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Season 2, Episode 14 – More TVs! Bigger TVs!!

What would you call a big TV? 75 inches? 100 inches? How about 13,000 inches?? Our guest Chris Chinoock from Insight Media will join us as we talk about large format displays, particularly direct-view LED, and the bright future for this technology in our industry and beyond. We’ll talk about where these displays can take pro AV, and what it takes to deliver images to screens that large.

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Chris Chinnock

Episode guest

Chris Chinnock, President, Insight Media

Chris Chinnock is the President of Insight Media, located in Norwalk, Connecticut. He is also the Executive Director of the 8K Association.

Insight Media is a consulting company focused on the latest technologies in the pixel pipeline – from content creation to display for consumer and professional applications like consumer electronics, broadcast, cinema and ProAV.

Mr. Chinnock started Insight Media in 1998 with a subscription-based newsletter.  In 2014, he sold his publishing operation to Meko and still contributes to the consolidated newsletters, published on  He and his team have authored dozens of technology and market forecast reports over the last 20+ years covering emerging projection and flat panel technology, markets, and applications.

Episode Transcript

Very good. See what we did there? You could put water between this, but you can’t stop us from mixing and muddling around our languages. No, we’ve just been shooting this afternoon in Clavia Studio 3. We’ve been shooting a fantastic new course right here on Academy, so if it’s not up now, it’ll be up within the next hour or so or a couple of hours. It’ll be there, all about ASICs and FPGA chips. You’ll love it. So I’ve come straight from there, straight to here because I’m just that kind of guy, JK, just that kind of guy. What do you think to that?

Justin Kennington: 05:49

And I think it’s great. Shall we do some news?

Matt Dodd: 05:56

Beat me to it, didn’t you? You beat me to it.

Justin Kennington: 05:58

I was like, “What?” Oh, it’s a dog’s head. I see.

Matt Dodd: 06:04

Yeah. Not responsible.

Justin Kennington: 06:07

Is that an orangutan watching TV? I can’t see. That’s a dog’s ear, not an orangutan’s arm.

Matt Dodd: 06:07

It’s a dorangutan.

Justin Kennington: 06:07

No problem.

Matt Dodd: 06:12

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, as they say. Well, you can, because this first piece, it’s a quick lesson on DV-LED. It gives you some examples of how we’ve been used to things like pixel pitch. Forgive me. There’s a lot of content here, pixel pitch and viewing distance resolutions. For example, normally with flat panel displays and projectors, the image size can vary while the resolution remains constant, but that’s not the same with direct view LED. Things change. The individual LEDs or pixels on the surface of the module, they’re a fixed size. So as the size of it changes, so does the resolution. Did I get this right? I think I’ve been to school this afternoon.

Justin Kennington: 07:05

You’ve got it right. If I go to the electronic store and I say I want a 4K TV, that’s roughly about 4,000 pixels wide, 2000 pixels tall, and I can get that as 30 inches or 50 inches or 75 inches or 80 inches. The pixels get bigger and smaller to fit the 8 million pixels on a single display. Right? With direct view LED, what we’re talking about is the pixel itself is a defined size. Right? And you’ll see that in the pitch. We’ll say, “Oh, I have a 2.5-millimeter pitch. I have a 1 millimeter pitch.” That’s basically how big are the pixels. And so if you have 1 millimeter pitch and you want a 4,000-pixel wide display, guess what? It’s going to be 4,000 millimeters wide. That’s it, full stop.

If you want more resolution, you get a bigger display. You want less resolution. You get a smaller display. Now, of course, if you need to change size while keeping your resolution, well, then you look at different pitch displays. Maybe you get a 1.25 millimeter. Maybe you get a 0.75 millimeter, et cetera, but it becomes one more item to be flexible about. And you have to think about this when you’re thinking about your viewing distance, right? Are you building something that’s going to go on the wall at a retail center where somebody might be 10 feet away looking at this thing? You’ll need a very fine pitch so that the pixels aren’t too large so that you don’t see that pixelated image, right? Meanwhile, if you’re building a stadium display and it’s 90 meters wide and the nearest viewer is 200 meters away, suddenly you can use a much larger pitch, much larger pixels, to give you that great size of display and you don’t have to worry about it being pixelated because the viewer’s so far away.

