It may seem like a ridiculous comparison — how can a movie theater with tens of thousands of dollars of equipment get surpassed by the common HDTV in our living rooms? Well, after my last outing to a movie theater, an IMAX nonetheless, I'm convinced the picture quality on my home set is better. Here's my reasoning...
Movie theaters use projectors and projection screens to deliver the 50' wide image. This equipment requires a certain amount of calibration and maintenance beyond the standard HDTV set - especially considering the usage demands placed on the bulbs and other electronics for hours of continuous viewing day after day after day. How well things are checked, maintained, and tuned up for a quality image depends on the quality of the personnel.
- Ambient lighting too bright? Lack of contrast.
- Projector not properly focused or using an old bulb? Dull, soft image.
- Stuck in non-optimal seats? The pixel density may not be high enough and the screen can look jaggy.
There is something to be said about projection vs. backlit technologies - like those in our home LED and plasma sets - as well. Backlit sets are often brighter with more acute capabilities to produce deep blacks, enabling us to better perceive contrast.
I feel the home is better than the cinema when it comes to 3D movies as well.
Watching Prometheus with passive glasses, I noticed plenty of cross-talk and ghosting, especially with text. Something I never get seated in front of my own set with active 3D glasses. This is likely a result of viewing angle limitations and the quality of those flimsy glasses in the movie plex.
So even though film and digital projection have higher resolution I'm beginning to consistently feel that the experience at home with a Blu-ray is superior due to all the other factors at bay.
Am I the only one?
(Images: 1: Chris Perez and Shutterstock 2. Shutterstock 3. Shutterstock 4. Flickr member CanadaPenguin licensed for use under Creative Commons)