Quick question regarding IMAX

Hopefully this question can be answered within a couple replies…

The IMAX theatre near me has a habit of showing a lot of the new flicks on their screens (Spiderman, Harry Potter, Batman Begins).
I have not been to any of these showings yet and wondered how they go about showing the “widescreen” films that are usually 16:9 or wider on the imax screen that looks to be about 4:3.
Is it shown in a pan & scan format or is it shown in a letterbox form with the top and bottom of the screen unused?

I believe they reformat the film a bit for the IMAX screen, but that it is essentially shown in letterbox, with the top and bottom of the screen blank.

We have a couple of IMAX screens here in Vegas. I’ll call one of them in a few hours when they open up and ask them.

If the movie has not specifically been modified by the studio to fit an IMAX screen, then the movie will be letterboxed. There will be portions of the IMAX screen that are not used by the projected movie. The movie is still plenty large, but not as large as you would assume just hearing “presented at IMAX”. But the sound system rocks.

Some movies are released in an IMAX format… I’m trying to remember if this has happened at the same time as a major release was in the theaters. I know that several Disney movies have come out as IMAX editions after-the-fact. This is a complete reformat of screen ratio, and is actually presented from an IMAX film reel, which is a different size film cell, aspect ratio, etc.

Most feature films are converted to IMAX format using a process called DMR. (which somehow is upposed to stand for digital remastering). Blowing up an unaltered 35mm image to the IMAX sceeen results in a blurry picture that is too dark and with colors washed out. Kinda looks like you’re watchign a TV station that doesn’t tune in completely. The DMR process interpolates the image to remove all of those artifacts.

The answer to the OP’s question is that it varies from film to film. In some instances, they have changed the aspect ratio. Sometimes they show it in a letterbox format with the original aspect ratio. Never pan and scan.

A lot of films have been made specifically for the IMAX format, but to my knowledge, just 13 feature films have been converted for IMAX, including Batman Begins two weeks ago. Two others (Charlie and the CHocolate Factory and the new Harry Potter film) are slated for IMAX release later this year.

There are some websites and message boards devoted to discussing IMAX films, and the quality of the DMR releases is a pretty hot topic.

Do you know of these 13 DMR transferred films, if they are left in their original ratios or are they re-formated?
Or does it vary by film?

ChipsNDip reminded me of the other point I wanted to make… Disney did re-release some animated films for IMAX (Fantasia 2000, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast). Because these films existed in a digital format, they could be converted to the IMAX format more easily. the same was true for Attack of the Clones, The Polar Express, and Robots. Non-digital films are more of a challenge and require more compormises, though for my money, the IMAX expereince is always extraordinary. It tends to be a brigther picture, the sound is superior, and the size of the screen covers your entire field of vision.

Keep in mind that it’s only been three years since they first put a feature film into IMAX format (Apollo 13 in 2002). As the process has gotten better, it appears that studios are embracing the format for simultaneous release of blockbuster action movies.

It varies by film.

Just for reference, the IMAX aspect ratio is 1.33 to 1, same as standard television. Feature films are generally shot in 1.85 to 1 or 2.39 to 1.

The HDTV format is 16:9 (1.78 to 1), which means that widescreen films have to get squeezed or letterboxed.

I can tell you Batman Begins roxxored my soxxors at the local Imax…and it looked great :slight_smile: