My Transformers MX4D Experience

I recently had a chance to experience 4D when I saw Transformers: The Last Knight at the Boston Showcase Cinema MX4D theater. MX4D is a full immersion experience involving all of the senses. (Well, only four out of five, thankfully!).

 

This was my first opportunity to see how D-Box motion seats were being used in commercial cinema, along with the wind, water-spray, and strobe-light features of 4D. Let’s face it, Transformers isn’t a great movie, but the imagery, special effects, and 3-D rendering were superb, making it an impressive E-ticket ride.

 

Because it used Sony’s “divide the chip” 2K 3-D imaging technique, the resolution and brightness were beneath the quality of premium cinema competitors like IMAX and Dolby Vision, which use 6P Laser 4K DLPs on 60- to 90-foot-wide screens. This screen was 40 feet wide by 17 feet high, giving it a 4x advantage in surface area over the 65-foot screens of Dolby Vision and XD cinema, and yet it still wasn’t bright (even though it had just been re-lamped). This theater was also missing the latest in hemispherical audio technology from Atmos, DTS:X, or Auro.

 

The screen was a native-scope-format widescreen, which can be cinematically superior. But alas, it had no masking, so Transformers was pillarboxed in its 1.85:1 aspect ratio—a significant compromise, if not an outrage. Adding to the lack of masking, this flat-format movie often bounced back to the scope format scene by scene, but it did so letterboxed within the 1.85:1 window. So yes, for the first time I got letterboxed and pillarboxed for the same price of admission . . . which was $21. Not a great value given the flaws of the movie presentation.

 

But for the kids that loved the 4D ride, they got two and a half hours of constant thrill, and that’s a good value when priced by the minute! I don’t think Douglas Trumbull would have been impressed since it isn’t at the technical performance level of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, for example, which he personally influenced. Billy Lynn is another mediocre movie, but it’s an amazing viewing experience at 4K, 60 fps, and HDR—3-D or not 3-D. 

John Bishop

John Bishop is president of Bishop Architectural-Entertainment Services and founder
of the Society of Personal Cinema Architects. He is the former Executive Vice President
of ADS Speakers.

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