7/17/2012

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IMAX is important to movie fans. I never realized how important till I wrote "Why You Should Not Watch The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX." A lot of people hated it.

One person used the flattering hashtag #moron. Another said I was writing the post purely for attention. I'm entitled to my opinion, but it made me wonder why movie fans are so passionate about seeing The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX. Should everyone?

Well, after researching, I've decided everyone SHOULD see The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX. It's a better picture and a unique movie experience from the most innovative director today.

IMAX Is Just A Better Film Format

Director Christopher Nolan told NY Times, "The sharpness and the depth of the image, projected onto those enormous screens, is simply the best quality image that has ever been invented."

IMAX is an extraordinarily sharp, high-resolution image format. The picture is the best you'll get in a film. David Keighley, chief quality officer for IMAX said "The IMAX screens are almost twice the brightness of regular screens."

The picture doesn't get any brighter or more high-definition than IMAX.

Do you hate wearing 3-D glasses? Most people do and the advantage of IMAX is nothing is required for the full effect. Unless you're watching a 3-D IMAX film (Correction: thanks Natasha).

Director Steven Spielberg said 3-D is a premium experience in a premium environment "with the exception of IMAX" because of the glasses. Even Spielberg admits IMAX is better.

There Will Never Be Another Movie Experience Like This
Nolan isn't doing this for fun. He genuinely believes it's a better movie experience. "We’re looking to do something technologically that’s never been done before," Nolan told Collider. "Our ambitions are to make a great movie."

The Dark Knight had 30 minutes of IMAX footage. It's the first time a theatrical film was even partially shot with the large-format cameras. That was impressive, but it's becoming more common. For Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) Michael Bay included over seven minutes of IMAX-shot footage. Brad Bird included 25 minutes of IMAX-shot footage for Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol. The Dark Knight Rises will have the most footage ever shot for a theatrical IMAX film at 72 minutes.

But, this could be the only movie ever filmed with this much IMAX footage. Why?

The Challenges of Filming
In IMAX
There are several challenges to filming in the IMAX format.

The first, is that it's expensive. The special film takes three times more than an average film.
The cameras themselves pose the greatest challenge. An IMAX camera weighs 240 pounds versus a 35mm movie camera weighing 40 pounds. The reels only last three minutes, and takes 20 minutes to reload. It's time consuming. Film schedules are very tight, and it's hard to justify taking almost a half-hour to shoot three minutes of film.

Chris Pine, when asked about filming Star Trek 2 with IMAX said, "They are big, loud cameras." Nolan described it like filming next to a generator. This is a distracting challenge for actors. Also, it means the dialogue in those scenes have to be recorded later. How many actors would go through all that?

Most directors wouldn't bother with it, but Nolan feels differently. He said, "When you're talking about this large-scale studio film-making, the size of the camera is pretty irrelevant compared to the massive difficulties and the massive resources you're wrangling on a daily basis."He has said that, for this reason, he would not make a full-length IMAX film.

If You Don't Watch IMAX In The Theaters You Never Will
HD televisions and surround sound is common. 3-D television prices are dropping, but there's no way to have an IMAX experience at home.

The screen is too big. The equipment is too expensive. Even the best televisions in the world can't come close to capturing the screen resolution. For example, imagine you go to Bill Gates house and his HD television has 1,920 pixels of horizontal resolution. Pretty good right? Well, an IMAX frame has a resolution upward of 18,000 pixels. That's almost nine times more. There's no way to have a home entertainment system that comes close to IMAX.

If you don't watch The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX now, you never will.

This Is The Way Christopher Nolan Wants Us To Watch
So what's the point of all this effort? "Having this extra image quality, giving the audience the best possible technical look at what you've shot, is the obvious thing to do." Nolan once said.

Nolan was committed to filming in IMAX. "We always carried at least one IMAX camera through the run of the show," Mr. Nolan said, "so then wherever we felt a scene would lend itself to IMAX, we could decide on the day to go and put that camera in. And we wound up using it more and more."

If Christopher Nolan was willing to go through all this effort to bring us an IMAX film, we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of it.

My last post should've been called "Why you may not want to watch The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX." It's not for everyone, but for most people it's the best way to see the film. Not that you should skip The Dark Knight Rises if its not in IMAX, but if you have to sell a kidney and ride a goat through the Andes mountains to watch it in IMAX then you should do it.*

*Editor's note: Please don't do this.

