital cinema operations of Unique and Deluxe Europe, then digitised Bollywood at Adlabs/RMW, and now writes, consults and appears on panels about cinema all over the world.
Patrick von Sychowski
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