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4D Home Theater: The Next Big Thing?

Up to 200 U.S. theaters will be getting motion seats, water, mist, bubbles, air, fans, strobe lights and odors as part of "4D" technology. Will this make it to home theater?


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Theodore Kim, COO of CJ 4DPlex, is hit with fog, one of the special effects the company creates for its “4D” movie experience. (Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times)

So much for 3D. "4D" is already here. At least that's what Hollywood is calling it, but will it ever make it to home theaters?

According to the L.A. Times, as many as 200 theaters in the U.S. will be equipped with motion seating, water, mist, bubbles, air/wind and odors to enliven the movie-going experience.

A South Korean company called CJ Group, which operates Asia's largest movie chain, has already set up an experimental site in Hollywood to test the new system, which it calls 4DX, and is working on a deal with a U.S. chain for 200 theaters.

The system is already set up in 29 theaters in South Korea, Mexico and Thailand and has shown films such as "The Avengers," "Men in Black 3," "Avatar," "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" and "Prometheus." Film-goers pay an extra $8 per ticket on average for the experience.

With elite services like Prima Cinema launching and motion seating from D-Box already available to dealers, this 4D technology certainly could be sold to affluent clientele.

The L.A. Times says the system includes motion seats, and tiny nozzles that spray water, mist, bubbles, air and odors from a collection of 1,000 scents, such as rose garden, coffee, women's perfume, burning rubber and gunpowder. Giant fans and strobe lights are used to simulate wind, lightning flashes and explosions.

It takes 16 to 20 days to program the 4D effects into a movie, plus $2 million to design and outfit a theater.




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Article Topics

News · Product News · Furniture · 3d · Home Theater · All topics

About the Author

Jason Knott, Editor, CE Pro
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.

9 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Bruce Stanley  on  07/13  at  11:12 AM

Uhm… I’d say no.

Posted by paulcunningham  on  07/13  at  02:18 PM

As a science aficionado, I absolutely deplore the use of “4D” in this context. Do a Google search for “tesseract” to get what I mean. Also, I bet the “scent cartridges” will be a similar racket to inkjet cartridges (which, btw, cost more per liter than human blood).

Posted by Mason  on  07/13  at  03:47 PM

I can’t wait till the cheech and chong 4d experience comes out !  Mommy whats that smell.

Posted by John Nemesh  on  07/17  at  09:39 AM

I think there is a market for some of these technologies.  Any tech that increases your immersion in the film is a GOOD thing!

Personally, my favorite “4D” tech is the D-Box motion simulator system!  These things are INCREDIBLE.  If you ever have the chance to sit through an entire movie in one of these seats, you will be checking your own bank account to see if you can bring one home!

Posted by paulcunningham  on  07/17  at  11:12 AM

I don’t know man. I’ve never been impressed by D-Box other than for gaming, the key difference being that games are interactive. The point of a movie is to tell a story not have you participate in it, and too much gimmickry has the opposite of the intended effect - it takes you out of that and focused on the gimmicks; even something as simple as 3D can screw up a movie.

If it can’t literally be indistinguishable from reality (as in Matrix-style implants in your brain), trying to approximate it just feels more like a cheesy haunted house or a Gwar show (fog and water, really? I can only imagine what will happen when the Farrelly Brothers or Eli Roth start adopting this). If a real actor on a real stage in front of you fell into a pool of water (or blood!) as part of the performance, would it be more impactful and super-awesome to you if you got splashed? Would that help you understand and relate to the story better?

Posted by Mario Thibeault  on  08/10  at  10:05 AM

Yes we do have an incredible technology! And 4D is perceived as something related to amusement parks and people have misconceptions about it. D-BOX is the new way movies will move you…. (with 2D, 3D and even in black and white)

If you want to discover for yourself what can be the biggest WOW factor for your customers, come and check out what is possible once you experience our award winning motion technology. Make sure to come and see for yourself a full demonstration at CEDIA Expo in booth 1121, Much better than any explanation from anyone as it is impossible to describe bungee jumping or being in love, you can only experience it for yourself, only than you will know.

Take note that we provide you what is available upon the director’s intent. Movies are all different, some are just more fun and impressive than others.

Let yourself discover the new dimension it provides. You will immediately feel the new reality it creates with the subtle motion and then realize what was missing. Now that HD audio and video is available we would not go back to black and white TV with mono sound and this is what D-BOX now offers : the next level of experience for you to enjoy!!!

We will also be showing in our booth a VRX racing simulator, that is impressive as well.  See you in Indy!!!

Posted by paulcunningham  on  08/12  at  10:20 AM

Lol Mario turn down the sales speak just a little bit - I can imagine this post being read by the reanimated corpse of Billy Mays (moar exclamation points!!!).

“We provide you what is available upon the director’s intent” - I’m not sure what you’re trying to say there - do you have the input of each film’s director when you create motion codes? In the case of restoring film to 1080p or 7.1, those processes are usually overseen by the director himself (e.g. Jaws coming out tomorrow), but I was under the impression that motion codes were based on the interpretation of a film by D-Box staff.

Posted by Mario Thibeault  on  08/14  at  01:07 PM

Paul, it would be great to meet you at CEDIA Expo and show you Jaws encoded for D-BOX or any other movie you prefer!
Are you attending this year?
Come and see (feel) this for yourself, you will understand (appreciate) better after our demo.

I am very passionate about what I do and it will always show, you may ask around in the industry everyone knows that about me!

In life, I say that it is more important to enjoy the experience then worry about how it is done!
Mario Thibeault, August 14th 2012

Posted by TR  on  08/16  at  02:23 PM

3D was such a hit….why not just jump to 5D or 6D.

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