Tickets are on sale now, so go to your favorite movie site (ex. Fandango[Image]) if you want to find an IMAX theater near you or just want to buy advance tickets to The Dark Knight Rises.

Find out more about IMAX at IMAX.com

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What do you think? Is The Dark Knight Rises worth watching in IMAX? Have you ever seen an IMAX movie and what was it like?
[Image Source: nytimes.com]

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14 comments:

Liesel Hill said...

Cool post, Maurice. I don't know much about IMAX and I'm always wondering what's so special about it. Whether 3-D is for you or not, at least you understand why some people dig it, but I'm never sure with IMAX. I think this movie especially would be great in IMAX. That said, I'm still not sure I'll see it that way, simply for financial and convenience reasons, but this definitely makes me want to more! :D As for the IMAX experience at home, I couldn't help but think, give it time! Even 10 years ago, the 3D experience at home would have been laughed at. I think you're write that not much will be shot fully in IMAX, but only because new, better, more efficient technology will probably be invented that will replace IMAX but give us the same (or better) awesome experience. And I'm sure 20 or 30 years from now most home TVs will have 18000 megapixel screens and we'll look back at the HD TVs and Blue Ray players from this era and think we were all cave men! :D Thanks for the informative article! :D

Pat Dilloway said...

At some point I have to ask my sisters when they're going to see it at the Henry Ford in the real IMAX. They have member passes there so it'd be cheaper for them. Anyway, if it's like TDK it'll be good even if you're watching it on a cell phone.

Natasha Dythia said...

I had no clue that 3D glasses were not required to see an Imax 3D movie. I have never been into the 3D tech - mybe I still have the 3D book of the late 80's early 90's in my mind. I will have to give the Imax a try - I just hope they dont cause headaches like the old 3D.
www.justadashofgeek.com

Tony Laplume said...

I'm glad you've run this counterpart to the other piece. You make a good point about never being able to see the movie like this again, and it has nothing to do with hype when I say that I agree. There's a huge difference, and this is coming from someone who has still not been sold on Blu-ray and experienced imitation IMAX at Tinseltown. IMAX cannot be duplicated. And what I saw of it with The Dark Knight was absolutely enough to sell me on it, and that if you can, it's absolutely essential to see The Dark Knight Rises in the format, especially since Nolan shot even more of the new movie in it.

Tony Laplume said...

I may not be the most hip on technology, but IMAX has been around since the 70s, and have never been duplicated. It's nothing like 3D. It cannot, certainly not at the moment, be duplicated in a home viewing format. And I do not imagine it being duplicated anytime soon, considering that even now, IMAX can only be found in a limited number of theaters around the world.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Unfortunately I won't be driving an hour out of my way to go see the IMAX showing.
At least people can experience 3D at home now. Had my 3D TV for a year now and it's a better experience than at the theater.

jeremy [retro-zombie] said...

i will stick to my one dimension technology... i enjoy the old watching experience. besides i have trouble with balance...

MPax said...

I've not experience IMAX yet. I enjoyed Prometheus in 3D

Maurice Mitchell said...

Glad you found it informative Liesel. I do believe home theaters will become more sophisticated than we can imagine. I'm not sure I'd want to live in a world where people have three story high TV screens at home though. :)

Maurice Mitchell said...

Pat, you're right. I can't imagine anything could take away from the experience. Tell your sisters to make it happen!

Melissa Bradley said...

Never going to see a film IMAX again. IMAX and 3-D make me queasy and besides, I prefer to watch a movie NOT be surrounded by it. If I want to be involved in a gunfight, I'll buy one and go hunt up the gangbangers across the street from me. Technology is not my friend. I use a desk top, don't text and use a flip phone. LOL And I don't own an iPod or an MP3 player. I listen to music on CD's and vinyl. I'm so 20th century :)
And thanks for the awesome comment on my blog. That made my night.

Maurice Mitchell said...

You're welcome for the comment Melissa. IMAX isn't for everyone. If you do hit up the gangsters take a YouTube video!

J.W. Alden said...

I'll definitely make the effort to see it in imax, but it can be tough depending on where you live. I might end up seeing it on a standard screen the first time just out of convenience and because I won't be able to wait until I'm able to go to my nearest imax screen.

Maurice Mitchell said...

It is tough J.W. Too bad IMAX isn't a more common format. On the other hand seeing TDKR twice is a great idea!

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