Friday, November 26, 2004


Demise of slide projectors

The Washington Post reports today that Eastman Kodak has stopped making slide projectors. With the rise of digital cameras, it is small wonder Kodak wasn't selling many projectors. But slide projectors offered features that aren't easily matched by digital media, and we are losing something interesting in the race to digital.

Slides excel at allowing socialability. Although slides were the butt of jokes about being trapped into sitting through someone else's vacation slides, slides do allow everyone in group to see images together. Sure, one can watch one's digital photos on TV, even a very wide screen TV costs tens of thousands of yen, but it still isn't as big or crisp as a slide. One can project digital photos on a wall with a digital projector, but few ordinary people own those due to the cost. And really bright digital projectors cost a small fortune.

The other endangered dimension is the multiprojector slide presentation. I've seen museum and corporate slide presentations using dozens of projectors at once at blow away any digital multimedia I've seen. One can build massive image mosaics from many slides, incredibly rich in detail, or juxtapose different images together to create emotive and provocative material. Anyone curious about how sophisticated slide presentation can be should consult Robert Simpson's Effective Audio-Visual (Focal Press, 3rd ed).

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