By Kirsten Nelson On August 16, 2012
NAME: Mike Levi
COMPANY: Digital Projection Incorporated
OVERTIME: Levi was the first person hired
in the U.S. for Digital Projection. He holds
two titles with the company: president of digital
projection (U.S. operations) and director
of Americas sales and marketing for Digital
SCN: When did you first realize that you had
an interest in technology?
Mike Levi: I was always intrigued by
televisions, and following that theme, I was
among the very first adopters of videogames
back in the early ’70s. At the age of 12, I
was the proud owner of the first consumer
video game console—the Magnavox Odyssey.
I was hooked—not on video games, but
on the technologies that conveyed the
|After commencing production in 1997, DPI was awarded two Emmy awards (Levi is pictured at the ceremony, far left) for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1998.
SCN: What launched your career in video and
what was the greatest challenge faced by the
industry at that time?
ML: I worked my way through college as a
salesperson in the local VideoConcepts store.
This was in the early ’80s, when VCRs sold for
over $1,000. Projection televisions were CRT
driven, physically huge, not very bright, and
typically cost $4,000 or more. That was a fair
amount of money back then. Still, those early
projection TVs delivered big pictures, and I
found it easy to help people get excited about
big pictures for their homes.
After college, I moved to Denver, CO to
become the corporate video producer for
VideoConcepts. It was a fun and challenging
role, but for me, not as fun or rewarding as
selling video technology. After three years in
the corporate video world, I switched back to
the sales side of the business, going to work
for InFlight Services, selling commercialgrade
The biggest challenge back in those days
was keeping up with the rapidly emerging
computer display standards. Every customer
seemed to have something slightly different,
and getting the projector to interface with
their computer was always
a bit of an unknown.
Oftentimes, the sale went
to the salesperson who
could figure out how to
make it work first.
SCN: After a stint at
InFlight, which was Barco’s
U.S. distributor, and a
10-year career at Barco, you
were recruited by Digital
in 1996. At the time, DPI
was partnering with Texas
Instruments to bring
the first three-chip DLP
projector to market. What
were the expectations for
TI’s Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) at that time?
ML: I worked for InFlight as a regional manager, covering the
Rocky Mountain territory and Mexico. When Barco opened its U.S.
headquarters, I joined as their DC-based Mid-Atlantic sales manager. I
enjoyed that role for five years, at which point I moved to Georgia and
became their national sales manager. After five years as Barco’s NS M, I
joined Digital Projection, a relative newcomer to the projection industry.
A wild card at the time, but DP
was indeed Texas Instruments’
very first DLP partner.
|Celebrating DPI’s 10th Anniversary (left to right): Nick Cottiss, director, sales and marketing; Tim Cronin, director, finance; Mike Levi, president; Dermot Quinn, director, product development; and Brian|
Critchley, CEO and director
With respect to our expectations
for the DMD, for certain,
we recognized the technology
as revolutionary and game
changing in many ways. Color
performance, luminance uniformity,
digital stability, plus, of
course, tremendous headroom
to create massive lumen power.
We knew DLP technology
would change the large-screen
display industry, even the film
to what were previously considered
challenges. Everyone at DP was
extremely proud to be introducing
the very best large screen
imaging technology to the market.
We continue to take similar
pride in our extensive, all DLP
product line today.
SCN: What has surprised you
most about the evolution of
ML: Probably most surprising
and impressive is how rapidly TI
has evolved the core technology
to support ever more demanding
display standards. Higher
resolution, higher bit depth,
higher frame rates, faster mirror
switching times… the march
of technology never ends. TI has
done an amazing job of keeping
pace, and in many cases, even
predicting and setting the pace.
Kirsten Nelson is the editor of SCN.