Friday, June 01, 2018

BRIGHT LIGHTS, SILVER SCREENS, DIMBULBS: THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES



Way back in September I went out on a Saturday night to an AMC theater to see mother! and came home with a headache, induced partially by the movie and partially by my attempts to convince the manager that the image was too dim and that there was something wrong with the way it was being projected.

(You can read all about my "Saturday Night with mother! here.)

Cut to last night. Here comes this article ostensibly about audiences reacting negatively to the purposely low-light imagery in Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is being rendered almost unwatchable in parts thanks to inept projection, specifically the failure to convert projection configurations from their 3D positions to then show a 2D movie (the root cause of the problem that ruined my mother! screening).

So imagine my surprise when I came across this quote from the linked piece here from Some Dude (AKA "a spokesperson for AMC") who claims that in recent years the creation of a Digital Cinema Manager role has resulted in a noticeable drop in AMC customers complaining about a dim picture:

“Digital Cinema Managers are stationed at our larger, marquee theatres around the country and their specific responsibility is to monitor, oversee, and execute all aspects of the presentation on screen,” wrote the AMC spokesperson. “Essentially, they make sure the image on screen is just as the filmmaker intended. Additionally, when issues arise beyond the capabilities of the Digital Cinema Managers, or at locations that do not have a DCM, we have regional technical support within AMC, as well as great partnerships with our projection partners to assist when necessary.”

When I stopped laughing, I continued to read and got to this comment from Chaplin Cutler, cofounder of Boston Light & Sound, one of the industry’s leading consultants on proper projection and theater construction:

"According to Cutler, multiple factors result in the pervasive issue of dark projection. A dirty window in front of the projection can result in a 20 percent reduction of light. At the premium theater where he saw SOLO, he walked to the back row and saw a double light source, which he said signaled that optics for 3D screening were still on the projector for a 2D screening of SOLO. Cutler added that if 3D optics aren’t perfectly calibrated, they will result in the loss of a tremendous amount of light and an out-of-focus 2D image. 'Leaving the 3D optics on happens more often than theaters would like us to think,' said Cutler. 'Most theaters load their projectors on Thursday night and the timed projectors take care of themselves. If a theater runs 2-D screenings in the afternoon and 3-D screening at night, rarely is there someone there to make the adjustments.'”

Sounded pretty familiar to me. But here's the best part:

"When asked about 2D movies playing through a 3D-enabled projector, AMC said it had mandatory procedures in place at every theatre that prohibits 2D movies playing through a 3D lens."

As Bugs Bunny used to say, it is to laugh.

I'm gonna carry a copy of this quote around in my wallet, and the next time I run into this problem at an AMC I'm going to calmly unfold it, insist that the manager read it, and then politely ask him to eat it before I head on out the door.

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2 comments:

Mike Schlesinger said...

Just saw it today, at an AMC no less. It was fine; picture was bright and crisp with no issues. Sounds like the individual theatre(s) is/are the problem, not some corporate policy.

Mike Schlesinger said...

I saw SOLO this past week, at an AMC theatre no less. It was just fine--the image was bright and crisp, even in the "dark" scenes. So I'd venture to say it's not a systemic problem, but rooted in each individual theatre.