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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Laser Beams "Zap" Theater Cell-Phone Users

   
Author Topic: Laser Beams "Zap" Theater Cell-Phone Users
Jim Cassedy
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1553
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Dec 2006


 - posted 03-17-2016 10:12 AM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A New Weapon for Battling Cellphones in Theaters: Laser Beams

Story Linky

BEIJING — Audience members using cellphones bedevil performers and
presenters around the world. But in China, theaters and other venues have
adopted what they say is an effective — others might say disturbing — solution.

Zap them with a laser beam.

The approach varies, but the idea is the same. During a performance,
ushers equipped with laser pointers are stationed above, or on the perimeter
of, the audience. When they spot a lighted mobile phone, instead of dashing
over to the offender, they pounce with a pointer (usually red or green), aiming
it at the glowing screen until the user desists.

Call it laser shaming.

“It’s usually only a small fraction of the audience that we have to deal
with,” said Wang Chen, an employee in the theater affairs department
at the Shanghai Grand Theater. “They can’t help themselves. So we try
to give them a gentle reminder, so they know what they’re doing.”

Xu Chun, 27, who was in the audience for “Carmen” at the National
Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing last month, said: “Of course
it’s distracting. But seeing lighted-up screens is even more distracting.”

For the uninitiated, the appearance of a blazing colored beam in a
darkened theater can be jarring.

“I remember the first time I saw the lasers, it was shocking to see
that little red dot in the middle of a performance,” said Joanna C. Lee,
a consultant for American symphony orchestras touring China. “Like
someone was pointing a gun at the audience.”

Indeed, the narrow shaft of bright light can connote danger. Laser sights
are a popular feature on firearms, and there have been numerous incidents
in which lasers aimed at cockpits have impaired pilots’ ability to fly safely.
(There are more benign uses for a laser pointer, of course, like making
presentations and playing with cats.)

But laser pointers have been used for years as disciplinary devices at
many of China’s leading performance halls, including the National
Center, the Shanghai Oriental Art Center and the Shanghai Grand Theater.

This may be a response to a particularly acute problem here. Audience
numbers have surged in recent years, along with the number of new
performance spaces. And theatergoers are often noticeably younger
than in the United States and Europe, with a corresponding lack of
experience with Western-style concert etiquette. The lasers, theater
managers say, are part of a larger effort to teach audiences how to
behave during live performances.

Are the performers bothered by the use of lasers?

“No, it’s very smart, very fast, very effective,” Giuseppina Piunti,
an Italian mezzo soprano, said backstage last month after singing the
title role in “Carmen” at the National Center. “They should use the lasers
all over the world. I can see the lasers from the stage, but it’s much less
distracting than the flash cameras, and the ushers running up and down
the aisles.”

The key, said Yang Hongjie, deputy director of the theater affairs
department at the National Center, is to make ample use of the pointers
early in a performance so that offenders (as well as nearby patrons) know
what to expect should they dare to sneak a photo.
<END>

> As a side note, several years ago, one of my friends brought me a
"camera phone disrupter" from Hong Kong, It looks similar to the IR
panel used by hearing-impared devices, however, what it does is emit
extremely bright, but invisible to the eye, flashes of IR light. Since the
imaging chips in most electronic cameras and phones can 'see' into the
IR light range, it totally 'confuses' the auto exposure mechanism, causing
the picture (still or video) to come out unusable.

I've 'played' around with it at home, but never tried it in a theater.
I've never measured the pulse frequency to see if it would interfere with
IR hearing devices. Maybe one of these days.......

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12448
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-17-2016 11:58 AM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
While the idea is great, it looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen. All it would take is one person getting the laser reflected back into their eyes, getting "zapped" and suddenly developing blurred vision, severe headaches, mental stress, inability to concentrate at work, and several other things a good lawyer could drum up.

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Jim Cassedy
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1553
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Dec 2006


 - posted 03-17-2016 12:41 PM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well, remember too Mike, that things are probably a little, if
not a lot, different, lawsuit-wise, in China than here in the US.

A lot of their cultural institutions are actually run by or are
extensions of, the Chinese government. And I sorta think most
Chinese citizens would think twice about suing "the government"
over there. That's my gut feeling, but I could be wrong.

