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Art Walkin': First Friday

Monday, May 23, 2011

Some 3D Projectors are Making 2D Movies Look Terrible

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Mon, May 23, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Despite the risk of kicking off another "Film is better! No, digital is better!" squabble (stop looking at me, swan), I alert you to FilmDrunk's news that some digital projectors are dimming 2D films by up to 85 percent. Says the Boston Globe:

The uniting factor is a fleet of 4K digital projectors made by Sony—or, rather, the 3D lenses that many theater managers have made a practice of leaving on the projectors when playing a 2D 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.

There are always growing pains with new tech, but the dimness of some 3D presentations is crummy enough already without affecting 2D presentations too. Part of it's lazy/cheap theaters and projectionists not having their bulbs on full in order to save time/money; some of it's projectors—like the Sony ones in question—that, unless a lens is changed, suck out a bunch of the light; some of it's the fact that unless you're James Cameron and smart enough to make Avatar an almost hallucinogenically bright experience from the get-go in order to offset 3D's inherent dimness, 3D visuals usually come out looking muddy and shadowy. (The 3D screening of Pirates of the Caribbean 4,000 I saw over the weekend was so goddamn dim that it looked like I was watching a movie through sunglasses. Which I guess I was.)

But hey. Even though theater projection is getting less and less reliable, at least the DVD and Blu-ray market is thriving, right? Oh. Wait.

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