Universal Orlando adding IMAX to City Walk theater

Posted Tuesday, December 15, 2009 11:35 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Universal Orlando Resort introduces an exciting new cinematic experience for CityWalk movie-goers with the addition of IMAX at AMC Universal Cineplex 20. The new theatre opens at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 18, with the opening of the highly anticipated James Cameron film, “Avatar.”

In order to maximize the field of view in the new IMAX theater, the screen was replaced with a special, larger IMAX screen that is positioned closer to the audience. The new theatre will also feature IMAX’s digital projection system as well as its latest sound system.

“With the addition of IMAX at AMC Universal Cineplex in CityWalk our guests now get the highest picture and sound quality in the industry – along with an incredible entertainment experience” says Ric Florell, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Resort Revenue Operations.

Read the entire press release from Universal Orlando.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 4:14 PM

Actually, the audiophiles do have a point. There is program audio on an LP that doesn't come through on the CD. To that degree, they're right.

The thing is, there is also NON-program audio on an LP that doesn't come through on the CD. Those same audiophiles spend thousands of dollars sometimes to minimize that non-program audio, but even they can't make it go away completely. And who cares about those fringe harmonics that don't come out on a 44.1kHz digital audio track if they're buried in surface noise? So while I'll acknowledge that the audiophiles have a point, and are thus INcompletely nuts, I'll also go for the CD over the LP.

Going to the movies, though, DLP projection is being used as a gimmick where it really should simply be a quiet replacement for film projection. The image quality should be perceptively equal to (or better than) the film, and if that's the case, if the technology is really successful, the average moviegoer should not notice the difference. If you're paying extra for a digital movie, I hope it is because you're going to a more expensive theater, not because you're paying extra for the digital show. (special formats like IMAX and 3D excepted, of course)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 4:31 PM
Jeff's avatar

But you should see the difference, because digital projection doesn't have the flaws of film, namely scratches and dirt (and with poorly maintained equipment, a whole lot of fluctuation).

I've been shooting, experimentally, with my Canon 7D, which records 1080p at 24 fps through awesome Canon glass, and early on, film nerds said it wasn't viable because it records with H.264, highly compressed. Nevermind that it was doing so at 40-something mbits. The point is that a different format often has different "flaws," but the net result is improved media. Apparently, Lucas, and even film advocate Tarantino, agree.

As for IMAX, I would tend to agree that perhaps the best analogy is to the THX standards, and honestly I think that's OK. If you've ever been in a crappy theater with loud air conditioning or sound bleed from the next theater, you can appreciate that the THX stamp on a theater was something that added value. Why wouldn't IMAX do the same thing? Your field of vision is only so big, and when I sit an inch from my computer monitor, it looks like IMAX too. :)


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 4:58 PM

If you're paying extra for a digital movie, I hope it is because you're going to a more expensive theater, not because you're paying extra for the digital show. (special formats like IMAX and 3D excepted, of course)

My local theaters that have both digital and film projection do not charge extra for DLP performances, but they note which is which on their published times.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Wednesday, December 16, 2009 4:58 PM
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 5:32 PM

That's the way it is here, as well. And that's fine, for the moment...the film nerds can go one way, the digital nerds go the other, and the rest of us will just take the next showing, thank you. 8-)

Actually, Jeff, you're right, but it is sad that it has to be so. It's only because theaters stopped caring about projection a long, long time ago that the digital makes such a huge difference. If you get to the theater early enough in the run of a film that they haven't had the opportunity to completely destroy the print, the difference between film and digital isn't so noticeable. Come back a week later, and the difference is pretty extreme: the digital theater still looks like opening night.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 6:20 PM
Jeff's avatar

Let's not forget that it's the distributors that stand the most to gain by digital distribution, and in some cases they're rightfully financing the upgrade of equipment in theaters. There's great financial incentive to move movies on the wire instead of UPS or FedEx.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 6:26 PM

There's great financial incentive to move movies on the wire instead of UPS or FedEx.

Probably so. But sometimes, the cheapest way for to send data from point A to point B is to plop a disk in the mail, depending on how much data you've got.

http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/gray/papers/QueueAConversationWithJimGray.pdf


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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 6:50 PM
Jeff's avatar

What do those Microsoft people know. ;)


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 7:04 PM

Indeed. That is also the most secure way to do it.

But have you ever compared the size and weight of a disk or a data tape to the size and weight of a single reel of 35mm film? Then note that a feature film requires about eight to twelve reels, and remember that UPS and FedEx charge by the pound.

You could send a whole multiplex full of features to a theater for less than the cost of a single reel of trailers. Or, you could just send the feature by carrier pigeon.

(interesting article, BTW...how old is that? Some of it seems to be *slightly* dated, but still accurate)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 7:13 PM

The paper appears to be from 2003. Jim Gray was lost at sea in 2007. It is a tragedy when we lose someone that brilliant prematurely.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 7:17 PM
Jeff's avatar

Wow, I totally didn't make that connection. I remember that in the news. Very sad.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 7:39 PM

Yes, that's *the* Jim Gray. If you've taken a serious database class, you own his book.

Here's the citation for the original article. I didn't pull it from here, because the ACM Digital Library appears to be broken:

http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=864078

D. Patterson.
A conversation with Jim Gray.
ACM Queue, vol. 1, no. 4, June 2003.

(And yes, that's *the* David Patterson. If you've taken a serious computer architecture course, you own *his* book. I took the course from him at Cal.)

Last edited by Brian Noble, Wednesday, December 16, 2009 7:39 PM
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 7:42 PM
Jeff's avatar

I haven't taken any computer classes. But I wrote a computer book. Does that make me brilliant? ;)


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 7:47 PM

Depends on how many people read it. ;)


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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 7:56 PM

A better figure of merit is how many people re-read it.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 8:19 PM
Jeff's avatar

We probably shouldn't go there then. :) Speaking of Microsoft, I'm riding home on one of their buses with Wi-Fi. This sure beats driving.

I was thinking about this earlier though, about screens, and bigger is only one aspect (*rimshot*) of quality. I mean, a lot of smaller TV's are barely 720p resolution, because the return on those pixels is not as high for someone watching in their bedroom on a 26" screen. Contrast, dynamic range, distance to the screen, etc., all count as well.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 9:54 PM
rollergator's avatar

Jeff said:
Your field of vision is only so big, and when I sit an inch from my computer monitor, it looks like IMAX too. :)

Eye-max? ;)

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Thursday, December 17, 2009 1:57 PM

That the multiplex IMAX system is great doesn't change the fact that a number of people view it as a bit of "bait and switch". And yes, on a small screen, the dot pitch is going to be a lot more important than total resolution. :)

Now to the important point--

If that paper is from 2003, then it seems to point up just how brilliant this Jim Gray guy [is|was]. The details that made me think it was an older interview are the ones where he's making a forward looking statement about stuff that actually happened a few years ago.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
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Thursday, December 17, 2009 3:01 PM

If I had to make a list of the top 10 computer scientists of all time, I'd be hard pressed to leave Jim off of it---and that list includes von Neumann, Turing, Dijkstraa, etc.


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