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Digital IMAX debuts in 2009


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#1 Thomas James

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Posted 10 October 2008 - 01:27 PM

I just read the 2007 interview of the CEO of IMAX and he claims that digital IMAX will debut in 2009. Apparently conventional 70mm 15 perf film formatted IMAX is too expensive to achieve significant market penetration yet he claims the digital version of IMAX drastically minimizes costs while providing the same picture quality.
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#2 Tom Lowe

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Posted 10 October 2008 - 01:38 PM

Any links? I'd like to learn more about things like resolution and aspect ratio for this digital IMAX. Are they talking about totally replacing their IMAX film projectors, or simply adding digital projectors to save money on displaying pictures acquired at 35mm?
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#3 Steve Harford

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 10:54 AM

IMAX, although desperately needing to expand their empire, may be making a big mistake.

Follow these two links for more information;

http://www.lfexaminer.com/ (Is IMAX the new Coke article by James Hyder)
http://blog.bigmoviezone.com/?p=516

and this one from COLLIDER

http://www.collider....aid/9688/tcid/1

Greg Foster the IMAX exec' seems to get really rattled when it gets pointed out that the IMAX MPX digital system is not and never will be the same experience as full size IMAX GT. He expects people to believe that they are one-and-the-same, and be charged the same admission price for both.

He does not seem to have a basic understanding of the square law. If the width and height dimensions of the IMAX digital screen are halved, the area of the screen is reduced by a factor of four, and subjectively much more than that. The LF Examiner article illustrates this very well.

IMAX have been pushing Hollywood directors to shot films using 15/70 IMAX cameras. What this can do for a Hollywood film could clearly be seen in, 'The Dark Knight'. IMAX are also rapidly developing a more portable, quieter camera that will make shooting films in IMAX an easier experience. Greg Foster even says that theatre now so many directors knocking on his door wanting to shoot in IMAX, that he can pick and choose between them. What is the point of this when such films, when shown in the new IMAX digital multiplex conversions will have to have the top and bottom of the IMAX print cropped? IMAX needs to expand their base of theatres that have the original IMAX aspect ratio. These need not be as large as the current IMAX GT screens; they could be smaller, providing the theatre geometry was right. The aspect ratio would have to be preserved, the seating must be much closer to the screen and must be far more steeply raked. Multiplex owners I don't think are willing to make this investment, certainly not in existing theatres.

Inital reactions to the quality of IMAX digital in multiplexes by IMAX fans has not been that good. IMAX seem only to have installed a, 'Ford' rather than a Bentley or a Porsche! We have all been spoiled for far too long by, 'proper' IMAX!

As far as a digital solution for the IMAX GT system I think we are going to have to wait a long time. If they really wanted to IMAX could tackle this project, but it would have to be cutting edge and massively over-specified to get anywhere near the resolution of 15/70. I don't think IMAX are anywhere near having the will to do this. If they were to convert all existing GT theatres to digital with the perceived quality of the new MPX systems they are installing, IMAX GT would die overnight.

Be very careful IMAX!

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#4 Tom Lowe

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 12:22 PM

The executives at IMAX should be fired for these disgraceful moves that cheapen the IMAX brand.

What a total and complete disgrace, IMO. 28'x'58 screens for "IMAX"? What a joke.

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#5 Tom Lowe

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 12:38 PM

Heh. After reading all of this, I thought I might try to short the IMAX stock....

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Looks like a few other people already had this idea. :lol:
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#6 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 03:32 PM

I've always thought IMAX's biggest issue was advertising. Whenever there's an IMAX original film, it might play at the local IMAX screen for a week because nobody knows about it, and then it's gone and replaced with some blowup of a hollywood film.

Also, Dark Knight was the biggest IMAX success ever, perhaps. But I had a hell of a time trying to convince people to see it. The layman just doesn't understand the difference between a film shot originally on 65 and one shot on 35, and how that has a huge effect on the IMAX presentation.

So if they would just advertise better, getting the word out and showing people the difference in some effective way, they'd do a lot better.

My mom still to this day will occasionally ask me "So, what is IMAX?".
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#7 K Borowski

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 12:32 AM

Well, at least it appears from this article that IMAX film theatres are safe, which is good news.

I wouldn't even mind retrofitting them so that they'd show all of their DMR prints digitally instead. After all, $25,000 for a 4K blowup onto 15-perf. 70mm film that is capable of 12-14K of resolution seems to me like a big waste of print stock.

