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The Early Days: The 1990s The fundamental challenge in the early days of large- scale visualization systems, now known as " powerwalls", was to simultaneously achieve high resolution, a large screen size, and brightness. Doing simple math, it was easy to see that a single XGA ( 1024 x 768) or even an SXGA ( 1280 x 1024) CRT projector of those days could not possibly provide enough resolution to project an image onto a car- size screen with an acceptable level of sharpness. In addition, the 4: 3 aspect ratio of these projectors was not consistent with the proportions of a car and the low brightness level of CRT projectors was also a concern. The solution that evolved was to use two or more projectors to yield not only sufficient horizontal and vertical screen resolution, but also to achieve a display proportion more suitable for automobiles. This configuration also optimized the limited brightness level of the projectors by focusing the light from each on only a portion of the overall screen area. The remaining hurdle was how to parse out a section of the overall image to each projector while it appeared seamlessly across the screen. This became a very expensive proposition, but industry visionaries pressed on, convinced that the payoff was worth it. Multiple projectors, multiple challenges: 1990s - mid- 2000s As there were no UXGA ( 1600 x 1200) or HD ( 1920 x 1080) resolution desktop monitors, it wasn't even a simple proposition to view a 3D CG model on the desktop in the same aspect ratio as the powerwall display. Out of necessity, multiple desktop monitors became the accepted desktop previewing solution with the image spanning across them. Key to the effectiveness of the multi- projector powerwall was blending technology, which allowed a seamless transition of the projected image between projectors, undetectable to the eye. While logical in theory, in practice the results of blending projectors on the screen could be highly variable. Careful selection of screen material, screen gain and projector lenses were critical in the design of the system to

keep the blend zone from revealing itself to the viewer. And off- axis viewing frequently exacerbated the appearance of the blend zone if the system was poorly designed. Adjustment of slight color balance differences between the projectors and the alignment of the projectors to each other in the blend zone was critical to achieving high-quality images. A properly aligned system would help ensure that any part of the screen image that fell within the blend zone appeared in the same sharp focus as the rest of the screen. Processing such a high-resolution screen image for a multiple- projector powerwall display - as well as its monitors - required computer power available only at a substantial cost. This was the era when a multi- processor/ multi- graphics pipe SGI Onyx computer was frequently the solution of choice. With the system's computer easily costing US$ 250,000 or more, the cost of just a basic powerwall for full- scale automobile design visualization could easily exceed US$ 1 million. Nonetheless, the anticipated acceleration of the design process and its related cost savings continued to justify such investment. Visualization goes to the movies: The new world of 4K Multiple- projector powerwalls are still in use throughout the industry, but projector technology has also undergone a digital transformation. Digital DLP, LCD and LCOS projectors are brighter and more stable than ever before, allowing them to be used on a daily basis. But the display resolution can still be a potential problem given that individual pixels now make up the display raster. In the past couple of years, however, a number of design studios have embraced a new projection technology that elevates the powerwall to an unprecedented level of image quality and performance. Originally developed for theater exhibition of extremely high