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Poor Picture At Your Local Cinema?

Unknown Lamer posted more than 3 years ago | from the just-make-everything-three-dee dept.

Movies 178

The Hub writes "Have you ever noticed that the picture in your local movie theater is too dark or grainy? The Boston Globe does some good ol' fashioned investigative reporting to find the culprit. Apparently, the cause is linked to some 3D digital projectors requiring a technically challenging lens switch for 2D movies that sometimes doesn't happen."

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As another thread on a recent Sony article indicat (5, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36220808)

This is actually due to the fact that Sony digital projectors are so locked down with DRM that even changing the lens requires all kinds of password checks (which can potentially lock the camera down if not done correctly).

Sadly, this is one of the problems that digital projectors were *supposed* to fix. For years, it was a infamous practice for theater managers to extend projector bulb life by reducing the power of the lamp. Since most people don't notice (having no idea how the movie is *supposed* to look), they could get away with it. Roger Ebert in particular complained about [suntimes.com] this practice for decades (even organizing protests at certain theaters engaging in the practice). When digital projection came along, one of the selling points was that it produced a much more consistent image (and managers couldn't futz with it--reducing bulb strength, etc.).

Now, thanks to our good friends at Sony, it would seem like we're right back where we started from (maybe even worse, since this produces an even darker image than one of the celluloid projectors at half power).

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (5, Insightful)

oh-dark-thirty (1648133) | more than 3 years ago | (#36220952)

And it's not just picture issues, but as TFA mentioned there are sometimes sound problems that go uncorrected for long periods. I drastically reduced my movie-going years ago when I realized I could invest a few grand at home, and come pretty darn close to the theater experience, in some cases surpass it. If I'm paying $10-$15 for a movie ticket, I expect a properly calibrated projector and sound system. Oh and let's all be surprised at once that Sony locks down their pro equipment even tighter than the consumer shit.

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (2)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221124)

Not only that, but the advertisements have just become absolutely insane. I made the mistake of showing up to a movie on-time recently. And for the low-low price of a $10 ticket and $6 popcorn, I was treated to *20 minutes* of commercials and trailers (not including the slideshow at the beginning). After watching my second car commercial, I realized that I was giving up on theaters entirely. It's bad enough I have to skip through 6-7 trailers on every blu-ray I buy.

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (-1, Offtopic)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221212)


Please, for the health of your and your family, *never* eat theater food!

The popcorn is all genetically-modified faux-corn courtesy of Monsanto. The poor seating (and polarized lighting if a 3D movie) contribute to new mini vertebral subluxations which can grow into full grown subluxations if left untreated. Frankenfoods and 2 hours of sitting in a bath of polarized light are a sure way to take years off your life.

If you go the the theater a lot, I'd recommend visiting a Chiropractor who will be able to help with the subluxations before they become life-threatening.

Take care,
Bob

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221570)

There is no possible way that polarized light could cause or contribute to vertebral conditions. Sitting in a badly-upholstered chair for 2 hours might, but you're still a quack, and an idiot.

personally, I find Dr Bob fresh and amusing... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221660)

but you're still a quack, and an idiot.

or a successful troll.

Re:personally, I find Dr Bob fresh and amusing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36222110)

Thats what my guess is.

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (2)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221626)

Bob and a duck walk into a bar. The bartender says "We don't serve quacks in here". The duck turns to leave, and the bartender says "no, the duck can stay - it is that quack pretending to be a doctor that has to leave".

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221262)

I don't even skip trailers any more. Got myself a copy of AnyDVD HD and all my Blu-Rays go straight to the hard drive as a feature movie. I'll watch the Blu-Ray once for special features, they're rarely worth it though, and even then... I can rip the out-takes as well and not have to dick with the annoying menus and trailers and crap on media that I paid to have available any time.

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (3, Interesting)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221904)

maybe i'm weird, but i like trailers. In many cases, the trailers are better than the movie. You see a couple minutes of just the best parts and you get to use your imagination to weave together a cool story. I've often said i wouldn't mind sitting in a theater and watching an hour of trailers. I wouldn't want to pay for it though. If i could do it for free i think i'd find it preferable to seeing an actual movie. Actually i've done that plenty at home by piping hd quicktime trailers to my tv.

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (3, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221246)

When that happens, leave the movie, go to the manager's office, pound on the door, and raise a stink.

