Elite Screen’s marketing campaign for its new Airflex50 subsidiary showcases how its projector stacking system integrates together for brighter images from less expensive projectors.Prior to CEDIA EXPO last fall, Cerritos, CA-based Elite Screens launched a subsidiary company, called Airflex 5D, to sell multiple-projector stacking systems that digitally align video images vertically and horizontally into one single picture with amplified brightness. The subsidiary’s first product, the Airflex5D-60 series, accommodates up to a 1920x1200-resolution projector with dual channel geometric image correction and supports de-interlacing, scaling, and image enhancement. This allows custom integrators to create a high performance image similar to that of high-dollar 12,000-plus-lumen 1080p projector, at a fraction of the cost.
According to Elite’s marketing manager David Rodgers, the advantage of the Airflex5D product is that it bridges the gap between low-output/lowcost projectors and high-output commercial-grade projectors that come with a five-to-six-digit price tag. But achieving this goal doesn’t come without its challenges.
Elite's primary concern was the practicality for dealers and their customers of adding more projectors to an installation. “Dual-projector arrays may seem unconventional to your typical projector array until the advantages are considered,” Rodgers noted.
For instance, he explained, Airflex5D processors allow projectors to be “perfectly aligned” so that the brightness is essentially doubled without sacrificing resolution or picture clarity. As an added value, dual projectors also allow passive 3D to be introduced to mainstream home theater. “Airflex5D makes this possible by condensing the system into a space-conscious and cost-effective package,” Rodgers pointed out.
The technical challenge, however, was getting multiple projectors to sync while performing geometric image correction or even 3D. This was resolved with Airflex 5D’s proprietary Q-Stack integrated grid technology. QStack aligns the images of multiple stacked projectors into what the Rodgers calls a “bright, clear, and vibrant 2D/3D image” without the hassles of additional software or camera hardware. In comparison to the brightness of a single, high-end 12,000-lumen projector, the Airflex5D can achieve this brightness by combining four 3,000-lumen projectors at a fraction of the cost of a high-end, high-output projector. As an added value, multiple projectors means that if a projector bulb does burn out, it won’t completely disable the system while a bulb is on order.
The Airflex5D-60 series supports both circular and linear polarized passive 3D stereoscopic imaging, as well. “[In the past] this was largely unavailable due to cost, because it required expensive stacking equipment with specialized projectors and costly accessories,” Rodgers said. “The Airflex5D systems combine all of these features into a package that can be easily sold to home theater customers or integrated business presentation systems.”
The Airflex5D-60 is also capable of geometric correction to accommodate curved, flat or domed-screen presentations. Its edge-blending feature can blend multiple images to create a video wall, as well. “The video wall is increasingly popular. What was once a commercial feature is now finding a niche in custom home design,” Rodgers said. “This allows multiple projectors to work together, with each providing a piece of the projected image. These ‘pieces’ are then spliced together without any visible seams in the picture.”
Elite Still Focused on Selling Screens
Elite ScreensExpansion into new product categories is just one part of the story for Elite Screens. For 2013, the screen manufacturer remains committed to innovating its core business with 4K acoustic transparency, 3D polarized material, and ambient light rejecting “black” screens for its EPV division of dedicated custom install products.
“The bar has definitely been raised with the introduction of 4K resolution,” said Elite’s marketing manager, David Rodgers. “Not only are projection screen manufacturers scrambling to make sure that their standard products are compatible with this next generation of video clarity, they are trying to have specialty materials for the same purpose as well.”
Elite’s AcousticPro 4K material offers a combination of a sheer weave that allows sound to breathe through with minimal attenuation while presenting high-resolution image clarity. The company’s new Airbright 5D materials are polarized for active or circular/linear passive 3D presentations. They are designed to perform equally well when amplifying brightness for standard 2D imaging.
Another new product is Elite’s long-awaited DarkStar ambient-light rejecting material. It is formulated for optimal color temperature and contrast even in a well-lit room. “This angular reflective material is expected to be well received in its 2013 launch,” Rodgers said.