Am I the only person on the North American continent working the Titanic 3D RealD vs. Panavision 3D story? Apparently so. But long ago I recognized that I’m alone, all alone, and it doesn’t bother me any more.
The long and the short is that next week I’ll be seeing Titanic 3D twice on separate 3D systems. On Tuesday, 4.3, I’ll see Titanic 3D at Paramount’s all-media screening with the film projected with the RealD process and (possibly) a Sony 3D projector. The next day I’ll drive down to see Titanic 3D at the UltraLuxe Anaheim 14, which is the only theatre in the Los Angeles area that’ll be showing the film with Panavision 3D, a year-old process that may deliver a brighter, sharper image. Or not. I won’t know until I’ve compared.
The basics are (a) Roger Ebert and David Poland griped about Titanic 3D looking a bit darkish and filtered when they saw it at special Valentine’s Day screenings in Chicago and Burbank, respectively, (b) I was told by Full Aperture Systems projection consultant James Bond that less murky 3D projection was attainable through Panavision 3D, a 3D image-enhancement system that works with 3D projectors manufactured by Christie, Barco and NEC, (c) Two weeks ago I went out to Panavision headquarters to see a demonstration of Panavision 3D; (d) Panavision 3D seemed well-lighted and well-focused, and definitely looked better than celluloid 3D; and (e) we’ll see what we’ll see when I watch and compare.
It may be that that Ebert and Poland were both unluckily subjected to sub-standard presentations of Titanic 3D, and that there will be nothing wrong or even underwhelming with the RealD presentation of Titanic 3D that I’ll see at the Paramount screening on 4.3.
On 2.14 N.Y. Post critic Lou Lumenick wrote that Titanic 3D director James Cameron “has obviously taken great care in using the technology to enhance the experience of watching his 1997 Oscar winner…the 3D in Titanic is more effective than in most films that were originally filmed in the process. It adds depth and makes the vastness of the titular ship, its decks and corridors look even larger and longer. The already-spectacular effects in the long sinking sequence look even more breathtaking in 3-D. Kate Winslet‘s voluptuous figure in 3-D is one of the most magical effects — along with Leonardo DiCaprio‘s climactic slide into the depths, wonderfully rendered stereotypically.”
Or maybe the Panavision 3D version will look a little bit better. Who knows?
It would so much easier if a theatre in Los Angeles proper had adopted the Panavison 3D process, but (a) I’m told that RealD reps have persuaded an awful lot of theatres to sign exclusivity contracts and (b) it always takes a while for new ideas and new systems to work their way in.
The Panavision 3D version of Titanic 3D will begin showing at the UltraLuxe Anaheim 14, 321 W. Katella Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92802, on Wednesday, 4.4.
In a 2.27.12 piece called “Can Titanic 3D Be Saved From “Filter” Effect?,” I wrote the following:
“Panavision 3D’s system (a) involves no polarization, (b) allows exhibitors to project 3D on white or silver screens, and (c) allows for brighter 3D light levels (which are measured in foot lamberts) than what Bond says is the usual-usual, or 2.5 to 4 foot lamberts.
Panavision 3D, which has only been around for about a year, allows for something closer to 4 or 5 foot lamberts. This cuts into contrast, Bond says, but is nonetheless much more preferable to what most people are seeing with other lower-light-level systems.
Right now Panavison 3D is ‘the very best of all…a very seamless process,’ Bond says.
“The one 3D system that Panavision doesn’t work with, according to Panavision 3D rep Sean Lohan, is Sony’s, which is much less admired among high-end projection consultants. (The Regal Cinema chain, he notes, ‘has finalized a decision to remove any Sony 3D machines they have in the booth.’) And yet in 2009 it was reported that Sony’s 3D projectors are technologically allied with RealD, the 3D projection process that Titanic 3D will be shown through.”
To repeat: I was definitely impressed by Panavision 3D. My pants didn’t unbutton themselves and fall to the floor as I watched the test screening out of Panavision’s Woodland Hills headquarters, but what I was shown did seem brighter than the norm. I really don’t care for that shadowed muddy effect that 3D so often renders, so we’ll see what transpires.