Article on Solo and dark screenings - don’t blame the cinematographer

chriskchrisk Indianapolis
Thought this would be of interest after hearing the podcast and our discussion in the other thread. 

http://www.indiewire.com/2018/05/solo-star-a-wars-story-theatre-projection-problems-bradford-young-1201969989/

The gist is this cinematographer is pretty well respected and likes to use low light setups because digital cameras can capture them well. I remember seeing discussion of this way back when Collateral came out. Lots of night scenes, and it was a relatively early use of a digital movie camera for those kinds of scenes IIRC. 

The issue with these Solo screenings is that some theaters aren’t checking and maintaining projectors like they should. Sometimes the bulbs are dim from overuse, sometimes the wrong kind of lens is left on the projector, and sometimes the lens or the window of the booth is dirty. All sorts of things can contribute to less light getting to the screen than is optimal. 

FWIW, I complained via AMC’s website and was contracted by the theater manager who confirmed with me which screen it was and  told they’d look into it. Also offered me free tickets. I think the more people complain, the better. 
JaimieTFlukesA_Ron_Hubbard
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Comments

  • Sounds like the once a month I profile my monitor screen is more often than these theaters check on their projection quality. 
    JaimieTKingKobra
  • Sounds like the once a month I profile my monitor screen is more often than these theaters check on their projection quality. 
    If people don’t say anything, it won’t get fixed. When I saw TLJ the difference was kind of crazy (between IMAX and regular theater). The regular theater had blown subs so every time there was heavy bass you’d here the flapping of the speaker. People are willing to deal with a LOT of bad ish before they say anything. These days though due to cost cutting, etc there is a lot less attention to details in theaters. 
  • edited June 2018
    KingKobra said:
    Sounds like the once a month I profile my monitor screen is more often than these theaters check on their projection quality. 
    If people don’t say anything, it won’t get fixed. When I saw TLJ the difference was kind of crazy (between IMAX and regular theater). The regular theater had blown subs so every time there was heavy bass you’d here the flapping of the speaker. People are willing to deal with a LOT of bad ish before they say anything. These days though due to cost cutting, etc there is a lot less attention to details in theaters. 
    Agreed. I live less than a mile away from a movie theater but it's so run down and so little attention given to it that I gladly drive much further just because I want a better experience than what that theater provides.  I typically pay extra to go to "premium" theaters that have Dolby Atmos audio and higher quality projectors because I know that their standards of quality are much higher.  The range in movie theater quality I feel has never been bigger.  
  • Had this problem with both Solo and Black Panther at a BowTie Cinemas in VA. I may rewatch Solo at an Alamo theatre to check the diff. I saw DP2 there this weekend, and had no issues with the picture quality.
  • MurderbearMurderbear Cold Spring, Ky
    edited June 2018
    Maybe I just got lucky with the theater I saw it at but I didn't have that big of a problem with the darkness. The opening part in the city is supposed to be very dark so that when the light does come in, it's a big contrast. Maybe it's unfortunate that it's followed with a dark, muddy scene of him in the Imperial Navy on the ground but it all feels very purposeful.
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    Red Letter Media complained about the darkness too. That was the one part of their review that annoyed me, because I think they should know better about projection issues these days. Then again, maybe they'd still say that if they saw it on a good screen. (Or maybe they did see it on a good screen, but you'd think they'd say that.)
  • chriskchrisk Indianapolis
    Maybe I just got lucky with the theater I saw it at but I didn't have that big of a problem with the darkness. The opening part in the city is supposed to be very dark so that when the light does come in, it's a big contrast. Maybe it's unfortunate that it's followed with a dark, muddy scene of him in the Imperial Navy on the ground but it all feels very purposeful.
    It is, but on a bad projection like mine was you literally can't tell what what's going on. Hard to pick out detail on faces when they're against a light background. That kind of thing.
    Murderbear
  • chriskchrisk Indianapolis
    Also, re: Dolby theaters, I saw Close Encounters for the re-release at a Dolby theater here a few months ago and - My. God.

    I haven't been back but I feel like it was better than every theater/screen I've seen a movie on except for the 70MM IMAX here in Indy.


