Terry Schmidt, a life dedicated to transforming brilliant ideas into commercial products, was the mind of some of the greatest innovations signed by Christie: meeting him and talking to him is an extraordinary experience to learn about the world of invention and design.
The fifty years of Terry Schmidt’s work focuses in particular on digital projection and RGB laser technology. Terry, Christie’s long-standing Chief Scientist, presents himself – like so many great innovators – as “a simple engineer who solves problems.”
It’s sufficient, however, to type his name on Google to appreciate the impressive number of patents registered in his name, patents that have earned him the nice title of “Christie’s grandfather of digital projection.” It’s difficult to find someone who has done more than he in transforming digital projection into the reliable, almost universal projection technology we know today. And it all happened because he says he wanted nothing more than to make everything he was working on work.
For example, US patent 9,462,241B2, registered with Simon Guthrie, describes a way to connect the rapid activation/deactivation capabilities of a DLP chip with the speed with which solid-state light sources, such as LEDs and lasers, can increase or reduce power. Terry noticed that if he could get the two to work together harmoniously two things would happen: first, a reduction in the need for lighting power to achieve the same brightness as the image, because the DLP receives exactly the light it needs; furthermore, this first step would have made possible any other kind of intelligent “Terry solutions”, such as better black level performance, wider dynamic ranges and highly efficient color control. Many advances that today are widely taken for granted in Christie products are due to the inventiveness and pioneering work of Terry Schmidt.
Terry does not compromise on a concept: practical people must seek practical and commercial solutions.
“I never really liked the idea of plan, plan, plan, plan, plan executed” – he says – “because you rarely perform correctly the first time. I like to plan a little – not a lot – to build something, to see where its problems are, so to plan more and rebuild.”
Terry likes the challenges and the company of the people he works with: that’s why, at 71, he’s still in Christie and keeps his ability to intercept great ideas and design them, calmly and methodically, to develop and make them indispensable.
This post is also available in: Italian