Despite all of the movie industry hype surrounding 3D TV, did you run out and purchase one? Probably not, which means that even with the film producers endeavoring to put forth their best strategies, they have been unable to convince the movie going masses that 3D is the new industry standard. That also means that TV manufacturers across the country that were banking on its success have struggled in their attempts to convince consumers that 3D televisions and playback devices would reign supreme. They have also been forced to accept that the public doesn’t feel that 3D technology has dramatically improved the movie going experience when compared to the traditional filming methods. Result: The masses are not willing to turn over their discretionary funds on a product that they believe they can just as well live without.

Historically, there have always been those who wanted the latest and greatest in electronic toys. But with millions having recently purchased new HDTVs and Blu-ray players that offer near perfect picture quality, many of these consumers don’t see an advantage to the 3D experience. Compare this to the past where the movies we watched on our televisions were limited to the VCR tape, which presented us with poor picture clarity. Additionally, with this old technology, we found it quite difficult to isolate specific scenes and/or rewind/fast forward to points of interest on the tape. Then along came the compact disk, with its better quality and adaptability, which improved our viewing experience. Top that off with the introduction of the Blu-ray player for our home entertainment experience, and we were in awe of the resulting picture quality. Unfortunately, perhaps, for the developers of the 3D units, this meant that millions of us had little or no incentive to dump our recently purchased HDTV or Blu-ray players to take advantage of a limited assortment of mostly animated movies. Then, too, the added expense of needing to purchase 3D glasses for each viewer detracted from the desire, even among the diehard enthusiasts, to own the latest and greatest new toy.

One example of a 3D movie that was advertised to be the greatest movie experience of all time — that wasn’t animated — was Titanic. For those of you who don’t know me, I like things that are free, but this movie had originally impressed me to such an extent that, despite my fiscal conservatism, I actually bought the DVD set when it became available. Knowing that I already own a copy makes it even more surprising that In May, when one of our local theaters was presenting a 3D version of the movie, I opted to see it. This was in spite of the fact that I had to pay an additional surcharge of $3 (which seemed reasonable at the time), since reviewers reported the effect as a ‘spectacular enhancement’ to an already classic movie. However, even though I am sure others will disagree, I found myself to be disappointed with the experience; I felt that the addition of 3D to an already great movie added little value to my viewing experience.

With that being said and with the basic floundering of the 3D concept, it is surprising to me that there is now a South Korean company introducing what it calls 4DX, which is purported to add yet more thrills to our movie experience. This latest experiment in 4DX suggests that a viewer will experience:

  • Seats that rock back, forth, and side-to-side as the action shifts on screen.
  • Viewers will be vibrated and slapped in the back during fight scenes.
  • Sprays of water or air will hit the viewer’s face during extreme weather conditions.
  • Odors will allow the viewer to smell what those on the screen smell. (Not necessarily such a positive thing, in my opinion.)
  • Strobe lights will flash during scenes of explosions or wild weather.

Theodore Kim — chief operating officer of the Los Angeles lab of theater operator CJ 4Dplex — is hit with fog, one of the special effects the company creates for its “4-D” moviegoing experience. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

It seems extreme, to say the least, but this new technology is currently being tested around the world in countries such as South Korea, Thailand, Mexico, and even an experimental hosting in Hollywood, CA. One of the benefits being claimed by the producers of the new technology is that the physical experience can be used on existing movies, updating them for re-release to the public. Of course, the thinking is that movie makers may be able to forego the expense of coming up with something original and still be able to extract a few extra bucks or two from moviegoers who may wish to see a favorite flick with the added mechanics.

Some of my concern is how this technology — 3D or 4DX or whatever — could actually alter how the producer, director, and actors originally sought to portray the message or story they filmed. To me, the great black and white classic film, Casablanca, would not be enhanced by the addition of these spectacular effects. In fact, while others may see these additions as improvements, I am convinced that I would actually find them more annoying than enjoyable.

However, who knows? When television was first introduced, there were those who claimed that it would be the death knell of both radio and the movie theaters. As we know, this wasn’t the result. Instead, movie theaters, with their current movie releases, became an excuse for people to get out of their homes and enjoy the company of others. It appears that lonely people find camaraderie in a crowded movie theater setting where one can enjoy the experience with others. For them, the chance to hear others express their emotions that could mimic what they are feeling is worth the cost. In addition, they get to see the latest and greatest Hollywood movie releases without having to wait for the DVD or Blu-ray version from Netflix, Redbox, or wherever they choose to rent the movies that they view in the confines of their living room. Of course, another draw to the movie complex is the hot smell of popcorn, which is likely to cost $5 for 25 cents worth of popcorn, just because it usually tastes better than what we make at home.

When it comes to 4DX, I know that it isn’t for me. I have no desire for my home to smell like smoke or expelled gas; even more important, I don’t want to have water sprayed all over my furniture. However, in a movie setting where someone else has to clean up the mess and endure the uncomfortable realities, I can see an appeal for those seeking an experience where there is an added sense of reality. If this describes you, then the 4DX movie may be up your alley.

What do you think? Will you opt-in to see future movie releases in 3D, 4DX or whatever when it is introduced, or do you view movie content in the light of quality rather than for its gimmicks?

Share your thoughts with us.

Comments welcome.

Source: 4DX

Source: L.A. Times