Originally Posted by Gary McCoy
I have now seen the movie Avatar
four times, in three different 3D technologies, over a relatively short period of 4 weeks. I took notes, and these are my comparisons of the technology used.
I wear eyeglasses and just got new ones in mid-December, by the way. I always managed to find my preferred theater seat which is center of the upper section in a row where my eye level is mid-screen or just barely below mid-screen.
Viewing #1 - RealD 3D on a 2K projector and silver matte screen (CineArts Santana Row), mid-sized rectangular shaped theater with decent sound. Aspect Ratio 1.78:1.
Viewing #2 - IMAX Digital 3D (AMC Cupertino Square), mid-sized theater with double 2K projectors, white screen, and IMAX sound. Aspect Ratio 1.78:1.
Viewing #3 - RealD 3D on a bright Sony 4K projector (Camera 7 at the Pruneyard). Wedge-shaped large auditorium with a silver matte screen and killer THX-certified sound. Aspect Ratio 1.78:1.
Viewing #4 - Dolby Digital 3D on a 2K projector on a white screen (CineLuxe Plaza) with Dolby sound. Aspect Ratio 2.35:1.
Best 3D presentation : RealD 3D at the Camera 7. The large screen, bright 4K Sony projector, and large auditorium, all make for a great image. The screen illumination from the huge 4K projector was the brightest. The Digital IMAX brightness was close, but the differences are that IMAX was using two projectors on a different size of screen, so your brightness may vary in your particular theater. The RealD 3D on a 2K projector was still very decent. The Dolby 3D presntation was too dim for my tastes, and was also the only one of the four digital theaters that was projecting an AR of 2.35:1 - this caused some of the floating "seeds of Eywa" to be floating slightly offscreen above the theater seats, which I found distracting.
While I'm thinking abot it, the Dolby Digital 3D had one other problem that was distracting to me. The concave inner surface of the Dolby 3D glasses allowed me to see some light that was reflecting off of the shiny new front surface of the polycarbonate lenses of my eyeglasses. This amounted to a distraction - one I eventually overcame by tilting the overlying 3D glasses slightly downwards by lifting the flexy frame sidepieces slightly above my ears. This moved the light bar (which was actually a dim vertically-compressed reflected image) off of the screen area and overlaid it on the dark curtain above the screen, where I could ignore it.
Because of this problem, plus the fact that the Dolby glasses had been used and washed who knows how many times, and also displayed some fine scratches on both inner and outer surfaces, I award the Dolby 3D technology last place among the three. I will mention however that in a theater with a brighter projector, the Dolby technology could be competitive with the RealD 3D. The focus of the Dolby 3D image may have been the finest that I saw, and I have heard that this is typical, because the other two 3D technologies hang polarizers in front of the projector lenses, and the Dolby 3D filter is internal to the projector, before the lens.
The Red/Cyan filter technology that Dolby uses caused no color shifts that I could discern - these are not the old anaglyph glasses, far from it.
Best sound: The THX-certified sound system at the Camera 7, along with the great acoustics in the wedge-shaped auditorium, plus the perfect mix of absorptive and reflective surface treatments, all made for perfectly clear dialogue and immersive surround effects. The bass in this theater was also fully the equal of the IMAX theater, which also had very good audio. These two theaters were a step above the other two in audio quality.
All in all, if they have a 3D film I am interested in, I'm going to return to the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard. I have also seen several fine 2D films and digital movies there.
this is sloppy and rambling but dont wanna take forever posting this sorry
So far I've seen it at a film 3D IMAX 74' wide screen, on a decent but not particularly huge 2.34:1 screen using D3D and pretty decent sized 1.85 (with side bars to 1.78:1 for Avatar) digital IMAX screen.
I think you really want to sit close, DO NOT do the whole sit in the back for this! You want the screen to just extend past straight ahead vision in all directions so that you really feel like you are there. I wouldn't sit in any of the flat bottom tier seats if the theater has any, too close, you will see the grids and it will be just nasty even aside from that but I would sit no farther back than row 4 of the main stadium section.
