Jimaku and focus

Don Brown the8thsamurai
Mon Apr 16 01:39:54 EDT 2001

Here's a question for those of you who are familiar with the vagaries of 
Japanese cinemas.
Yesterday I went to see the mediocre "Hannibal" at a theatre on Osaka's 
Dotonbori Blvd.  During the entire film, the focus was out, just a touch.  
Not quite enough to make the audience storm out in a huff, but enough to 
annoy me for the duration of the movie.  I complained about this to a 
member of staff after 15 minutes or so of this, but there was no change.  
After the movie finished I spoke to a senior member of staff who told me 
that "in Japan, we have to adjust the focus to accommodate the subtitles 
(jimaku super), so the focus is often going to be slightly out".  This 
seemed like a load of rubbish to me, seeing that the subtitles themselves 
were distinctly fuzzy.  Judging by the guy's tone of voice (he didn't offer 
so much as a cursory sumimasen), and my experience working in cinemas, it 
sounded like he was just trying to get rid of me by blinding me with 
science.  But is this actually the case?  Are subtitled feature films from 
overseas screened with a separate subtitle projector in Japan?  Does focus 
really need to be sacrificed?  Am I completely in the dark about this?  Or 
have I been duped by some popcorn-flogging schyster?
Any ideas on this would be greatly appreciated.
Don Brown

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