  • JaimieT said:
    Red Letter Media complained about the darkness too. That was the one part of their review that annoyed me, because I think they should know better about projection issues these days. Then again, maybe they'd still say that if they saw it on a good screen. (Or maybe they did see it on a good screen, but you'd think they'd say that.)
    But if you see every movie in the same theater and one movie in particular stands out for being too dark or muddy or whatever, you can't really blame that theater, regardless of maintenance.  Like, I've heard a LOT of people say Solo was too dark.  Never heard people saying that about any other movies in such volume.
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    ken hale said:
    JaimieT said:
    Red Letter Media complained about the darkness too. That was the one part of their review that annoyed me, because I think they should know better about projection issues these days. Then again, maybe they'd still say that if they saw it on a good screen. (Or maybe they did see it on a good screen, but you'd think they'd say that.)
    But if you see every movie in the same theater and one movie in particular stands out for being too dark or muddy or whatever, you can't really blame that theater, regardless of maintenance.  Like, I've heard a LOT of people say Solo was too dark.  Never heard people saying that about any other movies in such volume.

    I don't know that RLM was in the same theater for every movie, or the same screen. 

    And Black Panther was terribly dark for me, and I've heard other people say that too.
    hisdudeness915
  • No, you can blame the theater.  I am sure the cinematographer didn't make a mistake and had the correct calibration targets when he made the film. I don't think the cinematographers need to handicap themselves because movie theaters can't be bothered to get their projection in spec.

    ken hale said:
    JaimieT said:
    Red Letter Media complained about the darkness too. That was the one part of their review that annoyed me, because I think they should know better about projection issues these days. Then again, maybe they'd still say that if they saw it on a good screen. (Or maybe they did see it on a good screen, but you'd think they'd say that.)
    But if you see every movie in the same theater and one movie in particular stands out for being too dark or muddy or whatever, you can't really blame that theater, regardless of maintenance.  Like, I've heard a LOT of people say Solo was too dark.  Never heard people saying that about any other movies in such volume.

    JaimieTKingKobrahisdudeness915ghm3
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    No, you can blame the theater.  I am sure the cinematographer didn't make a mistake and had the correct calibration targets when he made the film. I don't think the cinematographers need to handicap themselves because movie theaters can't be bothered to get their projection in spec.

    ken hale said:
    JaimieT said:
    Red Letter Media complained about the darkness too. That was the one part of their review that annoyed me, because I think they should know better about projection issues these days. Then again, maybe they'd still say that if they saw it on a good screen. (Or maybe they did see it on a good screen, but you'd think they'd say that.)
    But if you see every movie in the same theater and one movie in particular stands out for being too dark or muddy or whatever, you can't really blame that theater, regardless of maintenance.  Like, I've heard a LOT of people say Solo was too dark.  Never heard people saying that about any other movies in such volume.


    Yeah, let's be realistic... this is Disney, not some studio's first attempt, making a best guess.
  • JaimieT said:
    ken hale said:
    JaimieT said:
    Red Letter Media complained about the darkness too. That was the one part of their review that annoyed me, because I think they should know better about projection issues these days. Then again, maybe they'd still say that if they saw it on a good screen. (Or maybe they did see it on a good screen, but you'd think they'd say that.)
    But if you see every movie in the same theater and one movie in particular stands out for being too dark or muddy or whatever, you can't really blame that theater, regardless of maintenance.  Like, I've heard a LOT of people say Solo was too dark.  Never heard people saying that about any other movies in such volume.

    I don't know that RLM was in the same theater for every movie, or the same screen. 

    And Black Panther was terribly dark for me, and I've heard other people say that too.
    I saw in IMAX 3D and regular 2D both times were bright enough. Of course if people are going to the same theater or theater with similar problems you’ll get a “consensus”. 
    JaimieT
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    I saw it in the best theater in the city, that I've never had an issue with before. It was dark as hell. I actually craned my neck around to see if they fucked up the 3D filters it was so dark. I suppose I can mention it to the manager next time I'm there. But I just saw Deadpool 2 in that same theater/screen the week before and it was fine. DP2 had a lot of potentially dark scenes too.
    KingKobraken hale
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    I saw it in the best theater in the city, that I've never had an issue with before. It was dark as hell. I actually craned my neck around to see if they fucked up the 3D filters it was so dark. I suppose I can mention it to the manager next time I'm there. But I just saw Deadpool 2 in that same theater/screen the week before and it was fine. DP2 had a lot of potentially dark scenes too.

