Report: HFR 3D theater count doubles for Desolation of Smaug

the-hobbit-peter-jackson-48fps

The number of theaters capable of projecting movies at high frame rates (48 fps, 60 fps) has nearly doubled since The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arrived a year ago, according to The Wrap:

The studio is substantially expanding the number of theaters this time around. As many as 750 theaters will exhibit “The Desolation of Smaug” in the enhanced projection — up from roughly 450 theaters the first time.

Internationally, the increase in HFR 3D theaters is even more impressive, with Desolation playing on almost 2,500 screens, up from 1,669.

Warner Bros. has intentionally been very quiet about HFR 3D in the months and weeks leading up to Desolation‘s release. Last year, of course, discussion of AUJ’s 48 fps 3D was ubiquitous, with Peter Jackson, WETA and others writing articles and doing interviews about it, and with critics, movie/Hobbit fans, and tech enthusiasts all weighing in.

The response from critics leaned towards the negative, even though the great majority of movie fans seemingly either loved the experience outright or appreciated it while desiring improvements/tweaks.  So it makes sense to me that Warner Bros. wants the media’s focus to be on the movie and not its format this time (Peter Jackson told a reporter that “technology drove a lot of the reviews” of AUJ).

Press screenings for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug have all been in standard, 24 fps 3D to prevent this.

I think this is a good thing – this year the talk regarding HFR 3D will almost all be from Hobbit fans, and not fogey critics.  I’m very much looking forward to reading people’s thoughts especially given rumors that Jackson has taken steps to mitigate the most` common complaints people has regarding AUJ’s HFR 3D.

I’d bet that the overall buzz will be very good for HFR 3D this time around, thereby building support and momentum for future high frame rate movies.  Last time the negative noise from 24 fps traditionalists (most professional movie critics) was just too loud, resulting in the specious and commonly parroted conclusion that the HFR 3D experiment was a failure, an d coloring reviews of the movie.

The Wrap’s story confirms what I had long suspected due to my observations of packed HFR 3D showings: that HFR 3D was in great demand, selling out theaters many weeks after opening night:

“With the original ‘Hobbit,’ we kept selling out of tickets for our high frame rate auditoriums,” Russ Nunley, a spokesman for Regal, said. ” There was a huge demand from moviegoers who wanted to see the film exactly the way director Peter Jackson shot it.”

Regal’s HFR 3D screen count has increased dramatically, going from 100 last year to almost 400 this year.

IMAX has doubled their worldwide HFR 3D screen count to 100+, IMAX Entertainment CEO Greg Foster tells The Wrap, adding that the number will rise since IMAX is still negotiating HFR 3D locations in China.

Official list of IMAX theaters that are HFR 3D capable

brnd_imaxlogo2925c_300dpiIMAX has posted a list of IMAX theaters that are capable of projecting HFR 3D content, but they take care to note that not all of these locations are guaranteed to be showing The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in high frame rate 3D later this month:

“All playdates are pending. Please check with your local IMAX® theatre directly to find out if they will be showing the movie in HFR 3D.”

Here’s the full list of IMAX theaters “that are capable of projecting in HFR 3D for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”, as of December 5:

