Feeling the effects

2016-03-24 14:05 - Kyle Venktess, The Witness
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Large machinery on either side of the auditorium is used in the 4DX cinema to provide wind, sound and other effects.


Durban - KwaZulu-Natal was recently treated to the first ever 4DX movie theatre in the province and the second in Africa. The theatre gives movie-lovers a more immersive experience of cinema viewing than ever before.

Many may know about 4D theatres where small groups of people are strapped into their seats and taken on a five-to-10 minute rollercoaster ride, or through a prehistoric dinosaur expedition - while being jerked back and forth.

The 4DX theatre, however, takes patrons on a multi-sensory ride throughout the entire movie. Instead of a static movie theatre seat, the film-goers now feel more a part of the movie.

Launched at Pavilion’s Nu Metro theatre, the 4DX is the only auditorium in the province to boast the new facility.

The 4DX uses motion, vibration, water, wind, lightning, scents and more to offer a more immersive feel to a movie.


In the new cinema, not only do viewers have the motion in their seats, but also strong gusts of winds are felt, all kinds of smells fill the auditorium at specific points and smoke effects seem to blow out of the screen.

During a movie, action scenes are amplified with vibrations and sharp movements in the seat and serene pan shots of landscapes are made more surreal through slow back, forth and side-to-side movements of the seat.

The viewer will also feel a punch absorbed by an actor during a film as air jets shoot out quick gusts of winds.

In a movie scenario where gas is released or an explosion is felt, scents are emitted to the viewer as well and lightning and camera flashes in a movie made live through strobe lights.

The auditorium is also equipped with Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound.

Even though movement in the seats and other effects are felt throughout the screening, the effects themselves do not take away from the film or leave the audience feeling distracted and the motion in the seat never leaves the viewer feeling like they may fall out of it.

Africa’s first 4DX cinema was opened in Cape Town at Nu Metro V&A Waterfront this past December.

Special seating

As with movies in 3D and films that make use of 7.1 stereo, like Ster Kinekor’s Dolby Atmos theatre, movies being screened have to be in a format tailored for the 4DX auditorium.

Nu Metro Cinemas signed an agreement with Hollywood based-company CJ 4Dplex in 2015, creator of 4DX, to bring the technology to South African screens.

Inside the auditorium is noticeably different than a regular theatre. Large machinery is mounted to each end of the walls to provide the effects during the films. Nu Metro’s head of technical was sent to Seoul for three weeks to train for certified status to manage the installation of 4DX technology locally.

An existing auditorium at Nu Metro in the Pavilion was converted to the 4DX cinema, which involved the installation of a new screen and sound technology, special seating and the other equipment required for the 4DX sensory.

The films screened in 4DX will be in HD/2D and Digital 3D and the projector used in the cinema also uses an upgraded lamp for brighter picture in all films.

Johan van Staden, Nu Metro Cinemas’ technical head, said that movement in the seats was created with motors and not hydraulics as many would expect.

“We had to install a complete new steel floor structure to be able to handle the 0.3G-force the unit moves with; as well as water, air and scent lines. The complete system uses 24 computers, one in each of the 21 seats, a motion PC, a monitor PC and a screen server. The ‘force’ utilises Servo motors and transducers, and not hydraulics, making the movement much smoother and more active.”

Nu Metro also has plans to screen the latest Hollywood releases in 4DX.

While still cheaper than some “rollercoaster” ride 4D theatres, a 4DX theatre movie ticket costs R175.

@KyleVenktess on Twitter.

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