Matt Dodd: 08:37

Thank goodness. This is all being recorded so you can go back over the archive, get your pen and paper out, and go back and make some notes because somebody just pulled the rip cord on the back of you, which is fab. We love it when you do that, but whoa. It’s a good article and there’s other considerations to do with the pricing and cost considerations, remembering that as the pixel pitch decreases, the equipment cost increases. Anyway, take a look at the article because it’s fascinating and it gives you a really good, very quick, as you’ve just seen, the article plus Justin gives you an amazing, very quick course on direct view LED. We may even do a course like this soon. What do you reckon? That might not be a bad idea.

Justin Kennington: 09:22

Why not? I apologize for my strange accent to you, Matt. I’ll try and speak more slowly.

Matt Dodd: 09:27

No, not at all. No. Now, I’m in the minority here. It’s fine. It’s great. News article number two, a world-first. We should have had a sting there, maybe. Calling for first …

Justin Kennington: 09:38

Where’s the world-first sting?

Matt Dodd: 09:39

Where’s the world-first sting? Come on. Wouldn’t it be great if suddenly a world-first sting popped up there? It’d be fantastic, wouldn’t it? World-first. You thought moss was bad, right? Wrong. Moss is not bad, is it Justin?

Justin Kennington: 09:55

It can be useful, it turns out. These guys, what’s the name? Green City Solutions …

Matt Dodd: 10:01

That’s it.

Justin Kennington: 10:01

… Have developed the City Breeze and you see a picture of it there. This is an out-of-home signage, digital signage display to be installed in the train station in the downtown corridor, the taxi stand, et cetera, give people information. But built into this thing is some sort of moss, literally. Is that a plant or is that a fungus?

Matt Dodd: 10:22

Plant moss.

Justin Kennington: 10:22

Whatever moss is, so this living thing that cleans and cools the air around it. So now the city council gets to decide, “Oh, well we want to put in some signage. We want to inform our citizens about when the next bus is going to arrive and we can clean and cool the air at the same time,” as they say in their, I don’t want to be cynical here, but as they say in their amazing marketing. Why would you not? If you’re going to put in digital signage, why would you not put in digital signage that cleans and cools the air around it?

Matt Dodd: 10:52

Why not? And it’s also really helping to tackle the problems that are currently all over the world, really, of air pollution and rising urban temperatures, so there’s a real green pitch to this. Crikey, you can come over to any garden in the UK and take as much moss as you like and nobody’s going to complain, but yeah, it’s designed to have a massive impact on air pollution. It’s a bit of an innovation, really, in clean air generation. They claim that this unit here has the capacity to filter, and I am going to read this, 1400 cubic meters of air an hour, which is pretty impressive. And you think they’re going to increase this now and have lots and lots of more all over the place, 150 of them going out this year, apparently. Amazing. Check it out. You’ve got an interview to do. I’m going to leave you to it and I’ll guest back again. So have fun, I’ll see you in a bit.

Justin Kennington: 11:48

It’s nice to see that intersection of AV and sustainability as a growing trend. Our guest today is Chris Chinnock. He was one of our very first guests on SDVoE LIVE!, talking about 8K. Today, he’s here to talk about direct view LED. Why don’t we bring him on in? Chris? Are you there?

Chris Chinnock: 12:06

I am here.

Justin Kennington: 12:08

There we are. Well, hello. Hello, and welcome back to the show.

Chris Chinnock: 12:12

Thank you very much. Glad to be here.

Justin Kennington: 12:15

So, direct view LED. First of all, you heard of these? You heard about this?

Chris Chinnock: 12:20

I have.

