With domestic receipts topping $10 billion, the movie business proved in 2013 it’s still big business. Vancouver’s MTT Innovation is working towards significantly changing how we’ll be watching movies in the near future.
“The cinema experience is as much about the sounds, the smell of popcorn, and having this enormous picture in front of you. It’s not the contrast or the image itself that necessarily making for an awesome experience. Hollywood is painfully aware of this,” according to Anders Ballestad (co-founder and CEO)
The MTT Innovation team is developing a disruptive technology for laser projection that enables ultrahigh-brightness. With MTT’s technology, movies could be projected with never before seen realism.
While conventional projectors create images by blocking source light, MTT Innovation’s patent-pending technology redistributes the source light and redirects it to the appropriate areas of the image, thereby utilizing 100% of the light. The technology delivers extremely bright highlights, over 20 times brighter than currently possible, at a very high contrast of 100,000:1.
The three co-founders (CEO) Ballestad, (CTO), Gerwin Damberg, and (VP Engineering) Eric Kozak, came together while working at Dolby Canada. When Dolby decided to consolidate operations to San Francisco, they were all offered moves. Despite “serious consideration, because they were a fun company to work for, we all came to the independent conclusion that we’d rather stay in Vancouver.”
With a strong background in optics and display technology, Ballestad also offered that “we know what makes a TV look good, we know what it takes to make nice images. It took us a little while for the good idea to come along, but we had lots of good ideas”
After some consulting work, the three co-founders each sequestered away to a quiet corner of the room to work on their favorite idea for two months. This was leading up to as Ballestad put it, “a shoot out. We talked about technology, feasibility, market sizes, timing, can this be done? will anyone care?” Ultimately it was the projection idea that came out the winner.
For them this product is the epitome of cool (at least in their world), as it represents doing something different. “It isn’t an incremental thing that makes things 10% better, or saves 10% on a bill of materials. We’re changing the way images and formed in the first place.”
Having emerged for “stealth mode” in April, the MTT team is focusing on a very specific market first. While there’s other market opportunities Ballestad shared that approximately 15,000 theatre projectors are sold a year. After being very well received at this years Siggraph 2014 event, they are negotiating with four of the five major projector manufacturers for them to become technology demonstrators.
He shared that this is an “image quality they’ve never seen of a large screen. It’s going to change a number of things, such as how content is produced, how they create different images for different screen sizes in post-production process. The industry has been waiting for this solution. Getting high contrast and high dynamic range images is all about leading towards even better storytelling.”
Better pixels make for better images, enabling artists and creatives to make their stories much more immersive and the viewing experience much more enjoyable. “Coming to a theatre near you” will take on an entirely new context because of this Vancouver startup. It’s the motivation of delivering a dramatically improved visual theatre experience in the next two years that has Ballestad jumping out of bed everyday.