Last week, I was invited to see a private preview screening of The Dark Knight Rises, three hours before the long-awaited midnight showings on July 20, 2012. The next morning, of course, I awoke to the news of a horrific shooting at one of those showings in Aurora, Colorado, in which 12 people were killed and nearly 60 were wounded, some critically. I have no idea how the movie figured into the gunman's plansif at allbut the event has certainly cast a pall over what would have otherwise been just another Hollywood mega-blockbuster opening.
After what has seemed like an interminable wait, Vizio's 21:9 CinemaWide LED-LCD flat-panel TV is finally available to consumers at Vizio's website. With a native pixel resolution of 2560x1080, this XVT-series set is the first ultra-widescreen flat panel available in the US that displays 2.35:1 movies without black bars above and below the image.
As I recount in my coverage of the world premier of Brave, it's the first movie with a soundtrack mixed for the Dolby Atmos sound system, which envelops the audience much more than conventional 5.1 or 7.1. But as a brand new technology, Atmos is currently installed in only 14 theaters around the country.
Do you live near one of them? If so, I strongly recommend seeing Brave there so you can experience the next generation of cinema sound. Here's a list of theaters with Dolby Atmos:
Last night, I was fortunate enough to attend the world premier of Brave, the latest animated feature from Disney and Pixar that will open nationwide on June 22. The star-studded event was held at the newly renamed Dolby Theatre, home of the Academy Awards and Cirque du Soleil's Iris located in the heart of Hollywood, California.
I saw Men In Black 3 last night, and as with most 3D movies, I chose to see this one at an Imax theater, which uses two projectorsone for each eyeto increase the overall brightness of the image. Even though MIB3 was shot in 2D and converted to 3D in post-production, I thought the 3D effect was quite good overall. In fact, it seemed to me that the movie had been shot with 3D in mind, with lots of depth in many imagesI especially enjoyed Agent J's fall from the skyscraper as he jumps back to 1969.
I just got back from Petaluma, California, where I was honored and privilegednot to mention greatly pleasedto fill in for Leo Laporte, hosting his nationally syndicated call-in radio show, The Tech Guy, while he was attending the Northern Lights photography festival in Norway. On Saturday, I was joined in the studio by David Vaughn, hardware and movie reviewer for HomeTheater.com and Home Theater magazine, and we spent a delightful three hours answering listener questions and conversing with the lively chat room during commercial and news breaks.
Each year at NAB, NewTek, maker of the TriCaster video switcher, hosts a panel discussion about the future of television called Broadcast Minds. This year, the panel was moderated by Leo Laporte, head of the TWiT network that produces my Home Theater Geeks podcast among many others. Seen here in the center, he is joined by (left to right) Jeff Hawley, Director of Customer Experience for Yamaha; Bill Chapman, VP of Creative and Engineering Technology for Turner Broadcasting; Jeff Jacobs, Senior VP of Production Strategies for MTV; and Kevin Pollack, comedian, actor, and host of a popular podcast called Kevin Pollack's Chat Show.
Epson had a small booth way in the back of the South Hall, and along with some commercial projectors was the Moverio wearable display. Inside the temple pieces of these glasses are tiny LCD microprojectors with a resolution of 960x540, and the image is directed through special diffusers to appear in front of each eye. The glasses are transparent, so you can see the surrounding environment with the video image superimposed over it.
And now for something completely over the topan autostereoscopic (glasses-free) 16:9 rear-projection display measuring 200 inches diagonally! This behemoth was developed by Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) and consists of 200 small DLP projectors behind a special diffuser screen and Fresnel lens. Amazingly, you can walk around and see objects from different angles and even behind them, much like a true hologram. There was some obvious vertical banding in the 1920x1080 image, but I found no one who could explain why.
Dolby was showing several items in its booth, including an update to Dolby Digital Plus for mobile devices as well as its LED-backlit LCD professional reference monitor with local-dimming control of each LED rather than larger zonesvery cool, but very expensive. What interested me the most was Dolby 3D, a new technology developed in collaboration with Philips Research and introduced at NAB.
Outside the Red Digital Cinema demo theater, I saw this 60-inch quad-HD (3840x2160) flat panel made by Planar. No one could tell me much about itthe Planar rep wasn't around at that momentexcept that it's an LED-illuminated LCD, probably edgelit. It did look mighty crisp and sharp.
By far the most important demo at NAB was presented by Christie, one of the foremost makers of digital-cinema projectors for commercial theaters. It was a comparison of the effect of shooting and displaying 3D movies at different frame rates24, 48, and 60 frames per second. The entire demo was created and narrated by James Cameron, who started by pointing out that digital cinema cameras and projectors are fully capable of shooting and displaying higher frame rates, which greatly reduces or eliminates the motion blur and stuttering endemic to 24fps.
The most important consumer-related product introduction at NAB was a new projector and source device from Red Digital Cinema, which is best known for its digital-cinema cameras. As its name implies, the REDray Laser Projector uses lasers as its illumination source, and the red, green, and blue lasers are housed in a separate module (the larger box seen directly above the projector in the photo) that connects to the projector itself via fiber optics. Even more interesting, multiple laser modules can be ganged together to produce more light for larger screens, and the lasers are rated to last more than 25,000 hours with virtually no change in color or light output.
Last night, I saw Titanic in its new 3D release at an AMC ETX (Enhanced Theater eXperience) venue. Using two projectors and RealD passive glasses, the image was brighter than single-projector RealD and way brighter than Arclight's Xpand active-glasses system. So how was the 3D conversion?
I really enjoy watching the Academy Awards show, the 84th edition of which was held last night and broadcast to an audience of some 40 million viewers. The high-def image is beautiful, the staging is lavish, the music is live, and Jennifer Lopez always looks gorgeous. But the main reason I watch is that movies are the driving force behind home theater, and the Oscars are one of the driving forces behind movies.