Posts Tagged ‘IMAX

17
Jun
10

First Look: Consolidated’s Titan XC

The entrance to Consolidated Ward's theater 8, the Titan XC.

This post is going to consist of two parts. The first part will be a relatively quick “first thoughts, reaction, and feeling” of the new Titan XC theater at Consolidated Ward for those who just want a quick read. Following that, the second portion of this post will go into greater detail of my experience in the newly renovated theater.

Quick Review ::

If you want a good movie experience, then Consolidated Ward’s new Titan XC will have one to offer. However, moviegoers should be informed about the moviegoing experience that they can expect to have. First up, so we can get it out the way really quick, this IS NOT an Imax theater. The image quality on screen simply cannot match that of the Imax format. Is the image quality bad? Hardly, this is a relatively brand new projector (installed in about April) and it does a nice job of showing bright and crisp images–it just doesn’t show the high “HD like” quality that Imax does.

Second, the sound. Consolidated amped up the volume by installing a bunch of new speakers, most noticeably on the sides and ceiling of the theater. This did make for a much louder experience, but it was hard to gauge the effectiveness with a movie like Toy Story 3. Was the sound louder? Yes. Was it loud enough to drown out the crying child in the row behind me and three seats over? No.

Third, the screen–while it is wall to wall and does make for a more dramatic presentation, I personally didn’t think it added that much to the viewing experience.

Fourth, the seats–while they are nice and new, I overheard an employee mention that they are pleather seats. Still they are comfortable just the same as the old ones. Although, one plus is that all of these seats recline a little (like the ones in the first few rows). Also all rows and seats are now numbered so you can properly find your reserved seat.

Fifth and finally, the glasses. These are the bulkiest of the 3D glasses I have ever worn and if you wear regular glasses, I hope you have a small pair as I fear larger frames may not fit under the XpanD 3D glasses. Also, for some reason, the on screen images are darkened when wearing the glasses so expect a slightly muted presentation for 3D showings.

Overall, I think you’ll get a decent experience with Consolidated’s new Titan XC. I just don’t think it will be as “world class” as is being advertised. I still say that the biggest selling point of this new theater will be the reserved seating. Want to see Eclipse on opening night AND be able to show up just 20 minutes before the movie starts? This will be the way to do it!

Detailed Review ::

Consolidated Ward’s Titan XC in theater 8 definitely had the “new theater smell” like when you get a new car. Here’s more of what you can expect from each of some of the new theater’s features and an introduction from theater management.

SEATING

The new seats showing the row and numbering system.

As mentioned previously, all the seats are brand spanking new (hence the new theater smell). As far as comfort levels go, I really couldn’t tell the different between the old seats and the new ones. What I do like though is all of the seats recline a little (about 3-4 inches backward). As noted in the images above, all seats are are now numbered. The numbering starts at #1 on the left side of a row (if you’re facing the row) and works it’s way up as you move to the right across the row. Rows are numbered by letters. I know that the upper portion of rows in theater 8 are double lettered (AA, BB, CC, etc) and increase as they work they’re way up. I forgot to check while we were there, but I’m not sure if the rows in the lower level are double lettered or single lettered. Though I suspect they are single lettered to differentiate themselves from the top portion of seats. The row numbers are illuminated so you will have an easier time finding your row in the theater if the lights are off. I only hope they have new cleaning supplies as well because once food or drinks start falling on seats, it will definitely be more noticeable than with the old ones.

SCREEN

You can make out the slight curvature of the screen from this vantage point.

One aspect of the Titan XC experience that delivers as advertised is the wall-to-wall screen that now fills the entire 66 feet width of the theater. At first glance it doesn’t seem too big of a difference. After all, Ward’s big theaters (#7-10) already had bigger screens when compared to Dole, so what do a few more feet add? Well, you know the saying, “bigger is better,” it still applies. Those few feet do make a difference and make the theater that much more new and different. One noticeable improvement though is that now the screen is concave or curved away from the audience. This is done to negate the effects of distortion from the projector. One thing to remember though is that with bigger screens you need to sit farther back to enjoy the experience. I would recommend sitting in the upper portion of the theater if possible for the optimal experience.

SOUND

Huge JBL speakers line the walls of the theater giving it 7.1 audio channels.

