Sunday, July 24, 2011

RealD 3D vs. MasterImage 3D

I've seen enough film in the two competing formats of 3D movie projection, RealD and MasterImage to reach a conclusion as to which is better. Now I'm not going to bore you with the technicalities of either system. One, it's above my pay grade and second, it can be kind of boring. If you want a quick read, check out this Wikipedia article on MasterImage, it tells you how they differ. Before I reach my conclusion, let me get some quick things about 3D movies out of the way.

I. 3D Films are not my favorite. They're too dark. That's due to the polarization of the technology. Add to that you wear dark glasses. Check out this short article from on the darkness issue. Plus, I've seen few films where the 3D effects help and enhance the movie. See the wonderful "How to Train Your Dragon" (2010) and the stupid "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." (2011)

II. Jeers and Cheers for AMC movie theaters. First, jeers to some AMC theaters for showing 2D movies with 3D lenses. It's an absolutely despicable practice since you get a dark 2D movie. That's not what the director and director of photography want you to see. Boston film critic Ty Burr did an investigative piece on it. Here it is. Oh, just in case if you're wondering why they would do this. It's a cost issue. It costs money to get somebody to change the lens.

On the other hand, cheers to AMC for their digital projectors. See Burr article. The 3D projection was crisp and clear.

III. The Best 3D between RealD 3D and MasterImage 3D. I went to see Captain American: The First Avenger in both competing 3D presentations. First, let me talk about MasterImage 3D. I've seen four movies in 3D with the MasterImage format. All of them had some degree of ghosting or ghost images. That's a dim duplicate image on the screen. At times I had to turn my head to get a better look at the 3D image. It was very annoying. With Captain America, the defect was worse I've ever seen. Could this be the theater or MasterImage's technology? It could be, but it doesn't bode well for the process when your projection maybe defective in the first place. See Wikipedia article.

I then went to AMC to see Captain America in RealD 3D. Crisp and clear. Very little if any ghosting. There was a big difference in picture quality. It was like night and day.

Conclusion. The best way to view a 3D movie between the RealD 3D and MasterImage 3D formats is RealD 3D. And what about IMAX? Well, you pay more for IMAX so I'm guessing most of the movie going public is not going to pay that extra premium. After all, they are paying between three to four bucks more for 3D, that's the price here in Cincinnati. I did compare Tron: Legacy 3D vs. IMAX. I preferred IMAX. Over all, I preferred 2D over the three versions of Tron. And I saw Avatar in both formats and IMAX was better. But as I said before, I'm guessing most of you will not shell even more bucks for IMAX.

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