Finally, 3D cinema comes to Pietermaritzburg

2011-06-15 00:00

“MARITZBURG’s long-awaited 3D cinema is here,” announces Cine Centre manager Brandon Reddy, as he shows me around the theatres at the Liberty Midlands Mall, where technicians are putting in a new, high quality sound system, screen and 3D projector. Yes, Pietermaritzburg has its first 3D movie theatre.

The arrival of the new technology comes timeously, as 3D films are becoming par for the course among new releases. In the next few months, 3D renderings include Kung Fu Panda 2, Green Lantern and Cars 2.

It doesn’t take long to discern Reddy­’s passion for his job. Since his high-school years, he says, movies and music have long been his preoccupation, and he’s genuinely concerned about the public’s experience in the local cinema.

It’s easy to sense his enthusiasm over the installation of the new 3D system, which was given the go-ahead from the Avalon Cine Centre head office in Durban.

The new 3D projector, currently sitting in cinema one at the mall, looks more modern than its predecessors, and, being completely digital, operates far more efficiently. For instance, in conventional cinema, a large 35 mm film reel needs to be hauled onto the machine. In 3D, a hand-sized hard drive is inserted, and playing the film is a simple drag-and-drop on the digital screen.

Another plus, Reddy points out, is that at the moment this form of cinema is difficult to duplicate. Essentially, to broadcast 3D, the right technology and the original format is needed, and although the popularity of 3D home theatres is predicted to soar over the next few years, currently the multilayered experience for most will be in the cinema, which is good news for the big- screen business, no doubt.

The common assumption                        with 3D film is a pair of glasses with a red lens for the one eye and blue for the other, but you won’t find those kind of glasses here. Actually, 3D projection is a lot more complicated — and expensive — than one would think.

The red-and-cyan lens glasses were tied to a 3D-imaging method called anaglyph, which dates back to the fifties. The premise there was two colour layers superimposed onto one another, and the visual effect when wearing the glasses was a three- dimensional­ representation.

While at the time it was seen as a technological advancement, early anaglyph imaging suffered from many issues. The colour separation on the two layers — when put on film — was very limited and thus clarity in the picture suffered and it was difficult to perceive detail in 3D scenes. Another frequent problem was ghosting, which happened when the image that should be appearing in your left eye would creep over to the right.

However, 3D cinema has come a long way. RealD cinema, like the format used at the local theatre, is currently the most widely used 3D movie system in theatres. It makes use of what is called circular polarisation — produced by a filter in front of the projector — to beam the film onto a silver screen.

It all suggests a new era in the standard form of entertainment when going out. And the good news is that locally, tickets are a large portion cheaper than most of the rest of the country. The normal price is R45 and a Tuesday discount is R30. The special glasses are R7. They come in their own carry case and are reusuable for future 3D viewing.

But don’t take my word for it. Go and try it out for yourself.

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