US/CANADA

Alberta

Scotiabank Chinook & IMAX – Calgary 

Alaska

Regal Tikahtnu Commons Stadium 16 & IMAX – Anchorage

California

Edwards Aliso Viejo 20 & IMAX – Aliso Viejo

AMC Burbank 16 & IMAX – Burbank

Regal Hacienda Crossings Stadium 21 & IMAX – Dublin

AMC Glendora 12 & IMAX – Glendora

TCL Chinese Theatres IMAX – Hollywood

Edwards Irvine Spectrum 21 & IMAX – Irvine

AMC Century City 15 & IMAX – Los Angeles

Edwards Ontario Palace Stadium 22 & IMAX – Ontario

Edwards Mira Mesa Stadium 18 & IMAX – San Diego

AMC Mercado 20 & IMAX – Santa Clara

AMC Del Amo 18 & IMAX – Torrance

Colorado

AMC Orchard 12 & IMAX – Westminster

AMC Westminster Promenade 24 & IMAX – Westminster

Delaware

Penn Cinema Riverfront & IMAX – Wilmington

Florida

AMC Altamonte Mall 24 & IMAX – Altamonte

AMC Aventura 24 & IMAX – Aventura

Regal Hollywood 16 & IMAX – Ocala

Regal Pointe Orlando Stadium 20 & IMAX – Orlando

Muvico Parisian & IMAX – West Palm Beach

Georgia

AMC North Point Mall 14 & IMAX – Alpharetta

AMC Avenue Forsyth 12 & IMAX – Cumming

Illinois

Navy Pier IMAX – Chicago

Regal City North Stadium 14 – Chicago

AMC Barrington 30 & IMAX – South Barrington

Kansas

AMC Studio 30 & IMAX – Olathe

Maryland

AMC Columbia 14 & IMAX – Columbia

Minnesota

Paragon Odyssey 15 IMAX – Burnsville

New Jersey

IMAX, Tropicana Casino & Resort – Atlantic City

AMC Loews New Brunswick 18 & IMAX – New Brunswick

AMC Garden State Plaza 16 & IMAX – Paramus

New Mexico

Regal Winrock Stadium 16 Theatre & IMAX – Albuquerque

Nevada

Regal Red Rock Stadium 16 & IMAX – Las Vegas

New York

AMC Loews 34th Street 14 & IMAX – New York

Regal Destiny USA Stadium 19 IMAX & RPX – Syracuse

Ohio

AMC Grove City 14 & IMAX – Grove City

Ontario

Landmark 10 Central & IMAX – Kingston

Cineplex Odeon Courtney Park & IMAX – Mississauga

Empire Empress Walk 10 Cinemas & IMAX – North York

Landmark Whitby 24 & IMAX – Whitby

Oregon

Regal Bridgeport Village Stadium 18 & IMAX – Tigard

Pennsylvania

UA King of Prussia Stadium 16 & IMAX – King of Prussia

Quebec

Mega-Plex Deux Montagnes 14 & IMAX – Duex-Montagnes

Mega-Plex Taschereau 18 & IMAX – Greenfield Park

Mega-Plex Marche Central 18 – Montreal

IMAX, Les Galeries de la Capitale – Quebec City

South Carolina

Regal Sandhill Stadium 16 – Columbia

Tennessee

Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 & IMAX – Knoxville

Texas

AMC Northpark 15 & IMAX – Dallas

AMC Studio 30 & IMAX – Houston

Santikos Palladium IMAX – San Antonio

Utah

Megaplex 17 & IMAX Jordan Commons – Sandy

Virginia

AMC Hoffman Center 22 & IMAX – Alexandria

AMC Tyson Corner 16 & IMAX – McLean

Regal Short Pump Stadium 14 & IMAX – Richmond

Washington

IMAX Lincoln Square Cinemas – Bellevue

Regal Issaquah Highlands Stadium 12 & IMAX – Issaquah

Regal Cascade Stadium 16 & IMAX – Vancouver

INTERNATIONAL

Carousel Hoyts IMAX – Perth, Australia

Cineplexx Salzburg – Salzburg, Austria

Cineplexx IMAX Donauplex 13 – Vienna, Austria

Cinepolis JK Iguatemi Shopping Centre IMAX – Sao Paulo, Brazil

Cinestar Berlin Sony Centre (Potsdamer Plaz) – Berlin, Germany

Cinestar Karlsruhe – Karlsruhe, Germany

UA iSQUARE IMAX Theatre – Hong Kong

Cineworld IMAX Dublin – Dublin, Ireland

Skyline Multiplex & IMAX – Milan, Italy

Cinepolis Universidad – Mexico City, Mexico

Cinepolis Angelopolis Puebla & IMAX – Puebla, Mexico

Pathe Arena Amsterdam – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Pathe Eindhoven – Eindhoven, Netherlands

Event Cinemas Queen Street & IMAX – Auckland, New Zealand

SM Cinema Mall of Asia IMAX Theatre – Manila, Philippines

SM Aura Premier IMAX – Taguig City, Philippines

Shaw Theatres Lido & IMAX – Singapore

Ster-Kinekor Gateway IMAX – Durban, South Africa

CGV Wangsimni IMAX – Seoul, South Korea

CGV Sangam & IMAX – Seoul, South Korea

CGV Ulsan Samsan – Ulsan, South Korea

Formula Kino Piterland IMAX Sapphire – St. Petersburg, Russia

Formula Kino Gemchuzhina & IMAX (Pearl Plaza) – St. Petersburg, Russia

Cinema Pathe Balexert – Geneva, Switzerland

Vieshow Banqiao Mega City Mall IMAX – Banqiao, Taiwan

Miramar IMAX Theatre – Taipei, Taiwan

IMAX Central Festival Chiang Mai – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Central Festival Hat Yai & IMAX – Hat Yai, Thailand

