Seminar on IMAX

Ram Pothuraju



The IMAX (Image Maximum) system has its roots in Canada where multi-screen films were the hit of the fair. A small group of Canadian filmmakers Graeme Ferguson, Roman Kroitor and Robert Kerr decided to design a new system using a single, powerful projector, rather than the cumbersome multiple projectors used at that time. The result is the IMAX motion picture projection system, which would revolutionize the giantscreen cinema.
Description of IMAX

IMAX delivers just that on a screen four times the size of conventional movie screens. Multi channel digital sound with excellent picture quality gives the viewers the feeling of being present.IMAX was premiered at the Fuji Pavilion, EXPO '70 in Osaka, Japan. The first permanent IMAX projection system was installed at Ontario Place's Cinesphere in Toronto in 1971. IMAX Dome (OMNIMAX) debuted at the Reuben H. Fleet Space Theatre in San Diego, CA in 1973. Sonics Associates of Birmingham, Alabama developed the IMAX digital sound system. In 1993, Sonic introduced the IMAX 3D sound system with 10 channels.

IMAX -3D is a new motion picture process that creates the illusion of depth (or 3D) by projecting on the screen an image for the right eye, then an image for the left eye (30 times per second). Special goggles allow only one eye at a time to see the screen. The liquid crystal goggles are in sync with the projector via infrared signals beamed at the goggles on your head.Theater speakers produce 8 channels from 4 CD disks synchronized with the15-perforation 70mm filmstrip running through the projector horizontally past a 15,000-watt lamp at 48 frames per second. The 3D headset has 2 additional channels for the binaural Personal Sound Environment (PSE). Binaural sound emanates from the headsets' two small speakers, just above and slightly in front of your ears; they cover all but the frequencies below 100 Hz. Low bass is handled by a pair of subwoofers behind the giant screen.

Technology – Camera

Once film format was chosen and projection challenges solved, the other complimentary piece of the puzzle was developing cameras that could handle the film/format. Initially, the IMAX team took regular motion picture cameras and altered them to fit the large film. Part of this alteration involved developing a film compartment that could hold the large volume of film. Average IMAX cameras hold between 500 and 1,000 feet of film, which requires frequent reloading. Additionally, new lens needed to be developed to work with the large emulsion surface. However, unlike other aspects of IMAX, the camera design/reconfiguration was the least problematic. The major drawback to IMAX cameras is the size.


To create the illusion of 3-dimensional depth, the IMAX 3D process uses two camera lenses to represent the left and right eyes. The two lenses are separated by an interoccular distance of about 64 mm/2.5 in., the average distance between a human's eyes. By recording on two separate rolls of film for the left and right eyes, and then projecting them simultaneously, we can be tricked into seeing a 3D image on a 2D screen. The IMAX 3D camera is very cumbersome, weighing over 113 kg/250 pounds.

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