technology profile: video
The traditional TV of the broadcast era has since morphed into the visual display — an extremely sophisticated and versatile piece of technology.
PHOTO COURTESTY OF SAMSUNG
YOU REALLY SHOULDN’T REFER to that sleek, elegant, large-screen flat-panel visual device on your wall as a TV anymore. Showing network TV shows is probably the least interesting thing it does! The traditional TV of the broadcast era has since morphed into the visual display — an extremely sophisticated and versatile piece of technology that can render movies, streaming services, video gaming, live sporting and cultural events — even gallery-quality video art – in extraordinary resolution that draws you into the experience. They give context to the artist’s expression and enhance designed spaces.
While it’s been possible to produce reference-quality video in homes using high-resolution projectors, the trend has really taken off with the emergence of microLED video walls that can be custom-designed to just about any size and shape. These displays have infinite color availability and tremendous contrast that allows for viewing without having to darken the room with black-out shades. They are vibrant and blur the edges of reality when flush-mounted onto wall surfaces. This is the future of visual display technology.
MicroLED video displays that can project life-like art will have a tremendous impact on interior design since they provide a way of looking beyond displays as a means of just watching entertainment. Expect savvy architects and designers to stop treating these kinds of visual displays as an afterthought and to begin working them into their designs from day one as a means of transforming the very concept of any given space.
The trend has really taken off with the emergence of microLED video walls that can be custom-designed to just about any size and shape.
PHOTO COURTESTY OF SAMSUNG
content is king
There are already massive amounts of content available for every viewer and every occasion. There’s the ubiquitous streaming services where you don’t want to miss the next episode of that great British baking show, along with quirky channels like YouTube and TikTok where you can deep-dive into cat memes. But what about the more prestigious worlds of cinema and art, where the ends justify the means when you are talking about multiple displays strategically placed in open spaces, indoors and outdoors, and private spaces like wellness rooms, home offices and bedrooms?
Let’s start with movies before we turn to art, since that’s the main reason most people covet a high-quality large-screen display. Yes, there are tons of movies available on streaming services, but in reality, you are looking at highly compressed video and audio. Movie files are huge and so the streaming services have to compress them in order to pipe them over the Internet. Compressed audio means your Dolby Atmos system isn’t getting the full signal and compressed video means you just aren’t getting the full visual fidelity that the director intended. That’s probably why so many people prefer going to movie theaters.
For serious cinephiles and performance homes in general, there’s really only one product on the market where you are assured of movie theater quality for your home. Kaleidescape.
The Kaleidescape User Experience
When you pause on a film cover, all of the covers around it reorder to reflect the movies most similar to the one you’re considering
Kaleidescape’s nimble, versatile movie playback and distribution system can provide convenient, intuitive access to your movie library, distributing it with ease to all your various visual displays. You build your library via Kaleidescape’s online movie store, which is Internet-based, like streaming, but sends you downloads to view instead of playing the movies in real-time over your streaming service. This means you’re not constantly at the mercy of your Internet (and won’t be stuck with a room full of guests and nothing to watch if your Internet connection happens to go south on movie night). But it also means Kaleidescape’s files can be much larger than highly compressed streaming files, giving both the video and audio a lot more room to breathe, bits-wise, resulting in reference-quality playback. The result is playback delivery of 4K HDR movies with a video bitrate four times higher while reproducing lossless audio at up to ten times higher than any streaming device.
Kaleidescape takes a cinephile approach to preparing its movie files for distribution, unlike the streaming services’ more cookie-cutter corporate approach. After receiving each movie’s master file from the various studios, the company’s team can spend weeks working up a film, ferreting out any imperfections and ensuring that what you see at home matches the theatrical presentation.
Barry Sonnenfeld, whose award-winning credits include his cinematography on Miller’s Crossing, Raising Arizona, Big, and When Harry Met Sally as well as his directorial work, including Get Shorty, The Addams Family, and the Men in Black franchise recently expressed in a Kaleidescape 20th anniversary announcement, “I’ve had several home screening rooms in the last 30 years and I always tried to create an experience better than I can get in a commercial movie theater. I rely on Kaleidescape to deliver a truly fantastic image and incredibly great sound.”
Kaleidescape’s user interface (UI) and user experience (UE) makes the clunky and cryptic streaming interfaces look hopelessly archaic. Prefer a visual approach? The Covers View lets you scan through your collection without having to read through any text. Another cool UE is when you pause on a film cover, all of the covers around it reorder to reflect the movies most similar to the one you’re considering. The more text-based among us can also search by scrolling through a list of movie titles. And you’re free to search extensively by director, actor, genre, etc. as well.
Another UE bonus is that the movies are embedded with cues that can sync up with your home control system, so the room lights will dim automatically as the movie begins and then come up as the credits roll. It’s this advanced appreciation of the cinematic experience that quantifies the Kaleidescape experience.
From a homeowner’s perspective, investing in a Kaleidescape system also means you are able to deliver that performance across the entire residence. Each guest or family member can watch their own favorite movie with simple access and uncompromised playback. Streaming has its advantages, but it can’t begin to offer the well-conceived and elegantly executed solution Kaleidescape provides.
some serious play
Getting the best — and biggest — possible screen for watching movies is a no-brainer, but it makes just as much sense to go big when it comes to gameplay. A first-class microLED display is critical for gaming, where missing a key but subtle visual cue can mean the premature end of your onscreen avatar’s virtual existence!
Fun fact — Gaming is bigger than the movie and music industries combined, so it shouldn’t be an afterthought when you’re planning where to integrate advanced visual displays.
eye of the beholder
The emerging luxury trend of video art can really take today’s visual display technology to the limits while providing an undeniably unique viewing experience in any given space. Individually commissioned works from the world’s most prestigious video artists, created for your particular screen in your particular domestic environment is the newest frontier for residential interior design.
And there’s another luxury trend on the horizon — custom virtual live performances. The pandemic did a lot to raise awareness of livestreaming as performers resorted to online venues as live performance spaces dried up. And while it can be fun to watch one of your favorite performers do a show live in real time on YouTube, it can’t begin to evoke the sensation of actually being there.
But even livestream is morphing. There will soon be services that will let you book private performances with big-name talent that you can watch, along with true interactivity. The same technology that is now allowing work-from-home executives to teleconference in 4K will let you make requests to, ask questions of, and even jam along one-on-one with your favorite artists.
A service like this coupled with a wall-sized visual display offers the possibility of watching performances life-size and at a resolution that begins to approach the immediacy of real life. That’s a long, long way from watching an episode of Friends on NBC on your TV.