Glasgow Science Centre IMAX Cinema – Glasgow, United Kingdom

Bluewater Shopping Centre – Kent, United Kingdom

Odeon IMAX Swiss Cottage – London, United Kingdom

Odeon Manchester IMAX @ The Printworks – Manchester, United Kingdom

ODEON Trafford Centre & IMAX – Manchester, United Kingdom

Cineworld Nottingham & IMAX – Nottingham, United Kingdom

Cineworld Sheffield & IMAX – Sheffield, United Kingdom

Major Transformers 4 sequences will shoot with new 8K+ 3D IMAX cameras

michael-bay-directing-transformers-4-as-reboot-to-franchis-01Collider has a video interview with Michael Bay (at CinemaCon) where he reveals that Transformers 4 will be the first movie to make use of IMAX’s new 3D digital cameras. Major sequences will be shot with these cameras, which Bay says have a resolution topping 8K:

Collider: What kind of resolution can the IMAX 3D cameras achieve? Is it 4K, 8K?

Bay: It’s like…I think it’s higher than that. It’s actually going to break the….you know, my finishing company said it takes, it’s some zigabyte, whatever the hell it is- it’s some name that I don’t even know what that name is. They just go, “we are screwed with the amount of computing power we’re going to need here.”

Collider: Are you going to use that camera for the whole shoot, or for specific scenes?

Bay: We’re going to do several big showcase scenes. [The screen aspect ratio] is going to open up. Because it’s too expensive to finish IMAX quality FX.

Bay also tells Collider that one of these new IMAX cameras costs more than the entire budget of his most recent film, Pain and Gain.

Here’s all that IMAX’s site currently has to say about their new digital cameras:

Even better for filmmakers, IMAX is expanding its repertoire of capturing tools by perfecting a next-generation 2D and 3D Digital camera. It will be small and nimble enough to go anywhere. It will also be hand-held, take longer shots. Directors will be able to work without interruptions, because there’s no film to change, yet still deliver quality that’s a match for the beauty of film. And as the technology develops, we expect it will ultimately go far beyond what film can do.

16K+ resolution would be amazing.  I suspect that their statement that they expect their digital tech to “ultimately go far beyond what film can do” is a hint regarding the potential of ultra-high resolutions and/or computational photography.  Hopefully we’ll get some more details from IMAX soon.

Editorial: The movie industry needs 4K projectors that are capable of 3D and HFR

4KOne thing I learned from my interview with Christie Digital’s Don Shaw is that projecting HFR 3D (48 fps or 60 fps) at 4K resolution would not only require a “forklift upgrade” to the projectors, but that the rest of the ecosystem (servers, integrated media blocks, routers, and content delivery systems) are nowhere near ready to handle the massive bandwidth required for 4K HFR 3D. In other words, as of now 4K HFR 3D is not in the near future.

But what about 3D projection at 4K resolution at standard (24 fps) frame rates?  You might be surprised to hear that even this is impossible for now without two separate 4K projectors.  And of course the great majority of theaters who have sprung for 4K projectors don’t have the budget to purchase two 4K projectors for each cinema screen to enable 4K 3D.

The lack of a suitably fast 4K projector is also hurting IMAX.  I’ve been to a good number of IMAX Digital shows over the past 3 years, and in all but one instance I’ve suffered through a very pixellated image; the widely known “screen door effect” of seeing the spaces between the pixels.  IMAX Digital uses overlapped 2K images and some kind of IMAX special sauce to increase brightness, but it is crystal clear that a 2K image is hugely insufficient when stretched over the larger screen sizes of even the smaller (compared to real, 70 mm IMAX screens) IMAX venues.

For a company that prides itself in providing the very best in terms of audio and visual presentation, you may think it ridiculous that IMAX doesn’t use 4K projectors for their digital presentations. And they may have a good reason in that 4K projectors capable of even standard frame rate 3D don’t yet exist. But of course IMAX could simply purchase two 4K projectors for each of their screens, and it’s a valid criticism to point out that they aren’t already doing this.  Even using a single 4K projector would be an improvement over IMAX’s current setup as it would cut down on the screen door effect even if the source image is only 2K.

With 4K “Ultra HD” TV sets making a big splash at CES this year the movie industry simply has to up their game in order to continue to offer people a viable reason to leave their homes to see a movie.  We need 4K projectors with high bandwidth and commensurately powered integrated media blocks, servers, and content delivery systems. If the images we see at the theater can’t even match the resolution of the TVs we have at home, then that is a pathetic situation.

