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5 Lingering Myths About 4K Home Theater

Most integrators are not really selling 4K display performance and don’t understand the difference between UltraWide Cinema at 16:9 or 2.4:1.

5 Lingering Myths About 4K Home Theater
While many integrators think anamorphic lens installation is complex, with all the modes for a fixed, add-on lens integrated into the projector, anamorphic lenses ship with a much simpler attachment kit for many top brands.

Jason Knott · June 4, 2019

4K is the hottest technology in video today, but are you really selling 4K to your clients? The answer is likely “no.”

If your showroom has a 16:9 display or projection system or even a 2.4:1 projection system using memory zoom, then you are not really showing movies with full 4K. In fact, it means you are actually showing clients a lower-end solution when they are expecting the highest performance experience.

Here are five myths being perpetuated in the market about 4K that integrators need to understand, and in some case rectify in their business.

1. Letterbox Is OK  

When a motion picture is displayed on a 16:9 TV or similar two-piece projection setup, there are several format options. First, in some cases, especially with flat panels, the image can be zoomed to fit the full screen, but that eliminates some of the action on the far left or right of the image.

The second option to which most integrators guide their clients is to display the movie in the letterbox format, but that introduces the dreaded “black bars” on the top, bottom, and sometimes even on the right and left of the image.

Those black bars are actually “wasted” pixels and in essence, result in only 3K performance because more than 2 million black bar pixels are being displayed on the TV or projected on to the screen. 

“Many dealers are missing ‘the big picture’… literally …” says Shawn Kelly, founder and CEO at Panamorph, “… and also figuratively in terms of missing sales opportunities by not demonstrating and offering full cinema performance.”

2.   2.35:1 Is the Standard

"2.35:1 is dead."
— Shawn Kelly, Panamorph

Movies today are shot in wide format following the SMPTE standard of a 2.39.1 aspect ratio, or 2.4:1 if you want to round up. But for the past 20 years, the custom electronics industry has quoted the old 2.35:1 ratio to clients.

In fact, filming movies in 2.35:1 pretty much stopped in 1972 with the new standard, but that older ratio has been eternalized in the custom electronics industry for years going back to the days of Sam Runco. To bring your clients a true UltraWide cinema experience in a two-piece projector/screen setup, it must be in 2.4:1 ratio.

“2.35:1 is dead,” says Kelly bluntly. “But our new lenses can adjust to fit 2.4:1 movies to that old format if needed.”

3. You Don't Need an Anamorphic Lens for 4K Cinema Projection

Most projectors have lens focus, shift and zoom memory settings for different formats so you can zoom up the 3K letterbox movie onto a 2.4:1 screen and then zoom down for 16:9 content.

All those same projectors have anamorphic modes built in for use with an external anamorphic lens for full 4K UltraWide performance while also providing options for watching 16:9 content, all with no moving parts.

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The fact is that the anamorphic lens is a critical component of a 4K projection system when using those anamorphic modes for maximum performance and simplest operation. The lens memory option is just a lower performance alternative by projecting the black bar pixels onto the wall above and below the screen.

4. Anamorphic Lens Installation Is Complex

Years ago, the installation of an anamorphic lens required a physical movement of the lens and a complex structure to hold it all together. (We all remember those Runco demos don’t we?)

Today, with all the modes for a fixed, add-on lens integrated into the projector, anamorphic lenses ship with a much simpler attachment kit for JVC, Sony, Epson and BenQ projectors, often with Panamorph lens mounting holes designed directly into the projector.

Installation generally takes less than one hour once you’re familiar with the operation and ultimately your client switches between modes with just a simple press of a button on the remote.

5. Clients Are Interested in Lens Technology

The biggest mistake in selling home cinema these days seems to be selling a 16:9 projector over a flat panel TV and then trying to explain and upsell your customer to an anamorphic lens system for full 4K cinema.

The reality is that most of your clients do not really care about the technical details, especially lens technology. Their eyes will glaze over and they most likely will not see the need for the added expense of an anamorphic lens.

“You cannot think of lens technology as an add-on accessory."
— Shawn Kelly, Panamorph

“The worst way to sell an anamorphic lens is by trying to sell an anamorphic lens,” says Kelly.

“The lens is simply a necessary component for the 4K UltraWide projection format. Always start and stay with the 4K UltraWide movie experience. You may lose your clients interest in that experience when talking about the components.”

He recommends integrators offer price options that include different projector models with the matching lens, such as the Panamorph Paladin DCR or Paladin.

“You cannot think of lens technology as an add-on accessory,” advises Kelly. “The key to success is to differentiate 4K UltraWide projection against a big screen TV. The lens is simply part of the solution that delivers the experience your client is looking for.

