A Guide to IMAX Cinemas

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What You Need to Know

  1. IMAX is a special film format that allows for greater image size and resolution. This means movies can be shown on giant screens without any loss in picture quality.
  2. For many film buffs, IMAX is the ultimate in entertainment as it makes the viewer feel almost completely-immersed in the experience.
  3. IMAX cinemas no longer have to show just specially-made films as growing numbers of Hollywood blockbusters are being adapted to the format.
  4. London is home to several IMAX cinemas, while IMAX screens can also be found in several other UK cities, including Bradford, Bristol, Manchester and Norwich.
  5. Sound quality is also often better in IMAX cinemas. Combined with floor-to-ceiling screens, this can lead to an enhanced viewer experience.
  6. Developments in technology have also meant that, through the projection of 3D film, IMAX film theatres can now offer viewers an even better experience.
  7. IMAX Dome or OMINAX technology means IMAX films can be shown on screens of all shapes and sizes.

What is IMAX?

IMAX is both a film format and a set of film projection standards developed by Canada’s IMAX Corporation. Quite simply, this format enables allows for far greater images size and resolution than formats commonly used in TV and film can produce, meaning features can be played on giant screens without the picture quality being compromised.

While in the past, IMAX cinemas could only really show movies that had been specifically designed for this format, in more recent years, a number of mainstream feature films, including The Dark Knight and Transformers have been made available for the medium.

Inside an IMAX Theatre

IMAX has long represented the ultimate filming experience for optimum viewer enjoyment, but what exactly can you expect to find within an IMAX film theatre?

IMAX theatres are specifically designed in order to enhance the film viewing experience, but how exactly do they achieve this and how do IMAX theatres differ from your typical cinema screen?

Inside an IMAX Theatre

Inside an IMAX theatre you will notice a couple of very obvious differences which distinguish it from your usual cinema screen. To begin with the size of the screen itself is far greater. One of the distinguishing features of the IMAX film is that it has a greater picture resolution and overall size than its standard film counterpart, meaning that the screen size within an IMAX theatre is increased in order to accommodate it. This means that IMAX theatres can boast floor to ceiling screen sizes, offering a far improved scope of view for those about to watch the film.

An IMAX theatre also follows the design of an auditorium. This enhances the quality and distribution of the sound, which is usually delivered in the format of digital surround-sound. The auditorium design not only increases the quality of the sound delivered but also coincides with the above point by providing a greater range of vision. When combined together there aspects merge in order to immerse the viewer in the film and make them feel as if the action is happening alongside them rather than simply on the screen in front of them.

3D Technology and IMAX Cinemas

Developments in technology have also meant that, through the projection of 3D film, IMAX film theatres can now offer viewers an even better experience. 3D technology fools viewers into thinking they are watching three dimensional images by simultaneously recording two versions of the film through lenses which are spaced a small distance apart (usually the average distance found between a person’s eyes). These different streams of images represent the left and right eye of an individual. During the screen process, a shot from each lens is shown immediately after each other at such a fast speed that it appears they are being shown simultaneously. The 3D eyewear that worn by those watching the films shows each eye the correct image, making it appear to be three dimensional.

Different IMAX Theatres

There are a number of different IMAX theatres located all over the world, including several in London as well as others in Bristol, Bradford, Gateshead, Manchester and Norwich. Other variations of the theatre, such as the IMAX Dome Theatre, adapted the advanced filming technology to a different medium. The IMAX Dome technology was developed to project film footage on a tilted dome planetarium in North America. The technology which is named either IMAX Dome or OMINAX is present in a number of American theme-parks and museums, particularly those which are focused on the sciences. The technology uses a fish-eye lens projection system which is specifically designed to project the images onto the tilted dome structure rather than onto a typical flat screen.

Further Reading

  • In London and fancy seeing a film. Visit the BFI website to see what’s on their IMAX screen.
  • Don’t fancy a night out to the cinema? Then stay on the sofa and let the UK Net Guides TV Guide help keep you entertained.
  • Want some free entertainment? Read our guide to Spotify.

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