Is 3D Gear Abused in Your Local Theater?

We couldn't quite believe this when we read it. But apparently it's true: Movie theaters are leaving 3D equipment in place when showing 2D films. The result, says The Boston Globe, is an image with a fraction of the proper brightness.

Reports the paper: "A walk through the AMC Loews Boston Common on Tremont Street one evening in mid-April illustrates the problem: gloomy, underlit images on eight of the multiplex's 19 screens...."

The report attributes the problem to "a fleet of 4K digital projectors made by Sony—or, rather, the 3-D lenses that many theater managers have made a practice of leaving on projectors when playing a 2-D film."

Executives at theater chains declined to comment, but a source the paper dubbed Deep Focus explained: "When you're running a 2-D film, that polarization device has to be taken out of the image path. If they're not doing that, it's crazy, because you've got a big polarizer that absorbs 50 percent of the light."

The dead giveaway in an exhibition of a digital print (with "D" next to the title on the marquee) is visible to human eyes. Just look for two beams of light, one atop the other. The Globe says that'll indicate either a Sony projector with the 3D lens in place or a different brand.

See The Boston Globe via Engadget.

If you've seen this in your local theaters, please name (and shame) the culprits.

CalWpg's picture

I think the bigger problem is the movie industry is abusing 3D. I don't care what the "experts" say, 3D does not make a movie worth a $3.00 higher admission price. It's a gimmick and a money grab.

Kris Deering's picture
Also take into account that leaving these lenses on doesn't just reduce the light output, it effectively cuts the resolution of the projector in half for 2D playback. This means you'll see a significant drop in sharpness. Shane Buettner and I ran into this very thing when we went to see Inception at a local cinema (Northgate Bella Bottega in Seattle). The picture was very soft and very dim and the reason was this exact thing. Disappointing to say the least!!
tony359's picture

Sony projectors are 4K devices. When used with 3D lenses, two 2K pictures are displayed by the SXRD devices. In Scope the scope picture is upscaled to the 'half SXRD' to gain light, but the resolution is still the same.

The loss of resolution is eventually caused by two identical pictures overimposed. It's obviously impossible to converge them perfectly. This is not a big issue with 3D, where the two pictures are not seen by both eyes simultaneously, but it is definitely an issue with 2D.

Bottom line: bad practice. It takes skills to remove the lens from the projector. Cinemas do not invest in skills anymore and this is the result.