“If you ever get into a situation where the lens price is discussed, then let the client know this is an investment,” advises Kelly. “Paladin lenses are 8K compatible so if they get a new projector in the future then at most they just need a new mounting system.”

He adds, “If your clients began the relationship confirming to you that the movie experience is important, then gently remind them of that if they start thinking of switching to a non-4K UltraWide solution. Nobody really wants to give up the thing they admitted they were most excited about.”



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  About the Author

Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at jason.knott@emeraldexpo.com

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  Article Topics


Home Theater · Projectors & Screens · Business · Sales & Marketing · News · Sponsored · Editorial · 4K · BenQ · Epson · Home Theater · JVC · Panamorph · All Topics
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Comments

Posted by Beyond Audio on July 12, 2019

We have sold many of the Panamorph lenses to customers after they see our “A - B” comparison on today’s new projectors from Sony, JVC BenQ and Epson…Brightness…Image Quality and “WOW” factor are the end result of the demo…and customers have voiced their opinions weeks.months after the purchase…many state:  “its the best money they ever spent on their HT”.

JB

Posted by jasont777 on July 8, 2019

I really appreciate

Posted by Craig Peer on July 2, 2019

When I first got my Paladin DCR lens,  I had 4 people over for a demonstration. We watched the first couple of chapters of GOTG2, Star Trek and some of Passengers ( all on 4K Blu-ray ). Lens on, lens off. Everyone preferred the picture with the lens in place. Not only was the picture brighter over all, the extra 2.5 million pixels gave the picture more detail and one person thought more depth at times. The opening of Star Trek in particular showed more detail and nuances in the picture. And I’ve measured 38% more light for HDR ( using 4096 x 2160 ) vs zooming with 3840 x 2160. My guests are still commenting about how much better scope films look. It’s definitely worth the cost and expense in my book. And I was a confirmed ” no A lens / zoomer ” guy for 10 years. This vertical compression lens work better than any lens I’ve owned. Even at my short 1.41:1 throw ratio.

Posted by Kris Deering on June 24, 2019

Couple of things here. Yes, this article is doing a bit of marketing, but the comments are as well. So let’s look at both a bit.

The Panamorph lens solutions provide a couple of key features for customers with projectors that are couple with cinemascope screens (typically 2.35 or 2.40:1). First is the bump in light output for these setups, and in my opinion this is the key feature for the client. Because widescreen movies require black bars above and below the image to be displayed properly on a standard 16x9 screen, you are wasting light available in the projection system (assuming you are using a projector with a standard 16x9 imaging sensor, or a 17x9 sensor for native 4096 solutions) to those bars. By scaling the image to fill this area with active picture and squeezing it back down to the screen area, you are getting that wasted light on the screen itself, rather than around the screen frame and beyond. When you start talking about resolution, things get in the gray area of marketing. If you are watching a scope movie in 4K, the package is 3840x2160, but the movie is obviously not using all that resolution because of the black bars that are encoded above and below the image. BUT, you are not losing this resolution because it was never there to begin with. Most movies released today are shot on sensors that are 16x9 and the image is cropped. There is some anamorphic shooting still happening, but it is hit or miss and NONE of that resolution is going out in the home deliverable. The Panamorph does allow scaling to increase the resolution of the content, but this is not native resolution and is only as good as the scaling provided (which is typically quite good). There are plenty of eyes out there that swear the additional pixels are adding more detail, even if artificial. But I’d say that’s just a bonus compared to the more obvious increase in brightness. But you are not gaining back resolution that was lost, you are just using more of the display’s pixels for the image than you were before. One could argue that at 4K, even with a widescreen movie, you already have more than enough pixels and this is a moot point. Even with an extremely large home cinema screen, pixel structure will likely be a complete non-issue. We certainly don’t hear a lot of complaints about 4K resolution in cinemas with screens that are 60+ ft wide, even in the close seats, so I don’t see it being an issue for the home owner. So yes there is a benefit for the projection system, but I don’t know how much it translates into overall image quality with today’s native 4K playback systems.

As for installing a projector with a native scope chipset, this is limited to DCI based projection systems that are typically reserved for cost no object systems. Not really the same market that is using Panamorph lenses (the Epson/Sony/JVC/BenQs of the world). And even so, these are the DLPs of the world that have other image issues that some don’t want and typically have so much light that they may be an issue for anything less than a gigantic weave/perf screen setup because they may have limited capabilities when it comes to lowering light output for home theater screens in the average home.