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36222312)

People go to the movies to have a good time. Raising a stink does not help with that. If the technical problems are severe, by all means raise a stink, but if they're tolerable, tolerate them and write a firm email later. No need to turn a mediocre evening into a bad one. You can escalate the complaint if the problem persists.

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (2)

EdZ (755139) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221284)

I've had missing channels, missing sub-bass (with everything turned up to the point of clipping to compensate), and one all-night film festival where the projectors were 4K, the source was BD, but everything was sent via 480p (i.e. one device in the chain had been configured incorrectly). What really pissed me off was that I actually went to the trouble of finding someone to radio the projection room and tell them both what was wrong and how to fix it, and have them do nothing.

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (2)

WeatherServo9 (1393327) | more than 3 years ago | (#36220962)

This is actually due to the fact that Sony digital projectors are so locked down with DRM that even changing the lens requires all kinds of password checks (which can potentially lock the camera down if not done correctly).

1) Camera?! er, not quite...that would be projector. 2) Why is this a DRM issue? It sounds like a (really bad) implementation issue. All the other projector models still have to deal with the same DRM (Hollywood is notoriously twitchy about this and there is no additional DRM on the Sony projectors that I've heard about...), but they don't have this issue when switching between 2D/3D films. The Sony 4K with Real D setup just isn't designed well from a usability point of view, and many modern multiplexes have shown they can screw up even the most basic of things. Also, it doesn't help that Real D needs a silver screen; that's a whole new source of image degradation that would be nice to do without (that's not unique to Sony).

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221062)

2) Why is this a DRM issue? It sounds like a (really bad) implementation issue. All the other projector models still have to deal with the same DRM (Hollywood is notoriously twitchy about this and there is no additional DRM on the Sony projectors that I've heard about...), but they don't have this issue when switching between 2D/3D films. The Sony 4K with Real D setup just isn't designed well from a usability point of view, and many modern multiplexes have shown they can screw up even the most basic of things.

From TFA:
"Sony provides projectors to the chains for free in exchange for the theaters dedicating part of their preshow ads to Sony products. Unfortunately, the 3-D boom took off in late 2009 and Sony had to come up with a retrofitted solution."
Sounds like the bad implementation is due to a quick hack that they've managed to push out to the theaters.

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221030)

To be fare, its not just Sony, but the whole market that wants DRM, passwords, and lockouts from digital sources. 4k projectors are too much for the common man today, but just imagine getting 4k content that is 4x the resolution of 2k HDTV. Drool.

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221438)

Does DRM cause Global Warming too? Look a lot of this is laziness or incompetence. Back in the 80s I went to matinees where they didn't bother to change the lens so the showing started out squeezed and I got to miss part of the movie while I complained to the manager. The problem was they'd mix up the trailers with one format to another so the trailers would be fine then the film itself would be compressed. They used to use professional projectionist but these days they tend to be guys that will work cheap. They are paying less in adjusted dollars for a guy handling a 12 plex than they used to for a guy working a single screen. That's the real problem here not DRM but the fact that even with $5 popcorn they don't want to pay much more than minimum wage for projectionist. It's amazing they don't try to pay them in popcorn.

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221768)

As someone who has actually operated a Sony 3D projector at an AMC theater, I can't believe a post this wrong got modded +5. DRM and lens changes have nothing to do with this problem; the 3D effect is created by an electronic polarization filter mounted on a dowel that swings in front of the projector lens to show a 3D movie. You can release the clamps and swing it out of the way in about 15 seconds.

The real problem lies in the fact that AMC hires the least common denominator to operate movie projectors and pays them barely above minimum wage so they don't do anything crazy like take pride in their product. I got out of there as soon as I could.

Re:As another thread on a recent Sony article indi (2)

airjrdn (681898) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222146)

They're Sony projectors? So it should be relatively trivial to hack them shouldn't it?

Fuck 3D (-1, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#36220846)

Mod up if you hate 3D movies.
Mod down if you're a moron.

Re:Fuck 3D (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36220882)

trying to get modded up for pointing out that people hate 3d?

Re:Fuck 3D (-1, Flamebait)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#36220926)

No, trying to get modded down to show that people are morons.

Re:Fuck 3D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221266)

I think you'll find it works the other way around... yes, 3D sucks. But you're a moron and deserve the mod downs.

Re:Fuck 3D (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221360)

No, trying to get modded down to show that people are morons.

Well, you've shown that one person is a moron.

