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A Q&A with Absen’s Regional Director of Oceania Tammy Yan
Chinese LED manufacturer Absen has been expanding in multiple vertical and horizontal markets in Australia and New Zealand over the last year. In August they showcased multiple new product releases including their remarkable new Clear Cobalt MicroLED series, in which tiny pixel pitches are achieved by mounting LEDs directly in resin. Regional Director of Oceania Tammy Yan was in Sydney for the event, and sat down for this Q&A with CX.
The Absen Global Partnership Network recently hit the milestone of 1000 partners. Who are your partners in Australia and New Zealand, and what markets do they service?
We have many partners across Australia and NZ who have now invested in Absen LED screens. They range from major rental and touring companies to well respected international system integrators.
What applications and markets does Absen see have potential for growth in Australia and New Zealand?
Film and TV is a growth market for Absen, also the staging and rental applications. The Absen brand is becoming a preferred choice for many staging and rental clients due to its high quality and excellent local support.
LED panels are now often seen as a commodity, with only price distinguishing them from each other. How does Absen distinguish itself in the market?
Again, people see the value in having a reliable product that is well supported across the globe. Many clients would prefer to pay a little more to know they have a reliable product from a trusted company with local supply partners.
While looking at Absen Aurora here at Integrate, distributor AVD explained that the versions sold here in Australia have been specially weatherproofed for the Australian market. What modifications have been made for Australia, and why?
Absen considers the environment that their LED screens are installed very carefully. As 90% of all outdoor screen deployments in Australia are within 15km of the ocean, it is very important to implement some safeguards in the manufacturing process to ensure the best performance of the product possible.
Absen coat all the electrical components in the Aurora series with anti corrosive sealant. Also, the frame of the LED screen is painted white to reflect the strong sunlight rather than absorb it. We also over-rate the power supplies so they are not running at full capacity to reduce heat inside the LED cabinet.
Absen’s MicroLED Clear Cobalt is beautiful! What markets are you targeting initially with this premium product?
The Clear Cobalt product is aimed at the corporate commercial market and high end residential. Both of these sectors demand high quality and the Cobalt series delivers this.
How does Absen see the future of MicroLED? In particular, it is currently very expensive – how long until the technology matures and the price reduces?
As you can imagine, the improvements and advantages we’ve spoken about offer a very attractive proposition and a lot of companies in the market, and our industry, are keen to jump onto the bandwagon.
However, timing is everything and whilst it would be great to be the early and potentially first adopter of new technologies, there are other considerations. For example, there’s a need for production capabilities to further mature before we enter further into the market.
The MicroLED technology market of course, is vast. In addition to LED displays and screens for business applications, MicroLED will enter the consumer market. MicroLED technology opens up the mass-production of smaller pixel pitch LED products where smaller screen sizes accommodated by higher resolution will follow the needs of 4K and 8K.
xR and in-camera FX have been getting a lot of attention recently. What has the actual rate of take-up been among traditional broadcast and film customers such as TV stations and film studios?
All types of production companies are looking into virtual production as an alternative to traditional content making. Understanding where virtual production creates an advantage regarding project cost or environmental impact is critical for companies looking to adopt virtual production. While we don’t know the exact percentage rate for traditional broadcast companies to look at Xr and ICVFX, we do know that there is a huge interest in the market for companies who are digging into answering the above question and determining if their projects could benefit from virtual production. VP is a tool in content creation that needs to be used efficiently and for the correct type of project. The industry is in a learning mode regarding answering these questions.
What product specs and factors should a video production company who is looking to get into xR be aware of before they make a decision to buy a LED volume?
LED for virtual production, whether it be xR or ICVFX requires the LED wall to look amazing on camera systems. There are many different types of camera systems, and they all behave differently with LED. Using a cell phone camera to look at a LED wall will not produce the same results as looking at an LED with a cinema camera. Technology features such as LED refresh rates, driver-to-pixel ratios, LED pixel types, LED processing, and how well the LED supports wide color gamuts are all important features when choosing LED for virtual production. However, at the end of the day, you really need to talk with experienced people and look at real-world testing results to know how the LED will look on camera. Data sheets are a good starting point, however there is no replacement for having a deep understanding of camera technology, and how to test LED is critical. Working with a LED vendor who understands this level of testing and technology is key.
A lot of live production companies bought LED screens as they pivoted to producing virtual events during COVID shutdowns. With virtual events scaling back, how are these companies deploying their LED screens now?
LED is a versatile and powerful canvas of pixels that can be used in many ways, for many different types of applications. LED originally designed for virtual production can be used in a huge variety of solutions requiring amazing- looking display technology. Many companies are taking the LED that was once used for virtual events and now renting the LED to live events or short-term virtual production projects. LED has so many uses that there is a large market for potential use that goes way beyond the original design intent.
Do you still view the virtual and hybrid event market as a growth area as COVID restrictions recede in most of the world?
The popularity of and demand for Virtual Production is not directly tied to COVID. COVID absolutely pushed content creation into using virtual production almost exclusively when the world was not able to travel. However, virtual production (in different forms) has been around for almost 80 years. Virtual Production can help reduce costs in some circumstances, and can greatly reduce the carbon footprint of content creation while also creating changes in the workflow for the directors and talent for the better. Virtual Production also expands the possibilities with creative TV and filmmaking. Even if COVID was to disappear completely, virtual production is here to stay. So while COVID jumpstarted the use of LED volumes for virtual production, it was not the cause for the creation of the technology. Because of the jump-start, I think that the market for virtual production is in a growth state. Especially in a growth state for talented individuals who need the training to learn how to work in this new technology environment.
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