By Jason Knott, July 29, 2010
With all the hoopla out there about 3D and its ability to immerse viewers in the movie or game, it will be challenging for integrators to properly demo it. In the case of 3D and other immersive technologies, an “in-your-face” demo it is not necessarily wise.
For example, I recently saw a 3D TV demo with a movie trailer for a teenie-bopper dance flick that almost sent me into an epileptic seizure. It was nothing but extremely fast edits and bright strobe lights flying at your face.
Likewise, there are a lot of integrators whose first demo experience with D-Box Motion Chairs 10 years ago was the pod-racing sequence from “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.” That was my first experience with it. I recall sitting in that demo with a woman at a dealer’s showroom years ago and she became sick. As we left the showroom, the first words out of her mouth were “I will never get one of those.”
A demo for an immersive technology like D-Box is not about how fast and hard you can move the chairs, it’s about subtlety. D-Box has created a demo disc for integrators that includes three sample clips. It starts with a car engine revving. You gently feel the chair vibrating, just a little more than a subwoofer. The next clip is ocean waves lapping on the side of a boat. The gentle rocking of the chair emulates the waves. It was soothing. The disc finished with a chase scene from a famous animated movie; however, D-Box was changing the final cut on the disc to another yet-to-be-released flick.
Mario Thibeault, director of sales for the Montreal-based company, has also created a script for dealers to use along with the demo, complete with instructions on when to pause the Blu-ray, what to say and how to maximize the reaction from the customer. Also, he advises integrators to never set the motion system on its maximum setting. One of the most compelling portions of the demo is to play the same scene with the D-Box unplugged, but don’t tell the client that you have deactivated the motion.
According to Thibeault, “The first question they ask is, ‘What happened?’ When you say, ‘But that’s how you watch movies at home right now,’ their jaws drop.”
D-Box uses its proprietary technology to code Blu-rays (over 900 titles so far) and several dozen games so the viewer’s chair will correspond moves based on what is taking place in the movie. For some movies, the coding can be done in a few hours. But for action flicks, it can take up to several weeks.
The D-Box system can be integrated with certain manufacturer’s seating models, including Acoustic Innovations, CDGI, Cineak, Cinematech, Continental Seating, Design NS, Fortress Seating, Jaymar, United Leather and VIP Cinema Seating. For existing seating, dealers can add a Motion Platform under the existing seats.
D-Box is also making the system more affordable. It’s still about $4,000 per seat, but that’s way down from the $10,000 per seat it used be when the technology was first introduced.