Curved theatre screens -- What's the deal?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Rob_J, Feb 25, 2002.

  1. Rob_J

    Rob_J Stunt Coordinator

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    So why are the curved screens so much better? I assume they are supposed to eliminate distortion, but from my experience, it makes things look bent. Credits and subtitles appear curved on the screen instead of straight. Was it a case of my not being in the center of the theatre? I was only a few seats away from center...

    Does anyone have any input on this?
     
  2. Bill Slack

    Bill Slack Supporting Actor

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    They require less light output, so they are a commong sight on large screens in order to keep the brightness up.
     
  3. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i hate curved screens. all it does is distort the whole image. mostly because the image is never aimed at the screen on the correct angle. i will never watch a movie at a curved screen theater again.
     
  4. Greg Rowe

    Greg Rowe Stunt Coordinator

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    Huh. I never noticed distortions on curved screens. I like them because the curved screens I have seen movies on are HUGE. I love being in those theaters because the screen is so large.

    Greg
     
  5. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    I don't like them. I normally like to sit close to the screen, and the curved screens distort the picture a lot at shorter viewing distances.

    /Mike
     
  6. Jared_B

    Jared_B Supporting Actor

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    They are curved so that the distance from screen to projector is always equal, no matter what angle. This makes for a less distorted image, but only if the projector is optimized to work with the curved screen.
     
  7. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    You can "blame" curved sceens on a 1952 phenomenom called Cinerama. That film process (3 cameras/3projectors) provided a 146 degree view at all times. The screen was curved to literally draw the audience into the film - thus the ad phrase "Puts You In The Picture". After the unprecedented success of the original Cinerama process, 20th Century Fox pulled out an old ananmorphic lens from their labs, dubbed it CinemaScope and released films to theatres in an aspect ratio of 2.55:1. (Cinerama was approximately 2.76:1). The use of a curved screen in many early CinemaScope set ups tried to give that same feeling of audience participation. It didn't. Following Cinerama and the copycat Cinemiracle came the 70mm Todd AO with it's highly curved screen, then MGM Camera 65, Dimension 150, etc.. A curved screen for the original 3 projector Cinerama was a must. Bogus Cinerama films shot in 70mm such as "Mad World" and "2001" were projected on the original Cinerama screens in those venues that had them to varying success. In the case of "Mad World" the print was "rectified" to make the image area on the far right and left squeezed to compensate for the normal stretching of the image on the sides during projection. This distortion could be seen in the Cinerama presentation of "2001" which was not "rectified" as "Mad World" resulting in the images on the sides being wider then the center.
     
  8. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    And, to add to what Peter said, if the projectors are not in parallel alignment with the curved screen, the keystoning effect comes into play. The result, when 2001 screened at Hollywood's Cinerama Dome in 70mm faux "Cinerama," was a pronounced bowing toward the center of the screen. For example, the title of the film dipped in the middle and looked very odd.

    Curved screens can be exciting--but only if the projection booth has been properly set up.
     
  9. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    Jack is correct about the Dome. The projection booth was in the wrong place from the very opening day. However, I saw "2001" at the Hollywood Warner (Pacific) on the Blvd. The image was properly projected with the exception of the side images being stretched (like some people do with their 16X9 tv's to "fill up" the picture area. Tsk, tsk........).
     
  10. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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  11. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    TonyD,

    What theatre did you see Superman in. Was the screen a very deep curve or just a moderate one. Most theatres with a moderate curve have the screen slightly tilted upwards. Also the projection booths in older larger theatres are far enough back to reduce any distortion. It's also dependent on using the proper lense in the projector and taking care in alignment. So many movies are overprojected and improperly framed nowadays that it's rare that you get the kind of care that was part of the movie going experience in the 50 -70s.

    I saw "A.I." totaly botched at a movie theatre when it came out. Nobody in the audience, except myself, bothered to get the manager to fix things. They did stop the film for an adjustment. But instead of heads being chopped off, the bottom of the image was.
     
  12. Rob_J

    Rob_J Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow, thanks for the info guys! Whatever the reason was for the curved screen, I did not care for it. You would think with all the technology these days, they wouldn't mess up something as simple as projector alignment. There are some things technology just should not interfere with, and I guess this is one of them (strictly speaking of the screen of course).
     
  13. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    peter i don't remember the name or location of the theater. it was outside of philly in jersey near the ben franklin bridge.

    if neil bulk happens to find this thread he was the man who organized the movie and i think he has said it is his home,local theater.
     
  14. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    Not only in theaters, people are building these at home for FPTV!
    This is an excellent post on curved screens over at AVS forum with good before/after shots as well as good info on the screens; I would think that some of the principles would apply to theater sized applications as well.
    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...=curved+screen
     

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