Monday, August 06, 2007

She was at my hearing, she works for Fudge

Went to see the new Harry Potter film at the weekend. We had booked in advance because it was at the IMAX cinema in Glasgow and might have been busy, which it was. The only time I'd been to the Imax before was to see a documentary type of film, so watching a Hollywood blockbuster was interesting and it had a section that was in 3D. The main thing with IMAX is the sheer size of the screen - it's quite amusing when you watch the few adverts shown at the beginning which are in a normal cinema screen size and look tiny - but the little things that often annoy me about multiplex cinema don't apply here.

Predictably, one of the things that annoys me about normal multiplex cinema is the sound. There are several streams of audio with most films, the surround-sound is digital and there's a stereo or mono analogue track. There's a fail-safe system built-in so that if the digital sound somehow loses sync with the picture (wear and tear on the print of the film can cause that, or just shoddily set up equipment) the sound system switches over to the analogue stereo. It doesn't switch the other way, if the digital sync returns then it doesn't go back to digital surround sound, so often you end up with stereo analogue sound rather than digital surround sound. The other thing is the actual projector - you get little clicks and pops in the image a lot of the time, particularly if the film has been playing for a week or so with 6 showings every day. In addition to that you get the little three-circle thing (highlighted in "Fight Club") as a signal to changing projectors. This all means that you will often get better picture quality and sound at home watching a DVD.

IMAX is, as I already mentioned a huge picture at such a high resolution that there isn't physical space on the print for an audio soundtrack. What it has instead is a sync code that locks the film to a multichannel audio track played by a computer and with modern systems that signal doesn't even need to be encoded with Dolby Digital or DTS. Basically, the sound is great and picture is amazing. In the case of the finale section in 3D I cannot honestly see how that experience could be replicated in a home cinema. So, a hearty recommendation from me. The film itself was good, and the IMAX experience was the icing on the cake.

And now, something I saw on StumbleUpon this morning that amused me greatly.

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