    Maybe they were instead potentially normal scenes. :P

    I know what you mean. I wonder if this is just the tipping point, 2018, some people noticing with Black Panther, some with Solo, the bulbs have finally faded enough. When profits are king, testing this limit was inevitable...

    I bet we'll have more casual movie goers noticing in the months ahead.
  • If I particularly care about theater equipment quality for a movie I'll go to Alamo but I usually go to less expensive matinees at AMC which is where I saw Solo and I had no issues with the darkness. I think the darkest moment of the movie was near the beginning when they jump in the speeder, which I think was meant to be a silhouette at first. Obviously most of the movie is dark but I never had a problem making anything out in it.

    I did see it in 2D (I avoid 3D viewings if possible), I wonder how much of an effect that has.
  • ghm3 said:
    If I particularly care about theater equipment quality for a movie I'll go to Alamo but I usually go to less expensive matinees at AMC which is where I saw Solo and I had no issues with the darkness. I think the darkest moment of the movie was near the beginning when they jump in the speeder, which I think was meant to be a silhouette at first. Obviously most of the movie is dark but I never had a problem making anything out in it.

    I did see it in 2D (I avoid 3D viewings if possible), I wonder how much of an effect that has.
    3D about halves the brightness (IIRC). 
  • chriskchrisk Indianapolis
    edited June 2018
    I saw it in the best theater in the city, that I've never had an issue with before. It was dark as hell. I actually craned my neck around to see if they fucked up the 3D filters it was so dark. I suppose I can mention it to the manager next time I'm there. But I just saw Deadpool 2 in that same theater/screen the week before and it was fine. DP2 had a lot of potentially dark scenes too.
    Seems that this has happened with certain movies so I think it’s a combination of movie filmed with some dark scenes (but in spec), shown in a theater or projector that’s out of spec. If the average movie is filmed on the brighter end of the range the theater’s bad equipment can handle, its fine. But if the equipment is out of spec and a movie leans toward the darker end of what should be acceptable, then you’ll have trouble. I think that’s what the article was getting at.

    You can also find movie critics talking about this all over Twitter. 


    JaimieTKingKobra
  • I saw it at a normal screening at the Regal in Union square where I couldn't see anything for the first half hour and then again at the Dolby theater at AMC Empire in Time Square. The difference was night and day. Bradford Young is supposed to be the next big thing in cinematography and it really shows in this movie if you get to see it correctly. See it at a Dolby theater if you can. 
    JaimieTKingKobra
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    edited June 2018
    I saw it at a normal screening at the Regal in Union square where I couldn't see anything for the first half hour and then again at the Dolby theater at AMC Empire in Time Square. The difference was night and day. Bradford Young is supposed to be the next big thing in cinematography and it really shows in this movie if you get to see it correctly. See it at a Dolby theater if you can. 

    Yeah, I did think it was a beautiful movie, but I couldn't tell if that was the Dolby screen or the movie! I was also distracted by all the Han Solo.
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    KingKobra said:
    ghm3 said:
    If I particularly care about theater equipment quality for a movie I'll go to Alamo but I usually go to less expensive matinees at AMC which is where I saw Solo and I had no issues with the darkness. I think the darkest moment of the movie was near the beginning when they jump in the speeder, which I think was meant to be a silhouette at first. Obviously most of the movie is dark but I never had a problem making anything out in it.

