Nu Metro Cinemas is taking ’going to the movies” to new heights with the unveiling of a new cinema complex at The Glen in Johannesburg in November 2014. The ’Xtreme” attraction at The Glen, along with Nu Metro Menlyn in Pretoria, are the first cinemas in Africa to launch the first phase in Nu Metro’s SceneXtreme digital 3D offering.
The SceneXtreme cinemas at Nu Metro The Glen and Menlyn showcase RealD’s groundbreaking Precision White Screen format, the new DP4K-23B projector that delivers 4K Ultra High Definition visuals, coupled with the new immersive Auro 11.1 sound system from Barco.

SceneXtreme at Nu Metro Cinemas is boosting the movie experience beyond the boundaries of reality – delivering larger-than-life visuals coupled with booming 3D sound from all perspectives. Apart from the superb next generation audio-visual technology installed to create a fully immersive cinema-going experience at Nu Metro The Glen and Menlyn, the cinemas also boast the ultimate in luxury seats – designed to recline for first class comfort.

Nu Metro Cinemas are the first in Africa to install the “open source’ Barco Auro 11.1 system, which has been praised as the future standard for high-end cinema audio by all the major film studios globally, including acclaim from Skywalker Sound / Lucasfilm and respected producers such as Jeffrey Katzenberg (DreamWorks SKG).
Developed by Auro Technologies and powered by Barco, the Auro 11.1 sound format is designed along three layers of sound – surround, height and overhead, rather than the single layer used in the conventional 5.1 sound format or two layers in other “object-based’ formats. Thanks to its 11.1 configuration, the technology not only enables sound mixers to move objects around in space but it also allows them to reproduce the immersive aspects of a film soundtrack in a way that is more compatible with their current workflow.

The screens

The revolutionary screen technology being premiered for SceneXtreme at Nu Metro The Glen and Menlyn, stretch from floor to ceiling about three stories high; and is the first of its kind in Africa. The world’s most widely used digital 3D cinema technology – with about 22 200 screens equipped with RealD 3D by around 1 000 exhibitors in 68 countries around the world – is behind the new Precision White Screen (PWS) installed exclusively at selected Nu Metro Cinemas.

PWS is designed to deliver enhanced 2D and 3D presentations with wide viewing angles similar to white screens of equivalent gain; making the debate of silver versus white screens a thing of the past. PWS technology features edges four to five times brighter than a standard silver screen. The new screens also feature a smooth, white surface which generates better image contrast for improved image quality in 2D and 3D.

“People like white screens because the light is bright and even, and white is neutral. In the past a lot of producers and directors have said that they don›t want their product in 2D shown on anything other than a white screen, as opposed to the current silver screens for 3D technology. PWS combines the best of both worlds. It looks white visually and has the reflection characteristics of a white screen, but it also does the amazing job of maintaining the polarisation of the white light so we can show 3D on it as well. That means the organisers don’t have to keep changing the screen, and the creators are happy to show 3D or 2D movies on the same screen,’ explains RealD’s managing director Bob Mayson.

Surround sound

This first in Africa required collaboration with leaders in the professional audio industry so Nu Metro called upon Wild & Marr to assist with the system design, calibration and setup of the Auro 3D system to integrate it with JBL Screen Array loudspeakers. Wild & Marr’s technical team met with the international team from Barco and went through training to become certified Auro 3D engineers.
Because of the Auro 3D 11.1’s format required three layers of sound – surround layer, height and top – a total of 42 x JBL cinema range loudspeakers, powered by Crown amplifiers were used to complete the installation at the two cinema complexes.
Each system consists of six JBL Screen Array 3730 loudspeakers for the front channel. Surround channels were covered using 34 JBL 8320 Compact Cinema Surround Speakers while a pair of JBL 4642A dual 18-inch cinema subwoofers took care of the low frequencies.

The loudspeakers are powered by 10 Crown amplifiers, which include Crown XLS 1500 and 2500 as well as XTi 6002. “The dynamic range of the JBL Cinema Array front end speakers and surrounds, in combination with the Crown amplifiers are fully capable of handling the digital AES sound signals of the new Barco Auro 11.1. It is a system that can be trusted to stay in use for a long period of time with minimal maintenance,’ says Nu Metro’s head of technical, Johan van Staden. “From the start of the project, including the design and presentations, to product training, to the installation and final setup were all done with a positive attitude and professionalism.’
“The immersive capabilities of the Auro 3D system are amazing,’ adds Andrew Sorrill, sales and marketing manager at Wild & Marr. “Gustav Teitge, Anton van Wyk and our team in conjunction with Johan’s team produced a well-planned system design. The JBL Screen Array has a really warm sound from the centre channel while the surround channels are remarkably accurate – if you haven’t been to the movies in a while, I would highly recommend the immersive experience.’

The wrap

The Glen cinema complex also includes SceneVIP, where cinemagoers can relax in an upmarket lounge before enjoying their favourite movie. This premium option includes the best in designer seats with foot-rests, plush leather cushioning and a recliner-setting to stretch out and relax while enjoying the on screen entertainment. SceneVIP also offers discerning movie fans a quality dining menu to indulge in, upgrading the Nu Metro experience in true superior style. Other selected cinemas are in the pipeline for similar expansions in the near future, along with various refurbishments and renovations scheduled for Nu Metro Cinemas all over SA in 2015.