I saw some comments on the crew of Storm Chasers shooting footage for the new IMAX flick “Tornado Alley” of which I saw some teaser footage at the GSCA conference. People can’t wait to see the “IMAX video” they are shooting.
Which brings up an interesting point – we are now in the midst of a new generation who has no idea what “film” is – never seen film, never touched it and have no idea of what “film” is. It might as well be a steam powered car.
The digital revolution has exploded all over the world in pretty much every arena. IMAX is notable exception. IMAX is actually a just a company – what we are really talking about here is often called “Giant Screen Cinema” or more precisely, “15/70mm film“.
Currently, there is not digital technology that can capture and project anywhere near the clarity, color and brightness of 15/70mm film on the huge screens found in real IMAX theaters. I have to say “real” as IMAX created a marketing/brand problem by rolling out digital solution that they simply call “IMAX” but in fact is only found in multiplex theater complexes and only works on screens much, much smaller than “real” IMAX theaters.
What exactly is 15/70mm?
It’s 70mm film – that’s already twice as wide as the 35mm film that your typical Hollywood film uses. It’s turned sideways so you can get a much larger image – about 11 times larger, than 35mm. And 35mm is much higher resolution than most video cameras. The “15” part of “15/70mm” refers to the 15 “perfs” or squarish holes along the side of the film. 15 of these keep the film very stable and still in the camera and projector.
Of course, it gets much more technical and involved than that – but the bottom line is, IMAX = film, not video and probably for some years to come. There are companies working on higher resolution cameras and projectors but in the near future, there is nothing digital that approaches what 15/70mm cameras, film or projectors can do.
Of course, there is a catch and it’s as big as the advantages – it’s crazy expensive, the camera, projectors are enormous, loud and power hungry and post production is daunting. But the experience of watching IMAX is more than worth it.