    I did see it in 2D (I avoid 3D viewings if possible), I wonder how much of an effect that has.
    3D about halves the brightness (IIRC). 
    I think the way it works is that you're getting double the light hitting the screen, and each lens blocks half of it. The problem I've heard is that sometimes they leave the polarized filter (the thing that makes the glasses work) over the projector in between 3d and 2d viewings.  That means you're literally getting half the light you're supposed to be getting. You used to be able to tell by looking, if there were two projector beams during a 2d showing, they fucked up. I think the system the XD projectors used doesn't do that, so it's impossible to tell now without getting up and just asking.

    I got spoiled because in my three years, I've only had like 2 bad experiences at this place. Maybe management is changed and they're not as on it as they used to be?
    KingKobra
  • JaimieT said:
    I saw it at a normal screening at the Regal in Union square where I couldn't see anything for the first half hour and then again at the Dolby theater at AMC Empire in Time Square. The difference was night and day. Bradford Young is supposed to be the next big thing in cinematography and it really shows in this movie if you get to see it correctly. See it at a Dolby theater if you can. 

    Yeah, I did think it was a beautiful movie, but I couldn't tell if that was the Dolby screen or the movie! I was also distracted by all the Han Solo.
    Now everything makes sense :p 

  • KingKobra said:
    ghm3 said:
    If I particularly care about theater equipment quality for a movie I'll go to Alamo but I usually go to less expensive matinees at AMC which is where I saw Solo and I had no issues with the darkness. I think the darkest moment of the movie was near the beginning when they jump in the speeder, which I think was meant to be a silhouette at first. Obviously most of the movie is dark but I never had a problem making anything out in it.

    I did see it in 2D (I avoid 3D viewings if possible), I wonder how much of an effect that has.
    3D about halves the brightness (IIRC). 
    I think the way it works is that you're getting double the light hitting the screen, and each lens blocks half of it. The problem I've heard is that sometimes they leave the polarized filter (the thing that makes the glasses work) over the projector in between 3d and 2d viewings.  That means you're literally getting half the light you're supposed to be getting. You used to be able to tell by looking, if there were two projector beams during a 2d showing, they fucked up. I think the system the XD projectors used doesn't do that, so it's impossible to tell now without getting up and just asking.

    I got spoiled because in my three years, I've only had like 2 bad experiences at this place. Maybe management is changed and they're not as on it as they used to be?
    I think no one asking is why we are such varied reports. 2 bad experiences isn’t bad at all, it could be anything including projectors out of spec (as discussed above). Those lower luminance scenes will especially be bad if something is out of whack. I’m just not sure it’s worth the money to the management to fix the issue (if there is one). 

    For something similar, how many companits do we hear about GoT or TWD from folks? When watching thsoe shows in a low to no light room with an ok “settings adjustment” they aren’t as bad. Ive personally never thought they were too dark when I had the right setup/room setting. All this to say that it wouldn’t surprise me that it could be a little of both the projector and or grading of the movie. 
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    KingKobra said:
    JaimieT said:
    I saw it at a normal screening at the Regal in Union square where I couldn't see anything for the first half hour and then again at the Dolby theater at AMC Empire in Time Square. The difference was night and day. Bradford Young is supposed to be the next big thing in cinematography and it really shows in this movie if you get to see it correctly. See it at a Dolby theater if you can. 

    Yeah, I did think it was a beautiful movie, but I couldn't tell if that was the Dolby screen or the movie! I was also distracted by all the Han Solo.
    Now everything makes sense :p 

    I tagged you twice in the Solo thread, curious about your take, but I guess I know it now.
  • JaimieT said:
    KingKobra said:
    JaimieT said:
    I saw it at a normal screening at the Regal in Union square where I couldn't see anything for the first half hour and then again at the Dolby theater at AMC Empire in Time Square. The difference was night and day. Bradford Young is supposed to be the next big thing in cinematography and it really shows in this movie if you get to see it correctly. See it at a Dolby theater if you can. 

    Yeah, I did think it was a beautiful movie, but I couldn't tell if that was the Dolby screen or the movie! I was also distracted by all the Han Solo.
    Now everything makes sense :p 

    I tagged you twice in the Solo thread, curious about your take, but I guess I know it now.
    Unfortunately I haven’t been able to see it yet due to work and other obligations. I will for sure let you know once I do. I’m going in with tempered expectations so hopefully I’ll be OK. 

