3D Vision Blog

A normal user's look into the world of 3D Stereo Technologies

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Finding the Right 3D Cinema Theatre that is Close to You

December 22nd, 2009 · 2 Comments · Other S3D Tech


There are already quite a lot of different technologies when we are talking about watching 3D movies in cinemas as I already talked in the What to Choose: IMAX 3D versus RealD versus Dolby 3D for 3D Movies? post. And quite often when you are choosing a 3D cinema it is also a matter of what is closer to you, especially now in the winter with all the snowy and cold weather, everyone is lazy enough not to have to travel a lot to go to a far away cinema. So why not look around with the help of your PC and find the closest IMAX 3D, RealD, Dolby 3D or even XpanD 3D cinema you can visit… of course if there is any of these available near you. So here is a short list of the website where you can check the availability of 3D cinema theater that is close to you…

The official IMAX website has a very convenient cinema locator, based on Google Maps to overlay the exact location of the theater. There is a convenient search box that will help you locate your country or city and see the availability of IMAX theaters there. You can view all IMAX cinemas near you, including the 3D theaters and even see some that are going to be opened soon (if there are any near by). The information in the list is quite up to date, so you should not have trouble looking for something that simply isn’t there…

The theater locator for RealD 3D cinemas is not that good and it seems to be a bit outdated and not containing all the latest installations, but still it is a good place to check. If you live in the USA you can just enter your Zip code to quickly find the nearest locations. If not you’ll have to click on the continent, then the specific country and they you’ll see the the available cinemas (if any), but no detailed map… just the address when you over over the RealD icon. There is however a map it button with external link to Yahoo maps for detailed map…

Dolby 3D
Dolby’s approach also relies on Google Maps with easier multifunctional search box that allows you to quickly find your exact location. There are bigger blue icons showing the Dolby 3D cinema concentration with numbers, when you are viewing the bigger scale maps, that transform into green icons with exact addresses on the map when you zoom in enough. Up to date information and easy to find and you usually have more than one choice in smaller countries unlike with IMAX 3D, and a lot of the newer 3D cinema complexes seem to prefer that technology over the other alternatives.

Finally we come to the XpanD 3D cinemas that are still not that many compared to the others, but some people claim them to be superior to other technologies for 3D (I personally still haven’t seen a movie in such). The XpanD worldwide map of locations is the least convenient, because you just select the continent and see a list of cinemas grouped by the countries in the respective continent. There are no links to official websites or even the addresses of these cinemas, you are on your own to find all the locations having just one name to look for. Not very convenient and useful, you might be even more successful directly searching for XpanD cinema in your location with Google for instance…

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What to Choose: IMAX 3D versus RealD versus Dolby 3D for 3D Movies?

December 18th, 2009 · 107 Comments · 3D Movies & Videos


Lately this has become a big question for a lot of people, especially when considering where to go and watch James Cameron’s 3D blockbuster Avatar, and the questions has crossed my mind too, considering that there are cinemas with all of the three major 3D technologies where I live too. So here is a quick and short comparison between the three major solutions used in 3D movie theaters worldwide, along with information on which one I personally prefer, but you are also more than welcome to share your personal preferences along with the WHYs…

This one is the oldest of the three standards that is famous mostly because of the very big screens present in these cinemas, but they are still not very widely available around the world with most of the IMAX cinemas present in USA. Up until very recently IMAX 3D was only analogue with the movies being shot on large frame 70mm film in order to achieve good image quality on the larger screens these cinemas use, as compared to normal 35mm film. The digital version was introduced last year and still very few cinemas use that and the resolution and respectively the projection screen sizes for these implementations are not as big as on the analogue ones. IMAX uses big linear passive polarized plastic glasses for the viewers that do not provide the best possible experience. Anyway, getting back to the user experience, there is something very specific for IMAX 3D and that is the fact that the movies shown there are usually optimized for more pop-out screen effect than depth. This means that most of the time objects literally seem to pop out of the screen appearing as if you can touch them, kids do love this effect, but this is also more tiring for the brain. So usually longer movies are a bit of a problem to watch and Avatar is close to 3 hours, so you should be carefully consider this, especially if you feel a little “out of this world” when watching movies in an IMAX cinema. Some other drawbacks that are not always present and most of the people miss are the lower contrast in some dark scenes, a bit more ghosting of objects and problems refocusing your eyes quickly enough to follow the whole picture in fast action scenes and thus you might miss some important parts. Anyway IMAX 3D is certainly the most easy way to achieve the WOW effect with just about anyone that is watching his first stereoscopic 3D movie, but it this is not the first for you, then the other alternatives might be better…