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Stephan Shelley
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 700
From: castro valley, CA, usa
Registered: Nov 2014


 - posted 03-17-2016 01:17 PM      Profile for Stephan Shelley   Email Stephan Shelley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I wish that radio damping field were legal in the USA. Turn it on when the feature starts and back off during intermission. I think some places in Europe use the but not legal in USA. Heaven forbid one does not have an interruption in Twitter or Facebook.

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

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From: prospect ky usa
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 - posted 03-17-2016 01:41 PM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just build a Faraday cage around the auditorium.

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Jason McMillan
Film Handler

Posts: 68
From: Houston, TX, USA
Registered: Dec 2009


 - posted 03-17-2016 01:44 PM      Profile for Jason McMillan   Email Jason McMillan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
During a showing of Star Wars back in December in a local Dolby Cinema at AMC Prime location, I asked the woman sitting next to me if she could please turn her phone off. Her response was (literally) "I pay this bill, I'll do what I want." So again I asked her politely to turn it off, she still refused, so I stated I would go get the manager. She retorted "you watch what happens if you do that". They wound up giving me a ton of passes and security removed her and her group from the theatre.

People have become so insufferable over this issue and frankly, we're at our wits end on figuring out how to deal with it. Last year we had two middle-aged guys actually get into a physical altercation because one wouldn't turn his phone off.

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Frank Cox
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From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
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 - posted 03-17-2016 02:01 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
When I see the light from a phone in my theatre, I tell the person to turn it off. If they do it again, I ask them to come with me to the lobby and then tell them to just continue walking out the door.

I don't have very much of an issue with cell phones here at all, probably because I'm consistent and always on top of it right away.

I really don't understand why all theatres don't do that.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

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From: Forsyth, Montana
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 - posted 03-17-2016 03:15 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well people are very good at hiding their phones. There's been plenty of times I've gone out and checked the auditorium multiple times during shows and seen nothing, only to have somebody gripe at me afterward about somebody's phone.

I still fail to understand why a person would pay to see a movie and then allow themselves to be distracted half the time. We get people who will come out of the auditorium and sit in the rest room just having gabby conversations.

Of course some people will wait until the trailers are done, and then when the MOVIE THEY PAID TO SEE starts, that's when they come out to get snacks. So there's no explaining people, I guess.

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Marcel Birgelen
Film God

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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
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 - posted 03-17-2016 06:30 PM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Mike Blakesley
While the idea is great, it looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen. All it would take is one person getting the laser reflected back into their eyes, getting "zapped" and suddenly developing blurred vision, severe headaches, mental stress, inability to concentrate at work, and several other things a good lawyer could drum up.
Yeah, although It's not like any of those low powered lasers could do any more harm than a bright flashlight could do, but mention a certain buzzword on their "evil list" like "laser" or "nuclear" and people tend to go into frenzy mode, although nothing really ever happened.

quote: Louis Bornwasser
Just build a Faraday cage around the auditorium.
Has been discussed before. Building a Faraday cage around any decently sized auditorium that actually works for this purpose is close to impossible.

quote: Frank Cox
I don't have very much of an issue with cell phones here at all, probably because I'm consistent and always on top of it right away.
It obviously also depends a lot on your audience. While I agree that a no-tolerance policy is key in combating this problem, it's not always as easy to enforce, especially if you're running a multiplex with the bare minimum level of staffing.

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William Kucharski
Expert Film Handler

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From: Louisville, Colorado, United States of America
Registered: Oct 2012


 - posted 03-17-2016 08:30 PM      Profile for William Kucharski   Email William Kucharski   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What's worse is I have at least twice now seen people filming at least part of the movie with their phones, and when I told the kids staffing customer service they just shrugged. [Eek!]

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Buck Wilson
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From: St. Joseph MO, USA
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 - posted 03-18-2016 02:13 AM      Profile for Buck Wilson   Email Buck Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Marcel Birgelen
bare minimum level of staffing.
Bingo!

And I think this laser idea is great. I'd implement it, but only with a snipe before each movie explaining what it means.

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