Ensuring high-quality 3D in cinemas

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There is lots of discussion within the industry regarding good-quality 3D and what the public mandates when paying a premium price to see a 3D movie. The debates increase in frequency when it comes to shooting a movie in 3D or planning a conversion from 2D to 3D.

The editorial staff of FJI thought it would be helpful to seek out a qualified technician in the 3D field to discuss some of the things that can be done to ensure as perfect a presentation as possible. Paul Panabaker, chief technology officer at MasterImage 3D, accepted our invitation and offers some useful suggestions in our September issue that will help you guarantee 3D excellence in your theatres.

According to Panabaker, when 3D is exhibited correctly, the picture is bright and sharp; the colors are accurate; eyes are not strained; and there is little or no apparent ghosting. A middle ground does not exist. There is no such thing as “kind of good.” Bad 3D is not good for the business.

Some of the things to consider include hiring a local professional experienced in 3D digital-cinema installation and maintenance; purchasing glasses only through the original system supplier; careful monitoring of lamp performance and life to assure adequate brightness; and maintaining cleanliness across the entire optical chain—filters and lenses, port windows, the 3D screen and, of course, the glasses. These steps will ensure that your customers keep coming back for today’s 3D movie marvels.

The 3D Experience Debuts
Those interested in continuing their education in 3D entertainment should look to The 3D Experience, which runs Sept. 24-26 in New York City’s Times Square. The event is geared to attract top innovators, industry leaders and filmmakers to showcase the latest advances in 3D. It will stage at the AMC Empire theatre complex on 42nd Street, NASDAQ Market Sites and Discovery TSX Special Event Space.

For the first time, the public will be able to be fully immersed in 3D movies, 3D TVs, electronics and games. The Executive Forum at the AMC Empire will allow participants the opportunity to actually present in 3D rather than just talk about it. The consumer showroom will feature 3D products for home viewing as well as other electronic innovations and games. And all press will emanate from the NASDAQ Market Sites.

The three-day event is poised to attract thousands of 3D fans to the consumer showroom to get a hands-on look at many of the new consumer 3D products that are being offered to the public. The Executive Forum will focus on a myriad of topics including 3D in the cinema; 3D products in the home; a research survey on the elusive consumer and 3D’s future; and conversion of 2D to 3D. For additional information, go to www.the3Dexperience.org.

Exhibitors Speak Out on Digital

Digital projection has been around for nearly ten years. But 2010 will be remembered as a watershed year for d-cinema with the record-setting grosses of Avatar and the continuing success of digital 3D releases. In the September edition of Film Journal International, some of the early adopters of d-cinema discuss the impact of the technology on their business.

The participants in our survey are from Carmike Cinemas, Cineplex Entertainment, MJR Theatres, Rave Motion Pictures and Celebration! Cinema. Their overall responses are extremely positive and the quotes that follow are indicative of how digital is helping to reshape an industry that has existed for more than 100 years:

“Digital has made us the ultimate entertainment destination.”

“Digital has had a very positive impact on our business, including increased programming flexibility, ease of operation and a much more user-friendly technology than traditional 35mm projection.”

“Alternative programming makes our multiplexes more full-fledged entertainment centers with opera, World Cup in 3D and other popular programs.”

“Alternative programming has brought people back to the theatres that left us many years ago.”

The respondents also cite such benefits as easier staff training, payroll savings, improved picture quality, and the ability to add more 3D auditoriums and show movies on multiple screens.

These comments highlight the extraordinary changes that digital has enabled this past decade. Not only is it being accepted by exhibition for the reasons above, but patrons are also commenting on the picture quality and their new experiences with 3D. It truly is the start of a new era.

Looking at the Big Picture
What do AMC ETX, Regal RPX, Carmike’s BigD, Cinemark XD, Cineplex UltraAVX and Marcus UltraScreen all have in common? They are all current examples of branding a bigger and better theatrical experience. And they are being done predominantly with large-screen formats.

Although this development is nothing new for the motion picture industry, as it has witnessed different technologies including VistaVision, CinemaScope, Todd-AO, D-150 and Cinerama over the years, this industry-defining trend is helping theatres present a film in an event mode and bringing back some of the lost showmanship of past decades.

These new formats are more than just large screens. They are also about creating a complete entertainment environment that engages your senses and pulls you into the film. They typically encompass wall-to-wall screens, plush and comfortable seats, state-of-the-art projection and sound, and excellent sightlines. The larger exhibitors are all working to brand their theatres anew, and their initiatives are attracting patrons all over North America.

We have talked about the need to create experiences in the theatre that cannot be duplicated in the home, and digital projection has made this possible. The September issue of Film Journal International looks at CinemarkXD and Marcus UltraScreen, and the series continues in the next two editions.