However, I am eagerly awaiting seeing the film that tops "Dark Knight" by shooting 100% 15-perf. 70mm, projected, in IMAX.
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#8 Thomas James

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 03:28 AM

I think what this amounts to is commercialization of the IMAX format. It seems to me that using dual 2k projectors will only produce about 4 megapixels which is half of the resolution of 4k and calling this IMAX is a joke. Imax claims to have the 10 times the resolution of 35mm film. What this means is that we need a digital format that can crank out at least 16 megapixels. The critics of Digital Imax claim that this format produces unacceptable screen door artifacts. IMAX is betting that consumers who are used to seeing poor quality 35mm film projection won't notice the difference and willl accept any improvement in picture quality as being worthy of the IMAX experience.

IMAX claims that the only difference is the size of the screen. This is simply not true. NHK is teveloping an 8K 100 inch television that will offer a very immersive experience if you sit 3 feet away from the screen. Smaller screen sizes will work but resolution must be maintained and the angle of vision needs to be wide.
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#9 Delorme Jean-Marie

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 11:04 AM

Imax biggest issue as always been 40minutes long documentarys for museums in 2 formats Domes the omnimax format and flat screen
They also designed other formats for fun fairs or internatianal expos such as :
the solido : 3D omnimax
the 3D flat
and the "magic carpet" 2 thaters only (france and japan) wich is 2 flat screens one under the seets and one in front of the audience and they link the 2 screens!

some theaters are destination ones
some belong to museum
very few are for motion picture


when imax wanted to sell projectors for the big industry they create the DMR wich is a small imax
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#10 Thomas James

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 02:38 PM

I am not blaming IMAX for downsizing or expanding its base but rather I think what is happenning is that the format is becomming so commercialized that there is no consideration for the quality of the image but the only consideration is maximizing of profits. People who consider profit only cannot consider themselves artists. Any digital IMAX must be at least equivalent in quality to 5 perf 70mm film.

The OMNIMAX Dome format shows promise for a truly immersive experience and could be downsized however the bean counters see no profit in constructing new Dome movie theatres but rather are only interested in retrofiting existing theatres with obsolete rectangular flat screens.
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#11 Tom Lowe

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 02:39 PM

I think what this amounts to is commercialization of the IMAX format. It seems to me that using dual 2k projectors will only produce about 4 megapixels which is half of the resolution of 4k and calling this IMAX is a joke.


This is what I cannot understand. So they are using two 2K projectors and calling it 4K?? Why not simply use a Sony 4K projector?

This whole thing sounds very, very strange to me. Someone is smoking crack at the IMAX headquarters, I think.
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#12 Thomas James

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 03:48 PM

Actually it would take four 2K projectors to produce an equivalent 4K image.
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#13 Milo Sekulovich

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 05:15 PM

Let's get this straight.

There's nothing digital that can even COME CLOSE to 15 perf 70mm presentation.

Repeat-NOTHING DIGITAL COMES CLOSE.

And 35mm film projection being poor???
Generally, the quality of 35mm film projection is superb and has been
the standard for decades.

This is my problem with the entire "digital revolution" and digital fanboys,
and just adds credence to my belief that WE'RE ACTUALLY GOING BACKWARDS
WITH IMAGE QUALITY.

And IMAX are now charlatans. They've jumped on the digital bandwagon thinking
that people will equate "digital" with state of the art as a marketing gimmick and
will obsolete "that old antiquated format known as film".

The facts are simple. The 15 perf 65mm acquisition format and 70mm IMAX film projection format
IS THE ULTIMATE DE FACTO STANDARD OF IMAGE QUALITY. Until digital can outperform it on every level
there is no debate. Hell, HD/Red can't even outperform 35mm film as an acquisition format!

And art has nothing to do with this. It's all about money.
And I hope it bites them in the ass.

Milo Sekulovich
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#14 Thomas James

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 06:09 PM

15 perf 70mm is the best format but it costs $30,000 for a movie print and it takes 4-6 weeks to make back its cost in movie ticket sales . 5 perf 70mm on the otherhand is only $10,000 a print so it is a more economically viable format that could be used universally however the bean counters will never accept 70mm film projection because it simply does not maximize profits as well as 35mm film can . However I propose that artists who are not businessmen should rally around 70mm as it is the only film format that produces acceptable quality.

Because there is so little quality control with 35mm film projection we end up with only 750 lines of discernable vertical resolution which is superb for home theatre presentations but does not cut the mustard when projected on a big screen. And 35mm was never the gold standard but it was always 70mm which was the gold standard until the invention of the multiplex theatre which killed the 70mm format. 4K digital projections on the otherhand preserves the quality which is only found on the 35mm film negative and can even rival the cleaness of 70mm film but not the 70mm resolution.

