Thursday, January 19, 2012

New England SMPTE Meeting, OLED monitors and a little Canon C300 News

Last night was the January meeting of the New England chapter of SMPTE. SMPTE meetings are a bit of a hit-or-miss affair for me. Often they are very interesting, but sometimes things go over my head and I start to fall asleep. That was sort of how things were this night, though I did learn a little...

Up first was a talk about Holographic television by Michael Bove, Jr. of MIT’s Media Lab. No actual demonstration gear, just a PowerPoint presentation - points off from MIT's "cool" rating for that - though the first part was an interesting discussion of what holographic television is not (we're looking at you, Wolf Blitzer!), and what it is.

Michael said that in 2010 IBM claimed that Holographic television was going to be one of the top five technologies to impact our lives over the next five years; though he added that they didn't say what they meant by holographic television.

And now that I sort of know what it is, I'm not convinced it will make a dramatic difference over the next five years either.

Oh, and the Star Wars hologram's are not technically possible...

Did you know that this demo they did on CNN wasn't a real hologram?
 ...I thought it was a bad green screen job too.

Sonys Gary Mandle, Sr. Product Manager, gave an interesting presentation on OLED displays. It was rather…technical, with some interesting bits and pieces I could actually understand thrown in:
  • Manufacturing costs for OLED’s could be ultimately less than LCDs, as it's actually a simpler, less involved production process, BUT there's all the upfront costs they have to recover.
  • They are deciding whether to invest and build a plant to produce larger panels.
  • It’s been said before, but you really have to see an OLED panel in operation to understand what the fuss is; the deep blacks and response at low light levels are just incredible.
  • They say that the panels will last 30,000 hours; longer than many other display technologies. They have increased the size of the blue dots inside the display because the blue is the first color to go in these; and blue is still the first color to go.
  • The panels somehow adjust over time to keep the color accuracy up as long as possible.
  • OLEDs are very efficient, and Stacked OLED (SOLED) could be used to make lighting that is 10 times more efficient than fluorescents.
Sony make three levels of display; the E models for cinema [16.5" $15,300] applications, the F for television [$10,350], and the PVM for general consumers [$3,690]. The 24.62" E model costs $23,400! These are all manufactured on the same line, but then the panels are graded as they come off, and some of the support electronics are different.

He made an interesting observation that production of large panels (LCDs) has gone down over the past couple of years, while sales of small panels has gone up dramatically [*cough* iPad ] and that the way “we” watch television is changing. We’re watching a lot of stuff on small screens, and tiny screens. When he said production of small LCDs had gone up while large ones had gone down, I wasn’t that surprised; though it wasn’t something that had occurred to me beforehand.

So is an OLED worth that sort of money? When we’re talking about spending close to $20,000 on a camera to capture images, does spending the same to see the best reproduction of what we shot, too much? For me, sure, but maybe not for you!
Which is the LCD, and which the OLED?

Canon C300 News
Finally, I chatted briefly with John Rule of Rule Boston Camera about the Canon C300. He said that pre-sales of the camera have been “really good.” He also said that Canon has told them they will get three or four cameras at the end of the month - as will all the other dealers that are selling the camera.

It appears that it will take a while for the production to ramp up too; which is what Canon's Larry Thorpe said a couple of weeks back as well.

Since some people placed orders back when the camera was announced, if you haven’t ordered yet, you may not see the camera before the summer! (that’s what I’m guessing; John didn’t say that!)

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