By Robert French
It was Harry Potter 7 which was the chosen movie to watch with friends the other night and we came across the option to upgrade our seats. Usually we choose to take higher priced tickets in 3-D or Digital for better viewing, but to upgrade our seats was unheard of, made me think I was checking in at the airport with the hostess trying to upgrade me which I usually refuse. This was different, the D-Box Motion Code theater seats were readily available to enjoy movement during the movie and feel the action come to life. We couldn’t say no to trying this technology for the first time.
When I first arrived to the theater salon there were a limited amount of D-Box seats available. I sat on the seat allocated from the number printed on my ticket and it activated immediately with motion to tell me the seat is on. During the trailers and advertisements before the movie, there was a 30 second tutorial, explaining what to expect.
The bright red chairs are freshly padded and come with almost unnoticeable hidden technology. Corner-mounted actuators control the seat’s pitch, roll, heave, and vibration in order to translate a supported film’s sounds and action into direct, body-hugging motion. I felt as though I was being rolled around comfortably and carefully, with no motion sickness. The effects can be as dramatic as the roller-coaster blast that accompanied last April’s Fast & Furious, or more subtle, like the motion editing for Harry Potter 6 blockbuster.
Each seat boasts a user-selectable power setting, called MFX level. Four settings are available with high, medium, low and off. Some will keep it at maximum for the full, exhilarating slam and roll, while those of a more sensitive nature can set the motion to a more modest level or low (which is not worth toggling with if you just paid the extra fee to enjoy the first time), or even turn it off.
The chairs look real, like standard cinema seating, but with a few differences. The seats don’t fold up because the pedestal underneath is where the chair’s machinery lives. Also, each seat has its own brace of armrests with a distance between seats of about a foot, which eliminates the armrest wrestle that we’ve all gone through to win a perch for the popcorn hand. Not for couples on a date: gone are the days of watching a movie with your arm around your girl’s shoulders.
The most immediately noticeable difference, however, is that the seat is much higher off the ground than that of a traditional cinema seat. For taller viewers like myself, this won’t be much of a problem, but those of a more middling height are likely to be left with their feet dangling in the air.
All in all a very enjoyable experience, the D-Box seats generally cost about $7 more than normal tickets.
A little more about D-Box: The technology allows D-Box developers to take the SFX, Music and Voice and create their very own motion cloud or pattern of vibrations and movements, which creates the D-Box Motion. It is unique and intelligent. The turn-key solution consists of three products for the Theater: the Seat itself which holds the mechanism, the D-Cinema System which carries all the necessary information of the Movie and the D-Box Motion which is the software created to send back to your seat to live the action.
D-Box is best known for bringing motion-editing technology to home theater seats by big-ticket makers like CDGI, Cineak and United Leather and for its line of well-appointed pro- and home-gaming seats. Now, the Canadian company is making major inroads into the cinema market with its coolest seating solution yet. There are already in cinemas with rows of these motion-enabled seats in Montreal, Phoenix, Toronto, L.A., Las Vegas, and a few other cities.