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Author Topic: A New Low in Presentation Standards
Daniel Schulz
Master Film Handler

Posts: 361
From: Los Angeles, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2003


 - posted 12-26-2016 12:59 PM      Profile for Daniel Schulz   Author's Homepage   Email Daniel Schulz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just wanted to file this report, as it was so egregious.

Christmas evening I went to see Arrival at the newly renovated AMC Universal CityWalk. This theater has been heavily advertising its renovation on the radio, bragging about having powered leather recliners, Dolby Atmos and new laser projectors in every auditorium (ticket prices have been upgraded accordingly). First thing I noticed on entry was that the original problematic auditorium design was not altered (emergency exit is on an aisle to the left of the screen, so the screen is not centered in the auditorium). I'll let that go, as it's baked into the architecture of the building.

Second thing I notice is that the tab tensioners are visible at the bottom of the screen; the black fabric meant to hide them has pulled down, so there's not a clean masking edge at the bottom of the screen. I do take note of the Atmos speaker configuration; I've never seen Atmos in such a small auditorium, so that's pretty neat.

The screen is a 1.85 flat screen, and by now I no longer expect masking, so I know that my 'Scope movie is going to be projected letterboxed, so I'm braced for that.

Preshow starts, and I note that the image doesn't fill the screen. I shrug that off - often the preshow content is standard def, or 1080p, running on a secondary, non-DCI projector. It's annoying and unprofessional, but preshow, so whatevs.

But then, dear readers, then, the trailer pack starts and...the image still doesn't fill the screen. We are running flat content, off the expensive new Christie laser projectors, onto a flat screen, with empty screen area above, below and to both sides of the image.

Needless to say, when the feature starts I'm now witnessing a letterboxed image within the flat image area (the contrast ratio is good, but not so good that you can't see the letterbox bars), with that flat image area itself floating inside the flat screen. The 'Scope image doesn't even fill the screen from left to right! The effect is about as dramatic as if I'd just pointed a consumer 1080p projector at a blank wall in my apartment.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but man this does not bode well for the future of the exhibition industry. Thanks for listening.

p.s. if you're wondering I didn't bother complaining to anyone at the cinema, as I knew that was not something easily fixed onsite to save our show. I will be complaining after-the-fact in hopes that, while they won't install masking, they can at least fix the aesthetics of the bottom of the screen and get their Christie adjusted to fill the screen.

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Tyler Purcell
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 154
From: Van Nuys, CA
Registered: Dec 2015


 - posted 12-26-2016 01:38 PM      Profile for Tyler Purcell   Author's Homepage   Email Tyler Purcell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I saw two movies at AMC Burbank on Friday. I swore never to visit another AMC theater again in my entire life, but it was free. The first movie was 'Jackie', which was 1.67:1 aspect ratio. So the image didn't fill the full width of the screen. However it bled over top and bottom of the matte pretty substantially. The theater was never setup properly to run anything else but 1.85:1 or 2.40:1 content clearly. Very, very, very annoying. Worst off, they have installed some sort of special screen for those 3D projectors that totally alters the way a movie looks. It reflects light in a weird way that creates these little blobs of de-focused content. I had seen this before and it's why I hate AMC theaters.

Second showing was 'La La Land' which was in a much bigger theater. Some scenes there was important content on the curtain's, top bottom and left right. The same screen issue was present and was even worse because the screen was bigger. Had it not been free, I would have complained and got my money back.

The matte issue is such an easy fix, but the screens being all messed up, that's just uncalled for. They won't want things to look good in 2D, they only care about how they look in 3D. That's the problem folks and it's a problem at every AMC I've been to. Both in Boston where I spend a lot of time and here on the west coast as well.

Yet when you go to Arclight, those problems simply don't exist. Same ticket price, but AMC is a far worse presentation.

