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An overview: RealD 3D vs. Imax Digital 3D

[By Timothy Fernandez, CNET]

3D movies are nothing new these days, with polarized glasses used almost exclusively in 3D cinemas throughout the world. Most of us who’ve caught a 3D movie at the cinemas recently, probably experienced the more common RealD 3D technology. 

A few weeks ago, Singapore cinema operator, Shaw Organization, opened its doors to the country’s first Imax Digital 3D screen. Larger countries in Asia have several Imax screens. South Korea, for example, boasts about 10 screens while the Philippines has four. China–unsurprisingly–has over 20. Keep in mind that not all Imax cinemas are capable of screening digital or 3D movies since they require different projectors. 

How do Imax Digital 3D movies compare with their RealD 3D counterparts? Here’s what we know. 

RealD 3D vs. Imax Digital 3D

RealD 3D and Imax Digital 3D both utilize passive 3D technology which makes use of relatively lightweight eyewear. These passive 3D glasses use polarizing filters to allow each eye to see a slightly different image. HDTVs like LG’s latest Cinema 3D TVs work in a similar fashion. You can learn more about the various 3D TV technologies here.

 

Brief technology overview

RealD 3D: The prevalent technology in 3D cinemas worldwide comes from RealD, an American company founded in 2003. The RealD 3D format is natively digital. This means that movies have to be produced in a digital 3D format for projection on film-less digital projectors. RealD cinemas also use the passive circular polarizing technique to achieve 3D which allows viewers a clear image even when turning or tilting their heads. The first RealD 3D movie screened was Chicken Little in 2005.

 

Imax Digital 3D: This is a similar format that also uses polarizing glasses. Imax Digital 3D is an evolutionary improvement of analog Imax 3D theaters that have been around since 1986. Its long history is evident even in the much newer Imax Digital 3D theaters since they still utilize the linear polarizing technology of its analog predecessors. Unlike RealD, Imax 3D movies are less tolerant of head movements. Viewers have to avoid tilting their heads, though some turning–probably unavoidable due to the massive Imax screen format–is possible. Also, Imax screens are curved to fill a viewer’s field-of-view, which enhances immersion while giving those sitting at the sides a better view of the action. 

Note: We will not be discussing analog Imax 3D theaters for this article since it is meant to contrast the two dominant digital 3D formats currently available in cinemas.

Why do Imax Digital 3D movies cost more?

 

3D ticket prices vary across Asia but Imax Digital 3D tickets typically cost more than their RealD 3D counterparts. In Singapore, a weekday ticket to the recent Pirates of the Caribbean movie at the Lido Cineplex costs S$19 on Imax Digital 3D and a mere S$11 on RealD 3D. At an AMC (a US movie theater chain) cinema in Los Angeles, the same Imax Digital 3D movie costs US$19.50, which is US$2 to US$5 more than the equivalent RealD screening. 

Theater audiences are paying more for Imax 3D movies for a few possible reasons. The first being the much larger screen such cinemas are known for that could contribute to a more immersive 3D experience. Other reasons include better sound and a potentially brighter image. 

Aside from the larger screen size, there are other notable differences between Imax Digital 3D and RealD 3D. RealD 3D projectors like Sony’s 4K Digital Cinema models use a special lens to project 3D visuals giving viewers four times the resolution of full-HD 1080p. 

Imax Digital 3D theaters, on the other hand, use Christie 2K dual-projector systems which give the same resolution as full-HD. These projectors are larger than Sony’s latest projector.

See the original post here: http://asia.cnet.com/an-overview-reald-3d-vs-imax-digital-3d-62208932.htm

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