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Is 3D already old-fashioned? Inside Out even brighter with Dolby Cinema

Laser projection opens new vistas for digital film screening On Saturday, JT-Eindhoven holds open day with the new Dolby Cinema System. On Wednesday, the JT cinema in Hilversum already had the European premiere of Dolby Cinema with the screening of Inside Out. In 2D!

Yes, that last one was a bit of a shock. As press and guests, we were sitting down on Wednesday afternoon after an introduction and watching 3D film clips in the clear and razor-sharp Dolby Vision ready for the main dish. And there came a cinema employee just like that to take away our 3D glasses again! Because while Inside Out is in 3D in all regular theatres, in this case producer Disney-Pixar has prescribed that the high-quality Dolby version should instead be presented in 2D.

3D redundant?

A disappointment? Actually, no. I had already seen Inside Out in standard 3D projection, and it has to be said, the greater clarity and contrast range of Dolby Vision more than compensated for the loss of the 3D effect as far as I was concerned. Perhaps 3D is already starting to become a bit old-fashioned. And new attractions are needed again to suggest to moviegoers that we are not simply going to see a film, but to experience it. In part, of course, this is a marketing ploy, but Dolby Cinema definitely offers a lot of viewing pleasure.

Richer image

To achieve that, Dolby has been offering the Atmos sound system for a few years now. It is also used in a large number of theatres in the Netherlands. Now it has been joined by Dolby Vision, a laser projection technology developed together with projector manufacturer Christie. Laser projection is the successor to the hitherto common digital projection. The advantage is greater sharpness and much higher light output, allowing clear images on very large screens. The highlight of Dolby Vision, besides the 4k resolution, is the greatly increased contrast range, which means that black is now really black and we see more detail in shadows and light clouds. If applied properly, it gives a richer, more realistic picture - although of course realistic is not the word you use with an animation like Inside Out.

Incidentally, Dolby Vision is indeed possible in 3D. Thanks to the high light output, the objection of the sometimes somewhat dark 3D images in conventional cinema is definitely eliminated.

Dolby Cinema?

Dolby Cinema, to connect the dots, combines Dolby Atmos (sound) with Dolby Vision (image) and integrates it in a matching auditorium design. The latter can be summarised as a stylish black box with a special entrance where a moving wall projection welcomes the visitor. The large projection screen fills the entire front wall of the auditorium. The aspect ratio is standard widescreen, but the screen is quite a bit larger than in the average cinema. Sitting in the middle of the Dolby room means a nice attention-filling picture, but still not so big that you have to turn your head left or right every time to follow everything. In the front row, things are different.

A ticket for all this beauty costs 15 euros at JT, 5 euros more than a standard show.

Expensive stuff

Will the whole of the Netherlands enjoy this soon? There won't be such a rush right away. In our country, Dolby currently only has an agreement with the JT group, which has installed Dolby Cinema in Hilversum and Eindhoven. The only two Dolby Cinema theatres in Europe at the moment. A JT spokesperson expects to slowly but surely expand to five theatres or maybe a few more. That we will get Dolby Cinema in all JT cinemas he considers out of the question. The investment raised jointly by Dolby and JT is high. The technical installation alone is many times more expensive than a common digital set-up, and that already costs a multiple of the former 35mm equipment.


Incidentally, fans of big-screen are not limited to Dolby Cinema. Pathé has been offering IMAX in five cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Eindhoven, The Hague and Tilburg) for a few years now. Currently, IMAX is its main competitor. The new laser projection with which IMAX will compete against Dolby was introduced in America in April.

Rival projector manufacturer Barco has also come up with something that promises viewers immersion in the film. The Barco Escape system uses three projectors: one simply facing forward, alongside two others that project images onto the side of the room. Not in the Netherlands yet, but in Kinepolis Antwerp and Brussels.

What are we going to see?

To end on a relatable note - which films are we all going to see now? For now, only Inside Out, Project T (Tomorrowland) and San Andreas are available in Dolby Vision. That Star Wars VII will also be Dolby Cinema-compatible in December is obvious, but is only a rumour for now. Sure is Disney's The Jungle Book, but for that we have to wait until April. More titles soon, then, please.

Leo Bankersen

Leo Bankersen has been writing about film since Chinatown and Night of the Living Dead. Reviewed as a freelance film journalist for the GPD for a long time. Is now, among other things, one of the regular contributors to De Filmkrant. Likes to break a lance for children's films, documentaries and films from non-Western countries. Other specialities: digital issues and film education.View Author posts

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