December 16, 2015 marked some great moments in cinema. The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (read the SAMDB review of Star Wars here – by SAMDBs Andrew Germishuys), and the launch of the first 4DX cinema on the African continent, by Nu Metro V&A Waterfront, with the opening title being none other than Star Wars itself!
Nu Metro signed an agreement with ACJ 3DPLEX, creator of 3DX earlier this year, resulting in the partnership that has brought 4DX to Africa.
As of Dec. 2015, 4DX is running in 233 screens in 37 countries worldwide: Korea, China, Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, Israel, Russia, Peru, Hungary, Japan, Poland, Czech, Bulgaria, Taiwan, Colombia, Chile, Indonesia, Croatia, Guatemala, Ukraine, Venezuela, UAE, Vietnam, Philippines, USA, Cambodia, Costa Rica, India, Hongkong, UK, Switzerland, Romania, Turkey, South Africa, Slovakia, Panama, Trinidad.
SAMDB attended the preview launch of the cinema, and were lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes tour of all the technology required to run this technologically advanced cinema experience. The demo included several film trailers, including Fast & Furious 7, and of course the flavour of the moment Star Wars. Almost anyone who watches movies would by now have seen this trailer a few times, but there is something to be said about feeling the rumble of the Millennium Falcon as it twirls and dives on screen, or feeling the wind across your face during a scene in the desert.
While the trailers provided a fun and energetic ride, full length features will not be throwing a barrage of effects at the audience for every minute of the film. Effects will be used where necessary, and appropriate to enhance the experience, but not overwhelm.
In all, it was a fun experience, livening up the cinema experience. While it may not be to the taste of every cinema goer, it’s bound to be a hit with younger audience members.
Trained ushers will be present should anyone have any questions or concerns.
New GM For Nu Metro
We were also afforded the opportunity to meet the new GM of Nu Metro, Nitesh Matai. Having held the position of Marketing Executive since Nu Metro was purchased by One Fifty Capital in January 2014, this new appointment will continue the implementation of Nu Metro’s turnaround strategy.
Tech Specs On 4DX
With one 4DX cinema now open in South Africa, and another planned in the near future in Durban, what exactly should audiences expect?
The 4DX cinema at Nu Metro V&A Waterfront started as all projects do, with time of planning and strategy, culminating in six weeks where there was a complete overhaul of one of the older cinemas. A complete new steel floor structure was installed, to accommodate the force, of up to 0.3G, generated when the seats are moved.
To create this motion, groups of chairs utilise servo motors and and transducers (they do not use hydraulics). This allows motion to be smoother, and more active. This is certainly capable, and in movie scenes where there is a lot of movement, both on screen and on the part of the seating, feels very much as if you are part of the action.
Moving on to tantalising the senses, the setup includes effects for wind, water, scent, strobes, as well as the afore mentioned motion. These effects are delivered to the cinema as a digital file. This is uploaded to the system, and from there distributed to the 21 computers for each group of four seats. Other than these 21 computers for seat control, there is a computer that controls motion, one used for monitoring the system, and one that acts as a screen server.
Before any mist is released to the audience, it passes through a series of filters, ensuring it is free of any contaminants. Once purified, it is piped through a series of tubes into the cinema, from storage tanks, waiting to be used at the right moment.
Scents are stored and sent to the cinema as required, coming from a select number of smells, including floral and coffee, to name a few. These are not overpowering, serving yet again, to enhance the experience.
Sound comes in the form of a 7.1 setup, having upgraded they cinemas sound processor to a Dolby CP750. Featuring 8 channels of input, and a host of connectivity, this is a very versatile piece of tech. The processor is also network capable, allowing it to be not only monitored, but also controlled, remotely. Anyone worried that their movie going experience would be interrupted by some teenaged miscreant need not worry. There are a number of security measures in place to prevent unauthorised access.
A brighter image, in both 2D and 3D is provided by the Barco projector, with its upgraded lamp. This, coupled with the 9.7m wide and 5.2m high curved silver screen, image quality is leaps ahead of other screens, especially when it comes to 3D content.
For those creepier moments, there is a device known as the foot tickler, which is bound to make any horror movie fan jump at just the right moment, when activated. This is positioned at the bottom of the chair, just above the foot rest.
Wind effects are provided by powerful fans located on each wall. While these greatly enhance the sensation of being part of the on-screen action, they still don’t compare to the Cape Town South Easter.
An announcement by 4DX at CinemaCon 2015 detailed add-on features that will include rainstorm, snow and warm air, which when installed in existing locations, will further enhance the viewing experience and immersiveness.
Nu Metro sent their Head of Technical, Johan van Staden off to Korea, for 3 weeks, to acquire training in the new system, brining back this knowledge to share back in South Africa, as new 4DX installations are planned nationally in the near future, starting with the second setup at The Pavillion in Durban in the first quarter of 2016.
A Full Length Movie
A full length feature in the 4DX is a thrill ride. Perhaps subjective, and not for everyone, but a recent screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens includes both young and old, with giggles and exclamations of glee.
There is certainly no way anyone could fall asleep during a movie in 4DX. While the various effects are not active continually, and the motion not always present, you never quite know when something is about to happen. Taking sweeping camera moves into account, there is a new dimension added to the on-screen tension.
Effects are well timed, and responsive, ranging from subtle to all our war. This is certainly one for those who want to live the movie. Go be part of Star Wars, in a 4DX cinema, while you still have the chance.
For more information and to book your 4DX experience, call 0861-cinema (234362) or go to numetro.co.za.