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Beyond 3D

Manila Standard Today (Jun 02, 2014)

Today, going to the movies is so much more than just sitting inside the movie house and watching a screen with moving pictures and sound. Aside from picking the time and place to see a movie, we can also choose a format. And I’m not only talking about 2D and 3D.

For example, Maleficent, showing right now, is available in regular 2D, the more immersive 3D and, if you’re watching at the Bonifacio High Street Cinemas and willing to pay more, 3D with Atmos and 4DX.

4DX, as the name implies, offers more than 3D. But contrary to what the “4D” part suggests, it’s not four-dimensional (because there’s no such thing, at least, for us who live in the three-dimensional universe). The technology features “precise choreography of motion system and environmental effects” and makes the viewer feel like they were part of the film. All the senses are engaged, courtesy of mist, water features, fog, wind and lightning that are activated in sync with the film. The motion chairs “heave up and down, roll side to side, and pitch forward and backward to allow [viewers] to physically participate in the action on-screen.”

Ayala Cinemas says that this is the first of its kind in the Philippines. The first movie that local cinema-goers were able to enjoy in 4DX motion-enhanced format was The Amazing Spider-Man 2, when the cinema complex opened in April 30.

4DX is the format to choose when seeing a movie with plenty of environmental and motion elements, like the upcoming The Edge of Tomorrow.

On the other hand, Atmos, a Dolby product, is the way to “hear the whole picture” with “proprietary surround-sound system” that boasts front- and ceiling-mounted speakers. Not only will the sound be coming from the sides, every auditory element within the film is distributed throughout the theater and dramatically envelops the viewer (or listener), just as it would in the real world.

There are plenty of films that are optimized for the Atmos experience, which utilize all of the technology’s 64 independent speaker outputs. This gives filmmakers the ability to transport viewers to the movie scenes with the use of audio like never before, precisely positioning and moving sounds anywhere in the theater, including overhead. Critics are calling the audio format “true 3D surround sound.”

Movies with an abundance of ambient sound are best seen in Atmos, such as fantasy films (Maleficent) and animations (Frozen), to enhance their realism.