Posted by John Nemesh on June 20, 2019

After years of selling Panamorph lenses to dealers, I am no longer convinced that the negatives are outweighed by the positives.  Sure, if you had a 720p or 1080p projector, NOT using a lens gave you a very visible degradation in image quality by simply zooming in…and contrast and black levels used to be pretty horrid…so zooming in would result in a visible gray being projected above and below the picture.  But modern 4k projectors?  You can zoom into “scope” aspect without even noticing the loss in resolution, and without seeing the gray being projected above and below the image on the screen.  You also don’t lose the brightness or have distortions in the picture that were a plague on anamorphic installations.  IF you have a “reference” theater you are building, and don’t mind spending another $7000-$10,000 or more on an anamorphic lens,  AND you can install the projector at the projector at the correct throw distance to eliminate (or, more accurately, minimize) the distortions introduced by the lens, then sure, go for it.  But MOST people aren’t going to bother, especially if they have a new Sony or JVC 4k projector.  They will just use the lens memory presets and be done with it.  The money you save on the lens is better spent on buying a better projector and/or a better screen.  That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong…

Posted by Shawn Kelly on June 19, 2019

EJ, when you zoom up the letterbox movie onto the UltraWide screen there are still black bars - just now they are on the wall above and below the screen. In the anamorphic mode the projector uses the black bar pixels for the movie instead of for black bars so you get the additional performance from those millions of unused pixels. But that leaves the image vertically stretched. The anamorphic lens just reformats that stretched image back to the proper aspect ratio to fit the screen. These modes are in just about every popular HT projector model these days including all 2019 Sony 4K models.

Posted by EJ Feulner on June 19, 2019

I’m still really confused by this article. We just did a room with a 2.35 screen and a $10k Sony PJ. Not a 60k or 100k Barco. Two custom presets one for scope 2.35 and one for TV 1.78 and it works great. Movies fill the screen and TV has black bars on the sides.

Why is an outboard anamorphic lens needed today? Do other projectors not do this? #veryconfused #headscratcher

Posted by Shawn Kelly on June 5, 2019

All things being equal (price and all elements of performance) I would certainly take a native 5120x2160 projector over native 4096x2160 + anamorphic. But for now an anamorphic lens allows a wide variety of 4K projector models to use millions of more pixels over zooming up movies because of the anamorphic modes in those projectors. In any case I certainly concur - a scope screen is the common denominator to differentiating the movie experience from what we get (and deliver) with flat panels.

Posted by AdamH on June 5, 2019

Is this article educational or a lens sales pitch?  I don’t mean to sound rude, but as EJ points out native CinemaScope projectors like Barco CS models weren’t even mentioned.  These will far outperform any lens add on.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on June 5, 2019

EJ, you need to stop having so much fun.

View all comments.

Posted by EJ Feulner on June 4, 2019

How is zooming a letterbox image with an anamorphic lens to fill a scope screen different from zooming an internal lens to fill a scope screen?

If you really want to provide the best experience to your client then start with a scope screen with flat masking panels paired to a projector with a native scope chipset and auto image size perfectly matching the incoming signal - from scope (2.4) all the way down to 1.33.

The reason this causes so much trouble and is so confusing for so many people is once again because the consumer electronics industry thought they would know better than the established standards. In this case 4k HDTV image size vs 4k cinema image size. Flat and scope are universal in the cinema world and while flat is 1.85 vs HDTV at 1.78 there is no reason the projector companies couldn’t adopt the cinema standards instead of the HDTV standards.

Want to really understand these issues and become a subject matter expert for your clients? Then do a few DCI installations with both cinema and consumer sources routed to a real DCI projector. Fun times man!

Posted by Julie Jacobson on June 5, 2019

EJ, you need to stop having so much fun.

Posted by AdamH on June 5, 2019

Is this article educational or a lens sales pitch?  I don’t mean to sound rude, but as EJ points out native CinemaScope projectors like Barco CS models weren’t even mentioned.  These will far outperform any lens add on.

Posted by Shawn Kelly on June 5, 2019

All things being equal (price and all elements of performance) I would certainly take a native 5120x2160 projector over native 4096x2160 + anamorphic. But for now an anamorphic lens allows a wide variety of 4K projector models to use millions of more pixels over zooming up movies because of the anamorphic modes in those projectors. In any case I certainly concur - a scope screen is the common denominator to differentiating the movie experience from what we get (and deliver) with flat panels.

Posted by EJ Feulner on June 19, 2019

I’m still really confused by this article. We just did a room with a 2.35 screen and a $10k Sony PJ. Not a 60k or 100k Barco. Two custom presets one for scope 2.35 and one for TV 1.78 and it works great. Movies fill the screen and TV has black bars on the sides.

Why is an outboard anamorphic lens needed today? Do other projectors not do this? #veryconfused #headscratcher

Posted by Shawn Kelly on June 19, 2019

EJ, when you zoom up the letterbox movie onto the UltraWide screen there are still black bars - just now they are on the wall above and below the screen. In the anamorphic mode the projector uses the black bar pixels for the movie instead of for black bars so you get the additional performance from those millions of unused pixels. But that leaves the image vertically stretched. The anamorphic lens just reformats that stretched image back to the proper aspect ratio to fit the screen. These modes are in just about every popular HT projector model these days including all 2019 Sony 4K models.

