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
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.
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.
“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.”