According to Ty Burr of the Boston Globe (and commented here and here), the big movie theater chains are sticking it to consumers by not enforcing the removal of a polarizing lens from digital projectors made by Sony. These lenses are what enable 3D projection technology–two lens, each projecting one polarized image in quick succession combined with the polarized lenses worn during 3D movies gives viewers the 3D effect. When 2D films are shown on the same 3D projectors and the polarizing lenses are not removed, you see a significantly dimmed image on the screen, because you are seeing only one polarity of light escaping the filter. This effectively dims the image so that even bright scenes appear dark. This problem is due to two factors: 1) Sony DRM will shut down a movie projector if certain passwords are not entered correctly when the polarizing lens is removed, and 2) no theater chain has an official policy to remove the lens when switching between showing a 3D film and a 2D film. Apparently, the fear of offending the Sony DRM-gods, time to remove the lens, and lost sales has prompted this customer-be-damned attitude by the theater chain executives. DRM sucks, but it is the job of the movie theater chain management to give customers the movie going experience that they are paying for. Last I checked, we shouldn’t pay full price for only half an image. Check for the tell-tale sign of two projectors during 2D films and the “D” for digital indicator next to 2D movie listings. If you go into a film that suffers excessive dimness, demand a refund. Read the full report here: Misuse of 3-D digital lens leaves 2-D movies in the dark – The Boston Globe.
Jason W. Ellis
I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications. View all posts by Jason W. Ellis