    PS I have 81 notifications (I’m horrible at checking them outside of threads I have participated in). I’m not ignoring you ;) 
    JaimieT
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    KingKobra said:

    I think the way it works is that you're getting double the light hitting the screen, and each lens blocks half of it. The problem I've heard is that sometimes they leave the polarized filter (the thing that makes the glasses work) over the projector in between 3d and 2d viewings.  That means you're literally getting half the light you're supposed to be getting. You used to be able to tell by looking, if there were two projector beams during a 2d showing, they fucked up. I think the system the XD projectors used doesn't do that, so it's impossible to tell now without getting up and just asking.

    I got spoiled because in my three years, I've only had like 2 bad experiences at this place. Maybe management is changed and they're not as on it as they used to be?
    I think no one asking is why we are such varied reports. 2 bad experiences isn’t bad at all, it could be anything including projectors out of spec (as discussed above). Those lower luminance scenes will especially be bad if something is out of whack. I’m just not sure it’s worth the money to the management to fix the issue (if there is one). 

    For something similar, how many companits do we hear about GoT or TWD from folks? When watching thsoe shows in a low to no light room with an ok “settings adjustment” they aren’t as bad. Ive personally never thought they were too dark when I had the right setup/room setting. All this to say that it wouldn’t surprise me that it could be a little of both the projector and or grading of the movie. 
    RE: GoT / TWD. Plus, if your cable provider is anything like ours, they'll compress the video to hell and back so it's dark AF and muddy AF and ugly AF full time. 
    KingKobra
  • Yeah, I was waiting for someone to mention this.  I see jaggie artifacts in dark streamed content a lot. 

    KingKobra said:

    I think the way it works is that you're getting double the light hitting the screen, and each lens blocks half of it. The problem I've heard is that sometimes they leave the polarized filter (the thing that makes the glasses work) over the projector in between 3d and 2d viewings.  That means you're literally getting half the light you're supposed to be getting. You used to be able to tell by looking, if there were two projector beams during a 2d showing, they fucked up. I think the system the XD projectors used doesn't do that, so it's impossible to tell now without getting up and just asking.

    I got spoiled because in my three years, I've only had like 2 bad experiences at this place. Maybe management is changed and they're not as on it as they used to be?
    I think no one asking is why we are such varied reports. 2 bad experiences isn’t bad at all, it could be anything including projectors out of spec (as discussed above). Those lower luminance scenes will especially be bad if something is out of whack. I’m just not sure it’s worth the money to the management to fix the issue (if there is one). 

    For something similar, how many companits do we hear about GoT or TWD from folks? When watching thsoe shows in a low to no light room with an ok “settings adjustment” they aren’t as bad. Ive personally never thought they were too dark when I had the right setup/room setting. All this to say that it wouldn’t surprise me that it could be a little of both the projector and or grading of the movie. 
    RE: GoT / TWD. Plus, if your cable provider is anything like ours, they'll compress the video to hell and back so it's dark AF and muddy AF and ugly AF full time. 

  • KingKobra said:

    I think the way it works is that you're getting double the light hitting the screen, and each lens blocks half of it. The problem I've heard is that sometimes they leave the polarized filter (the thing that makes the glasses work) over the projector in between 3d and 2d viewings.  That means you're literally getting half the light you're supposed to be getting. You used to be able to tell by looking, if there were two projector beams during a 2d showing, they fucked up. I think the system the XD projectors used doesn't do that, so it's impossible to tell now without getting up and just asking.

    I got spoiled because in my three years, I've only had like 2 bad experiences at this place. Maybe management is changed and they're not as on it as they used to be?
    I think no one asking is why we are such varied reports. 2 bad experiences isn’t bad at all, it could be anything including projectors out of spec (as discussed above). Those lower luminance scenes will especially be bad if something is out of whack. I’m just not sure it’s worth the money to the management to fix the issue (if there is one). 