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Daniel Schulz
Master Film Handler

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From: Los Angeles, CA USA
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 - posted 12-26-2016 01:48 PM      Profile for Daniel Schulz   Author's Homepage   Email Daniel Schulz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Tyler Purcell
The first movie was 'Jackie', which was 1.67:1 aspect ratio. So the image didn't fill the full width of the screen. However it bled over top and bottom of the matte pretty substantially. The theater was never setup properly to run anything else but 1.85:1 or 2.40:1 content clearly.
I wonder how the Jackie DCP was formatted? 'Scope, but pillar boxed? Or Flat, but letterboxed?

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Frank Bolkovac
Film Handler

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From: Monroeville, Pa. USA
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 - posted 12-26-2016 01:49 PM      Profile for Frank Bolkovac   Email Frank Bolkovac   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
They just don't know, don't care, or just not interested.Future of the Cinema experience.

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Adam Martin
I'm not even gonna point out the irony.

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From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 12-26-2016 02:00 PM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin       Edit/Delete Post 
Jackie is 1.66 inside of a flat container. La La Land is 2.55 inside of a scope container.

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Paul Linfesty
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From: Bakersfield, CA, USA
Registered: Nov 1999


 - posted 12-27-2016 12:13 AM      Profile for Paul Linfesty   Email Paul Linfesty   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
And don't forget the NEWEST innovation of this theatre, perforated screens as this article points out: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-universal-citywalk-amc-theater-renovation-20161212-story.html.

Ironically, when this was a Cineplex Odeon theatre back in the late 80's the theatre had common height screens with correct side masking.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

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From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 12-27-2016 01:45 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Forum policy...you must quote the article here to preserve the archives.

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Paul Linfesty
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From: Bakersfield, CA, USA
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 - posted 12-27-2016 02:22 AM      Profile for Paul Linfesty   Email Paul Linfesty   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Sorry about that...A little ‘Potter’ magic here too

The Wizarding World team redesigns the filmgoing experience at CityWalk cinemas.

BY LIBBY HILL
In April, Universal Studios Hollywood opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — an intricate re-creation of the universe created in J.K. Rowling’s series of “Harry Potter” novels, then interpreted for the Warner Bros. films — where fans have the opportunity to lose themselves in the world they love so much.
Content with what they’d built at Wizarding World, the minds at Universal Creative, the team that conceptualizes and deploys large-scale projects at Universal, set their sights on Universal CityWalk’s AMC Theatre, which, other than the installation of stadium-style seating in 2007, had gone untouched since it was built in 1993.
“We wanted a departure from the traditional movie experience,” said Gene Dobrzyn, senior vice president of Universal Creative.
That departure starts as soon as patrons enter the lobby and the newly designed box office area. The lobby is open format, eschewing the lurid reds and jewel tones favored by many theater chains in favor of cool blues and grays.
“The blue theme flows throughout,” said Dobrzyn. “We didn’t want to plaster it with Universal. We wanted to bring the Universal feel into it.”
Dobrzyn then points out the large sunburst chandeliers overlooking the lobby and globe vista on the second floor, echoes of Universal’s logo that lend themselves to the subconscious branding at work.
Gone are the outdoor box office windows, replaced with a serpentine queue system and centralized box office desk that allows patrons shelter from the rare adverse L.A. weather.
But for all the beauty of the redesigned lobby and lounge areas, the success or failure of the new look AMC hinges on what lies inside the 19 auditoriums — each of which is called the “black box.”
Black walls, black speakers, black seats — each of the theaters is designed to minimize any and all light interference that might distract from the filmgoing experience. Even the lights that assist patrons with stairs are a deep, unobtrusive blue.
The black seats do more than just absorb light. They also recline and expand into loveseats, creating an intentional feeling of luxury. “You would find these in a normal Hollywood screening style,” Dobrzyn said of the seats, which are 32 inches wide. “It used to be you would come to the movies and worry who you’d sit next to. Now there’s plenty of room.”
But as vital as it is to keep light and other distractions out of the black box, what Universal is putting into the black box is an even higher priority.
Each theater is equipped with Dolby ATMOS immersive surround sound and Christie RGB laser projection as well as a Christie Vive Audio system, allowing for audio fine-tuning on a theater-by-theater basis.
“The screens are all latest technology,” said Universal spokeswoman Audrey Eig. “They’re perforated, and we have about 40 speakers in each theater. We can point source audio out of anywhere in the theater, and as the image trails off-screen, the audio trails with it.”
The effect of the high-end projection and sound is palpable. Disney’s “Moana,” projected in 4K perfection, was eye-popping, rendering color and texture in scrupulous detail.
The Christie projectors are a departure from the old 35mm projectors, replacing bulky reels and film canisters with a sleek black box and laser projection, severing the link to physical film entirely.
Outside the auditoriums, the lobby and lounge area aim to be as comfortable and contemporary as the theaters themselves, places to relax and wait for friends.
“Getting to a movie early to get a good seat is a thing of the past,” said Dobrzyn, acknowledging the rise in reserved-seating theaters. “Now you can pick your own seat, get here any time you want. Now you can come and sit with your friends, you can talk, you can grab some food.”
Dobrzyn emphasized the importance of the free-flowing layout, using the “grab-and-go” -style concessions marketplace as an example.
“It’s all convenience style. It’s less standing in line. It’s ‘Go. Do your own thing,’ ” Dobrzyn said.
“While you’re standing in line, you can grab candy, popcorn. You don’t have to wait for somebody. You just grab a bag.”
For each choice meticulously made throughout the 18-month, four-phase process, Universal Creative always came back to the idea of creating a seamless, functional and state-of-the-art environment where film lovers could feel at home as they sat mere feet away from where some of their favorite movies were filmed.
“We have some of the most talented people in the industry creating these environments,” said Dobrzyn. “What keeps me doing it is the groundbreaking stuff that we do and seeing the guests at the end of the day come out with with a smile on their face.”
Now, the creators of Wizarding World of Harry Potter just have to wait and see whether Universal City-Walk’s AMC Theatre can make a little movie magic of its own. libby.hill@latimes.com  

