Tag Archives: critics

3D Wonders

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s desperation plea: Movie biz needs to make movies that look good in 3-D | The Big Picture | Los Angeles Times – Patrick Goldstein
WSJ – Clash of the Titans | Full-bodied takedown
2 articles already commented on Decline and Fall: 3D takes some knocks
Forbes’ Dorothy PomerantzShow Me the Money blog, described Katzenberg’s answer to his critics 

It is easy to agree and disagree with the 3D-bashing. First, this is another case of a technology’s sausage making evolving in public. Usually the steps progress logically. In the case of cinema 3D, Avatar showed what could be done 6 years in advance of what might have happened if natural progression had taken place. This affected all aspects from acquisition and post, and customer perception. Suddenly the bar is set high and movies still in post-production looked 2nd (or 3rd) rate in comparison. Upon these, people are making their judgement.

The part that Cameron didn’t handle was exhibition, though it is said that he tried to arrange for different master prints into auditoriums that could put out more light…which would have been splendid, because there is still a major technical problem of getting enough light to the eyes with 3D, which presents many implications that journalists just skim over (at best). But one point can’t be argued against; there are fewer reasons to forgive the evolution excuse when cinemas are charging extra for the experience, leaving them open to complaints. 

None of the professional critics have room to mention that the cinemas are spending 20 to 30 thousand for the extra 3D portion of the DCinema equipment, plus glasses, plus glasses cleaning equipment, plus the personnel to distribute and clean the glasses. Perhaps that isn’t being explained well by the professional marketeers, but the critic’s research should have figured this out. 

One the other hand, that some cinemas are using silver screens for 3D is just a horror in the making. These screens are made so that some seats get an optimum amount of light. Those outside of this “sweet spot”, which can be the majority of seats, see an inferior picture – a picture with so little light that it causes problems which have not been well researched, and about which people merely generalize.

That the cinemas are then showing 2D movies on these screens should get the SMPTE police on their tails, as well as invoke sanctions if the cinema has a VPF agreement which compels them to follow the DCI specs that call for uniform light across the screen beginning with 48 candela (14 foot Lamberts) in the center. (They are lucky if they get 10 candela now (3.5 ft/L).) As technical articles demonstrate, sitting anywhere off center … or even in the wrong rows depending on the slant of the projector and the screen … makes the already dark 3D image intolerable. People should get a discount instead of being charged more if they are in the wrong areas. See: 23 degrees…half the light. 3D What?

Laser Illuminated Projection Association (LIPA)

The real news of the month has been laser systems. First was an announcement that Laser Light Engines, LLC has received significant financing, including from the IMAX group, for taking their now working products to production. Then Kodak started inviting people to see their system – doubtlessly timed to get people as they went to ShowEast next week. Kodak are not only working to change the source of light, they are changing the entire light block. Their hope is that they can allow standard lenses in the digital cinema projector, knocking off a significant amount of the cost of the dcinema system. And, like with all laser systems, the energy waste a lot less than with the xenon bulbs in standard use.  

And finally, Sony is being shy, but showing that they will have cards to play…which was already obvious 18 and 12 months ago when they went public with their laser announcement(s). (The Science Of The Laser Projector | Sony Insider) There are other rumors of other companies that Sony might be working with – c’est possible. The news though is that they are working publicly to get the standards group that deals with lasers (The US Food and Drug Administration…go figure…) to create a new category named Laser-illuminated Projection. That, instead of the category that laser light shows are under.

Sony, Imax Tout Lasers in Cinema – 3D Cinecast/WSJ
Laser Light Engines gets IMAX funding– Putting Light on the Subject

The article above gives quotes and also points out that increasing light levels will be good for 3D. One can’t have an article about digital cinema without talking about 3D. But it is true, though not the main point.

What that Wall Street Journal article doesn’t mention, and why lasers are mentioned in this 3D article, is not due to the light increase – which will come incrementally and at great pain to the mastering process and exhibition community trying to keep up with even more changes – but rather because lasers won’t need Z-screens or fancy spinning wheels from RealD or MasterImage to make the photons spin in alternating patterns. Giving photons a rotation state is inherent in the capabilities of the laser technology. [Maintaining the rotation state still requires a silver screen, which implies bright spots and dark spots and color shift of the picture depending on where you sit. Perhaps getting more light will allow silver screens with less gain, which might mitigate their most egregious features. But like many things, this requires research – and everyone is busy with the niggling details of keeping up with growth and complying with a change toward international standards after years of transitional standards.]

MasterImage, who also had a press release this month about taking more space at Hollywood’s Raleigh Studios, and RealD are really in a fight for a piece of the home cinema 3D market…as is XpanD. The professional market has been important, and an incredible financial, political and technical operation, but if they win a segment of a growing consumer market, they could afford to lose professional cinema. At this time, the active glasses solution seem to be winning, but the race will be long and the first technology hurdles are just being overcome. Perhaps it will become easier to glue a lens to the front of the screen with enough precision that it won’t subtract from the quality and add too much to the cost, which is what is needed for the passive glasses systems. Then cheap glasses will have a chance. In today’s economy, no one stands a chance…except perhaps for THX, who notably has announced the first THX Certified 3D TV.

YouTube – CEDIA Expo 2010 – What is THX 3D Certification on the LG PX990/PX950 Plasma TVs?
YouTube – LG electronics introduces first 3D TV certified by THX

To MasterImage’s credit, and contrary to the important point in the critics criticisms of 3D in the cinema, MasterImage announced glasses that fit the faces of kids. RealD announced that they were releasing kid sized glasses for Toy Story 3. One wonders how many theaters are making this change? What a scandal that it has taken this long for developers and cinema chains, who up until now have grouped all viewers as if they had the same interpupillary distance, but thankfully that is changing. I still would recommend taking a piece of foam to cushion the bridge of the nose from the plastic, but that’s just me. 

Our picture of a recommendation is in the article:
RealD and Polaroid — Possible Promise PR

Good luck to us all.