Re:Fuck 3D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36220884)

Reply as AC if you don't give a crap.

Re:Fuck 3D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36220912)

Reply.

Re:Fuck 3D (1)

contenderX (2105130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36220972)

Twoply.

Re:Fuck 3D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221082)

I'm doing this wrong, oblivi-mod please.

Re:Fuck 3D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221354)

Threeply.

Re:Fuck 3D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221476)

foreplay

No (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 3 years ago | (#36220866)

But then, I might not be going blind from a lack of a girlfriend. jk

Lots of theater problems actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36220910)

Lots of problems with the local cinema's actually.

Sound problems. Buzzing or ground hums in one or more speakers.
Focus issues.
Oversold theaters.
Kiddos running rampant in the isles. Talking, crying, screaming, etc.
Others on their phone, texting or gaming.
$12USD + for a single ticket to a 3D show
Won't even go into concession stand prices

Wait for the DVD or stream it via your favorite service when it comes out. My speakers work perfectly
as does the TV I watch it on. None of the aforementioned issues to contend with.

Re:Lots of theater problems actually (3, Funny)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221232)

I've actually given up on theaters, and watch movies at home. Too much noise, smartphone glare, impolite people...

On one of my last outings, someone actually smoked a joint, which at least was fun, and quite in the spirit of the movie. Then he started to loudly get into the film, which was also fun, especially since the film was quite bad.

Re:Lots of theater problems actually (2)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221234)

That is one blessing about Austin: The Alamo Drafthouse.

No kids (except clearly marked "baby day" shows.)
Real beers on tap.
People yapping on cellphones get escorted out.
People texting get escorted out.

And who cares about focus after 2-3 brews anyway.

Re:Lots of theater problems actually (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221280)

We've got some of those theaters here in Denver, too. It's nice. The only problem is half the seating is barstool-style, which doesn't lend itself to movie watching.

Re:Lots of theater problems actually (2)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221376)

Amen. And now that I have 3D, no need to go to the theater any more for anything. I can wait until shows hit Blu-Ray.

No cell phones. No kids. No sticky floors. No people absentmindedly kicking your seat. No people around you talking or babies crying. No outrageous prices for snacks.

The theaters have done this to themselves.

Better linked to firing the projector operators. (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36220914)

To save costs, most theaters do not have a projector operator on staff anymore. So little or no corrections are made for different films.

Re:Better linked to firing the projector operators (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222176)

And yet if you watch closely you will notice the advertisements are always in absolutely perfect critical focus, but the feature film is inevitably severely front- or back-focused,

Good ol' fashioned what? (1, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36220920)

I read that story earlier. It doesn't sound so much like investigative journalism as it does like local projectionists raised a shitty on a reporter's answering machine and the reporter recast the rant in story form, plus a couple of phone calls.

Investigative journalism would have got more out of Sony and the theater owners before going to press.

And yes, Sony has been screwing the pooch on all fronts (audio gear, online security, production, projection) for the past several years. Their corporate culture has become one of doing things cheap. They may no longer have any idea what "quality" means beyond the narrow ISO 9000 version of "every unit matches the spec".

Re:Good ol' fashioned what? (4, Informative)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221078)

Investigative journalism would have got more out of Sony and the theater owners before going to press.

Did you even RTFA? Here's the relevant paragraph:

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.’’

They contacted people. The right people, in the case of AMC. All these people uniformly shut the hell up, because that's what corporate executives are trained to do when there's a controversy that would cost them money to fix (yes, changing the lenses would be a big expense for these theaters.) They've been given their chance, and now that they've established there's a stone wall of silence, it's time for the reporter to let the story out. If it pisses off the fickle moviegoing audiences even more, well, the theater owners had their chance to speak.

Maybe this story will get them to set a policy to change lenses. Or maybe it won't. When you consider the dreck that so many of these movies are, counting on the taste of the moviegoing public to concern themselves over projection quality seems unrealistically optimistic.

Re:Good ol' fashioned what? (2, Informative)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221236)

The person who answers the phone at N places said "I can't let you speak to him" and one guy said "I don't know" in a fancy way.

I did more "investigation" by opening /. this morning.