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Buck Wilson
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 - posted 12-27-2016 07:50 AM      Profile for Buck Wilson   Email Buck Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm at a loss for words.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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From: Lawton, OK, USA
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 - posted 12-27-2016 09:58 AM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Atmos and RGB Laser projection in every auditorium seems impressive. But I wonder if AMC got some kind of special deal from Dolby and Christie to make that happen at this high profile theater location. I certainly don't see AMC repeating that "Atmos & Laser in all auditoriums" treatment at many other theaters, if any. It certainly isn't happening if AMC is paying the normal price for all of that gear.

quote: Libby Hill, L.A. Times
The effect of the high-end projection and sound is palpable. Disney’s “Moana,” projected in 4K perfection, was eye-popping, rendering color and texture in scrupulous detail.
Obvious question: was Moana rendered in 4K resolution? Did the DCP contain native 4K content? These writers reporting on stuff like this or home theater should at least know better about making assumptions regarding some breed of projector or even a home HDTV set. Although some new laser projector may have 4K capability that doesn't mean the movies played on it will be 4K resolution. The vast majority of movies are not 4K.

quote: Libby Hill, L.A. Times
The Christie projectors are a departure from the old 35mm projectors, replacing bulky reels and film canisters with a sleek black box and laser projection, severing the link to physical film entirely.
She talks about that as if it's entirely a good thing. There's plenty of things in terms of quality that suck about "digital." There's also plenty of things that suck about new theaters, common width screens being one of the chief offenders. There's both good and bad regarding recliners. The increased comfort is good; although it's a pain in the ass to leave your seat if you need a bathroom break. Theaters pay a penalty of dramatically reduced seat counts and increased maintenance costs. People do love to break shit.

