Set amid the majestic hills of Aliso Viejo, Calif., Soka University is a private four-year liberal arts college and graduate school. Among the many impressive buildings on its picturesque 103-acre campus is the new Soka Performing Arts Center. Designed and built to the highest standards, the Center is one of three campus locations recently outfitted with REALiS WUX4000 installation LCOS projectors from Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions. Displaying bright 4000-lumen higher-than-HD-resolution (1920 x 1200) widescreen 16:10 video and still images, a total of four REALiS WUX4000 projectors are used to present a variety of visual content at this prestigious University.
“The Soka Performing Arts Center is a stunning space both visually and acoustically,” noted Sam Morales, associate technical service manager at the University. “We wanted to have a zero-compromise facility in terms of the equipment that we put into that space, and that’s why we chose Canon REALiS WUX4000 projectors.”
Initially discouraged by the cost of large-venue projectors for the 1200-seat Soka Performing Arts Center, Morales and his team looked instead for a display solution for the smaller 180-seat black-box theater in the Academic Building. Their search led them to the Canon REALiS WUX4000 installation LCOS projector, which proved to be the right choice for both venues.
“I was skeptical that the Canon REALiS WUX4000 would even work in the black box theater, since it didn’t even have a projection screen in it,” he recalled. “What it does have is an almost transparent cyclorama with a non-reflective surface. But when we fired-up the REALiS WUX4000 and saw how it looked, we were amazed. The pictures were really sharp even though we intentionally used dark imagery to see what kind of detail we could get out of the projector. The results were so good that we felt immediately compelled to purchase one for that theater.”
Impressed with the performance of the Canon REALiS WUX4000, Morales and his team also tested it in the Soka Performing Arts Center. What they saw resulted in their decision to purchase not one but three more of the projectors. Two are stacked in the Center and another was installed in a large classroom.
“Even from 100 feet away, one Canon REALiS WUX4000 projector can do the job in the Center with good HD quality with proper brightness and contrast,” he said. “It’s also quite a cost savings, when you consider that the projection lamp for the first large-venue projector we looked at cost almost as much as an entire REALiS WUX4000. There are absolutely no grids in the picture like you see with LCD projectors and the overall quality is fantastic.”
Employing Canon’s fourth-generation proprietary AISYS-enhanced LCOS optical engine, the REALiS WUX4000 projector delivers crisp, seamless images with intricate detail, high brightness, high contrast and accurate color. LCOS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) is a next-generation display technology utilizing tightly packed pixels providing excellent image quality. Canon’s proprietary AISYS (Aspectual Illumination System) technology further increases the display advantages of LCOS by efficiently utilizing and equalizing light from the projector lamp. Featuring an easy-access lamp, air filter, and optical filter, and a choice of three interchangeable Genuine Canon projection lenses to suit a variety of presentation environments, the REALiS WUX4000 also provides quiet operation.
“Acoustics are the primary focus of the hall and we found that we can actually put the Canon REALiS WUX4000 projector right in the middle of the seats and it doesn’t bother anyone,” Morales stated. Canon projection lenses chosen for Soka University’s REALiS WUX4000’s include a 1.7x long-focus zoom for the large classroom and a 1.5x zoom for the black box theater. Both lenses are used in the Soka Performing Arts Center, depending on which of its multiple projection screens are being used.
Versatile HD Video Capture
REALiS WUX4000 installation LCOS projectors aren’t the only Canon professional imaging products being used at Soka University, Morales revealed. The institution also has ten Canon XF305 Professional HD Camcorders mounted on custom-made robotic arms in both the Center and the black-box theater. Easily removable from their mounts, the XF305 Professional HD Camcorders are used for a variety of production tasks at the University.
“The Canon XF305 is actually designed for hand-held ENG-style shooting, but we also use them as robotic-style HD cameras,” Morales explained. “In our custom mounts they can do everything that traditional robotic HD cameras can, and at a third of the price. They are fantastic HD cameras for performing arts centers and concert halls, where discretion is of the outmost importance. A larger HD camera would be too aesthetically cumbersome for those spaces.”
The Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder records Full HD video directly to Compact Flash cards. Equipped with three high-sensitivity Canon native 1920 x 1080 CMOS sensors, the XF305 features a Genuine Canon 18x HD zoom lens with Instant AF and a Full Manual Focus mode with mechanical “hard” end stops and distance markers. Weighing just 6 lbs., the XF305 includes a 4-inch, 1.23-megapixel LCD monitor (with built-in waveform and vector scope display) that can be positioned at either the right or left side of the camera body. The XF305 also includes an industry-standard HD-SDI output, a genlock input, and SMPTE time code (in/out) terminals for multi-camera productions. Equipped with Canon’s advanced MPEG-2 4:2:2 50Mbps XF Codec for exceptional image quality, the XF305 employs the MXF File Wrapper for robust workflow and compatibility with all leading non-linear editing systems.
“These Canon XF305 HD cameras are very versatile,” Morales adds. “We can take them off of the robotic mounts and use them at different locations on campus. I keep one in my office and have taken it up in a helicopter to shoot aerial views. We also use them in our recreation center, where we hold our yearly gala. In the past we hired a crew with its own cameras. This year they used our Canon XF305 HD cameras and we saved thousands on rental fees.”
Named after a Japanese word that means “to create value,” Soka University’s choice of image projection and capture technologies do much to fulfill that goal, according to Morales. “In a very demanding application, with high expectations and standards, we feel that these Canon products create value for our video capture and display needs,” he stated. “We don’t want to settle for anything less than the best.”