One of the first things you notice when you walk into the Titan theater is that there are a lot more speakers than there were before. JBL speakers line both sides of the theater and the ceiling. I’m sure there were speakers on the wall before the renovation, but they have been since upgraded to the more noticeable JBL ones now installed (9 on each wall, 14 on the ceiling). Also part of the upgrade included doubling the subwoofer power behind the screen. All this leads to an extra 2 channels of audio in the theater. Theater standard is 5.1 surround. Consolidated went above and beyond to upgrade the theater to 7.1. Now does this translate to a better movie experience? The jury is still out on the audio with Titan. The sound was noticeably louder in the Titan theater, but I’m not sure if I was really that much more immersed in the seven channels of audio. Probably a better measuring stick would be a movie like Saving Private Ryan or some other action movie. As it stands right now, Titan’s roar is louder, but not necessarily more intense.

PICTURE QUALITY

As I opened up with in the quick review section of this post, picture quality in the Titan theater is marginally better than other theaters. The image is clean, clear, and crisp, but it’s no Imax. As mentioned in their press release, the theater is operating an NEC digital projector. A quick web search of NEC’s offerings for digital projectors show industry standard projectors, a standard that is below that of Imax. However, Titan is a digital theater so it does have a leg up on other film theaters. If you have an option of seeing a movie in a digital theater or a film theater, opt for the digital one. With digital projection, the film print does not degrade from multiple viewings (this results in faded images and lots of artifacts, or spots, seen when viewing). Since Titan is indeed digital, the picture will look as good from the first viewing to the 100th. A positive note about this NEC technology is that their website states that later this year, their models will be able to upgrade to higher resolutions–hopefully Consolidated can implement this.

GLASSES

This is probably one aspect of the Titan XC experience that affected me the most–their 3D glasses. I’ve used 3D glasses for Imax, Dolby 3D, RealD, and now XpanD. Out of all of them, the XpanD’s have been the bulkiest. Now I usually don’t mind the glasses. This time though, I had to wear my glasses underneath the 3D glasses and while it wasn’t irritating, I definitely “felt” the weight of the glasses on my head over my own glasses. Another moviegoer in my party mentioned that they didn’t like the XpanD glasses and that the Imax one’s are better since they are lighter and easier to fit over your glasses. Another somewhat negative aspect of the glasses were that they really darkened the picture image on screen. Without them on, the picture was bright and the colors vibrant. When put on, there was a significant change in picture brightness. Don’t know exactly what the story is with that, but it’s another reason why I probably wouldn’t see another 3D film in this theater.

PRICE

Adult – $14.25 :: Child/Senior – $11.00 :: Adult 3D – $16.25 :: Child/Senior 3D – $13.00
I still believe that the biggest selling point of this theater will be the fact that you can reserve your seat. For an extra $3.50 (regular Ward ticket prices start at $10.75 for adults) you can see a movie on opening weekend without having to worry about coming early, standing in lines, and then fight the crowd to get a good seat. And I like how there are two prices for films in the theater, one for 2D and another for 3D (Dole’s Imax has a single price for both 2D and 3D movies). In the end, Consolidated was smart my making their Titan XC price points lower than those of Dole’s Imax.

IN SUMMARY

As I theorized in my previous blog post, a lot of the “experience” of the Titan XC theater at Ward can be chalked up to marketing by Consolidated. It’s not a bad experience, in fact it’s a pretty decent one–it’s just not as great as an experience as advertised. However, this shouldn’t stop people from going to check out the Titan XC experience for themselves. We’re all different so you might come up with your own assessment of the theater. As with all things, be informed about your movie viewing choices.

————————————-

Additional Reading:

Hawaii News Now Feature on Titan XC

Urban Mix Plate at the Titan XC debut

Hawaii Blog – Consolidated Theatres’ Big Play

Star Advertiser – Audiences prepare for splash of this Titan

15
Jun
10

Clash of the Titan XC

This week Friday (June 18, 2010) Consolidated Theatres will debut a new moviegoing experience with the opening of their new Titan XC (extreme cinema) screen at their Ward location. They have taken one screen (theater 8) and have renovated the entire theater and will feature (from Consolidated Theatre’s press release):

  • A wall-to-wall screen 66 feet wide and 35 feet tall
  • Pristine digital images with “the most advanced 3D”
    • a new “state-of-art,” NEC digital projection system
    • XpanD 3D system
  • Unsurpassed Sound
    • Dolby Surround, 7.1 audio channels
    • 75,000 watt digital sound system
    • 18 speakers on the walls, 14 in the ceiling, doubled the number of subwoofers
  • Leather Seating
  • Reserved Seating

While it all sounds nice and fancy, I’m going to hold judgement till after I take in Ward’s Titan XC myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for improving the moviegoing experience here in Hawaii and I’m a big fan of Ward Theaters, but let’s face it . . . Ward needed to do something to keep up with the IMAX theater at Regal Cinema’s Dole location.

