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Megamind in Imax 3D

On Tuesday evening, Tom Norton and I went to see Megamind in Imax 3D, and I have to say it's one of the best animated 3D movies I've seen to date. The delightful, touching, often hilarious story is an original and unexpected riff on good vs. evil—and how the boundary between them is often not so clear—and the voice acting by Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross, and Brad Pitt is superb.

DreamWorks really knows how to use 3D effectively, as demonstrated by Monsters vs. Aliens and How to Train Your Dragon, and Megamind is no exception. Sure, there are a few gimmicky shots of things jumping out from the screen, but there is also lots of real depth in many scenes, and it was very comfortable on the eyes. In fact, this is the first 3D movie I've seen in which I didn't once think to take off the glasses to see what was going on with the stereoscopic image.

The last time I went to an Imax 3D movie—Toy Story 3—the glasses were small and scratched, but not this time. And with two projectors, the image was bright enough to be completely satisfying. For that reason alone, Imax is worth seeking out for 3D movies.

On the other hand, the sound levels in an Imax theater can be intolerable. For example, during Toy Story 3, the level was so high that I was uncomfortable even with my custom-molded earplugs that attenuate by 25dB. Megamind wasn't so bad—with the ear plugs firmly in place, I was not bothered by the levels at all.

Of course, I didn't know that would be the case before I went. Because of my previous experience, I decided to measure the levels with a very sophisticated sound-pressure meter, the Larson Davis Model 700, which logs many different measurements over any period of time. I set the meter to record the maximum, minimum, and average levels a well as several other metrics in 1-minute intervals during the trailers and the entire movie, stopping when the end credits were finished.

The average level over the entire duration (one hour and 48 minutes, including trailers) was 83.2dBA—pretty close to THX reference level of 85dBA and safe for over 20 hours of exposure according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The level exceeded 85dBA 10 percent of the time, 81dBA 33 percent of the time, and 78.5dBA 50 percent of the time. The maximum level never reached 100dBA—the highest maximum was 94dBA, and most maxima within the 1-minute intervals were less than 90dBA. These results were surprising given my previous experience, but they were consistent with my subjective impressions. Still, I was glad to have my ear plugs in place!

The bottom line is this: I highly recommend Megamind in 3D. I'm sure it looks great in 2D as well, but unless you suffer from stereoscopic blindness or discomfort watching stereoscopic 3D, this movie is a great example of 3D done right—and it's great fun to boot!

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