Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

Avatar in 3D… and 3D

Last week, I saw Avatar at our local theater in 3D. It wasn’t an IMAX theater, so the 3D technology was RealD. Yesterday, I saw it at an IMAX theater in 3D. I’m not sure if it was projected using a different 3D technology or not, but I did notice a significant difference between my first viewing in a regular 3D theater.

The first thing I noticed was that the glasses were different. In the RealD theater, the glasses come individually wrapped and they look very much like normal sunglasses (cheap ones, but normal) with hard plastic lenses. The glasses in the IMAX theater were larger, cheaper glasses with dark plastic film lenses. One of my friends had to exchange his because they were badly smudged, which makes me wonder if the glasses are just tossed the back in a bin after the movie without being checked or cleaned. The glasses reminded me of the kind you’d find at a 3D show at Hershey’s Chocolate World or a Disney park. I was worried because I’ve had bad experiences in those theaters.

Once the movie started, I was glad to see that the 3D effects looked perfect. The images were crisp and the depth was exactly as expected. I had no trouble focusing on the 3D without any visual freak-outs (that’s the technical term).

What was significantly different was the brightness of the image. I don’t know if it was the theater or if it was the 3D technology or my seat location, but the IMAX image was much darker than the image in the normal theater… like viewing a movie while wearing sunglasses. Some of the finer image detail was lost.

Again, I don’t know if it was the 3D technology or some other factor, but viewing the movie in a normal theater using RealD technology was a better experience for me. The brighter image (like a normal movie) really brought out small details in the image that enhanced the movie for me.

Now, just to clarify… the IMAX experience was also awesome. The movie is visually spectacular (bright or not) and the story is good, so it’s an easy movie to love and I’d be happy to go see it a third time if the opportunity presents itself. Given the choice, however, I’d go to a normal RealD theater.

Actually, given the choice, I’d go to Pandora.

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