Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Up 3D and the 3D Cinema Showdown.

Up 3D advert at Belfast City Side Mall Movie House CinemaOn Monday it was another cinema night and a trip this time to the Movie House cinema at City Side Mall (aka Yorkgate Shopping Centre) on the outskirts of the central business district of Belfast. There we enjoyed a trip for a cup of tea and then on to see the recently released Pixar /Disney Digital 3-D film, Up. After Toy Story 3D at the Odeon where RealD is the preferred format, this was a chance to try out the 3D experience at the Movie House’s flagship cinema, with a Dolby 3D system. So what did we find?

Well, to begin with, a delicious raspberry muffin and a cup of tea at a near by cafe. It was there I met up after work with Norn girl and friends, closely followed by my soon to be sister and brother-in-law. The group were set. Losing one to other commitments, the group heading to the cinema comprised of 4, 20 something’s and a 12 year old. It was the oldest of us, *cough* Norn Girl, who with the encouragement of her younger brother ended up buying some crazy coloured clip in hair extensions which were worn all evening until donated to a lion... don’t ask!

We made it to the kiosk outside the York Gate/City Side Movie House and bought our tickets. After a quick ice cream stop for some. We climbed the stairs and handed in our tickets. The rest of the group headed to the queue for drinks and refreshments but I only wanted a bottle of something wet and cold so made my way around to the vending machine that’s around the corner near the higher numbered screens. After I had bought an overpriced bottle of Oasis compared to any other shop in the area I had a look around at the machines whilst I waited for the others to catch up. One caught my eye. It was a grabber machine like I used to play in Blackpool on family holidays as a kid. I was tempted to play this one because it had a nice sign on it saying ‘win every time’. I got my £1 and put it in the slot. I moved the stick and the grabber moved forwards, I had my eye amongst the random items for a toy SpongeBob Squarepants... the grabber stopped, I hadn’t meant to but it hit the back wall and was just out of reach of Spongebob. Oh well, I pressed the lit up button and the claw descended and missed everything. Thankfully it was a win every time... take 2... this time I headed for a pile of stuff and managed to dislodge a few things and there was another Spongebob... if only I could grab it with my grabber. Take 3 I tried, and failed. Take 4, the claw grabbed, and started to pick something up... in a real life version of Sid’s space ship grabber machine victory in Toy Story, my first thought was also...“Alright! Double prizes!”. The others were soon with me and I gleefully donated Spongebob to Norn Girl. I offered the weird bee thing around but sadly for this ‘Buzz’ there were no takers.

Spongebob Squarepants and a BeeWe made it to our screen and the staff were handing out the glasses. The Dolby3D glasses are reused and are apparently washed each time between uses because they are expensive to produce. They look the part, like trendy sunglasses and have an almost two tone coloured shimmer to them.

We picked our seats and watched the 3D ads and the 3D Pixar short film called ‘Partially Cloudy’ which was funny and a good warm up for our eyes. The view through the glasses though seemed just a bit off being 100% clear. There was almost like a slight fog around the outside of the field of view from the glasses which didn’t take away too much but was just noticeable. We tried each other’s glasses but they were all the same. A wipe on a cotton t-shirt to see if it was a smudge or residue from cleaning or something didn’t make a difference.

Up started and we settled back into our seats. I won’t spoil anything but the story sets up in the past with the lead character Carl Fredricksen as a boy, we are given his life story... and then the main story begins. The comedy is brilliantly done, the situation is so imaginative and well thought out that it’s hard to describe. All I will say is that Kevin and the dogs with their collars, at least for me, are the funniest movie characters to grace our screens this year, the movie lives up to its name and is as uplifting as the name suggests.

The 3D effects were quite subtle in places and not always used as much as they could have maybe been but the story to this movie and the comedy is its charm, the 3D effects are just the icing on the cake.

So yet another excellent movie experience. I don’t like to promote products and services and the corporate world but it seems like its probably about the right time to declare that 3D isn’t just a fad anymore. With the new push to promote digital 3D systems, its well and truly being integrated as part of the motion picture art form and it looks here to stay... which is good news for me because I’ve really enjoyed it so far!

The only let down to the movie (that was my own fault!) was the slight discomfort that came when I had randomly lifted off my glasses. I was trying to hold them away from my face try to try to see how the 3D was working out and to see what the brightness was like between that actually on the screen compared to what was coming through with the lenses filters. On their return to my head, I ended up missing the side of my head and poking myself in the eye with the end of the ear piece... oops! I missed a couple of minutes of 3D due to this slight mishap but I can officially say I’ve safety tested the ear pieces of the Dolby 3D glasses and that pair at least are a good level of blunt.

With the Storm cinema at the Odyssey at the time of writing not having a 3D showing advertised on their website (though they do have the VIP screenings with the lazy boy chairs – to which I’ve only been once, but they were so very comfy!) and having now experienced a 3D movie at both a Movie House and the Odeon. I think I can outline my experience mingled with a bit of the experiences of those with me on each occasion.

Customer Service: Both venues were great – excellent customer service, as in no fuss and friendly and clean (before other people made them messy). All good!

Prices (at the time we bought the tickets):
Movie House City Side - standard 3D showing ticket price £7
Odeon Victoria Square – standard 3D showing ticket price £8.45

3D experience: The 3D technologies of RealD and Dolby 3D were both good and produced a good quality 3D experience but here are what we found to be the pro’s and con’s of our visits.

Movie House City Side:

Positives - Choice of seats on the day. A few arcade and vending machines in the corridors between screens though if you’re a parent this could well be a negative hehe.

Negatives - What we judged to be slightly more uncomfortable glasses for our heads than the Real D (4/5 of us anyway) and slightly less clear/vibrant images but still a very good quality, however this is likely to be subjective and also could be influenced by the colours used in the movie itself. You can't take home the glasses and look cool/an idiot on the way home. Food and drink is expensive compared to same products at local shops and supermarkets.

Odeon Victoria Square:

Positives - What we judged to be slightly more comfortable glasses for our heads and what appeared to be slightly more clear/vibrant images, though this is subjective and also could be influenced by the colours used in the movie itself. The glasses are your own to keep and you too can look cool/an idiot on the way home :).

Negatives - Lesser choice of central seat locations without increased cost. Food and drink expensive compared to same products at local shops and supermarkets.

In regards to the technolgies involved, I’ve had a read around the t’interwebs and the best description I’ve found so far (one that isn’t too out of date yet) is a post by a user on the Audio Visual Science Forum who describes his observations of RealD and Dolby3D.


It’s honestly very hard to choose between them but personally from these experiences, I preferred the actual 3D movie experience of the RealD technology in the Odeon but preferred the physical venue at the Movie House.

However, if I had to choose what I enjoyed most of all; I enjoyed the good time had with Norn Girl, friends and family, the rest is just a bonus.


  1. Movie House have now dropped the extra charge for 3D tickets.

  2. My husband always has a lot of luck with those "grabber" machines. He is able to grab a stuffed animal each and every single try. I'm not sure if there is a technique to it or if he is just incredibly lucky. It's probably not the latter one because we have yet to win lotto. :)



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