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Traditional, DLP or IMAX? Which Is Best? - Dave Rabbit At The Movies

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posted on May, 19 2009 @ 06:51 PM
By Dave Rabbit – ATS Press Corp.

Dallas, Texas. First off, all of these are only going to be available to those of you who live in the bigger metropolitan areas around the world, so you may or may not know what I am talking about. In fact, this thread was created so the members could exchange their ideas about the three versions of movie technology that they may have experienced. Whether you take away from this an enhanced knowledge for a possible future night out at the movies or totally disagree with my assessment, let me hear you on this thread.

The Basics.

TRADITIONAL Movies. If you have a movie theater in your town, odds are it is one of these. They range from the extremely small ones in smaller communities, cities and towns, to the huge ones in bigger metropolitan areas. You have a projector, the movies are on film which has been around forever, albeit, much improved over the years, and this is the way you have always watched them. In the Dallas area, one of my favorite theaters has about 14 screens. Four of the screens are huge and most of the blockbusters and large draw films always show in them.

IMAX Movies. Surprisingly, the concept of this has been around dating back to the 1920’s, but really gained momentum in the 70’s. When it leaped into the digital age, things began to change drastically for the industry as well as the viewer of the IMAX experience.

DLP Movies. Originally developed in 1987 by Dr. Larry Hornbeck of Texas Instruments here in my home town of Dallas, Texas, DLP hopes to be the future of movie watching.

My Background.

I have to tell you, I am a movie buff. Since sitting in the Saturday morning shows in the 50’s and literally watching almost all day as serials, cartoons and the movies eventually unfolded on the big screen before me and my friends. These were the days of buying popcorn, candy, a soft drink and getting into the movie itself for around .25 to .50 Cents. As my Mom and I didn’t have a lot of money, I spent the week after school collecting soda bottles or whatever and cashing them in to raise my weekly movie money.

Simpler times and a simpler life, for sure. So being brought up in the Film & Projector era, this is really all I knew. As the years went by, I saw lots of changes in the way we see movies. The theaters got larger, the sound systems got better and then, of course, came stadium seating, which I personally believe was one of the biggest improvements in the experience. I remember going to the very first one in Dallas which was built. The slant was almost death defying it was so steep. Thank God the movie theater conglomerates found a happy medium on this or you would probably need an oxygen mask by now.
My first experience with IMAX was actually at Cape Kennedy back in the 80’s or there about. I remember being so overwhelmed watching a NASA mission right before my eyes. The screen was concave and almost took up your entire peripheral vision. I was definitely impressed. I had not been to anything since.

My Review.

Up until last week. except for the one case noted above for IMAX, everything I have ever watched in the modern movie watching world has been on big screens with stadium seating. Now that I am doing “Movie Critic” work, which I couldn’t have found a better suited thing for me to do after the ATS MIX show, even though I get an advanced DVD to view and critique, I still will go and see the movie when it is released because seeing it LIVE blows away anything one can see at home regardless of what kind of home entertainment set-up a person has. And as I mentioned in another thread, except for the idiots who love to text and blind everyone in the darkened theater... once they have been shot and are dead, the live movie experience just can’t be beat.

So I call a friend of mine, Bill, who was the camera man for the Terminator Salvation “At The Movies” thing we just did and asked him if he wanted to go see Star Trek in the theater I have always gone to. He said “have you ever seen a movie in DLP?”. I tell him no, so he says we should go to this theater that is not that much further away as they have two theaters that strictly show movies in DLP. Well, to say that I was absolutely blown away would be an understatement. The color, the clarity of the movie itself was absolutely awesome. That is the only word that even comes close. It was like making the personal transition from regular TV to LCD HD.

This last Monday, Bill wants to know if I have ever seen a movie in IMAX. I tell him other than the Cape Kennedy thing, no. So, we make a day of lunch and go to an IMAX theater here in Dallas to see, of course, Star Trek. He and I are both “Trekkies” so it was no big deal but I thought it would be a much fairer assessment if I compared the technologies with the same movie. This theater was IMAX DIGITAL. The first thing I noticed, it was $12.00 to get in as opposed to the $6.00 to $8.00 in the other formats for seniors. The next thing was the screen was huge, but it was not concave as the one I had experienced before. There were only a fraction of the seats that were in the DLP experience however. Compared to the DLP, the screen was really close to us and we were on the back row. I walked in with high expectations and although I thought the 12,000 watt sound system was superior to DLP, Bill and I were a bit disappointed. When we factored in the almost double cost difference between it and DLP, this was a no brainer.

The Results.

1st Place – DLP Movies

2nd Place – IMAX Movies

3rd Place – TRADITIONAL Movies

If you have a Different opinion or even if you have a different experience than the ones I have, please post them on this thread. If you have questions that you cannot find the answers to by Googling, please ask me and I will try and find you a timely answer.

Until next time...... enjoy the shows.


posted on May, 19 2009 @ 07:13 PM
I seldom go to theaters, preferring to wait for the DVD. This summer though I had to make an exception. Star Trek, Angels and Demons and Terminator are three movies I had to see on the big screen.

Turns out all three are in DLP and I have to admit, I love the format. I won't see Terminator till Thursday but I can't wait. DLP is by far the best experience I've ever had at the movies.

The one time I went to an IMAX theater was at the space center in Huntsville Alabama. I wasn't impressed.

Growing up in the 60's and 70's I saw more than my share of the old film reels. That's just the movies we got back then.

So for my vote, DLP is by far the way to go.

posted on May, 20 2009 @ 01:23 PM
I actually work in post production and have followed the various projection options very closely over the last 20 years.

It took them a long time and I remember very well how the first attempts at this looked very much like a projected video where you could see the scan lines. Now that they have finally managed to get DLP to a place where it looks like a higher quality film projection it is far and away the best.

One of the most compelling reasons for this is the quality of the source.

A traditional film projection is several times removed from the source. The film is traditionally shot on film negative. That film negative is conformed to match the final picture. Then they make an inter-positive and then an inter-negative. This inter-neg. is then used to make the distribution prints. So, right there you have several generations to get to the final print and even then that print is subject to inconsistencies during processing as well as handling, heat, projection damage etc.

In the case of DLP the original neg. is scanned directly to a digital medium and is preserved. Since it is now digital, there is no wear and tear and the 100th playback should look as good as the first. There are also many more options in terms of grading (the color and look of the film)that no longer require expensive film stock or specialized processing.


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