Justin Kennington: 12:22

Excellent. I knew we got the right guy. So, let’s dive right in because I want to talk about the trends. I want to talk about a lot of things, and honestly, I don’t think we’ll get through it in the time we have. Direct view LEDs were built to be big, right? That was the idea. I don’t want 65-inch TVs. I want 65-meter TVs. And yet the trend that I observe, just going to trade shows and walking around and seeing who’s building things, is that they’re getting smaller, so what’s that about? Why are we trying to make them smaller when their job is to be big?

Chris Chinnock: 12:57

Well actually, before we dive into that, you talked a little bit about pixel pitch, which you were correct, but there’s another factor to consider and that’s the size of the LED itself. So that size can vary greatly from millimeter-sized or bigger down to micron-sized. So there’s a whole trend to talk about micro LEDs, mini LEDs that can be used in direct view signage and even in VR and AR headsets. We’ll come back to that.

Justin Kennington: 13:36

Oh, really? Okay. So, why try to make them smaller? Why do we want smaller LEDs? Why do we want smaller pitch?

Chris Chinnock: 13:46

Yeah. There’s two things here. One, the smaller LEDs is a cost issue. That’s less material you have to use in the LED. That helps bring down price so there’s a valid reason for wanting to make that LED size, the die itself smaller. And then the pixel pitch itself, you want to make smaller because you can get closer to it now without seeing the pixels, right? So anything that’s indoors that has relatively close viewing, you want to keep shrinking that pixel pitch. And again, pixel pitch and pixel size, LED size, are completely independent. You can have a 1 millimeter LED display that has half millimeter LEDs or a 10th of a millimeter LEDs, or 10 micron LEDs. It doesn’t matter. It does matter but they’re independent, somewhat.

Justin Kennington: 14:49

I have to imagine that, let’s say all things being equal and maybe they’re not, and maybe that’s what we’ll talk about, but all things being equal, a smaller LED will have a smaller light output. Is that the case? And then the follow up is, are all things equal or is that about improving the process?

Chris Chinnock: 15:06

Yeah. They generally will be lower light output for the smaller ones, but actually as you start to get really small, you can get to these tremendous outputs, especially when you’re talking about VR and AR headsets that are single microns or tens of microns. We’re talking about millions of NITs of light output. It’s crazy.

Justin Kennington: 15:33

Whoa. Wow. Let’s talk about that because I hadn’t even conceived it and I wanted to talk about what applications are there for smaller DV-LEDs, but I had no idea that you were going to say VR and AR. We’re talking about panel sizes that are an inch or two inches. Am I picturing this right?

Chris Chinnock: 15:51

Yeah, absolutely, or smaller, absolutely. Yeah. You make projectors with three panels and it can be three LED sources, larger LED sources. Well, you can actually make little VR headsets that are mini projectors with micro LEDs, red, green, and blue micro LEDs, combined in a cube prism now.

Justin Kennington: 16:18

Now I’m really just going off the rails here, but if you can build a panel that small and with that kind of light output, couldn’t you, in theory, use that as the image source for a projector? Put a lens in front of it and beam that image onto a screen, and is anybody working on that?

Chris Chinnock: 16:38

You could. Well, yeah, they are people working on that, for sure. You know, the LED projectors that you have now, they still use micro displays, panels, but they have large area LEDs, basically the size of those panels. But you could potentially …

Justin Kennington: 16:58

Right. Those are just like sources, right? Not image sources.

Chris Chinnock: 17:01

Exactly. Exactly. It’s a light source, not an image source, so you could potentially replace the image source and the panel with a pixelated micro LED with lenses and projection optics, as you suggest. Yeah.

Justin Kennington: 17:15

Wow. Okay. Well, I’m going to, hold on. Let me go patent … Matt, can you call the patent attorneys? Get this down. I’m sure this was an original idea I just had, except Chris said that people were already working on it. That’s fine. That’s fine. When I was thinking about smaller panels enabling new applications, I was thinking about 10-foot wide panels, 5-foot wide panels, not 2-inch wide panels, so talk to me about what applications are we opening up as we get to the 5 or 10-foot wide panel class?

