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IMAX is not the IMAX I remember


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#1 Joe Taylor

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 07:05 PM

Yesterday I paid $17.00 for a ticket to see AVATAR 3-D in IMAX. The moment I entered the theatre I instantly realized that I was not looking at a true IMAX screen and recognized the rest of the theatre as just another multiplex. When I looked up in the projection booth I saw two digital-projectors that said IMAX but I knew I was not going to see a 15-perf 70mm feature. My heart sort of sank but I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Just before the trailers rolled the Voice of God that they've always started IMAX films (and used to get my blood pumping because I KNEW THEN I and my fellow audience were about to experience something spectacular) this voice told how we were about to see the "biggest movie playing on the biggest screen in THAT theatre-- 50' by 30'!!!" But I knew that this voice telling us a big fat lie. It looked like the took out the first row of seat and stretched the screen down to the floor give it another 4 or 5'. I knew that I and everybody else around me just got ripped off.

This afternoon I went and saw "The White Ribbon" at another theatre that advertises as having an IMAX theatre. After the film I walked in this "IMAX" theatre and saw the same thing-- basically another multiplex that removed the front row and slapped some IMAX stickers around.

So I don't get it. How are digital IMAX 3D projectors any different than a good high-quality theatre using a digital 3D? I did not see any difference in quality. None.

Unless I know for a fact that an IMAX theatre is projecting on true film in 10 or 15 perf 70mm I WILL NEVER be suckered into another show that is advertised as IMAX. How can they sell themselves out like this.
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#2 Gus Sacks

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 07:26 PM

See Where That One Lies
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#3 Michael B McGee

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 08:53 PM

See Where That One Lies



interesting. has anyone seen Avatar 3D IMAX in L.A.? i was thinking about going the see it at the AMC Century City theaters since the price of admission is much cheaper then The Bridge, Howard Hughes theaters. after viewing the link above i think i should probably save up and go see it on a "real" IMAX screen.
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#4 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 10:11 PM

It seems IMAX sold its soul:

http://www.imax.com/...theatreSystems/

From Wikipedia:

"IMAX Digital

A digital version of IMAX started rolling out in 2008. The new system is a projection standard only; there are no digital IMAX cameras.

Digital IMAX systems can show either normal or 3D content in DCI or IMAX digital format (which in itself is a superset of DCI). The digital system alleviates the need for the use of bulky film reels and facilitates inexpensive distribution of IMAX features, the more compact nature of digital equipment means the system can fit inside a normal multiplex cinema complex rather than the specialised buildings IMAX normally requires.[citation needed]

Despite those advantages, one big disadvantage is the resolution of the picture is much lower than normal IMAX. The screens used by digital IMAX installations are also much smaller (28×58 feet) than those found in traditional IMAX cinemas. The digital installations have drawn some confusion based on poor consumer differentiation to the traditional 15/70 IMAX.[7]

Deals have already been signed with Hollywood studios for IMAX 3D features, such as "Shrek Forever After 3D".[8]

IMAX digital currently uses two 2K-resolution Christie projectors with Texas Instruments Digital Light Processing technology alongside parts of IMAX's proprietary system. The two 2K images are projected over each other, producing an image that is potentially of a slightly higher resolution than common 2K digital cinema. Originally, IMAX had been considering using two Sony 4K projectors.[9] Some reviewers note that this approach may not produce image quality higher than using one 4K projector, which are available for some non-IMAX theaters,[7] including AMC's own. [10]

IMAX recently signed a deal with AMC to start utilizing IMAX digital beginning July 2008 in the US. In December 2008 two digital screens were opened inside Odeon Cinemas in the UK[11] and three inside Hoyts Cinemas in Australia with a fourth to follow later in 2009[12]."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMAX

And they are developing a 3D digital camera too. ". . . Imax said a digital 3D camera will provide premium content for its theater network, content for its joint venture 3D TV network with Discovery and Sony and lower overall production costs for 3D filmmaking by shedding expensive film stock. "

http://www.reuters.c...7?type=filmNews

Edited by Saul Rodgar, 09 January 2010 - 10:12 PM.

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#5 Kyle Bourgoin

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 11:43 PM

The digital IMAX in my neck of the woods has a 50'x70' screen. Not a true IMAX but still pretty damn big. For theatrical releases I actually prefer this screen size over the curved one in a true IMAX film projection because there is no distortion. Nothing beats seeing something filmed in IMAX format on a true IMAX screen, however.
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#6 John Brawley

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 11:58 PM

Yesterday I paid $17.00 for a ticket to see AVATAR 3-D in IMAX. The moment I entered the theatre I instantly realized that I was not looking at a true IMAX screen and recognized the rest of the theatre as just another multiplex. When I looked up in the projection booth I saw two digital-projectors that said IMAX but I knew I was not going to see a 15-perf 70mm feature. My heart sort of sank but I gave them the benefit of the doubt.