Since opening last year, Dole’s IMAX has definitely been a money maker for them with a number of films coming out in IMAX (most notably James Cameron’s Avatar). With the only commercial IMAX theater on the island, and tickets for the theater being sold at $17 a pop (compared to a $4 3D surcharge on top of normal ticket prices) it’s easy to see that Ward has been losing out on a niche that only Dole has been capitalizing on.

There are several stumbling blocks that Ward will need to overcome for the Titan experience to be successful. Perhaps the biggest problem is that Titan XC is not something that moviegoers recognize. It’s not a name brand like how IMAX is. Everyone remembers when they were younger and we had a “real” IMAX in Waikiki or having gone to the mainland and seeing big IMAX screens there. We know what it is. IMAX is a name brand, and more importantly it’s a format that Hollywood is formatting their films for (select scenes in Transformers and The Dark Knight were shot in IMAX). Sadly the “Titan XC” brand is something that moviegoers are not familiar with and as far as I can tell, not a format of any sort. Hence the marketing campaign which has been going on for the past two weeks. In order for people to know about something, you have to tell them about it. And if you’re going to tell them about something, make sure you tell them it has all the newest bells and whistles.

The NEC NC3200S digital cinema projector. Is this the driving force behind Ward's new Titan XC?

The second problem I foresee is the technology itself. The digital projectors used in theaters currently conform to Digital Cinema Initiatives specifications as set forth by the Big 6 studios (Warner Bros, Sony, Disney, Universal, Paramount, Fox). Currently these standards seem to be below the resolution presented by digital IMAX. Simply put, unless this new NEC digital projector is indeed “state-of-the-art,” I don’t foresee the projection quality being better than it would be in IMAX (not sure which model Ward is installing, but the newest NEC projectors will be able to upgrade to a higher resolution standard than what is required–possibly at a later time). If this turns out to be the case, Ward could have a tough time selling moviegoers on this technology once word gets out. Again, I’ll need to reserve judgement until I can see the technology in action.

However, Ward’s new Titan experience does have two things going for it:

  1. Reserved Seating–Cavemen had the wheel, Edison had his light blub, Bell had the telephone, and now Hawaii finally has reserved seating for movies. How would you like to not have to hassle with waiting in line on opening night? Just show up 20 minutes before the show starts, buy your food and sit down without having to worry about finding a seat? Sounds so easy right? I mean really, sports and the airline industry have been doing it for decades, why not the theaters as well? This semi new feature (Ward previously did have a concierge service that allowed for reserved seating–as a subscription service) is a great selling point as it will take some antagonism out of the movie going experience. The downside–it’s only for one theater.
  2. Price–For about two weeks after Consolidated announced Titan XC I was very hesitant as no where did they announce the ticket prices for this new “experience.” However last week they finally set the ticket prices and I have to say that they’re really trying to do their best to compete with Dole. Take a look:
  • Adult – $14.25
  • Senior/Child – $11.00
  • 3D Adult – $16.25
  • 3D Senior/Child – $13.00

Compare these prices to Dole’s IMAX where ticket prices are $17 for adults, $14 for kids, and $13.50 for seniors (in either 2D or 3D) and Ward is definitely undercutting Dole. This will definitely turn the tide in Ward’s favor if the technology is as good or better than Dole’s IMAX. If not, you still have the consolation of paying about $4 more than a regular Ward ticket price for the amenity of reserving your seat–still, not a bad deal.

After it’s all said and done though, having more viewing options for moviegoers can never be a bad thing. I just hope that Consolidated hasn’t rushed blindly into competing with Dole by giving us window dressing in the form of Titan XC. Hopefully I can check out the new Titan XC experience this weekend. And if I do, expect a follow up post to hash everything out.

——————————————–

Additional Reading:

The Titan XC webpage on Consolidated’s website, with a link to their press release and ticket prices.

Rachel Gibson of Consolidated Theatres talking about Titan XC on Wake Up 2Day

23
Dec
09

Avatar is King of the World!

The new James Cameron flick out shot the competition on opening weekend, but is Avatar as good as everyone says it is?

So you’ve been to the theater to see James Cameron’s new $400 – $500 film Avatar, and after having taken off the glasses I’m sure something you had to wonder was: Does it live up to the hype? If you’re anything like me, you heard absolutely nothing about this movie before August. More than likely though you started hearing some buzz when the first trailer came out in September or October. Then you started hearing that this was James Cameron’s first movie since Titanic and that he was pushing the boundaries of digital animation and cinema. Now, as the dust settles, is Avatar going to be James Cameron’s next Titanic? Or is it just another in a long line of gimmicky 3D movies?

