As the first 3D Cinema announced its opening in Karachi, people looked forward to it with enthusiasm and excitement. It seemed like a good opportunity to get away from the maddening violence that swarms the streets of Karachi. The expected inauguration was delayed but when the doors finally opened, Karachiites from all directions flocked to get their first ever 3D experience.
Atrium Cinema has so far been listing its movies wisely with a perfect balance of Hollywood and Bollywood hits, along with animated movies. Apart from what they are showing, many viewers ask, are they showing it right? If you haven’t already been to the cinema for a 3D experience, here is what you can learn from others who have been there. The Express Tribune draws a comparison between the 3D experience in Karachi to that of abroad. Let’s find out what people who have been to cinemas here and abroad have to say about their 3D experience.
Obaid Rahmani, a Technologist, frequent tweeter and Twit-activist, says, “I usually associate movies with curling up in front of the TV with snacks and watching several titles in one go. My laziness and the availability of willing friends prohibit me from going all the way to M A Jinnah Road or Sea View to watch them on the big screen. And hence, my visits to cinemas are rare.
However, once returning from vacations, my route was via Bahrain. I had eight odd hours for my next flight so I took a cab to Sanabis and went to Dana Mall that had a dozen Cineplex, each showcasing a different Hollywood, Arabic and Bollywood movie. My primary intention was merely to kill time. But once I made it to the 3D cinema, it wasn’t too bad. I watched Avatar which I had already seen at home (thanks to my cable operator), but on 3D, the experience was definitely more sophisticated and technologically superior.”
Rahmani was quite excited upon the news of opening of a 3D-cinema here in Karachi. “Since a friend of mine is an architect on the team that designed Atrium Mall, scoring ‘early bird’ tickets was easy. As I have been to other cinemas in Karachi (Nishat and Capri being all-time favourites) I was expecting something similar. However, I was surprised to find that the facility was way beyond my expectations. It was at par with the ones I visited at Dana Mall,” says Rahmani.
Sharing his experience of the cinema and its facilities, Rahmani says, “The cinema is much larger (I counted 300 seats) and has wonderfully comfortable seats (since one tends to shift at the sight of an approaching monster, they are absolutely necessary),” adding that once the show was over I was astonished at the fact that the same visual and aural experience people go abroad for, was now thankfully available right at home. “I am now hoping that they (cinema owners) have some kind of ‘frequent visitor’ discounts,” says an excited Rahmani.
Raffat Raza, a banker at an International banking chain believes, “3D is an experience that has more to do with the spirit of the movie rather than the technical acumen. A really good cinema with a really low-spirited 3D would make you call the overall experience ‘overrated’. Watching Avatar at a 3D-cinema in Singapore was my first experience and I absolutely loved it. Largely because the movie had a neat storyline and amazing digital master piece and watching it with 3D effect was the icing on the cake. However, same city, same cinema, Alice in Wonderland was a disappointment.
For Raza, the 3D cinema at the Atrium Mall, Saddar falls under the same league. “A very good cinema, pleasant ambiance, huge screen and decent sized goggles, but the movie (Narnia) was a tad disappointing. So full marks to Mandviwalas for setting up the stage for a very good experience but we just have to wait for the right movie,” says Raza.
Not every Karachiite is happy with the facilities at the 3D-cinema at Atrium. Kiran Farooque, a London based PR consultant is one of them. Comparing, the cinemas of Dubai and London with the one here, Farooque says, “The IMAX Dubai is absolutely brilliant. I used to try and go as often as I could even though it’s ridiculously expensive. The best movie I watched there was The Dark Knight. It seemed like the characters would jump out of the screen at you and you actually had to turn your head left to right and vice versa to see the entire screen. You couldn’t see it all in one go. It was both -massive in size and massive in fun.”
As for 3D experience in London, Farooque says, “It differs from movie to movie. While some movies intensively utilise 3D effects like Avatar, other movies claim to be 3D with majority of their scenes being in 2D such as Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The movies in the former group are a pleasure to watch, as sometimes the objects seem to be close enough to touch. However, movies in the latter group are very disappointing and defeat the purpose of the 3D glasses, which can become a bit inconvenient.”
Farooque’s experience in London has been better than that of Karachi, however, she thinks it’s a great initiative and opens a much needed new arena of entertainment for the audience in Karachi.
Problems with 3D image quality at Atrium
Speaking of the technicalities of the cinema, Ali Faisal, a journalist with a leading Global Media Company, says, “I haven’t seen anyone else quibble about it so I am not sure what’s wrong, but I was quite underwhelmed by the quality of the image on screen while watching Avatar. I watched about three 3D films in London and Paris last summer (non IMAX screens) and the image at the Atrium was distinctly less sharp in comparison and distortedly so in many scenes. The non-focal points looked more like multiple images than diffused ones, and I got the feeling that something wasn’t right in terms of the configuration of the projection, because I tried changing my location from the back of the hall to a place closer to the screen but it didn’t make much of a difference. I’m assuming it wouldn’t be a problem with the glasses, as I know there are inherent shudder problems with fast movement in 3D technology, but even relatively still scenes presented this issue. Also, the kind of stuff specifically meant to heighten the 3D experience, like objects flying towards your face, didn’t hit the mark quite so much.”
However, I’ll soon be going there again to watch Gulliver’s Travels to see if a change of theatre makes a difference, maybe it was a one-off problem of a non-vigilant projectionist. Otherwise, in general I think the Atrium is a fantastic addition to cine life in Karachi, especially given that the management at Cineplex has unaccommodating rules about who can go in and who can’t. Problems with the 3D image are surmountable, and probably the 2D films playing at Atrium are just fine.
How does 3D work for people with glasses?
If you wear powered glasses you may have trouble wearing 3D glasses. Here’s what Junaid Iqbal, an IT student, technologist and a movie maniac says, “I wear 3D glasses in front of my prescription glasses and it works fine.”
On the outset, I would say there should be special bigger glasses for people who wear powered ones, so that they can wear them on top. As 3D works a lot based on visual capabilities of an individual, I think there should be better and more convenient technology for all kinds of viewers.
3D should open in other cities
The response 3D-cinema in Karachi received was quite overwhelming and people especially youngsters from other cities are waiting for a similar one in their towns as well. Aimon Fatima, a LUMS graduate from Multan, currently working in Lahore at a PR firm says, “The 3D cinema experience in Karachi was worth watching, and we need something like that in Lahore too; only the snacks should be a little less expensive here.”
Talha Masood, an IT professional believes that since cinemas are a good entertainment medium, 3D cinemas have great future in Pakistan. “As I am not based in Karachi so haven’t been to Atrium yet, but have heard its pretty cool, so will make my next stop there, unless they plan to open one in Islamabad.”
Mostly the crowd loves the idea of 3D in Karachi and find the experience worthwhile; others think that some improvements are still needed to bring it to the international standards. In any event, there is no reason why one shouldn’t go and experience it for themselves. So go and book your favourite seats.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2011.
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