On 12.21 I ran some comments from reputably knowledgable tech guy Al Magliochetti (a friend vouches for him) about IMAX 3D showings of Avatar at Universal Citywalk being slightly out-of-synch. He wrote me again this evening with an update. With a shocker, actually.

“IMAX called me today and said that apparently all of the IMAX digital projectors routinely show 3D films approximately 1/3rd frame out of sync,” Magliochetti claims, “because the projectors are obsolete and can’t keep up with film technology, and James Cameron didn’t know this when Avatar was planned.

And yet the sync/collapse problem Magliochetti was seeing before is considered “normal” for digital projection and can’t be corrected. “It’s not obvious on most presentations because it only shows up in fast lateral motions by either the characters or the camera,” he explains.

“I am told the only fully-synched IMAX 3D for Avatar is on film prints,” he says, “and there are only two venues showing that in Southern California, the closest of which is in Cathedral City. The best place to see Avatar in digital 3D is at The Bridge or at the Burbank 16 — apparently both of those theaters have top-notch projectionists who actually know what they’re doing.

“I am told there’s some non-IMAX film projections in town (at the Arclight, among other places) which will be in perfect sync, but I have yet to confirm which theaters project in this format.

“Apparently the Universal Citywalk IMAX is ‘the most poorly run IMAX theater in the LA circuit,’ I’m told. The IMAX guys claimed they ‘constantly have to go in there’ to check on their problems, which includes an incident last Thursday when the projectionist apparently neglected to use the dust-cleaner properly, causing the IMAX projection to clutter up with dirt through the entire screening.”