In my humble opinion . . . it does live up to the hype.

// The Technology

Production on Avatar took four years with Cameron developing new motion capture technology.

While digital animation, effects, and green screen are nothing new in film making, the techniques Cameron has pioneered for Avatar are. By developing new motion capture techniques for actors, with emphasis on facial details, and blending that with Cameron’s own brand of CGI-the line between what is live action and digital effects are starting to blur together. As you watch the movie it is very hard to tell that most of what you are watching was created in a computer. It’s almost as if they added in digital imperfections to give the effects and animation a more realistic look. Also, the movie does a great job of utilizing 3D. Most of the 3D involves defining space within the screen with just enough popping out not to make it seem annoying.

// Word of Mouth

Buzz has been strong among moviegoers. Photo courtesy Flickr.

The general consensus that I’ve heard, for the most part, is that everyone is enjoying their Avatar experience. Friends that I’ve talked to, tweets that I’ve read, reports and blog posts that I’ve been reading all lead me to believe that Avatar is generating a considerable amount of positive buzz. When your movie makes back half of it’s reported budget on opening weekend AND gets a glowing review from hardline movie critic Roger Ebert, good buzz is sure to follow. Who knows, maybe this buzz will lead to Titanic sized attendance in the weeks to come.

// Final Thoughts

Call it cliché or just my own naïveté, but I am going to say that Avatar will be one of the top films of the year. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and while the general plot of the movie is something we’ve sort of all heard before, it truly is the journey and not the destination that matters. I bought in to the characters and what Cameron was selling, so much so that towards the end I didn’t know who was going to make it, and who wasn’t. And, as I’ve previously stated, the visuals in the movie are spectacular, especially when combined with the  Hi-Defness of IMAX. There’s something in this movie for everyone, so if you’ve got the time during the holidays I say go out and check it out . . . after all, the king of the world is back.

———————————————————————–

// Avatar Articles and Posts of Interest

Local Review :: by Russel Kealoha of the Two Beer Queers and Metromix Honolulu

Local Review :: by Ryan Senega of Honolulu Weekly

Mainland Soundbites :: from AMC’s Script to Screen has excerpts from various trades

Crazy Tech :: from Screen Rant gives more details on Avatar’s new technology

The Titanic Effect :: from Hollywood.com looks at potential Avatar backlash

Pick Your 3D :: from the 3D Vision Blog breaks down the different 3D technologies in theaters

18
Aug
09

Avatar Preview . . . in Honolulu?

CC_Cameron

At last month’s San Diego Comic Con I was fortunate enough to make it into the infamous Hall H to get a preview of James Cameron’s newest movie AVATAR (his first since doing Titanic). The premise of the movie is that in the future humans have traveled to a far away planet named Pandora and use avatars, genetically created human/alien hybrids, to explore/harvest/mine the planet in place of humans as the planet has a not so hospitable environment. Naturally conflict arises between us and the resident aliens.

So the big deal with this movie is that it has been under wraps for the past two or three years with no one outside of the studio knowing any of the details . . . until Comic Con. Cameron was there to show approximately 20-25 minutes of footage from the movie, most of which was finished, all of which was in 3D (glasses were distributed to the audience). Needless to say, the footage and following Q&A made quite a splash. Towards the end of the panel Cameron mentioned that on August 21 they were going to take over as many IMAX and 3D screens as possible to show 15 minutes of footage . . . free of charge!

The first thing I thought when I heard this was, “wow that’s cool that they’re going to try and do this.” The second thing I immediately thought after that was, “are they going to do it in Hawaii?”

Needless to say, being in the middle of the Pacific, we certainly are off the beaten path for a lot of things–so my questioning did have some validity. However, poking around on the web today imagine my surprise when I ventured over to the Regal Entertainment Group’s website to find a banner indicating a sign-up to see this 15 minutes of footage, this Friday, August 21! Sure enough, going through the listings there are two “showtimes” for the Dole Cannery IMAX screen, one at 6pm and the other at 6:45pm. While the showing will be free, RSVP and invitation is required and you are only able to bring two people per request.

A marketing promo for a big Hollywood blockbuster, by a big time director, here in a small market like Honolulu? Sounds almost to good to be true. I’m not going to waste this opportunity and neither should you. I’ve got my reservations. What about you?

Honolulu residents, click the image to sign up for Dole Cannery screenings.

—————————————————————————–

More reading for your consideration:

Official Avatar Movie Website
THR.com’s Risky Biz Blog – James Cameron teasing ‘Avatar’ for free on Imax, 3D screens




Red Band Feed

Contact Red Band Project

team@redbandproject.com

We’re on Facebook