Beowulf comin’ at ya in 3D

beowulf2.jpgConfused by the choices of where to see BEOWULF, the new computer-animated adventure? Besides standard 2D, you can view the film in Digital 3D or in IMAX 3D. What is the difference?

In an article exploring the economics of 3D presentation, Hollywood Reporter clarifies the issue. Digital 3D utilizes digital projection, obviously. There are several different brand names of Digital 3D equipment. Some require special screens; all require glasses. For the viewer, the essential point is that Digital 3D projection is limited to screens under 47 feet in height. It is simply a question of not being able to cast enough light to fill a larger screen with a bright image.

IMAX 3D, on the other hand, utilizes the patented IMAX format, which consists of 70mm film run through a projector horizontally. This allows the frame width to exceed 70mm, creating a larger image size, which in turn allows for bright, clear projection on the colossal IMAX screen, which ranges from 50 to 80 feet in height, depending on the venue.

Typically, with the stadium seating in IMAX theatres, the screen more or less completely fills the audience’s field of view, essentially immersing them in the visual experience.

The only disadvantage of IMAX is that the limited number of specialty theatres housing the bulky equipment. Digital 3D equipment can be installed into any multiplex, providing quality far superior to the hit-and-miss projection of 3D film back in the 1950s and 1980s (both of which had brief 3D fads). Some companies are working on improved systems that will accomodate larger screens.

The Hollywood Reporter article concludes:

For the consumer, all of this simply means that there are more opportunities to view a motion picture in 3-D. Shindler points out: “There are a lot of consumers that are not familiar with 3-D, and they are going to go to whatever theater is most convenient for them.”

Lewis looks forward to continued movement in 3-D. “Clearly, 3-D is where cinema is going,” he says. “We’ve seen every major studio plus major film directors embrace it. It’s going to be the platform for releasing tentpole movies.”

About the Author

Steve Biodrowski

Cinefantastique's Los Angeles Correspondent from 1987 to 1993 and West Coast Editor from 1993 to 1999. Currently the webmaster of Cinefantastique Online, I also run a website called Hollywood Gothique that covers Halloween Horror and Sci-Fi Cinema Events in the Los Angeles area.

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