The things I read between the lines of TFA were:

1. this story is biased towards the rants of the projectionists (rightly or wrongly)

2. the moviegoer can't tell without comparing, even if the difference is huge, and almost no moviegoer has a reason to try comparing; everyone forgets how we put up with 4:3 and NTSC for 60 years without feeling shortchanged; our issues with quality are generally with the idea that someone somewhere is getting better quality for the same price, not that we have a clue what is or isn't appropriate de facto quality

3. the reporter didn't hound anyone or camp out in the lobby or sneak in anywhere or pore through secret documents to dig up the dirt, he just made a few phone calls, talked face-to-face with those who likely brought him the story in the first place, and eye-witnessed what anyone on the street could have seen just by looking.

4. the corporate types who actually do have insight into the problem don't seem to have any insight into the problem, hence maybe that one guy is just more out of the loop than he thinks. it happens. half of my chain of command wouldn't know what my main job function is, and i'm not an invisible presence around here.

5. the problem is a snafu in the specification of an item that was demanded heavily (did you see how much money Avatar made? as shitty a movie as it was? all attributed to 3D) and rushed to production. fixing the problem in the field is exacerbated by another problem that has intense corporate policy interest (piracy of digital content); the problem isn't affecting bottom line yet, so it won't get fixed soon.

Re:Good ol' fashioned what? (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221706)

Being that most of the theaters around me are either harkins or amc, I'd like a more comprehensive list of suspect theaters myself... maybe yelp, who knows.

and I thought it was the flaws of digital cameras (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#36220934)

Digital cameras are criticized for low dynamic range, especially in dark light scenes,
lower spatial resolution, like smke or sharp edges,
lower temporal resolution, like splashing water scenes, etc.
A good camera man or director can work around these flaws.

Re:and I thought it was the flaws of digital camer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221158)

Except movies aren't usually shot with digital cameras, yes, even new ones.

Re:and I thought it was the flaws of digital camer (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221274)

Almost all new movies are shot with digital cameras. The image is sometimes post-processed to make it look more filmish. Using a film camera now is a special setup for a special effect.

Re:and I thought it was the flaws of digital camer (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221514)

Almost all new movies are shot with digital cameras. The image is sometimes post-processed to make it look more filmish. Using a film camera now is a special setup for a special effect.

Eh.. you're both sort of right. Your conflict is coming from the words 'usually' or 'almost all'. It's closer to 50/50 with digital gaining every year. It's also fairly common to use both on a show.

Re:and I thought it was the flaws of digital camer (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221420)

I have to admit that I haven't checked the specs of commercial digital movie cameras but can tell you that with most CCDs the dynamic range is way bigger than with film.

If they don't digitize with enough bits, or throw bits away, or the compression is too extreme, you can lose dynamic range.

Easy (0)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 3 years ago | (#36220938)

Is there a technical reason that changing the lens on the projector cannot be as easy as changing the lens on a camera?

Also, how does making lens changes difficult help sony?

Re:Easy (3, Insightful)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221028)

Profits.
Introducing DRM into component swapping is intended to eliminate third-party replacement parts, thus allowing the manufacturer to completely control the product cycle, and allowing them to charge any price for replacement parts.

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221050)

No, there's no technical reason. It's a software issue -- the several layers of password protection required to change the lens, with the real chance that the system might lock you out and shut itself down. It wasn't a deliberate decision by Sony to make things difficult -- the projectors were built right before the 3D boom came along, and the current setup is a retrofitted kludge.

Not so easy (was: Re:Easy) (4, Interesting)

Zenin (266666) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221090)

From the article these Sony lenses are retrofits to existing hardware.

The assumption then is that the original lenses were not meant to be regularly changed, which makes sense: Traditionally a theater projector lenses is selected and calibrated for the throw and screen size of the venue...then effectively never touched again. In that situation there's no reason not to have the entire projector effectively "locked down". It's both a DRM issue but also a "don't let the local moron theater manager goof up the finely calibrated projector settings".

3D caught them off guard. Replacing those projectors entirely would be ungodly expensive. There already existed an ability to replace the lens, which technically was all that is required to show 3D. The method to do so was never designed to be easy, however.

So the choices:
1) Scrap hundreds of millions of dollars worth of almost new projection equipment for a completely new "Now with 3D!" design.
2) Supply a replacement lens and instructions (albeit complex instructions).

From a business perspective it's an easy choice. Don't blame Sony, blame the non-sense that is the 3D fad.

Re:Not so easy (was: Re:Easy) (1)

asdfghjklqwertyuiop (649296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221478)

Don't blame Sony, blame the non-sense that is the 3D fad.

Or blame sony for the DRM that makes changing the lenses more complicated than it needs to be?

