Jonathan Melville: 3D could damage Cameo’s reputation

There was a blow for diversity in local cinemas this week with the announcement that 3D technology is to be introduced to the Cameo to bring it in line with bigger rivals.

What’s most worrying about the decision by the Cameo’s London-based owners, Picturehouse Cinemas, is that they’ve gone with the cheaper silver screen passive system preferred by many cinema chains.

In short, passive uses polarised glasses which are cheap to replace. The alternative system, active 3D, uses small LCD screens in its glasses that alternately dim the left and right lenses in succession and have to be kept by the cinema for cleaning and charging.

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So, while you can theoretically pay once for your specs at the Cameo and reuse them, along at Filmhouse, who went for active and kept the superior white screen, you can’t.

The problem here isn’t the 3D but the silver screen. Unlike the old white screen, standard 2D films have a brighter “hot spot” in the centre which fades towards the edges, meaning those in an aisle seat will find themselves seeing less than others.

I’ve spoken to industry professionals about the move to a silver screen and all agree this is a damaging move, with some voicing concern that organisers of the 2013 Edinburgh International Film Festival could boycott the cinema.

This year, Cineworld had to replace its silver screens with white screens during the EIFF, at a cost of thousands of pounds a time.

Perhaps in these cash-strapped times it’s deemed acceptable to sacrifice individuality and quality for quick savings. Personally, as ticket prices rise, I expect the best rather than second rate.

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