Chris Chinnock: 17:46

Right. The trend started, I think, in commercial to make smaller sizes, smaller pixel pitch so you could be closer to them. And now we’re seeing this move into the high-end custom install space, so companies like Samsung have already commercialized 110-inch display they call The Wall. It’s both for professional as well as high end consumer. That’s a single unit that would go into a luxury home. It costs about $150,000 or so and they have announced plans to do smaller sizes. I think it’s 88-inch, 90-inch, 99-inch, somewhere in those range. Again, single units, these are basically big TVs that you bring into the house and are direct view. They’re amazing.

Justin Kennington: 18:45

I mean, 150-inches is an awfully nice size of big TV, but once you’re talking 88-inches, you’re now into the class of big flat panels. Just run down to Best Buy and pick up an 85-inch TV for 5,000 bucks. I guess my question is why would somebody buy a 90-inch direct view, let’s say, instead of an OLED today? And how much of a threat is direct view to the OLEDs to the traditional flat panels today and in the near five-year future?

Chris Chinnock: 19:19

Right. So the value proposition of direct view LED, and I think ultimately this is going to be the display technology that everyone’s going to want for every application almost, it’s brightness, basically, and color gamut, so compared to an OLED TV, it will have very similar black levels. It will have probably a wider color gamut than an OLED panel and it will have more brightness than an OLED panel. That’s one of the limitations of OLED, is they have limited brightness. Great contrast, great black levels, good colors, somewhat limited brightness. I shouldn’t say it’s totally limited because it’s plenty bright for most applications, but if you want to go super bright, then LED has an advantage.

Justin Kennington: 20:15

Right. There’s bright for your living room and then there’s bright for an outdoor football stadium. Those are two different kinds of bright. You mentioned maybe a slightly wider color gamut. Is that just from a manufacturability perspective? I can better control exactly which fundamental colors my LEDs are compared to my OLEDs? Why would I get slightly better color gamut?

Chris Chinnock: 20:39

Well, it’s both. You can control the wavelength of the LED more. You can pick what wavelength you want, which defines the points of the color gamut, but it also depends on the full width, half maximum, the width of that emission, right? So LEDs have a fairly narrow emission, 30, 40 microns, somewhere in that range. OLEDS have a broader emission so you can’t go out to the extremes of the color gamut with a broader emission. You can get more deeply saturated colors with LED and depending on where you place those, that means a larger color volume or color gamut.

Justin Kennington: 21:29

That makes sense. Yeah. And go learn about color gamut in the SDVoE Academy, everybody. We got some great courses on it in there. You’ve already touched on the answer to this question. I was going to ask, okay, so we can see the applications moving into the residential space. In the commercial AV space, the way I want to ask this is, are there any applications in commercial AV that DV-LED might not dominate one day? It feels like if we can make them in any size we want, we haven’t talked about shape yet, but we can make them in any shape we want. They can be extremely high brightness. They can be extremely high contrast, high color. What can’t they do? What other kinds of displays might survive?

Chris Chinnock: 22:12

Well, the separator is going to be cost. LEDs are still expensive so there’s going to be plenty of applications where a lower cost solution with little bit less image fidelity is going to suit the bill, right? I mean, projection mapping right now on buildings is a great application for projectors. You’re already seeing this now. In fact, I was just back from NAB and on the Hilton Hotel, brand new hotel there, the whole side of the hotel is now LEDs, so there you have it. Projection mapping goes LED.

Justin Kennington: 22:53

Wow. Yeah, that’s amazing. Let’s talk about form factor, something I’ve been interested in. And whenever I think about LEDs or the digital canvas concept, for those who don’t know, in general, the very large ones are put together in individual panels, right? Maybe these days those are probably 50 or 60-inch panels that get mounted all together in a uniform way so what you see is a giant display. But that means that we’re not really stuck to this world where a display is a 16 by 9 rectangle, no matter what. It becomes a world where you can really build any size, in any shape that you want, so I guess talk about that. Have you seen any place where that has been a killer app yet or is that just a dream that I have that one day, all TVs aren’t rectangles?