    For something similar, how many companits do we hear about GoT or TWD from folks? When watching thsoe shows in a low to no light room with an ok “settings adjustment” they aren’t as bad. Ive personally never thought they were too dark when I had the right setup/room setting. All this to say that it wouldn’t surprise me that it could be a little of both the projector and or grading of the movie. 
    RE: GoT / TWD. Plus, if your cable provider is anything like ours, they'll compress the video to hell and back so it's dark AF and muddy AF and ugly AF full time. 
    Yeah, I didn’t even go down that road ;) The 1st time I saw GoT on Blu-Ray my mouth almost dropped because of how good it looked compared to what I was used to. It really goes to show (as doesnsome streaming) just how bad cable/sattelite are compared to what we “should” be seeing. 
  • KingKobra said:

    I think the way it works is that you're getting double the light hitting the screen, and each lens blocks half of it. The problem I've heard is that sometimes they leave the polarized filter (the thing that makes the glasses work) over the projector in between 3d and 2d viewings.  That means you're literally getting half the light you're supposed to be getting. You used to be able to tell by looking, if there were two projector beams during a 2d showing, they fucked up. I think the system the XD projectors used doesn't do that, so it's impossible to tell now without getting up and just asking.

    I got spoiled because in my three years, I've only had like 2 bad experiences at this place. Maybe management is changed and they're not as on it as they used to be?
    I think no one asking is why we are such varied reports. 2 bad experiences isn’t bad at all, it could be anything including projectors out of spec (as discussed above). Those lower luminance scenes will especially be bad if something is out of whack. I’m just not sure it’s worth the money to the management to fix the issue (if there is one). 

    For something similar, how many companits do we hear about GoT or TWD from folks? When watching thsoe shows in a low to no light room with an ok “settings adjustment” they aren’t as bad. Ive personally never thought they were too dark when I had the right setup/room setting. All this to say that it wouldn’t surprise me that it could be a little of both the projector and or grading of the movie. 
    RE: GoT / TWD. Plus, if your cable provider is anything like ours, they'll compress the video to hell and back so it's dark AF and muddy AF and ugly AF full time. 
    This is the exact reason I bought ALL of game of thrones on blu ray.  I'm a stickler for quality and it kills me anytime there is a very dark scene when I'm watching GOT through Comcast.  The compression absolutely kills the picture quality.  And now of course they just released season 1 of GOT on 4k and I'm assuming the rest of the seasons will follow.  Welp looks like I'll be buying the entire series again.
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    KingKobra said:

    I think the way it works is that you're getting double the light hitting the screen, and each lens blocks half of it. The problem I've heard is that sometimes they leave the polarized filter (the thing that makes the glasses work) over the projector in between 3d and 2d viewings.  That means you're literally getting half the light you're supposed to be getting. You used to be able to tell by looking, if there were two projector beams during a 2d showing, they fucked up. I think the system the XD projectors used doesn't do that, so it's impossible to tell now without getting up and just asking.

    I got spoiled because in my three years, I've only had like 2 bad experiences at this place. Maybe management is changed and they're not as on it as they used to be?
    I think no one asking is why we are such varied reports. 2 bad experiences isn’t bad at all, it could be anything including projectors out of spec (as discussed above). Those lower luminance scenes will especially be bad if something is out of whack. I’m just not sure it’s worth the money to the management to fix the issue (if there is one). 

    For something similar, how many companits do we hear about GoT or TWD from folks? When watching thsoe shows in a low to no light room with an ok “settings adjustment” they aren’t as bad. Ive personally never thought they were too dark when I had the right setup/room setting. All this to say that it wouldn’t surprise me that it could be a little of both the projector and or grading of the movie. 
    RE: GoT / TWD. Plus, if your cable provider is anything like ours, they'll compress the video to hell and back so it's dark AF and muddy AF and ugly AF full time. 
    This is the exact reason I bought ALL of game of thrones on blu ray.  I'm a stickler for quality and it kills me anytime there is a very dark scene when I'm watching GOT through Comcast.  The compression absolutely kills the picture quality.  And now of course they just released season 1 of GOT on 4k and I'm assuming the rest of the seasons will follow.  Welp looks like I'll be buying the entire series again.

    Nah man, just move your couch back 1 foot.


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