I'm not sold on reserved seating either. It can work in bad ways for both theaters and customers. I think reserved seating can hurt ticket sales. Since a customer has to buy in advance if he doesn't buy early enough he won't score a good seat. If he is buying late and sees no good seats left he may not bother. Theaters could end up stuck with more empty seats than they would with a first come first serve policy. When you're reserving a seat in advance you always get hit with that extra service charge. It's already expensive enough to go to the show without getting dinged with extra fees. Once someone has a seat reserved he can straggle into the show at any time, even well on into the movie and disrupting the show for others.

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Louis Bornwasser
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 - posted 12-27-2016 10:13 AM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Maybe I should patent "a perforated screen."

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Harold Hallikainen
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 - posted 12-27-2016 10:36 AM      Profile for Harold Hallikainen   Author's Homepage   Email Harold Hallikainen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was researching papers on luminance measurement for a SMPTE committee and ran across a paper from the 1950s about perforated screens. In this paper, they proposed varying the perforation area (I don't remember if they varied the hole size or the number of holes per unit area) to compensate for light fall off as you moved from the center of screen. More open area at the center of the screen reflected less light than at the sides.

Another SMPTE report on perforated screens shows a major portion of the high frequency sound being reflected by the screen instead of being transmitted through it. This is then reflected by the speaker back towards the screen (or worse, from the wall behind the screen) resulting in comb filtering of the audio due to the delayed signal combining with the original. But, it appears we are used to comb filtering by living in an environment with reflective surfaces, so it does not sound as bad as it looks on a spectrum plot. There also is overall attenuation of high frequencies by the perforated screen. This attenuation approximates the X-curve.

Harold

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Bill Brandenstein
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 - posted 12-28-2016 10:50 PM      Profile for Bill Brandenstein   Email Bill Brandenstein   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Interesting that Daniel heard lots of radio advertising for Citiwalk's upgrade, but as much local radio as I listen to, only now just heard of this.

Wanna check out the details online? AMC's website is of no help. Neither is Fandango. The only amenity listed at either place is "power recliners." No mention of Atmos or laser, even though "Dolby Cinema at AMC" is a big deal at the other locations. Also unmentioned is Rogue One being in 70mm, although Fandango at least tells you that.

Is this transition still in progress? Wouldn't this be the first cineplex in the nation fitted with all Dolby Cinema? You'd think they'd shout that from the rooftops, or at least put it online. Ha! Maybe Dolby saw the miserable misalignments and pulled their trademark license...

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Bobby Henderson
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 - posted 12-28-2016 11:48 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The lack of details from AMC's new web site design, not to mention it's really shitty Word Press style stock template, tempts me never to visit an AMC theater at all. The vauge-ness of it all implies that all AMC screens are just as good as any. As if they all have dual 4K laser projectors, Dolby Atmos surround sound and big recliners.
[Roll Eyes]

To make matters worse, just get a gander on the new web site design's version of "Dolby Cinema @ AMC". Their list of "coming soon" Dolby Cinema screens contains theaters listed below in the "already has" list of Dolby Cinema screens. That's a real easy thing to update and they haven't even bothered with that. I guess it's just "give me your damned $22 for admission, shut up and like it!"

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Daniel Schulz
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 - posted 12-29-2016 12:10 AM      Profile for Daniel Schulz   Author's Homepage   Email Daniel Schulz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Interesting that Daniel heard lots of radio advertising for Citiwalk's upgrade, but as much local radio as I listen to, only now just heard of this.

Is this transition still in progress? Wouldn't this be the first cineplex in the nation fitted with all Dolby Cinema? You'd think they'd shout that from the rooftops, or at least put it online. Ha! Maybe Dolby saw the miserable misalignments and pulled their trademark license...

Although the auditoriums are now Dolby Atmos, they are not full-blown Dolby Cinema auditoriums (although the difference between the standard Christie laser projectors and the Dolby Cinema models is something I couldn't tell you).

Re: the website, I am given to understand that although AMC manages the site the property itself is much more the purview of Universal CityWalk, so that could explain the paucity of info on the AMC website. The Universal CityWalk site is a little more informative.

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