Living in the city that has the largest IMAX screen in the world they had a very public punch up with Imax themselves about this issue. They muddied the water themselves...

You see, most imax cinemas are like franchisees. They aren't owned by Imax themselves. So the people that own the Sydney imax cinema were pretty pissed when the local multiplex's started labelling their screens as being imax as well.

As already mentioned, this was a decision by imax to use their *brand* to back a digital projection / 3 D system with their imax name.

The genuine imax cinema management were understandably pissed that multi's with a screen that was 1/4 of their screen size could also be called imax.

They tried very hard to lobby imax to get them to differentiate their digital retrofitted imax screens but to no avail. So now you have mass consumer misunderstanding of 70mm IMAX and digital imax.....

jb
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#7 Tom Lowe

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 12:16 AM

There is a difference between true IMAX and what they call "The IMAX Experience" which is nothing but regular multiplexes converted to "IMAX Lite."

You have to find out in advance whether it's a true IMAX screen or IMAX Experience, and sometimes, it's nearly impossible to tell on places like Fandango.
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#8 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 01:07 AM

One pretty good way to tell. Movie theaters with true IMAX screens were originally designed and built for IMAX. Any theater that has been around for years and suddenly has a new IMAX screen is very likely an IMAX Experience.

A few movie theaters in New York have suddenly added IMAX screens, I wondered how they were totally redesigning the theater to suddenly add such a big screen. But of course its not a true IMAX screen.

I still go to the Lincoln Center Loews in Manhattan which has a true IMAX theater.
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#9 Tom Lowe

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 01:57 AM

One pretty good way to tell. Movie theaters with true IMAX screens were originally designed and built for IMAX. Any theater that has been around for years and suddenly has a new IMAX screen is very likely an IMAX Experience.

A few movie theaters in New York have suddenly added IMAX screens, I wondered how they were totally redesigning the theater to suddenly add such a big screen. But of course its not a true IMAX screen.

I still go to the Lincoln Center Loews in Manhattan which has a true IMAX theater.


Yep. Another thing to note is that "true IMAX" screens have 70mm projectors on site (they also have digital projectors). IMAX Lite theaters do not have 70mm projectors, at all, as far as I am aware.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 02:00 AM

The Bridge Cinema at the Howard Hughes Parkway near me has a real IMAX theater (15-perf 70mm).
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#11 George Ebersole

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 02:55 AM

How disappointing.
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#12 Chris Pritzlaff

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 05:03 AM

The Bridge Cinema at the Howard Hughes Parkway near me has a real IMAX theater (15-perf 70mm).



For those in the SoCal area, the following are also actual IMAX screnes


The Irvine Spectrum, Edwards

Ontario, Edwards IMAX
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#13 K Borowski

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 09:03 AM

For theatrical releases I actually prefer this screen size over the curved one in a true IMAX film projection because there is no distortion.


Then see it on a film *IMAX* screen. What you're talking about is OMNIMAX, which uses a wide-angle lens, curved screen, and projector half-way up the auditorium to intentionally produce that effect.
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#14 Michael B McGee

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 01:47 PM

For those in the SoCal area, the following are also actual IMAX screnes


The Irvine Spectrum, Edwards

Ontario, Edwards IMAX


wow, is that it? is there really only one true IMAX screen in LA proper? what about the screen at USC?
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#15 Fred Neilsen

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 02:53 PM

For me the main selling point for most Imax features at the moment is the sound (as most of the features released over the past year haven't been 15/70 true Imax). Are the "imax experience" cinemas equipped with the 44 channel and through the screen sound speakers. The Imax in Darling Harbor, Sydney is acoustic heaven, though I haven't been to any multiplex Imaxs so I can't really compare.
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 05:31 PM

wow, is that it? is there really only one true IMAX screen in LA proper? what about the screen at USC?


As I said, The Bridge Cinema near Culver City has a real IMAX screen.

The California Science Museum at Exposition Park has one, but it's reserved for nature IMAX films, not Hollywood movies.
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#17 Frank Love

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 08:40 PM

Sadly this outrage isn't new, I say sadly because it only shows how well IMAX is getting away with this that people like us could not even be aware or hear about something like this going on for this long. The press is nowhere on it.