IMAX announces list of HFR 3D locations for The Hobbit!

IMAX has posted a list of locations that will show The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on their screens in high frame rate 3D:

US/Canada

Alaska
Tikahtnu Stadium 16 & IMAX & RPX – Anchorage

California
Aliso Viejo Stadium 20 with IMAX – Aliso Viejo
Burbank 30 with IMAX & ETX – Burbank
Century City 15 with IMAX & ETX – Century City
Mira Mesa Stadium 17 + IMAX – San Diego
Hacienda Crossings Stadium 20 + IMAX – Dublin
Mercado 20 with IMAX – Santa Clara

Colorado
Westminster 24 with IMAX – Denver

Florida
Aventura Mall 24 with IMAX & ETX – Aventura
Altamonte Mall 18 with IMAX – Altamonte Springs
Parisian 20 w IMAX – West Palm Beach

Georgia
Avenue Forsyth 12 with IMAX – Cumming

Illinois
Barrington 30 with IMAX – South Barrington

Kansas
Studio 28 KC with IMAX – Olathe

Maryland
Columbia 14 with IMAX – Columbia

New Jersey
New Brunswick 18 with IMAX – New Brunswick
Garden State 16 with IMAX – Paramus

New York
34th Street 14 with IMAX – New York

Nevada
Red Rock Stadium 15 + IMAX – Las Vegas

Ontario
Courtney Park 16 with IMAX – Mississauga
Empire Theatres at Empress Walk & Extra IMAX – North York

Oregon
Regal Bridgeport 17 + IMAX – Tigard

Pennsylvania
King of Prussia Stadium + IMAX – King Of Prussia

Quebec
Mega-Plex Taschereau 18 + IMAX – Greenfield Park
Mega-Plex Marche Central 18 + IMAX (English Aud) – Montreal

Tennessee
Pinnacle Stadium Cinemas 17 + IMAX – Knoxville

Texas
Northpark 15 with IMAX & ETX – Dallas
Palladium 18 + IMAX – San Antonio

Utah
Megaplex Theatres @ Jordan Common + IMAX – Sandy

Virginia
Hoffman 22 with IMAX – Alexandria
Tysons Corner 16 with IMAX & ETX – McLean

Washington
Lincoln Square Cinema 16 with IMAX – Bellevue

International

Cineplexx IMAX Donauplex 13 – Vienna, AT
Hoyts Perth – Perth, AU
Cinepolis JK Iguatemi Sao Paulo – Sao Paulo, BR
Pathe Quai d’Ivry – Ivry-sur-Seine, Paris, FR
UA iSQUARE IMAX Theatre – Hong Kong, CH
United Cinemas Canal City 13 – Fukuoka, JP
109 Cinemas Kawasaki – Kanagawa – Kawasaki, JP
109 Cinemas Nagoya – Nagoya, JP
UC Saporro – Saporro, JP
109 Cinemas Shonan IMAX – Shonan, JP
UC Toshimaen – Tokyo, JP
CGV Sangam – Seoul, KR
CGV Wangsimni – Seoul, KR
Pathe Arena Amsterdam – Amsterdam, NL
Lido Cineplex 11 – Singapore-Orchard Road, SG
Vieshow Banqiao Mega City Mall IMAX – Banqiao, TW
Cineworld IMAX Dublin – Dublin, IR
Odeon Manchester IMAX @ The Printworks – Manchester, UK
Cineworld IMAX Nottingham – Nottingham, UK

IMAX also made the following statement on high frame rates:

Advancements in technology are continually opening up new ways for us to experience movies. At IMAX, we’re committed to working with filmmakers to support and help deliver their creative vision to audiences across the globe.

In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson has pushed the boundaries of new filmmaking techniques by capturing the movie in high frame rate (HFR) 3D – marking the first use of this method in a major motion picture release. In addition to the IMAX® and IMAX® 3D presentations, the film will also be shown using a higher frame rate in select IMAX® theatres.

What is High Frame Rate 3D (HFR 3D)?

Frame rates refer to the number of images (frames) displayed by a projector in one second. The current standard in cinemas worldwide is 24 frames per second (fps). HFR 3D productions of 48 fps record and play visuals at twice the current rate, which more closely approximates what the human eye actually sees. The higher 48fps rate provides enhanced clarity and reduces motion blur during action sequences, artifacts, judder and strobing.