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Poor Picture At Your Local Cinema? 178

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the just-make-everything-three-dee dept.
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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Poor Picture At Your Local Cinema?

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  • by blair1q (305137) on Monday May 23, 2011 @02:37PM (#36220920) Journal

    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".

  • by Zenin (266666) on Monday May 23, 2011 @02:53PM (#36221090) Homepage

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2011 @03:57PM (#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.

  • by shadowrat (1069614) on Monday May 23, 2011 @04:15PM (#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.
  • by _xeno_ (155264) on Monday May 23, 2011 @05:21PM (#36222480) Homepage Journal

    Funny, because according to the article and a projectionist that actually offered his real name instead of posting anonymously, it's because of DRM.

    So why aren't theater personnel simply removing the 3-D lenses? The answer is that it takes time, it costs money, and it requires technical know-how above the level of the average multiplex employee. James Bond, a Chicago-based projection guru who serves as technical expert for Roger Ebert's Ebertfest, said issues with the Sonys are more than mechanical. Opening the projector alone involves security clearances and Internet passwords, "and if you don't do it right, the machine will shut down on you." The result, in his view, is that often the lens change isn't made and "audiences are getting shortchanged."

    That's right, according to James Bond, it's due to DRM.

    ...OK, so maybe saying "I'm taking the word of James Bond over someone who's anonymous" isn't quite the best way to phrase things, but well, that's really his name [youtube.com].

    Plus it's entirely possible you're talking about a different model of Sony projector, since this apparently affects only Sony projectors that were originally 2D-only but later retrofitted to be 3D.

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