What exactly is IMAX?
IMAX refers to a set of high-resolution cameras, film formats, projectors, and, yes, movie theatres. The term is thought to be taken from the phrase “Maximum Image,” which is a good fit given how much. The tall aspect ratio of IMAX movie displays, which is either 1.43:1 or 1.90:1, is easily recognisable. In addition, these screens have steeper stadium seating in the cinema hall, resulting in a greater acoustic experience.
When it comes to an IMAX screening of a film, there are numerous levels of technology involved, both in the production of the film and in the viewing experience. This means that a film must be exhibited on an IMAX-specification screen and shot using high-resolution IMAX cameras in order to be viewed in real IMAX.
Cameras capable of shooting in IMAX format
IMAX films are made with cameras that can capture a wider frame, usually three times the horizontally resolution of a standard 35mm film. These cameras can capture video with a lot of depth and clarity.
The Arri Alexa LF and Arri Alexa Mini LF, both 4K cameras, are among the most popular IMAX cameras. The Arri Alexa 65 (6.5K camera) was also used to film Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. The Venice cameras from Sony, the Red Ranger Monstro from Red Ranger, and the Panavision Millennium DXL2 from Panavision are among the others (8K). Two ARRI Alexa IMAX cameras were used in a rig to provide native 3D for Transformers: The Last Knight in 2017. IMAX footage made up 93% of the finished film.
Shooting using high-resolution cameras is only the beginning. IMAX also analyses the acquired footages and employs unique image enhancement techniques throughout each frame of a film, ensuring that you see the clearest and sharpest image quality possible, as near to what the director of the film intended. Traditional 35mm films are also scaled to IMAX using DMR (Digital Media Remastering). The IMAX re-release of 1995’s Apollo 13 and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones are both good examples of this.
Projectors with IMAX technology
After the footage is recorded and the movie is edited with powerful software, the projectors that will be used to show the movie in a theatre near you are still required. The digital projection system and the laser projection system are both used by IMAX.
For screens with a 1.89:1 aspect ratio, digital projection is employed. It features two 2K projectors that can display 2D and 3D content. The output from these two projectors exactly superimposes on each other to create the sights seen in an IMAX film.
Both the 1.43:1 and the bigger 1.89:1 aspect ratios are projected via laser projection. The newer device, which has been under development since 2012, uses a laser light source instead of a standard digital projector’s xenon arc lamp. When compared to digital projection systems, this means pictures with about 50% more brightness and double the contrast ratio. Laser projection also offers 60 frames per second.
We generally don’t give it enough thought, but the audio is half the pleasure of watching a movie in a theatre. Sound isn’t only about being loud and clear for the IMAX standard, but it’s about a lot more. The faintest whispers in a horror picture may be heard with extraordinary precision, yet an impacting soundtrack in the same film can be just as forceful, thanks to IMAX’s high dynamic range of sound.
In addition, IMAX uses distinctive patterns and materials on the walls of its theatres. These are capable of absorbing undesirable audience sound while improving sound from the movie.
Custom loudspeakers and subwoofers are also used on the IMAX screens, with the latter capable of going as low as 23Hz comfortably, whereas a typical system can only go down to around 40Hz. The hand-built loudspeakers also employ a technology known as PPS (Proportional Point Source technology), which allows people sitting near to the speakers to have the same listening experience as those sitting closer to the centre.
Seats in the theatre
Ultimately, IMAX combines all of this to offer a truly original experience. It comprises seating that are just far enough away from the screen to allow a 70-degree field of vision (field of view). Every seat is also adjusted to provide the same experience, which is why some IMAX screens have seat rows that curve from end to end.
You’ll be able to appreciate your next movie even more now that you know how much time, work, and technology go into an IMAX showing.