grainy pixels at Cineplex Odeon Varsity and VIP Cinemas - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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Old 06-22-2013, 10:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Last night a friend and I went to see Man of Steel at Varsity Cinemas (manulife centre in toronto). I bought tickets for the VIP theatre, since it was the only one that showed it in 2D, and I refuse to watch post production fake 3D. These VIP theatres are smaller (about 20-25 seats), have very nice seats, and you can order drinks, etc. I would also have assumed that the screen quality would be good.

Right from the moment the trailers started, I noticed this awful quality of the image. It kinda looked like what happens when you watch a 1080 video on a low resolution display (downsampling?). I used to run my FW900 CRT at 1280X800 and when I watched 1080 movie files without changing the resolution, you'd see these horizontal lines delineating each scanline.

It was almost like you were watching the movie through a lattice - I've heard of the "screen door effect" on LCD displays, and I think this is similar (I've never owned an LCD display so I don't have enough experience with them to say for sure).

I'm not sure if this is related, but any time there was a relatively homogeneous patch of luminance on the screen, it looked very grainy. It didn't appear as a nice smooth field of color - there was noise.

On top of this, near the middle of the screen, there was a fairly large blotchy scratch. A dark discoloration that was very noticeable when lighter images were shown on that area.

Any idea what was going on in this theatre? Is it possible that all theatres are somewhat similar but that because we were so close to the screen we could notice the "pixels"?

Why would there even be pixels if it was a projection based system?
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Old 06-22-2013, 12:09 PM
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There are lots of possibilities for what you experienced, some are common.

You almost certainly were watching a digital projector. It's most likely a DLP with a 2K chip, though if it's very old, maybe lower resolution. 2K is slightly higher resolution than 1080p. There is a good chance that the screen is perforated for acoustic transparency, and you may have been seeing the perforations or an interference pattern between the pixels and the perforations.

Some of the grain may be inherent in the source. I noticed a fair amount of variation at my local multiplex on a 4K system. Potentially some is also the result of dithering.

And lastly, stained or damaged screens are simply far too common. A lot of theater owners simply can't come up with the cash to replace damaged equipment.
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Old 06-22-2013, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
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thanks for the insights... kinda sad as I was hoping for a really nice viewing experience (and these tickets were $20 each). Do you know of any theatre technologies that are truly state of the art?

For example, if I saw an IMAX film, would that be guaranteed to have excellent resolution, color reproduction, cleanliness of image, etc (assuming good quality source)?
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Old 06-22-2013, 01:03 PM
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For hollywood productions, 4K is about as nice as you'll see (unless you are a stickler for super35). I couldn't differentiate between Sony's SXRD and everyone else's DLP.

Proper IMAX is 70mm prints, and they're so expensive that they are (in my experience) kept clean and nice. Most multiplex IMAX installations are just large screens that mimic IMAX in proportions and use digital projectors (probably 4K). They license the name, and that's about it. Most of the major multiplex chains have a premium version, but they may not actually outperform others - they are supposed to. I was disappointed the other day when I realized I had tickets to a standard showing of Man of Steel instead of the RPX with Dolby ATMOS.

www.regmovies.com/Theaters/RPX
www.amctheatres.com/etx
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Old 06-22-2013, 01:42 PM
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Old 06-22-2013, 10:20 PM - Thread Starter
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none of what is useful? Is UltraAVX bad?

(sorry I know next to nothing about theatre projection technology)
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Old 06-23-2013, 09:38 AM
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I just mean that I couldn't find any RPX or ETX theatres near Toronto - I'm not sure that Regal and AMC have any of their premium venues in Canada at all.

UltraAVX is the Cineplex version of premium theatre. They have one in Toronto at Scotiabank on Richmond Street West, currently showing World War Z, but notice it's only certain show times, because it's only one house specially calibrated and equipped. I haven't read any reviews or anything to know if it's worth the premium.

http://www.cineplex.com/Theatres/TheatreDetails/Scotiabank-Theatre-Toronto.aspx

Edit: scroll to the bottom of the link in the previous post to see the list of all the theatres in Ontario which feature an UltraAVX house. They have a bunch
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Old 06-23-2013, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
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ah thanks for clarification. Good to know, I'll keep an eye out for any movies I'm interested that are on UltraAVX smile.gif
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Old 10-12-2013, 12:28 PM - Thread Starter
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well, just saw gravity (3d) last night in ultra avx. Very good audio visual experience smile.gif

I see maybe three movies a year in the theatre, and have only just recently started paying attention to image and sound quality, so I can't give a comparison between the avx image quality and regular theatre quality.

But I do remember marveling at how much detail there was - not a hint of crush or clipping, and colors looked spot on.
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Old 10-12-2013, 12:56 PM
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I saw Gravity 3D last weekend at Atlanta's RPX theater (with Dolby ATMOS) - I agree; the movie looked and sounded great. I was surprised to read (unconfirmed) that everything was mastered at 2K.

That was my first experience with ATMOS, and I'll be surprised if Gravity doesn't win at least 1 sound-related academy award. I bet overall it gets at least 7 or 8 different nominations, and wins several.

Glad you weren't disappointed. smile.gif
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