Many theaters misuse 3-D lenses to show 2-D films, squandering brightness, color - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 05-24-2011, 05:34 PM - Thread Starter
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A movie lover's plea: Let there be light

Many theaters misuse 3-D lenses to show 2-D films, squandering brightness, color

By Ty Burr

May 22, 2011

As if rising ticket prices and chatterbox patrons weren't enough, moviegoers in the Boston area are being left in the dark thanks to the regular misuse of the lenses on new digital projection equipment at many of the region's major theater chains. But almost no one at the theaters or their corporate headquarters is willing to talk about it.

A walk through the AMC Loews Boston Common on Tremont Street one evening in mid-April illustrates the problem: gloomy, underlit images on eight of the multiplex's 19 screens (theaters 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, and 18, to be specific). These are the auditoriums using new digital projectors that are transforming the movie exhibition business, machines that entirely do away with celluloid. The "film" comes in the form of a software file, and the projector pumps it onto the screen at high intensity.

Why, then, do so many of the movies look so terrible? This particular night "Limitless," "Win Win," and "Source Code" all seemed strikingly dim and drained of colors. "Jane Eyre," a film shot using candles and other available light, appeared to be playing in a crypt. A visit to the Regal Fenway two weeks later turned up similar issues: "Water for Elephants" and "Madea's Big Happy Family" were playing in brightly lit 35mm prints and, across the hall, in drastically darker digital versions.

The uniting factor is a fleet of 4K digital projectors made by Sony -- or, rather, the 3-D lenses that many theater managers have made a practice of leaving on the projectors when playing a 2-D film. Though the issue is widespread, affecting screenings at AMC, National Amusements, and Regal cinemas, executives at all these major movie theater chains, and at the corporate offices of the projector's manufacturer, have refused to directly acknowledge or comment on how and why it's happening. Asked where his company stands on the matter, Dan Huerta, vice president of sight and sound for AMC, the second-biggest chain in the US, said only that "We don't really have any official or unofficial policy to not change the lens."

... Lots more at http://www.boston.com/ae/movies/arti...ark/?page=full
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post #2 of 9 Old 05-25-2011, 07:23 PM
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I have had the misfortune of having this happen twice. 2D film on a Sony "4K" projector with the 3D lens still attached. Worse than the dim picture, the two lenses were not properly aligned, so the image was mis-converged by a good 2 inches on the screen. 4K? More like 1/2K. Absolutely the worst PQ I have ever seen at a theater. I will not go to any theater using a Sony digital projector again. DLP or I wait for the movie to come out on Blu-ray and watch it at home.

And what the hell is Sony's business model on their cinema projectors? Are they really giving them away to AMC and Regal for pre-screening ads? At least TI, Christie and Barco have products good enough they can sell them.
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post #3 of 9 Old 05-26-2011, 07:45 AM - Thread Starter
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I've only seen this once - at a Metropolitan Opera Live in HD screening at an AMC theater in Lombard IL. Luckily the two images were pretty well aligned. The 3D polarizer screen was still in place, and I'm sure that didn't help. I thought the image was acceptable, but knew that it could have been better. I brought this to the attention of the Met's engineer in charge.
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post #4 of 9 Old 05-26-2011, 09:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Here's what Roger Ebert has to say on the matter....

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2011...the_light.html
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post #5 of 9 Old 05-27-2011, 07:40 AM
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Now Engadget has postet a reply from Sony where they try to put the facts straight.
To me Sony is only trying to talk around the actual facts of how this really is put to use in the cinemas. http://www.engadget.com/2011/05/26/s...he-only-thing/

Engadget also "consulted" with a projectonist (first "press release") that sounds remarkably like a "paid" Sony promoter as his argument and "facts" contains critical remarks about DLP projectors vs. Sony's 4K projector that are taken straight out of Sony's promotional material. (trust Sony to step on the competition with "misrepresented facts" to promote their equipment).

It is more interesting to hear what various projectionists on the projector forum says about the facts and their experience working with the Sony 4K in 3D and 2D.
http://www.film-tech.com/ubb/f16/t000806.html

There the "matter of facts" is not as "rosy" as Sony tries to make it.