I also think that you really want to sit absolutely dead center. My second showing, even though mid-afternoon, mid-week, got there a little late and got forced a little to the side and it doesn't work as well, the perspectives don't quite feel 100% natural and it also seems more like you are looking through (a slightly distorted) window instead of really being there.
The 3D IMAX theater (Palisades Nyack NY):
For some reason they appeared to only use at most 66' of the potential 74' width and maybe even a little less, maybe they just used their regular 2D bulb and it doesn't have enough light to fill the width for 3D??? maybe they don't want to burn out the film over a long run with many daily showings??? maybe they are not using the bulb they should be or didn't size it well for whatever reason??? has anyone else notice a real IMAX screen not using the full width for Avatar in 3D?). Probably had a little more motion blur than the digital showings. That said the final image was still a little larger and with the image centered a bit more above than below you that also enhanced the sense of scale and being there and well something about it gave me the best impression overall.
Dolby3D 2.34:1 moderate sized screen Reading Cinemas Manville, NJ:
I don't think 2.34:1 works as well for this movie in any case (although normally i do prefer 2.34:1) but particularly for 3D where I too noted some of the floating jellyfish and other objects that came out of the screen suddenly getting cut off and disappearing in awkward ways; additionally you'd need to sit crazy close in order for the screen to extend just past your periperhal vision vertically and that takes away a bit of the you are really on the planet feeling.
Despite the smallest of the three screens I've seen it on (wild guess 45'x19'???), the projection was the dimmest; theses glasses, uniquely, were a bit prone to internal relections (and i was wearing contacts NOT glasses under the 3D glasses); I couldn't help but get this odd feeling that something was slightly mismatched like the feeling you get from R/B glasses in that weird sort of way hard to describe; things didn't seem to come out of the screen as much. I mean it was still quite an experience but the smaller screen, worse glasses, 2.34:1 aspect ratio, the fact that D3D doesn't toss on as much light made it definitely the least impressive of the three. Volume was also truly ridiculously overly loud at this one (plus the speakers were not as good as at the IMAX or digital IMAX theater, if not terrible).
They have a coulple giant 70'x30' screens there too which are really awesome and those theaters are better in every way than the rest in that place, but D3D can't drive more than 54' or so screen size so they couldn't use it on their two huge screens.
AMC Rockaway, NJ digital IMAX:
looks like a 1.85:1 screen (for whatever reason they didnt go floor to ceiling and make it 1.78). They had to use tiny side bars, maybe 1' off each side in order to show Avatar at 1.78:1. Screen was pretty decent size, the old screen had been 57'x31' AFAIK and the new one is a bit bigger, I will take a wild guess at 61'x33'???
pretty good speaker system if a bit loud (as are most places these days which tend to induce pain during the loudest bits)
by far the brightest projection, highest contrast ratio and deepest blacks of three (although in some ways for this particular movie it maybe made some of the effects seem just a trace cartoonier and less realistic seeming compared to the slight dimmer, less contrasty film IMAX projection); anyway it was WORLDs brighter than the Dolby3D projection despite being on a noticeably larger screen (i read somewhere that Dolby3D and RealD3D don't put out as much light as digital IMAX and can only project up to screens at most 54' wide while digital IMAX can drive screens up to 70' and maybe even 74' wide)
they also have RealD3D on a decent size screen there, if not quite as large, using the Sony 4k projector (not that 3D delivers 4k to each eye!) but i haven't seen that so i can't comment on RealD3D
anyway it seems we agree about Dolby3D and we agree that 1.78:1 works better for this particular film, especially when seeing the 3D version
i'm shocked taht your digital IMAX theater wasnt as bright as the reald3d despite being on a smaller screen, from what I know that jsut shouldnt be the case and at my digital IMAX theater i mean it could not possibly have been brighter or more vibrant (for 3D)
SoCal probably has the highest density of really large, awesome screens anywhere in the US