Thursday, April 09, 2009

XpanD 3D System Demoed at "Battle for Terra" Screening

Michael here.  At ShoWest last week XpanD showed off their 3D system at a screening of Lionsgate /Roadside Attractions' computer animated film Battle for Terra.  XpanD is a name you may not be too familiar with if you live in the United States, as the vast majority of 3D screens here utilize Real D's system.  In Europe, however, Real D and Dolby both trail behind XpandD in number of screens.  And in China, XpanD has a near monopoly.

As opposed to Real D's polarized glasses / silver screen combo, XpanD utilizes active lcd shutter glasses and a regular, non-silver screen.  From this screening alone (my first theatrical experience with the XpanD system) I had a difficult time judging any difference in the quality of the 3D experience offered by XpanD, as opposed to that of Real D or Dolby.  However, I can say that XpanD's new X101 Series glasses are great.  Compact and comfortable, they performed perfectly during the movie.  I've had trouble in the past with other brands of lcd shutter glasses in regards to the glasses becoming out of synch with the movie/tv screen, or with the lcd in one or both of the lenses occasionally becoming stuck on the black (blocked) setting.  XPanD has overcome this problem.

Battle for Terra itself is an oddity amongst animated films, to say the least.  There was not a single audible laugh from the audience at any point during the screening--and that may have been the filmmakers' intention.  After all, they've gone very serious with the anti-war message of the film, which is portrayed with all the skill and subtlety of a jackhammer to the skull.  If this film strives for artistic credibility, however, it is undercut by the Saturday morning cartoon quality CG work, phoned-in voice acting, tensionless script, predicable storyline, and a truly awful C-3PO ripoff robot sidekick character (hmm, I guess they were going for laughs afterall.)

And yes, Battle for Terra "borrows" heavily from various aspects of the Avatar scriptment.  But believe me - it borrows, but it has no idea what to do with these ideas.  Overall, this movie strikes me as a cynical ploy to simultaneously cash in on the 3D bandwagon and the excitement for Avatar.

I must emphasize that the XpanD 3D system was great--I hope they continue to work with 3DTV manufacturers to bring their system into the home.  It was the movie that was offensive to the senses.
Graphic courtesy of Charlotte Jones of Screen Digest

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