I get what Sony was trying to do... (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222152)

As mentioned above, the lens changing was probably viewed as a once only setup feature. I'm betting that getting into 'bios' like features on a projector is protected with passwords to keep the monkeys ($10/hr teenagers) from playing the the multi-million dollar projectors and trying to 'fix' them when they need minor adjustments. Changing a lens probably only requires a changing a option from '2d mode' to '3d mode' in a calibration menu, but it is part of the system that is locked for everyone but admins.

Would you, if you were a corporate IT admin, let your end users go into their bios and change cpu clock speeds if they wanted to, or would you lock them out of everything for simplicity sake?

Re:Not so easy (was: Re:Easy) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221498)

'old fashioned' celluloid projectors are made to easily switch lenses. Movies usually came either in scope, or flat, requiring a lens and aperture change, as well as the matting and screen shape adjusted. It's a very simple change that takes no more than a few minutes to do. I was a projectionist in high school at a locally owned low-priced theater and often we did everything possible to extend bulb life and to cut corners. Matinee tickets cost 4 bucks; we made our money from selling popcorn, not movie tickets.

Re:Not so easy (was: Re:Easy) (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221548)

Don't blame Sony, blame the non-sense that is the 3D fad.

3D is a fad again because it's DRM for theatres. Pretty hard to make a decent cam of a 3D film. (not that cams were any good to begin with.)

Re:Not so easy (was: Re:Easy) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221736)

tape one of the polarizing lenses out of the glasses over the lens?

Re:Not so easy (was: Re:Easy) (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221788)

Easier still... dedicate a portion of theater space to 3d-only showings, and not worry about lense changes... I've been watching more movies in 3d at the theater not because I enjoy it that much more, I can't even lean to the side while watching now... but because there might be something interesting, or it might be done well. Avatar was about the best use of 3d I've seen so far, though a mediocre movie at best... hopefully it gets better. That said, I have no intention of getting it in my living room for a long while. Part of going out to the movies is a giant screen, short of 60" in the living room won't compare, and though kind of anal about sound and video I'm not nearly that spendy with it.

Re:Not so easy (was: Re:Easy) (0)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221806)

I like choice 3 better

3) scrap Fake3D movies until actual 3D holography is invented. so that the entire population can actually watch your films, instead of just a part of it.

Re:Easy (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221364)

Yes. The technical reason is called "Sony DRM".

reign of terrorist weapons peddlers finished (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36220966)

no more fatal billionerrors. doesn't matter what bad sic-fi crap they've yet to perpetrate, it's over for them, today, on making up for/to ourselves & those our negligence (allowing/paying for WMD style wars) had harmed. the most harm of all comes to the most innocent, so ending it will make is all feel better right away, 'weather' permitting

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGb7Bs1OdtI

diaper leaks group world wide disarmament mandate (bm)

What I don't get is (1)

CTU (1844100) | more than 3 years ago | (#36220992)

why passwords and such are needed to change the lens and how was it set up like that?

Tho I wish the article went into more detail about the issue also how to tell the difference between a movie being shown in 2D with a 3D lens and a just naturally dark source.

Re:What I don't get is (2)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221152)

Tho I wish the article went into more detail about the issue also how to tell the difference between a movie being shown in 2D with a 3D lens and a just naturally dark source.

"They’re not doing that, and there’s an easy way to tell. If you’re in a theater playing a digital print (the marquee at the ticket booth should have a “D’’ next to the film’s name), look back at the projection booth.
If you see two beams of light, one stacked on top of the other, that’s a Sony with the 3-D lens still in place. If there’s a single beam, it’s either a Sony with the 3-D lens removed or a different brand of digital projector, such as Christie or Barco."

Re:What I don't get is (5, Informative)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221318)

why passwords and such are needed to change the lens and how was it set up like that?

The 3-D lens is mounted inside the case. The password is needed to allow you to open the case, because once the case is open you could get at the digital signal and steal it.

Why they coupled these is a small mystery, the most likely solution to which is that Sony's engineers did what was easy to implement instead of what was easy to use.

So they are trying to boost the home theatre (1)

H3lldr0p (40304) | more than 3 years ago | (#36220996)

Why else would they be crippling themselves by making going to the movies even worse than it was before? It certainly can't be because they're making tons of money by showing the films to begin with. And it certainly isn't because of skyrocketing ticket and concession stand prices. Or that they're fighting to keep calorie counts [consumerist.com] off the menus.

