Have the lights gone out on lamp projection?

Written by
Thomas Vertommen

Business Development Manager for Immersive Experiences and Themed Entertainment – Panasonic Connect Europe

Have the lights gone out on lamp projection?

Last month Panasonic announced that it is transitioning its entire high brightness range of projectors from lamp to laser. 

It seems like the end of an era.

Some of the industry’s most memorable projection mapping shows have been delivered on a lamp platform including the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in London, the giant projection mappings that celebrated the 555th anniversary of Bucharest where 104 20,000 lumens projectors lit up the Palace of Parliament or the 142 units which set a Guinness World Record at the Moscow Circle of Lights festival in 2015.

When we introduced the flagship PT-DZ21K seven years ago it helped Panasonic’s market share in the segment reach 80 percent, a mark we have retained today.

But the benefits, in regards to the total reliability and lower maintenance of the laser platform are self-evident, so it’s an appropriate time to draw the era to a close.

In our view, a shift to laser technology will see the market expand. This is backed up by market data which shows that last year the laser projection market was estimated to be worth USD 4.57 billion and is expected to reach USD 10.53 billion by 2023.

As the technology develops and prices begin to fall we are likely to see even fewer traditional lamp projectors. The myriad reasons why lamp-based projectors should not be specified in rental and staging stretch from the time taken to reach full brightness, to the practice of double stacking projectors for redundancy, to the lack of consistency in brightness and the inability to align the projectors off-axis.

If we are honest with ourselves as an industry, there are no good reason to specify lamp over laser other than a desire to maximise revenues for replacement lamps or for doubling up the stack sizes in rental.

According to Panasonic research, the demand for projection-based events and experiential displays is growing. Projection mapping has been used in place of fireworks to celebrate events. This, coupled with the advance in technology like real-time tracking has made projection an ideal choice for concerts, live performances and public displays.

Panasonic laser projectors were used to illuminate the Eiffel Tower in the ‘Japonismes 2018’ anniversary of 160 years of Franco-Japanese friendship and in the performance of ‘Guidizio Universale.’ Michelangelo and the secrets of the Sistine Chapel’, our projectors transported audiences into a 270-degree recreation of the Sistine Chapel, to display the artist’s most famous works. This year at ISE, we joined forces with master projection designer Bart Kresa’s to showcase his newest projection mapping showpiece to over 100,000 people during the show.

Sviatovid, a faceted, five-metre tall projection sculpture, is the successor to the iconic Shogyo Mujo, which debuted at the Burning Man Festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA in 2014. The new sculpture was illuminated through 360° in True 4K using four Panasonic PT-RQ32 4K, 30,000lm laser projectors.

Kresa believes that tracking technologies allied to high-powered media servers can play a big role in the development of creative art. “For Universal Studios in Osaka we created a moving Optimus Prime robot, which we live mapped using tracking technology and seven Panasonic projectors.”

“Within AV we think that mapping is an established technology, but many people are seeing it for the first time, so we are actually right at the start.

“In the future I think we’ll see more permanent mapping displays, it can drive people in to city centers. For signage or for highlighting architecture, the number of enquiries we are getting is exploding.”

Living in an age where consumers increasingly crave experiences, organisations from museums to retail spaces are using increasingly complex projections and laser is undoubtedly the best platform for this. Hermetically sealed laser modules mean the Panasonic PT-RZ21K, for instance, provides a non-interrupted projection for up to 20,000 hours. This provides greater reliability and colour uniformity for rental companies, reducing the maintenance burden and the total cost of ownership.

With laser technology, there is potential to see the market expanding further with an increasing number of semi-permanent and permanent mappings that have become commercially viable thanks to the improved operation of the laser projectors. And that sounds like a better business plan than relying on replacing lamps!!

Read more about Panasonic's Solid Shine Full Laser light source projection

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