I think it was first made at all public by comedian Aziz Ansari on his blog last year after trying to see Star Trek in IMAX, which it wasn't. <a href="http://azizisbored.t...he-**(obscenity removed)**-out-of-this-warning-amc-theaters-are" target="_blank">http://azizisbored.t...heaters-are</a>

I too was curious how films I was pretty sure weren't shot in IMAX at all were having IMAX releases, but I didn't realize exactly what was going on until I tried to see "Transformers 2" at a fake IMAX theater, and "Harry Potter: HBP" in a real one.

I was wanting to be 'wowed' by some IMAX as I was when I saw "The Dark Knight" in IMAX, so I went to see Trans 2 at AMC Empire here in NYC because I knew they had shot parts of it on 65mm. I was unable to see any difference between the 35mm and 65mm source material except in places where I was guessing because of the appearance of bokeh etc. I also noticed to duel 2K projectors. So the very next night I try to see Harry Potter, advertised as IMAX 3D, at Lincoln which is a proper IMAX theater. This was equally disappointing because only the first 15 or so minutes were in 3D, after that it was standard non-stereoscopic imagery, and the ENTIRE film retained its 2.40 aspect ratio, ie none of it was "IMAX" even in aspect ration let alone format. So here I had just paid 9 extra dollars to see two IMAX films and the only extra I got was 15 minutes of 3D, which honestly I would give up long before the image quality difference.

IMAX later last year did a study which they mentioned on their facebook profile since so many of us outraged customers were criticizing them on about every post they made. The results of this study only showed the new screens as slightly below their 'traditional' screens, but the results of this study are crap because they weren't asking the right questions. It was also screened with "Transformers 2" and I forget the other picture. They merely asked people how they liked the picture, sound, screen size, etc. At no point were there opportunities to comment about a comparison of seeing say "The Dark Knight" on a real IMAX screen and a new 'IMAX' screen in which ANYONE could see a difference. Ironically it's TDK which has created this new market. It's success at IMAX screenings opened up this new market for people wanting bigger better theater experiences, so IMAX is jumping on the chance to make all this money.

It's like IMAX wants us to throw out our ASC manuals about what the IMAX format means by putting so much stuff out there with varying format sizes and aspect ratios etc, that people will accept anything simply shown on 'IMAX' branded screens as IMAX. I started a discussion board on the ASC's facebook page forum, but I am still the only topic, and have had no responses. When you do the math, and say normal 35mm film gets us say 6K of resolution easy, you then do the math and see that the IMAX 15 perf neg gives us 10-11 times the negative size of 35mm's, now we're talking about 60-70K of resolution if you wanna talk in digital terms....and they are giving us 2K? This is a 30x discrepancy at least, the difference between standard television 480i and HD 1080p isn't even 7x. This is like IMAX labeling TV's HD when all they can do is NTSC but keeping their prices as high as ever.....no wait, it's worse.

In my opinion this should qualify as fraud and be reported to the BBB frankly. All they have to do is call the smaller screens 'something' by IMAX, the emphasis being by, and then people can understand there's a difference, and will demand the true IMAX. I think if we keep fighting it we might be able to get something done.

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#18 Thomas James

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 10:26 PM

I think that digital 4K might qualify for the equivalent of 65mm film and dual 4K projection might qualify as IMAX but dual 2K projectors seem pretty scrimpy.
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#19 Joe Taylor

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 11:05 PM

I'm really glad that I am not the only one to notice the IMAX deception. I came across this site that offers numerous links to others media outlets that have reported the IMAX quandary. Numerous articles quote the CEO of IMAX as not seeing any problems with pulling such large-scale and long-term duplicity. Such hubris. You'd think these CEO clowns might have learned a thing or two over the past year-and-half. I understand that it is not as simple as packing it all up and turing it back into a multiplex, but you could at least have some modesty and call it something other than IMAX. That once dignified enterprise has been corrupted and debased by simple greed.
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#20 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 01:55 AM

I think that digital 4K might qualify for the equivalent of 65mm film and dual 4K projection might qualify as IMAX but dual 2K projectors seem pretty scrimpy.


Not when 65mm is run horizontally at 15perfs, which is how IMAX cameras work. "4K digital", in whatever fashion, doesn't touch it, remotely.

I just saw Avatar in one of the smaller digital IMAX theaters running two 2K's and it worked very nicely. The 3D was almost perfect, unlike you get with 3D 70mm projection, and the theater was much nicer than the normal ones there, and elsewhere. The sound, seating, projection, which are all IMAX controlled specs, make enough difference.
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