Chris Chinnock: 23:44

Just look in Times Square. Almost all those displays are non-16 by 9. They’re huge vertical aspect ratios. They go around the corners. They have the parts and pieces that go here and there. Clearly, one of the big advantages of LED is you can do this mix and match aspect ratio stuff. It’s great.

Justin Kennington: 24:10

That makes sense. There’s a lot more I want to ask about. Our time’s a little limited here, but we’re going to come back in the after show. Some things I want to touch on, the electronics that drive these panels, how’s that different in a flat panel versus a direct view? And also, how do we supply video to a panel that large? And I mean that two ways. One is literally, what do I plug into this thing or presumably, its controller box? But then number two, how do I create content? A lot of our content creation is based around 16 by 9 rectangles so I’m curious to learn about some of the tools and techniques used to generate what you’re seeing in Times Square. So sit right there. You guys stay still too, because I want to touch on all these things and your questions. Get them in,, in just a couple of minutes. So Chris, sit tight. We’ll be right back to you, and I’m going to throw you guys over to a fact check.

Matt Dodd: 25:04

God, he’s good. Isn’t he? He’s really good. Can’t wait to talk to him in the aftershow. And thank you for your questions so far. Don’t forget to check out the resource panel below where you can see our news articles or stuff we talked about earlier on plus the courses which support today’s discussion. There’s one called The Ugly Truth, Video over 1G, The Ugly Truth. And that’s good because it explains the need for high quality distribution for large displays. One of the other courses that are on there explain how large displays are actually driving the demand for higher resolutions, especially in the live sports vertical. There’s a good SDVoE LIVE! sports course in there. Also, check out the American Dream case study in the news articles tab. We didn’t get to talk about it today, but it explains how SNA displays plus SD-VOE technology is powering the largest mall in the Northeast of the US, so it’s really worth checking that out in the news articles, The American Dream.

We’ll be heading back to chat with Chris very shortly in the aftershow. But for now, we’re going to head over to Justin to find out what’s happening. We’ve got ISE coming up. ISC’s going to be fantastic. How many of you going out to that? Tell us in the chat. We need to hear about what you are doing next week, if we’re going to see, if you’re going to go out for beer with us. It’d be fantastic. So, I’m going to see you in the aftershow, and I’ll head back to Justin in now.

Justin Kennington: 26:57

Worth bringing up ISE, Matt, thank you. I’m flying out Friday night. I have not been on a jet airplane in over two years. I can’t say why, but I think you know. I want to highlight that we are having an SDVoE cocktail hour for those of you at ISE on Tuesday afternoon at 5:00. If you are a certified design partner or a certified SDVoE developer, you are welcome to come to our party. If you’re not, look around the Academy here and get yourself certified. Find us at the #sdvoelive. You’ll find us on Twitter, on LinkedIn. Catch us up there. Give us your feedback. We want to hear from you. I want to offer a special thanks to our sponsor this week, Black Box, one of the steering members of SDVoE Alliance, and a really great contributor to everything we do. Looking forward to seeing them at ISE.

Our next episode in two weeks, and speaking of ISE, our friend, Gary Kayye, will be back on the show. He kicked off this season with a wrap up of Infocom, which had just happened the week before. So now we’re going to see how has the AV world changed in a very eventful and still things are in flux. What has it been, seven months now? So we’re going to see what’s changed, what’s the same, what are the new trends, what are the progress on the old trends? Gary’s going to be here to talk us through everything that we saw and learned about AV over IP at ISE, so don’t miss that on May 17th. We do this every two weeks. If you do miss a live show, then head on over to our YouTube channel, Like us. Subscribe to us there.

Hello, again to everybody watching in the SDVoE Academy, everybody watching on lAVnch and we’ve built a really good following on LinkedIn. So if you’re seeing this live on LinkedIn, thanks for joining us there. I will see you in two weeks. I will also see you in about 45 seconds at the aftershow. So sit tight, don’t move a muscle, get your questions in, and thank you.


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