The first demonstration of NBlend Optical Blend System by domeprojection.com® was received enthusiastically at I/ITSEC 2016 in Orlando. In an interview Christian Steinmann, CTO of domeprojection.com® explains how they got the idea for NBlend, which difficulties they faced during the development and why NBlend is a revolutionary product.

Berlin / GERMANY, Dec 14, 2016.  Most of today’s projection technology cannot display pure and smooth black. This leads to visible light grey areas in the overlapping regions of multi-channel projections. While the effect is hardly visible when day scenarios are projected, it becomes a major disturbance when dark content and night visuals have to be displayed. The best way to get the overlapping areas under control is the use of so-called optical blending masks.

What does domeprojection.com® do?

domeprojection.com® develops high-end automatic projection alignment and calibration technologies for visual display and projection systems for professional simulation- and training environments, fulldome, planetarium and media based attractions.

Why NBlend Optical Blend System?

We are an innovative company. Our goal is, to find solutions for the needs of our customers. Especially our clients that are involved in simulation have the need for perfect black level blending. However, up until now there was no simple and cost-efficient solution to that. On the contrary, blending came with high costs and long adjustment periods, while at the same time the results were often not satisfactory for the customer. We set out to solve these issues. The result is our newly developed optical blend mask solution called NBlend Optical Blend System.

What makes NBlend so special? What is the revolution?

The basis for NBlend is the full calibration of a projection system including the blending plane, in which the optical blending takes place. Using our calibration data, the optical blend mask is calculated for the actual projection system as it is set up. That sets it apart from previous solutions, where only the theoretical design data was used to calculate the specifications of the blend mask. The approach causes severe problems, because it is impossible to build a projection system by staying true to the design with sub millimeter precision. In summation, all the slight deviations would always introduce severe artifacts in the blending results. That is why after the installation a time consuming and expensive readjustment of the position and orientation of the projectors and blend masks is required.  The biggest achievement of NBlend is to render these readjustments unnecessary. The second achievement is the unprecedented blending quality in light projections. This is a major challenge, since the smallest blending errors lead to severe disturbances in the projection. For this reason, optical blending was not used for day flight simulations in the past, which in turn made smooth transitions from day to night in one training session impossible. With NBlend that is now possible.

Which difficulties did you face during development?

First, we had to understand how the projectors’ light field interacts with the optical blend mask. When we thought we had it all figured out, we saw that the pattern of the blend mask had to be different for each projector type depending on its light engine.

For which field of application would you recommend NBlend?

Our target Markets are Civil- and Military Simulation and Training, Planetariums and Dome Cinemas, VR Centers, Theme Parks and Dark Rides as well as Culture and Entertainment Attractions. Wherever outstanding contrast in dark projections is required, NBlend is the solution of choice.

When did you present NBlend the first time?

NBlend was presented at I/ITSEC 2016 in Orlando, for the first time.

For the demonstration, a separate dark room was reserved. Invitees were introduced to the technology in a 4-channel projection setup flying in a seamless transition from night to day via dusk and dawn to experience the extraordinary blending results using NBlend. The IG was supplied by Quantum3D using their IDX80 (hardware) and Mantis (software).

How was the feedback of the participants?

We got really good feedback on the new technology. Partners, customers, and long-standing experts were impressed. It was amazing and makes us proud of our work.