They'd have a good reason for making people not want to go, right? Right?

Re:So they are trying to boost the home theatre (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221100)

It's just the standard capitalist optimization process - find the lowest-cost solution - and thereby lowest quality - that people are still willing to endure, then run with that for best profit. The market does not optimize for best quality, but for the best quality/cost ratio that will be tolerated. Which, to no big surprise, mostly ends up being utter crap. The basic failure of the whole free market theory is that it assumes rational actors. People at large are not rational actors, though.

Re:So they are trying to boost the home theatre (1)

speculatrix (678524) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221356)

I would add that an efficient free market economy requires both the buyer and the sellers to have sufficient information about their activities that they can optimise their buying or selling according to their requirements... i.e buy and sell on cost, quality, quantity etc.

However, many consumers are ignorant, and corporate sales relies on their ignorance and thereby charge for perceived value which is not actually there. For example, Monster Cable, who have been shown to offer no performance improvement for their price premium.

Re:So they are trying to boost the home theatre (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221386)

Well, yeah - that's what I am aiming at. You are absolutely right that besides the point of rationality I was talking about, complete information on both sides, in a symmetric manner, is quite essential to free markets to work. Obviously, that is not the case either.

I have noticed this well before digital and 3d (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221042)

Really though you pay out the nose for this experience and projection just is not up to par, especially now days where you might sit 2 foot away from a HD screen all day then walk into a movie theatre.

Pre-3D? (5, Insightful)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221092)

How about explaining why the picture sucked at my local cinema before this 3D craze took off?

Re:Pre-3D? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221368)

Because projectionists, although they are presenting themselves now as a guild of skilled artisans, are really just one step above convenience-store clerks in their value as skilled labor. And theater owners haven't given a crap hardly ever.

Re:Pre-3D? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221432)

It's sort of a bipartite thing: All those projectionists who are, in fact, a guild of skilled artisans were priced out and either fired or went indy. Their replacements are whichever of the convenience-store clerks who remain to sell tickets and popcorn seem least likely to damage anything important, with perhaps an outside contract call if something is simply too fucked up to ignore.

Re:Pre-3D? (1)

markxz (669696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221732)

After being made redundant by an small chain arthouse cinema (due to digitisation) and moving to a multiplex (run by a major chain) I find the lack of standards in the projection department depressing.

It was the equivalent of moving from working as a chef in a decent restaurant, to working for Mcdonalds.

Anyway, it won't be long until all the 35mm projectors are ripped out and replaced by Sony digital projectors.

Re:Pre-3D? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221896)

from working as a chef in a decent restaurant, to working for Mcdonalds

To the employee it may have felt that way. To the outside world it was a McDonald's cook being replaced by a machine.

Every elementary school has an AV club full of 4th-6th graders who can do what projectionists can do.

There was never an art to it, and the goals were minimal: sharp focus, clean lens, clear sound, and synchronization.

Any half-assed chef would chase you down the street with a cleaver if you called him just a projectionist of food.

Re:Pre-3D? (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221390)

How about explaining why the picture sucked at my local cinema before this 3D craze took off?

The article did mention another practice that was somewhat common at theaters doing film projection: extend the life of the projector bulb by not lighting it at full intensity...

3D ruins 2D? (1)

archer, the (887288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221104)

I saw Thor in 3D and was really distracted by the poor 3D. I was still charged $12.50 for the privilege of not enjoying the show. Now they can't be bothered to get back to 2D correctly? The local theaters won't be getting my money again soon.

Re:3D ruins 2D? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221148)

How do you know if it is your local theater has the issue with poor 2d. The bad 3d is the movie makers fault. I remember liking Shrek 3d but hating Tron. But if the bad 2d is due to human error you probably should check to see if your local theater makes the mistake or not.

Re:3D ruins 2D? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221952)

I saw Thor in 3D and was really distracted by the poor 3D. I was still charged $12.50 for the privilege of not enjoying the show.

Wow..where do you live that a movie is THAT expensive???

Re:3D ruins 2D? (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222086)

Wow, where do you live where $12.50 for 3D is considered expensive?

3D gets a price premium.

Oh, and in LA and NY (and probably the Bay Area) $12-$15 for *2D* is par for the course. IMAX and 3D cost even more.

