G. Damberg, J. Gregson, W. Heidrich
ACM Transactions on Graphics, Volume 35, Issue 3, Article
No. 24, (2016)
Cinema projectors need to compete with home theater displays in terms of image quality. High frame rate and spatial resolution as well as stereoscopic 3D are common features today, but even the most advanced cinema projectors lack in-scene contrast and, more important, high peak luminance, both of which are essential perceptual attributes of images appearing realistic. At the same time, HDR image statistics suggest that the average image intensity in a controlled ambient viewing environment such as the cinema can be as low as 1% for cinematic HDR content and not often higher than 18%, middle gray in photography. Traditional projection systems form images and colors by blocking the source light from a lamp, therefore attenuating between 99% and 82% of light, on average. This inefficient use of light poses significant challenges for achieving higher peak brightness levels.
In this work, we propose a new projector architecture built around commercially available components, in which light can be steered to form images. The gain in system efficiency significantly reduces the total cost of ownership of a projector (fewer components and lower operating cost), and at the same time increases peak luminance and improves black level beyond what is practically achievable with incumbent projector technologies. At the heart of this computational display technology is a new projector hardware design using phase modulation in combination with a new optimization algorithm that is capable of on-the-fly computation of freeform lens surfaces.