Posted by John Nemesh on June 20, 2019

After years of selling Panamorph lenses to dealers, I am no longer convinced that the negatives are outweighed by the positives.  Sure, if you had a 720p or 1080p projector, NOT using a lens gave you a very visible degradation in image quality by simply zooming in…and contrast and black levels used to be pretty horrid…so zooming in would result in a visible gray being projected above and below the picture.  But modern 4k projectors?  You can zoom into “scope” aspect without even noticing the loss in resolution, and without seeing the gray being projected above and below the image on the screen.  You also don’t lose the brightness or have distortions in the picture that were a plague on anamorphic installations.  IF you have a “reference” theater you are building, and don’t mind spending another $7000-$10,000 or more on an anamorphic lens,  AND you can install the projector at the projector at the correct throw distance to eliminate (or, more accurately, minimize) the distortions introduced by the lens, then sure, go for it.  But MOST people aren’t going to bother, especially if they have a new Sony or JVC 4k projector.  They will just use the lens memory presets and be done with it.  The money you save on the lens is better spent on buying a better projector and/or a better screen.  That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong…

Posted by Kris Deering on June 24, 2019

Couple of things here. Yes, this article is doing a bit of marketing, but the comments are as well. So let’s look at both a bit.

The Panamorph lens solutions provide a couple of key features for customers with projectors that are couple with cinemascope screens (typically 2.35 or 2.40:1). First is the bump in light output for these setups, and in my opinion this is the key feature for the client. Because widescreen movies require black bars above and below the image to be displayed properly on a standard 16x9 screen, you are wasting light available in the projection system (assuming you are using a projector with a standard 16x9 imaging sensor, or a 17x9 sensor for native 4096 solutions) to those bars. By scaling the image to fill this area with active picture and squeezing it back down to the screen area, you are getting that wasted light on the screen itself, rather than around the screen frame and beyond. When you start talking about resolution, things get in the gray area of marketing. If you are watching a scope movie in 4K, the package is 3840x2160, but the movie is obviously not using all that resolution because of the black bars that are encoded above and below the image. BUT, you are not losing this resolution because it was never there to begin with. Most movies released today are shot on sensors that are 16x9 and the image is cropped. There is some anamorphic shooting still happening, but it is hit or miss and NONE of that resolution is going out in the home deliverable. The Panamorph does allow scaling to increase the resolution of the content, but this is not native resolution and is only as good as the scaling provided (which is typically quite good). There are plenty of eyes out there that swear the additional pixels are adding more detail, even if artificial. But I’d say that’s just a bonus compared to the more obvious increase in brightness. But you are not gaining back resolution that was lost, you are just using more of the display’s pixels for the image than you were before. One could argue that at 4K, even with a widescreen movie, you already have more than enough pixels and this is a moot point. Even with an extremely large home cinema screen, pixel structure will likely be a complete non-issue. We certainly don’t hear a lot of complaints about 4K resolution in cinemas with screens that are 60+ ft wide, even in the close seats, so I don’t see it being an issue for the home owner. So yes there is a benefit for the projection system, but I don’t know how much it translates into overall image quality with today’s native 4K playback systems.

As for installing a projector with a native scope chipset, this is limited to DCI based projection systems that are typically reserved for cost no object systems. Not really the same market that is using Panamorph lenses (the Epson/Sony/JVC/BenQs of the world). And even so, these are the DLPs of the world that have other image issues that some don’t want and typically have so much light that they may be an issue for anything less than a gigantic weave/perf screen setup because they may have limited capabilities when it comes to lowering light output for home theater screens in the average home.

Posted by Craig Peer on July 2, 2019

When I first got my Paladin DCR lens,  I had 4 people over for a demonstration. We watched the first couple of chapters of GOTG2, Star Trek and some of Passengers ( all on 4K Blu-ray ). Lens on, lens off. Everyone preferred the picture with the lens in place. Not only was the picture brighter over all, the extra 2.5 million pixels gave the picture more detail and one person thought more depth at times. The opening of Star Trek in particular showed more detail and nuances in the picture. And I’ve measured 38% more light for HDR ( using 4096 x 2160 ) vs zooming with 3840 x 2160. My guests are still commenting about how much better scope films look. It’s definitely worth the cost and expense in my book. And I was a confirmed ” no A lens / zoomer ” guy for 10 years. This vertical compression lens work better than any lens I’ve owned. Even at my short 1.41:1 throw ratio.

Posted by jasont777 on July 8, 2019

I really appreciate

View all comments.