One thing that I really love about Hyderabad and Vijayawada is the cinema experience. Most of the theaters adopted 70mm format and the screens are absolutely huge. Add to that powerful DTS/Dolby systems and huge two level auditorium (first class and balcony). When I came to Bangalore in 2003 for a training, I went to Urvashi Theater to watch ‘Matrix Reloaded’. I was dumbfounded at the size of the theater and the spine chilling sound stage.
Attack of the multiplexes
I don’t remember the exact year. I think it was in 2006 that I, like many fell for the glitter of multiplexes. Me and my friends used to go to these okayish movie theaters with ticket price at 50-60 bucks, pathetic seating, AC that doesn’t work. I completely forgot about Urvashi and had a feeling that it may not be much different to these theaters given the way that these theaters struggle to generate revenue after PVR, Inox etc raided Indian cinema. Whenever I used to go by Urvashi, I rememeber the movie ‘Matrix Reloaded’ and used to say ‘phew’. Another problem was with the way tickets are sold in these theatres. Without online booking (at that time), one had to rely on pushing and running to get the tickets and that is something that I really hate.
Then came the multiplex revolution in Bangalore. Book the tickets online, no waiting in long queues, courteous staff, super clean theaters, comfortable seating and colorful atmosphere. Like many, I fell for the experience before the start of the movie and after the ending. Then again, every time I go and watch a movie in Hyderabad or Vijayawada, I feel when I will get such theaters in Bangalore.
First movie after marrriage
I got engaged in August 2010 but had to wait till June 2011 to watch movie with my wife. When Transformers: Dark of the moon was released, I went to bookmyshow.com to book tickets for this movie and I saw this advertisement showing Urvashi Cinema installing 4k Digital Projector and Meyer Sound. I had no clue at that time what they are and like any internet addict, I did a quick Googling and found out what I have been missing all these days. The experience was simply spectacular and there is only one genre of theaters that can match this experience, IMAX. I am not exaggerating. Many of my friends prefer going to Urvashi to watch a movie now. The first thing I check when I want to go to a movie is whether Urvashi is screening the movie or not. What makes it the best theater in Bangalore or rather the best non-IMAX theater in India?
Technology at Uvashi
Dual Christie 4k DLP 3D projectors:
DLP is already widely used in Indian cinema, especially at multiplexes. A DLP doesn’t need those reels. One can send the movie in a HDD or properitary discs or via satellite. This reduces productions costs a lot as the medium can be reused. For a viewer, a DLP projector provides clarity that cannot be matched by traditional reel based analogue projectors. A DLP is to a traditional projector, what a HDTV is to CRT. But most use a 2k DLP projector which supports resolution of 2048×1080 (2.2 MP at 24 or 48 fps). Urvashi on the other hand uses 4k DLP projector from Christie (CP4230, world’s first 4k digital cinema projector) which supports resolution of 4096×2160 (8.85 MP at 24 fps). This means that the 4K projector used by Urvashi cinema generates 4 times more pixels than a 2k projector used at most multiplex screens. Thanks to dual projection, watching 3D movie here is far more immersive than in any other theater in India.
Harkness Perlux 220 screen:
A high quality ultra-brightness screen that is designed with 3D digital projection in mind and works best with active shutter glasses. When compared to matte screens, this one has 120% more brightness, can produce much better contrast levels and also reduce the power consumption for projectors as it allows smaller lamps. This screen is best used for width greater than 66 feet. As it is paired with Christie 4k, the picture clarity is absolutely terrific and extremely detailed.
XpanD Active shutter 3D glasses:
Remember those weird looking glasses that are used to watch 3D movies? Most of the theaters using passive (polarized or non-polarized red-blue) glassed for 3D stereoscopy but Urvashi has implemented something else. Also known as Liquid Crystal shutter glasses, the glasses used by Urvashi for 3D cinema contains a special layer that can turn dark on applying voltage. The electronics built into the glasses. This on/off is done by sending a timing signal (using infrared or other radio mechanism) which is picked up by the glass’s electronics which turns the layer dark or transparent at an extremely high rate, usually in sync with screen’s refresh rate. Thanks to this alternate-frame sequencing technique, each eye gets to see only the frames that are intended for it. This on/off rate is so high that for us, these glasses feel like a normal glasses. If you are still wondering what these are, these are same type of glasses that Nvidia bundles with ‘3D vision’ kit. The huge advantage with this kind of glasses is that there will be no loss of color (unlike the red/blue passive glasses).
Datasat and Meyer Sound EXP:
The combination of Datasat, formerly cinema wing of DTS and Meyer Sound makes the audio spectacular and I assure you, you can feel the vibration. The following video shows the Meyer audio setup and Datasat processor while it was being setup:
Trust me, the audio quality is stunning. There is so much detail and it feels as if you are able to hear every damn sound generated. It truly is a mesmerizing experience. Shotgun sound from the opening scene of ‘The Dark Knight’ vibrates every single cell in my body while the songs like ‘Nadaan Parindey’ and ‘Faya Kun’ from Rockstar made me sing along and feel as if I am sitting in the middle of a concert. It is deep, immersive and magical. While DTS and Dolby took movie experience to a different level (compared to the old audio setup), Meyer Sound took it to a whole new level.
Christie 4k DLP projector 4096 x 2160
Meyer sound with 79 speakers
Harkness Perlux 220 ultra bright 3D screen (56 feet x 28 feet)
XpanD active shutter 3D glasses
More than 5 crores spent to make this the best theater in India.
Maximum ticket price of 250/- (weekend shows, platinum class)
It is great to see that Urvashi had priced the tickets very well, even with all such expensive and unique setup. Had PVR or Inox had this setup, 250 would’ve been the minimum price for a ticket. When I go to Urvashi, I feel the true ‘cinematic experience’. I had to go these multiplexes once in a while if that movie is not screened in Urvashi and I feel as if the sound is coming from a chinese made el-cheapo speaker set and thanks to couple of theaters glued to each other, the volume is kept so low that I might have to take an earpiece that is used by those with partial deafness. Except for the seating comfort, there is nothing at all. I wrote this post to create awareness among cinema lovers that one should pick a theater not by the ambiance of the theater but by looking at how a movie is played, how much of visual and aural treat a theater can provide. If you are in Bangalore, go to this theaer once and then go to any multiplex to watch the same movie and you will understand what I am talking about.