And this;

 

Sony4K Hangover II instruction .pdf 95.02734375k . file
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post #6 of 9 Old 05-31-2011, 01:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolscan View Post

... It is more interesting to hear what various projectionists on the projector forum says about the facts and their experience working with the Sony 4K in 3D and 2D. http://www.film-tech.com/ubb/f16/t000806.html

Thanks for the film-tech link!
It's interesting that even the guys running the Sony units have a hard time keeping the details right.
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post #7 of 9 Old 06-03-2011, 03:30 PM
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I work in projection rooms all the time, and have run into this way too much.

The real truth...
Most of the Sony 3D screens do not even own a 2D lens.

It is a solid hour job to install and align the 3D lens, providing it has already been setup for the screen. A new install takes considerably longer to align the beast. For screenings, we have removed it for a 2D show and then reinstalled it, so I know this first hand, not here say. So if you have the lens, and the time, here is the procedure.

Remove the 3D lens assembly, carefully set it asside, it will not fit in it's nice padded case with the filters on it.

Install the 2D only lens.

Change the preset on the projector to the 2D one. If it has not been setup, there is a whole procedure to re align colors and light level, image size shift cropping etc.

Once in place, adjust the zoom, focus, and shift to align it with the screen. Now you can run true 4K 2D and get fair light. All 18,000 lumens the projector can produce. A DLP can crank out over 30,000 lumens.

Going back to 3D.

Pull out the 2D lens

Install the 3D beast

Change the projector back to 3D mode (the image even has to be inverted as well as split under over)

Turn on the convergence test pattern and make sure it is aligned with the screen and the two eyes are within a pixel. The lens has mechanical coarse centering screws, and then in software you have a fine pixel by pixel adjustment. This needs to be done for Flat, Scope, and the pre show all independantly, and re-saved to each preset.

No matter how careful you are, the lens never falls back into perfect alignment. And since none of the theatres have a tech on staff any more. They have decided to just run everything through the 3D lens. The polarizing filters on the front are fairly easy to move out and back in without messing up the alignment, but even doing that only bumped the light less than 10%. From 8 to almost 9 fl on the last screen I did. Yes, the target light for 2D is 14 fl. This was with a new bulb at max current. On a scope ratio, with top/bottom masking, the 3D lens cuts the projectors max 18,000 lumens to more like 6,000 lumens because 2/3's of the 4K imager are just blank. Flat is more like 9,000 lumens as it uses nearly the full height, but cuts the width to about 2K. If the theatre has side masking only, then it can use the full height of the imager still in scope and push the widht out to 2400 or so pixels and push out 11,000 lumens.

The silver screen does change perception of color and brightness a bit but some of the newer screens are better, but still not as good as a low gain white screen. This issue is the same with RealD, Master Image, Sony etc. It is the nature of a silver screen, a hot spot and fall off etc.

One advantage to the Sony setup is that both eyes do get the new frames right in sync and there is not dark time. On a smaller screen where it puts out enough light, it does look pretty good. I talked a few theatres into upping from 3,000 to 4,000 watt bulbs in the small theatres, and we did get 14 fl on scope 2D through the 3D lens and about 4 fl per eye in 3D. These are small theatres though.

AMC and Regal have both started pulling out some of the Sony projectors in screens over 40 feet wide and putting in a DLP. I guess they are startying to listen.

If you see a dim show, be sure to complain, even e-mail the theatre chain. I have nothing against Sony, but until they can push more light, that projector should not be in a big theatre.

I have not seen 3D on it yet, but AMC did setup a dual stack of 2 Sony 4K machines for 3D in an ETX screen here. Both machines are using the entire 4K chip with the huge single lens. The 2D image looked very bright and nearly perfect overlay at over 50 feet wide. They did leave the polarizers on, but it was a non issue from what I saw.
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post #8 of 9 Old 06-17-2011, 08:07 PM
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GXM,

Thanks for sharing from an insiders point of view.

The Mod Squad: New vs. Classic TV Series Opening https://vimeo.com/63119329
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post #9 of 9 Old 06-22-2011, 01:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blasst View Post

GXM,

Thanks for sharing from an insiders point of view.

+1

Thanks for taking the time and sharing your experience with the Sony 4K.

JBL Pro Cinema
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