Why do I need to go to the theater? (3, Insightful)

Craig Maloney (1104) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221142)

Gee, so on top of the projector problems, I have the various annoyances from people not behaving properly in the theater, possible sound-quality issues, and an overall sub-par experience. Or I could just wait for it to come out on DVD, and watch it at home, where I know the quality of the TV, DVD player, and sound system. And I can pause it if I need to take a potty break.

So what's the benefit to me for seeing it in the movie theater?

(And no, 3D is not a benefit because my wife gets splitting headaches from watching 3D movies).

Re:Why do I need to go to the theater? (0)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221430)

Because you don't have a 100ft wide screen with more than 7 channels (movie theaters have many more channels than 7).

I bet you also listen to your iPod rather than going to see a musician live...

Re:Why do I need to go to the theater? (1)

Craig Maloney (1104) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221814)

Music and Movie reproduction are all about trade-offs. I'd love for Rush to play an intimate concert in my living room, but unfortunately they're currently busy in Europe, so I have to settle for seeing them live when I can, and playing their CDs when they're not available. It's a compromise I can live with. I rip all of my CDs to .FLAC because I want the best possible sound. That's a compromise I can't live without.

Unfortunately, the movie theater owners are making compromises for me by not changing the lenses of their equipment to suit the film. To me, that's one more agitation to seeing a movie in the theater. Having to deal with schedules, other inconsiderate people, and high ticket prices means additional trade-offs. Would that I could have a larger screen with theater sound systems at home, would that satisfy your requirement for me to watch a movie? Or is there something special about the whole theater-going experience that somehow transcends the hardware of that experience? I'm perfectly content with the compromises of my home setup, as are many other folks for whom even a small iPad is adequate for movie watching.

I just hope the movie theater hasn't compromised your theater-going experience without your knowledge. At least I know where my compromises are.

Theater sound is very often subpar (1)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221880)

The picture quality is often poor too.

Because you don't have a 100ft wide screen with more than 7 channels (movie theaters have many more channels than 7).

I bet you also listen to your iPod rather than going to see a musician live...

Since your technical arguments aren't valid you throw in an ad hominem attack. I guess you're not going for any positive moderations, and that's ok.

Turns out you don't need a 100ft screen if you sit closer to it - like you can in your own home. We have a 108" picture from our projector and it is a better picture than I've seen in a number of the local theaters.

The number of channels is irrelevant if they are not set up properly. Even as recently as a couple of months ago I've sat through muddy sound in a theater. It's not like I live out in the middle of nowhere either, there are a lot of theaters in the area so you'd think they'd want to stay on top of their game to compete with each other.

Pretty much all decent modern surround sound receivers will do automatic calibration - if the theaters did this too, we'd probably be much happier theatergoers. My receiver supports 11.2, which is in fact more than 7 channels, and it wasn't expensive. Our low frequency setup is the envy of our audiophile friend, and it wasn't expensive either.

As it is now, we only go the theaters as a social occasion with friends.

Re:Why do I need to go to the theater? (1)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222004)

Because you don't have a 100ft wide screen with more than 7 channels

I also don't sit back 20 rows and 200 feet from the screen. Size is relative.

(movie theaters have many more channels than 7).

Care to substantiate that? Many more isn't an exact number, but IMAX for instance just uses 6 discrete tracks. If 6 is good enough for IMAX, why is "many more" really necessary?

Re:Why do I need to go to the theater? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36222224)

It's not. Your ideal speaker would actually be a single point source.

Re:Why do I need to go to the theater? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36222010)

Because watching a movie is like being there live?

Re:Why do I need to go to the theater? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221472)

You're missing out on the 800% markup on popcorn.

Re:Why do I need to go to the theater? (1)

zigmeister (1281432) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221602)

I hadn't gone to much more than 1 movie a year (Ironman and I couldn't even remember the others, mediocre obviously) for the past couple of years being underwhelmed with well most of the products, the prices steadily going up, so on.

So recently I've been trying to make an effort to see more flicks and I did go to two recently, and these problems immediately stood out to me:
1) The picture is kinda grainy, it isn't a dealbreaker for me but for what they're charging it's definitely annoying
2) The sound is just loud enough to make my ears hurt. I mean if they just turned it down a bit it'd be fine but at least till your drawn into the film it's a huge detractor for me, I guess I could sit in the back but it's all surround sound anyways right?
3) Maybe it's just inflation but the prices seem to be a bit high, even the matinee isn't all that cheap, but also not a dealbreaker

Well I guess I wouldn't care if I about the price or get too picky about picture quality if I had a good time, but films continue to underwhelm and the sound continues to be too damn high. Also I'm only in my mid-20s so it's not like I'm some old geezer going on about kids and their new fangled noise. Oh well maybe I'll try to do more outdoors stuff instead, more personal too.