This is a bit newer standard, but a digital one from its start… digital here meaning that the movies are recorded in a digital format and the projectors being used are also digital. RealD 3D cinemas uses circular polarized plastic glasses instead of linear polarized to provide better user experience when watching stereoscopic content. Circular polarization is considered to be better, because viewers are able to move their head as they like without the loss of the 3D depth effect. With the linear polarized glasses you have to be a bit steady, not moving around too much and sometimes you might have trouble finding the right position for your head in order to achieve the best effect when watching the movie to fully enjoy it. The circular polarized plastic glasses used here are also cheap to produce, but this technology requires the use of more expensive silver screen for projection which makes it a bit more expensive to implement. Still at the moment RealD is the most widely used standard for stereoscopic 3D movie projections all over the world, so you will most likely have one of these cinemas where you live. The immersion experience with RealD is a bit different compared to what you get at IMAX 3D projections as here the depth perception is of actual depth so the action is more going inside the screen, and not popping out of it. This does not make things less impressive, although some people might get a little disappointed at first if they were expecting to have the IMAX 3D pop-out effects, but after some time of watching they still get the feeling they are right in the middle of the action. This way of going more in the projection screen and not out of it is also easier on your brain as it is not that overloaded with information and is considered better for longer movies. Also it is easier to keep track of quick action scenes and the ghosting is usually less, so most of the people prefer this technology, although it is still not perfect.

Dolby 3D
Also known as Dolby 3D Digital Cinema is the newest of the three technologies for stereoscopic 3D movie projection and as you can guess not only by the name it is as well digital like RealD. A lot of people find that Dolby 3D is the best stereoscopic 3D technology for them to watch movies in the cinema. Here we also have the typical cinema style plastic 3D glasses that use a bit more specific passive filters related to the main colors we see which is by far considered to provide the best results. Of course this special type of polarization brings the cost of the glasses up compared to the normal linear or circular polarized glasses the other technologies use, but there the projection screen doesn’t have to be specific (Dolby 3D at home, anyone?). Dolby 3D provides better color reproduction (colors look a bit brighter and more vivid) and a sharper image with more details visible (especially in darker areas), better contrast and almost no ghosting of the objects you see on the screen, which also are not that much popping out of the screen like in IMAX 3D, but rely more on inside depth, like with RealD. Still the stereoscopic 3D experience here is yet again not perfect as you might have trouble with the quick refocusing of your eyes on some objects moving fast from the back to front and some people might have weird troubles seeing the right colors some rare occasions.

And after all this you can say that it is still mostly a matter of personal preferences where you’ll watch 3D movies, but sometimes you might not have IMAX 3D cinema around or any other technology. Have in mind that with the case of Avatar, it is also being shown in some 2D cinemas, but that will be too stupid to do when the movie has been made especially to be watched in 3D. The only thing I don’t like about IMAX is that after about 40 minutes I’m a bit tired and I probably will have trouble watching a movies that is much longer than that. As for RealD and Dolby 3D for me there is hardly any significant difference between the quality and experience you get in cinemas equipped with one or the the other technology, although Dolby 3D seems to be slightly better. And don’t forget that sometimes not well enough built or equipped 3D movie theater can also ruin everything with the one at fault not the technology being used… ;)

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24 HOUR Avatar IMAX 3D Fan-a-thon – Participate and Win

December 16th, 2009 · No Comments · Stereo 3D Events


Here is something interesting for all of the Avatar movie fans out there. IMAX is organizing a 24 HOUR Avatar IMAX 3D Fan-a-thon for the official launch of the movie. IMAX will be giving away Avatar: An IMAX 3D Experience posters and Avatar themed t-shirts along with other Avatar prizes every hour throughout the day and there will be over 50 winners. The Fan-a-thon starts on December 18 at 12:01 AM EST and will run for 24 hours so don’t miss your chance.

For more information about Avatar in 3D and the IMAX Fan-a-thon…

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