The problem with the Digital revolution is that it relies on grossly obsolete technology. Using square patterns for pixel grids is about as antiquated as you can get and what we need is a more natural arrangement of pixels such as pixels arranged in the aliasing reducing hexagonal pattern of concentric circles coupled with space variant pixel sizing technology. This would allow photographers to concentrate the resolution on the central object of their interest while allowing lower resolutions to accommodate the peripheral zones of vision, Also this idea of looking at movies through rectangular windows is also obsolete and we need to consider the spherical triangular geometry of the tilted OMNIMAX Dome format which is the ultimate wide and high screen.We need to allow photographers to have complete control of the variable framerate that will be used for projection and not be shackled to an arbitrary number such as 24 frames per second. The ultimate goal of all this technology is to put the audience inside of the picture.
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#15 Tom Lowe

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 06:30 PM

Let's get this straight.

There's nothing digital that can even COME CLOSE to 15 perf 70mm presentation.

Repeat-NOTHING DIGITAL COMES CLOSE.

And 35mm film projection being poor???
Generally, the quality of 35mm film projection is superb and has been
the standard for decades.

This is my problem with the entire "digital revolution" and digital fanboys,
and just adds credence to my belief that WE'RE ACTUALLY GOING BACKWARDS
WITH IMAGE QUALITY.

And IMAX are now charlatans. They've jumped on the digital bandwagon thinking
that people will equate "digital" with state of the art as a marketing gimmick and
will obsolete "that old antiquated format known as film".

The facts are simple. The 15 perf 65mm acquisition format and 70mm IMAX film projection format
IS THE ULTIMATE DE FACTO STANDARD OF IMAGE QUALITY. Until digital can outperform it on every level
there is no debate. Hell, HD/Red can't even outperform 35mm film as an acquisition format!

And art has nothing to do with this. It's all about money.
And I hope it bites them in the ass.

Milo Sekulovich


Milo, I doubt you will find anyone here who will disagree with you. I'm known as one of the biggest digital advocates here, but I WORSHIP 15/65 IMAX and agree that there is simply nothing on the horizon digitally to even remotely compare to it. Period.

But let's not get into a digital vs film debate. The issue here is screen size and this seemingly phony "4K" projection.

I go back to my question: Why not use an existing 4K projector or develop a new 4K projector to use on full-size IMAX screens as a replacement for DMR chemical prints? That would make sense. I thought that's what all this digital talk was about when they first announced it. Saving money on DMR'd prints of 35mm features totally makes sense, IMO. But making tiny screens with phony "4K" digital projectors and calling them "IMAX" is the real crime that is taking place.
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#16 Chris Keth

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 08:25 PM

Why would IMAX throw away the only advantage they ever had over regular theaters? Just stupid, if you ask me.
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#17 Thomas James

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 12:26 PM

It's obvious that IMAX no longer wants to be a niche format but rather a mainstream format that is available in every multiplex. It is a known fact that all movie theatres are switching to digital projection and the movie studios are actually paying theatres to install digital projectors. Regular digital projection will be 2K so if dual 2K projectors are used IMAX feels that it has a right to use its name because this will be twice the quality. Of course a 4K projector will be twice the quality of Digital IMAX but IMAX may not want to use 4K technology because it might price themselves out of the market. Most of the IMAX customers will think that because its digital it must be better and will never question the quality. IMAX is a business and its sucess will be judged by the profits they generate rather than the quality of the presentation.
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#18 Tom Lowe

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 02:42 PM

It's obvious that IMAX no longer wants to be a niche format but rather a mainstream format that is available in every multiplex. It is a known fact that all movie theatres are switching to digital projection and the movie studios are actually paying theatres to install digital projectors. Regular digital projection will be 2K so if dual 2K projectors are used IMAX feels that it has a right to use its name because this will be twice the quality. Of course a 4K projector will be twice the quality of Digital IMAX but IMAX may not want to use 4K technology because it might price themselves out of the market. Most of the IMAX customers will think that because its digital it must be better and will never question the quality. IMAX is a business and its sucess will be judged by the profits they generate rather than the quality of the presentation.


This assumes that most theaters will continue to buy 2K projectors. Who's to say they will not start buying 4K projectors? If they did, they would seriously blow away these IMAX "4K" projectors, and then where will IMAX be?
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#19 Thomas James

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 03:46 PM

What you have to remember is that if it were up to the theatre owners they would not pay a dime to buy any digital projectors. The only reason why everything is going digital is that the movie studios are paying for the projectors in order to save film printing costs. So the movie theatres are basically receiving free digital projectors. Beggars who receive free projectors cannot be choosy and if the studios wanted to be hard nosed all they would offer would be a basic 2K projector. However IMAX is recognized as a big name that can drive ticket sales so the studios may splurge and offer free dual 2K projectors but may be reluctant to offer free 4K projectors if they think that IMAX is good enough.
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#20 Thomas James

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 04:01 PM

Also one must remember that we are in an economic depression. During the last great depression in the 1930's the movie studios with rare exceptions were too cheap to offer movies in color even though they had the technology. So today they may be too cheap to offer movies in 4K.
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