Dealing with Mr. Spoiler (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221686)

So what's the benefit to me for seeing it in the movie theater?

One benefit is not running the risk of having your friends, who did see it in the movie theater, spoil the big plot twist.

Re:Dealing with Mr. Spoiler (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221946)

If a movie isn't worth seeing twice - when you've had all the spoilers - then it's not really worth seeing once. Especially not at today's prices.

Re:Why do I need to go to the theater? (1)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222172)

This is why I don't go to theaters.

I remember when the Dark Knight came out. I had just watched Batman Begins on Blu-ray, and it came with a preview of the Dark Knight which was basically just the opening bank sequence from the final movie.

After seeing that on my somewhat crappy and small HDTV, you'd think that seeing it on the big screen would be a big improvement. Nope.

The color was worse, the image was worse, and some idiot had decided that PG-13 movie was the perfect place to bring his young children.

Now, I'm sure that part of that has to do with this specific theater using the "old" film tech (remember, the Dark Knight was released in 2008, so this predates the Sony projectors in the article), but, honestly? Why would I bother with that.

So I don't. Instead I have a NetFlix subscription. The picture may be smaller, the sound may not be quite as surround, but damn it, I don't care.

Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221204)

Nope picture looks just fine, and I have 20/15 vision.

One more nail in the coffin? (4, Insightful)

eth1 (94901) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221228)

So, let's recap again:
Home theatre:
- Better sound (always in the sweet spot)
- Better, cheaper food
- Alcohol, if inclined
- No cell phones
- No lines
- No noisy neighbors
- Can pause for bathroom breaks and food refills
- More comfortable seats
- and now better picture

Cinema:
- New releases available immediately
- Can go with large group
- 3D (I already wear glasses, so this isn't necessarily an advantage)

HT costs a lot up-front, but once you have it, you'll use it a lot - especially considering it works for TV and gaming. (My setup would take about 125 cinema trips for two to break even)

Re:One more nail in the coffin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221378)

my god, you can't drink alcohol in the cinema? Why does anyone bother going?

Re:One more nail in the coffin? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221518)

And while home theatre costs a lot up front, a basic TV / DVD player set does not, making the cinema an even worse deal. You may not get quite as zoned out as you would in your home theatre, but that's not really a bad thing.

Re:One more nail in the coffin? (1)

eth1 (94901) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221818)

Not to mention that the biggest cost of a home theatre is good speakers, which, treated properly will last a very long time.
My "next" home theatre will probably only cost 20-30% of the current setup.

It's not a 3D lense (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221402)

It's a 2D copy-making port, it's where you attach the camera.

The Money is in 3D (2)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221520)

The industry has decided to make this commitment for DRM (harder to copy in 3D theater with a video recorder) and margin reasons (higher ticket prices). The problem is that the 2D versions with the right lens look brighter and, in some cases, much better. The solution is never show the brighter 2D version. Of course, it cost money to change lenses, too. Bottom line, there in no incentive for the industry to go back to 2D anything, except that, maybe, people will not go to see dark screens.

Re:The Money is in 3D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221834)

'3D' is a fad, like the last two times similar things were pushed onto consumers (and failed) in the past, it will fade away again.

Just watched Thor (2)

glittermage (650813) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222138)

This morning a group of us watched Thor & one member of our group who had seen the movie in 3D IMAX said our 2D version was horrible and dark, probably by 33%. We thought this team member was nuts & now this article pops up. Interesting.

Why I don't much bother with theaters anymore (2)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222216)

I go to the local movie theater maybe once or twice a year, and every time I go I'm reminded why the trips are so infrequent. The 20-30 minutes of advertisements and garbage before the show are bad enough, but as far as I'm concerned, digital cinema looks like crap. It's a jagged, aliased mess that's nowhere near the clarity of good film, there's enough ghosting to be a distraction, and I swear I've seen what looks like compression artifacting in fast action scenes that are heavy on red/blue. And now you have these dumb brightness issues. I can get lousy picture quality in the comfort of my own home for much less than the cost of a movie ticket. Plus I can hit the pause button to get up and pee.

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