Barry Sheldrick, Director of Sales at DbM and Bart Devos, Business Development Manager EMEA at Barco Residential recently sat down to discuss the topic of laser projectors and video processors. Here’s what they had to say.
With projection systems, we always want to have more light output and typically, this meant moving to halogen lamps and then Xenon lamps to get increased light. But, as the light output increases, so does the heat, which results in the life of the lamp shortening.
When it comes to laser projection systems, we see two types of lasers – one is laser phosphor with a single laser colour, which Barco uses in Balder, Hodr and Njord. As we move up into the DCI range (Barco Residential Freya and above), we have three different colours of lasers (RGB), which gives us the ability to expand the colour space. With regards to HDR content, it is about expanded brightness and darkness, but the colour palette is also increased, which means that you reproduce all the colours that the camera captured.
Laser has a lot of advantages because the light output can be massive. It used to be that a really bright projector would have a maximum of around 4,000 lumens. These days, that's pretty much where we start, and you can now go up to over 25,000 lumens. But it’s not about having a mega bright picture; it's just about the projector being able to handle very large screens or high light environments. As a screen surface area goes up, you need more light output and that's why these bigger projectors exist.
Ultimately, laser projectors have given us loads of flexibility with being able to work on much larger screens. However, they can, in extreme circumstances, have potential installation objectives that you have to overcome – one being the laser hazard zone.
If you're old enough to recall opening up your portable CD player lid, you may remember being greeted with a little yellow sticker with a picture of a laser on it saying, ‘warning class one laser product’. This was the first time that you might have seen that lasers could be damaging to your eyes.
As the laser light output has increased, there's a potential in certain scenarios to cause partial or permanent damage to someone's eyes if you're within a certain area of the projection systems – this is what is called the laser hazard zone. As responsible distributors, manufacturers and integrators, we need to be aware of these zones and make sure that we are working within the parameters that the manufacturer has provided.
There are two different risk groups - two and three - which have different parameters, areas and safe radius. Depending on the risk category of the laser, there is a space between the lens and then the safe area where you can't have that placed inside the room. Basically, if a person can get between the lens and that safe area, then potentially, this can cause damage to the vision of that person.
This may sound daunting, but it’s not something to be scared about and certainly isn’t a reason to not work with laser projectors. It’s just about being aware of this issue and finding a way to overcome it.
Our advice is to ensure that you work with a supplier that alerts you to issues such as the laser hazard zone and provides you with the support you need to specify and install incredible projection systems with total confidence.
Through the DbM and Barco Residential partnership, you are able to send the DbM Design & Specification Service team your drawings and plans for the room, so that the team can have as much information as possible to work out whether there is a laser hazard zone. If there is, they will work out what they can do to alter that for you.
Different projects throw up different challenges, but the DbM and Barco Residential teams have never not been able to overcome the challenges in one yet. The reason for this is because a manufacturer like Barco fully documents everything and the DbM design team has the skills and tricks to get around these hazard zones.
To experience Barco Residential projectors alongside other brands such as Meridian and Lumagen, book a visit to the DbM HQ to immerse yourself in true AV excellence.