Last year INOX announced that they’ll be bringing India’s first ScreenX theater to Inorbit Multiplex in Mumbai. While there was much hype regarding the technology, in practice its yet to prove its worth. The new projection system promises viewers a 270° viewing experience. This is achieved by projecting images on the 2 side walls (now screens) beside the main screen.
Much like IMAX, ScreenX is a technology that has been used by many theater chains since its inception, so it’s not exclusive to any chain. Also similar is the use of proprietary and post-converted technology that can shape unique experiences meant to be watched in a compatible theater.
So What is ScreenX?
The technology is powered by CJ4DPLEX, a subsidiary of South Korean cinema chain – CJ CGV. While it has been used by many theater chains over the last couple of years, the INOX Malad installment is India’s first foray into the new technology.
As ScreenX’s official website explains, the platform has 2 ways in which content is delivered – films that are shot on ScreenX and those which are converted into the format. Most commercial films that you’ll watch in a ScreenX theater are post-converted, similar to most of the films released in 3D after Avatar.
The ScreenX Experience
I recently got to watch Birds of Prey at the Mumbai INOX ScreenX theater, and the experience was…interesting, to say the least. For starters, only portions of the film were projected on all screens at once. It was my second screening (first one courtesy of Warner Bros.) and the flashy parts didn’t distract me much. But I can see how if it’s someone’s first viewing of a film, it might be more distracting than immersive. In the expanded sequences you get to see more coverage of a scene or graphic elements that are heightened (e.g chase sequences) by projecting extra reaction shots/ image manipulation on the side screens.
I can’t show you any images of what that actually feels like because piracy is a thing, so you’ll have to do with the stock images and videos that the theater chains like INOX use. What I can talk about is the experience, which at best is distracting, and at worst is disorienting. However, I am still interested in the underlying technology used. Being an avid moviegoer and studying to be a part of the said industry, it always excites me when new technologies like ScreenX are unveiled to general consumers.
As more content is built specifically for the platform, the better it’ll be for the end consumer. We may not have glass-free 3D yet, but this is about as closest to it as we can get right now.