Saturday, June 18, 2011

RIP Cine-tal Systems?

Though I don't really know the circumstances it seems that Indianapolis-based Cine-tal, a color display processing hardware and software design company, has quietly sold off all of its products. I've been a big fan of the company's Cinemage 24" HD Displays for years now and have used them exclusively for most of my color-critical jobs. Extremely accurate and overtly complicated (for better or worse), I've always likened the Cinemage to a Ferrari: incredible performance with a price tag to match.

It's difficult to anticipate where the Cinemage product line will go from here. Will Ikan really expand the line or simply use the technology to upgrade their existing lower-class monitor lines? What about Dolby? I've been told that a few of Cine-tal's lead technicians are now a part of Dolby's display team. Will we see some 17" and 24" Class-1 Dolby Displays in the near future that include a bit of the Cinemage lineage?

I was recently able to demo both the Dolby 42" and the new Sony OLED 24" Class-1 monitors. The Dolby is by far the most amazing panel I have seen yet. The picture it produces is brilliant by technical standards and overly gorgeous by eye. This monitor really makes the argument concrete that ITU-R BT.709-5 is an outdated standard. With most professional cameras and displays and an increasing number of (pro)consumer cameras and displays already capturing and displaying colors and tones outside of the rec709 space it seems continually silly to insist on conforming everything into this little box. I would argue that color gamut and fidelity is much more important to our images than any need for increased resolution.

The Sony BVM-E250 was very impressive as well. Fantastic blacks. I never really liked the previous BVM-L230 and always found that any of the Cine-tals consistently provided much better performance. Interestingly enough, the Cinemage 2000 (older 8-bit panel) performed extremely well when compared to the new 24" OLED. The Sony definitely smokes everything else out there in black level and end-to-end contrast ratio but the Cine-tal seemed to continually provide better luminance range in the lowest blacks. Supposedly the soon-to-be-released PVM-2541 will be made with the same panel found in the E250 for a quarter of the price. The E250 seemed spot on in terms of calibration so it remains to be seen how close the 2541 will get... though I do have high hopes.

Below is a copy of Cine-tal's "Dear John" letter. Will the lights really go out for good or is the company streamlining itself for its next venture? As the saying goes, only time will tell...

April 15, 2011

Dear Customers, Resellers and Marketing Partners,

First and foremost we at Cine-tal would like to thank you for your friendship and support over the past 7 years. When we started Cine-tal in 2004 we set out to mobilize our industry for the changes in display technology that were on the horizon. We did this by introducing new concepts and workflows in color management and display calibration with much success. Much like a relay race we are now handing the baton over to others to continue the race. Our partners are strong runners who will build on our technology and success creating stronger and bolder solutions to today’s display technology challenges.

The core technology in our DAVIO product line has been acquired by Dolby Laboratories. Cine-tal continues to manufacture and sell the DAVIO product under license from Dolby and is seeking a partner to continue that effort. Our cineSpace product has been acquired by THX. Last month iKan acquired the Cinemage Monitor product line. iKan will continue to develop new monitor solutions under the Cinemage brand name. Each of these companies have the resources available to run the next leg of this race, empowering you with the solutions you will need for tomorrow's challenges.

Cine-tal customers with products under warranty will get the support they need as follows:

Cinemage:Service and support by iKan

cineSpace: Support and Software Maintenance by THX

DAVIO: Warranty repair by Cine-tal

Color Processor for Dolby 3D: Warranty repair by Cine-tal

We thank you once again for your loyalty and support.

Robert Carroll

Bob Caldwell
V.P. Sales

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