Sony Issues Rebuttal After Claims of Poor Digital Projection Quality

     May 27, 2011


Earlier this week, a story appeared in the Boston Globe claiming that theaters were knowingly ripping off patrons by dimming the digital projection of 2D films due to laze. Ty Burr, the author of the piece, claimed that he had been to multiple theaters in the Boston area where the projection quality was greatly diminished. Burr spoke to a professional projectionist who claimed that the fault lay with Sony’s new 4K digital projectors, specifically that the 3D lens was left on the projector during 2D showings, thereby greatly dimming the 2D image.

Well now Sony has issued a detailed rebuttal in response to Burr’s article. Chiefly among their arguments is that Sony projectors do not rapidly alternate between two images, RealD filters (the 3D lens) only reduce the amount of light by 20%, changing the lens only takes about 20 minutes, and if the lens hasn’t been changed it’s still capable of playing 2D content at 14fl, which is well within the recommended range. Hit the jump for more, including Sony’s full press release.

movie-theater-01Burr’s original article stated that you could easily spot a Sony projector by checking to see if two beams of light were coming out of the projection booth. Sony refutes this statement, saying that Sony 3D are not the only systems that use two beams of light. They state that many systems are double-stacked.

Sony’s statement seems to negate quite a bit of Burr’s article, and it echoes concerns seen in comment sections all over the web responding to Burr’s original story. However, this doesn’t change the fact that Burr himself witnessed dimly lit projections in multiple theaters across Boston.

Ultimately, as stressed in Burr’s article, if we as frequent moviegoers want to ensure that we’re getting the best quality image possible, it’s up to us to speak up at our local cinema. If the image looks off-focus, off-center, or just plain off, march down to the manager’s office and lodge a complaint. The general audience member isn’t necessarily gonna get out of their comfy seat in the middle of a movie to nag someone about a blurry image, so it’s up to us as knowledgeable cinema-goers to make sure that our local theater is doing their best to give us the highest quality image possible.

Head over to Engadget to read a detailed explanation from a projectionist of just how this technology works.

sony-digital-projector-4kHere’s Sony’s full response:

Sony projection systems are designed to deliver a bright image, with stunning resolution, for the moviegoer.

Hopefully, the below information will clarify the inaccurate information that is currently circulating on the web.


  • Sony projection systems are capable of both 2D and 3D projection with a 3D lens or 2D with a 2D lens.
  • 3D projection utilizes RealD technology.

Lens technology:

  • Sony projectors do not rapidly alternate two images. Our system displays both left and right eye images at the same time, all the time.
  • Polarized glasses allow the viewer to continuously see the left image with the left eye and the right image with the right eye, thereby mimicking the way our eyes naturally see in 3D.
  • Some other systems alternate the images, but Sony systems do not.
  • Sony 3D systems are not the only ones with two beams of light. Any double-stacked system would have two beams, as would a RealD XL cinema system on other projectors.

Lens change:

  • It takes less than 20 minutes for a trained technician to change the lens.
  • Sony has a system in development to make the change even simpler.
  • If there are cases where it is not possible to change the lens, the 3D lens will play back 2D content.
  • If the system is setup for 4.5fL (studio recommended) in 3D, it will play 2D content at about 14fl without glasses and filters, which falls well within the SMPTE spec of 14fL +/- 3flL.
  • RealD filters for Sony systems only reduce the light by about 20%, because light out of the Sony projector is already polarized, unlike our competitors.
  • Removing the 3D glasses has the most effect on the visible light.
  • Changing a lens does not require entering the projection system. Lenses are changed from the front of the projector.
  • There is no security risk, nor is there danger of shutting down the system.
  • Projector operators are required to login, on all digital cinema systems, by the DCI Specification.


  • While we are not at liberty to discuss the details of specific customer transactions, most of our customers work with integrators, using the well-known Virtual Print Fee (VPF) model.
  • We sell our projectors to those integrators.
  • Sony is also an integrator, offering VPF agreements directly to exhibitors.
  • We do not negotiate the exchange of projectors for pre-show advertising.



Latest News