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Old 01-07-2018, 05:22 PM   #1
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MX4D Movie Theater Motion Simulation System

I don't know if these exist everywhere, but there are a couple of installations here in the KC Metro. I thought I'd share my take on this new movie technology (new to us hicks here, anyway).

"So...How's This MX4D Thing, Anyway?"

We are home from finally seeing "Star Wars: The Last Jedi", and from finally managing to swap our tickets for the MX4D theater version instead of the mere giant screen version that we bought into because the theater website was having issues.

If you haven't heard, MX4D is a motion simulation seating system, augmented with air blowers in the chair arms to simulate wind, blow mist in your face, and provide scent where deemed appropriate for the film. Additionally, there are large LED strobe panels along the walls used when there is lightning and explosions, traditional stage type foggers, and some sort of evaporative particulate delivery devices to simulate snow/ash/other atmospheric solids.

I believe that, were a film specifically designed in concert with the MX4D system, the sum could provide an amazing experience. However, while the execution with this film was, at brief times, effective and interest-enhancing (it was pretty cool during space battle scenes), I mostly found it to be distracting...because "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" is a magnificent Star Wars film that really doesn't need a lot of gimcracks and folderol added. I believe I would have felt much more immersed if I'd seen it in 3D alone without the motion elements. Side Note - don't let the "4D" part of the "MX4D" title fool you...stereoscopy wasn't a part of the experience for this least, not in this venue and not with this film. It would have been more accurate for them to call it MX1,2and4D since it is absent the simulated 3D visual component.

A truly immersive experience should be, overall, additive and undetectable while a given effect is being simulated, IMHO. With the MX4D system, one is constantly startled by blasts of moist or dry air to the face...blasts that come at unpredictable times, causing involuntary flinching that is unavoidable. Think of an air pressure based form of film "Gotcha!" moments familiar to horror film enthusiasts, and you have an idea of the end effect.

For whatever reason, the air blasts were always forceful, not to mention noisy. Despite the wonderfully bombastic sound system, whenever the air powered fog/mist/particulate emitters throughout the theater walls fired off, you could hear them clearly, and that is inherently distracting. When the seat mounted air jets are blasted during an explosion, well...okay, I get it. Big badda boom! But, when they are blasted because the scene calls for simulating forward motion in an open cockpit or such, a more gentle rise to the ultimate full force would be much better.

In addition to the air jet irritation, the scents they employed for this film were very limited, and once again, generally distracting. It took me most of the run time of the film to figure out that one unnatural scent was trying to recreate the smell of smoke during the fire scenes...which were plentiful. At some point in the future, there is going to be a film where someone is in a field of flowers (wanna bet the latest iteration of "Jumanji" will have this?), and the viewer is going to get a loud, harsh puff of floral scent square in the gob, which will have the end result of making them feel as though someone had maced them with a can of Glade.

Another thing that I *get*, but found more distracting than enhancing, was the use of the LED strobe panels. These were flashed whenever blasters or lasers were fired, whenever something exploded, whenever lightning crashed. Sadly, the LED panels reflect harshly off of the screen, washing out the lovingly crafted cinematography, even if briefly. Again, from my antiquated film-loving perspective, if it distracts from the film, maybe it shouldn't be there at all.

I would not discourage anyone from giving MX4D technology a try. It only adds a couple bucks to your ticket price, and everyone should evaluate such things for themselves. I'm not sorry I experienced it, but I think I would have enjoyed this wonderful entry into the Star Wars canon more without it.
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Old 01-08-2018, 11:12 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Elspode View Post
I would not discourage anyone from giving MX4D technology a try.
Maybe you dind't mean to, but...
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Old 01-08-2018, 05:31 PM   #3
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I believe that, were a film specifically designed in concert with the MX4D system, the sum could provide an amazing experience.
No. the Legoland Discovery Centers have theaters with this type of system (noisy air blasts, etc.) and despite having a series of short films designed specifically for the system, it always feels gimmicky and distracting. The science museum in Forth Worth has a "time machine" theater where the seats move and it sprays water in your face. Horrible.

It never becomes "part of the movie" --it always takes you out of the experience, and makes you aware you are sitting in a theater*. It's as bad as the Superman movie that directed you to PUT ON YOUR 3D GLASSES NOW FOR THIS PART

They've been trying to add smells to theater since before film projectors were invented. There's a reason it never took off.

Basically this is like taking a novel and rigging the pages with the little music circuits from a birthday card. It doesn't belong, it doesn't integrate, and it sucks. And it ruins the thing.

*A movie should immerse you in the story and make you forget you are in a theater--these type of systems/devices do the very opposite!!
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Old 01-09-2018, 07:22 AM   #4
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