The IMAX Tech­nol­ogy


As men­tioned ear­lier, the IMAX mis­sion is to pro­vide the most im­mer­sive and en­ter­tain­ing cin­e­matic ex­pe­ri­ence. This starts with pro­vid­ing a huge screen with bright and colourful high res­o­lu­tion im­ages and seat­ing close to the screen the house gets a great, sharply fo­cused, uni­formly bright pic­ture, not just the “money seat”. IMAX isn’t about com­pro­mises.

Back in the 1970s, films were shot and pre­sented in an ana­log for­mat. Typ­i­cally most large budget films used a 35 MM size (width), and were ver­ti­cally fed through the pro­jec­tor at a rate of 27.4 me­ters per minute, while IMAX uses a 70 MM wide film frame size, and is fed through the pro­jec­tor hor­i­zon­tally (eas­ier to con­trol for the large film size) at a rate of al­most four times as fast, of 102.7 me­ters per minute.

In to­day’s dig­i­tal stan­dards, 1080p HD rep­re­sents a size of 1,080 ver­ti­cal lines or pix­els by 1,920 hor­i­zon­tal lines or pix­els -some­times loosely re­ferred to as 2K for the num­ber of hor­i­zon­tal lines or pix­els. A typ­i­cal 35 MM film would rep­re­sent ap­prox­i­mately three times the HD hor­i­zon­tal res­o­lu­tion at 6K hor­i­zon­tal lines or pix­els, while a 70MM IMAX film would rep­re­sent a sub­stan­tially larger 18K hor­i­zon­tal lines or pix­els. The IMAX 70MM for­mat is al­most ten times the hor­i­zon­tal res­o­lu­tion of our com­mon­place HD sys­tems.

The ac­com­pa­ny­ing il­lus­tra­tion shows the dif­fer­ence in the pic­ture con­tent be­tween 35 MM and IMAX 70 MM film. The 35mm Academy stan­dard also in­cludes an au­dio track lo­cated be­tween the pic­ture and the left sprocket, while IMAX uses a sep­a­rate au­dio track not con­tained on the video record­ing. The IMAX au­dio orig­i­nally used a 35 MM film con­tain­ing six sep­a­rate au­dio chan­nels and was locked to the video sys­tem.

A com­par­i­son of 35MM and IMAX 70 MM film.

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