Last Sunday, I dragged my slightly exhausted body out of the house because of a cold. There was only one purpose, which was to return to the cinema for the first time in eight months to watch Nolan’s new movie “Creed”.
Although I was pigeoned by my friend and I was still a few minutes late, I felt the audiovisual experience of watching a movie in the cinema again. I still feel that this beauty is very memorable.
The movie “Creed” must watch IMAX, not only because the IMAX theater is bigger, but because director Nolan is one of the very few directors who can shoot a lot of content with IMAX cameras. More importantly, Nolan still plays Film IMAX camera.
In addition to “Creed”, the historical blockbuster “Yabai” released some time ago also promoted IMAX shooting and was the first film in Asia to be filmed entirely with IMAX cameras. Although both are IMAX movies, in fact, the upper limit of the picture quality of “Creed” is much higher than that of “Yaobai”.
Ok? Is there a difference in IMAX movies? Next, let’s talk about IMAX.
Burning money is the biggest feature of IMAX shooting
Before we sit on the seats in the cinema to watch, we call this process back and talk about the shooting of IMAX movies.
We have talked about a few articles about Dolby Cinema before. Except that the cinema must build a theater in accordance with the specifications and standards given by Dolby Cinema, all Dolby Vision movies are slightly adjusted during production. The brightness changes are adjusted, and a special high dynamic range version is created with the projector of Dolby Cinema. The overall effect is similar to the HDR concept we have been talking about.
The “IMAX” of IMAX movies is even more pre-production, not only in a large-screen movie theater, not just “IMAX” during post-production, but it needs to be used during pre-production. Dedicated IMAX camera.
Only in this way can it bring the audience IMAX considers the best audio-visual experience.
However, before this, many viewers who often watch movies may have different opinions. For example, there is a question on Zhihu: “Why does IMAX only have the best movie titles?” Many people watch movies in IMAX theaters and think that there are only 10 movie titles. The effect of the second countdown is shocking, but the film itself is nothing special.
The answer to this question is simple. Among the movies shown in IMAX theaters, only a small part of the movies are shot with IMAX cameras, and most movies use IMAX cameras for only a few parts of the lenses, and many movies use IMAX DMR (digital Reproduced from the original).
If the movie you see in the IMAX theater feels mediocre, it is most likely that it is just a version made for the IMAX hall, not a movie tailored for IMAX.
▲ IMAX MSM 9802. Picture from: Tested
Where is the real shock of IMAX movies? Let me talk about a number that you don’t know, but you will feel very shocking in the future: The theoretical equivalent resolution of the video taken by the 70mm film IMAX camera can reach 18K.
Not 4K, 6K, 8K, but 18K, with a resolution of 18000X13433 per frame. This number is scary enough.
In fact, compared with the excellent audiovisual experience that is difficult to quantify in the end, the expensive cost of IMAX movies can be reflected on the equipment, such as film IMAX cameras, which burn money every second of turning on.
▲ The IMAX MSM 9802 used by Nolan when filming “Dunkirk”. Picture from: Little White Lies
According to the introduction of Wikipedia, in order to greatly increase the resolution of the image, IMAX adopted a special 70mm film. The image size of the traditional 65mm film is 48.5mm×22.1mm (Todd-AO), while the size of the IMAX film is 69.6mm×48.5mm. In order to expose at 24 frames per second for standard movies, the film advance speed of IMAX film is three times that of normal film.
In addition, the length of the film projected every second is 1.7 meters, and the film weight of a 120-minute film copy is as high as 400 kg.
▲ Arri Alexa 65 IMAX special edition. Picture from: @iamaniff
Except for the 70mm film IMAX camera IMAX MSM 9802 (actually shooting and printing on 65mm special film for 70mm projection), the full frame is 1.43:1. IMAX also launched the Arri Alexa 65 IMAX special version, which was jointly developed by IMAX and Arri in 2015, with a full-open frame of 1.90:1. Now many IMAX movie lenses are actually digital IMAX cameras, such as the one mentioned at the beginning. “Eight Hundred”.
The digital IMAX camera was introduced because the cost of the film IMAX camera is too expensive. Not only the film cost is staggering, but the camera is only rented but not sold. And to achieve the best projection effect, it is necessary to directly show film copies. In fact, there are not many theaters that can show IMAX film in the world.
▲ IMAX Hall. Picture from: Tribe
IMAX theaters are generally divided into the following four categories according to their types, IMAX GT, IMAX SR, IMAX MPX and IMAX Digital. In terms of specifications and viewing experience, IMAX GT is the best. It is a theater screening mode, while IMAX MPX and IMAX Digital, which are becoming mainstream and moving towards digitalization, are poor.
In fact, all the commercial IMAX theaters in China currently do not have the ability to show film IMAX movies. Only a few science and technology centers such as China Science and Technology Museum, Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, Dongguan Science and Technology Museum, Guangdong Science and Technology Center have IMAX GT/SR projection systems and can still play Film IMAX content, but part of it is no longer showing film IMAX film.
Some theaters can be equipped with IMAX GT With Laser, that is, use laser projectors to reach the level of large theaters, and can show 1.43:1 IMAX films, including Dongguan Wanda Cinemas, (South China Mall), Harbin Tailai Times Cinemas, and Kunming LCC Light Magic Laser Cinema, Taipei Miramar Dazhi Studios.
The newly-built IMAX is generally a new generation of laser IMAX halls. If it is only an IMAX theater with a 2K resolution digital xenon projector, I suggest not to go to such an IMAX theater. It is better to go to Dolby Theater.
Movies shown in the IMAX hall may not have special frames
The 2020 epidemic has caused an unprecedented impact on the film industry. Whether it is “Eight Hundred” or “Creed”, in fact, it is very commendable that it can be screened against the wind in the current environment, and good results have been achieved. But this year’s film industry is really unrepresentative. Let’s go back to 2019 and take a look at the characteristics of the IMAX movies released in China last year.
Compared with ordinary movies, IMAX movies are characterized by being larger, not only the screen is larger, but also more content than the ordinary version. This is due to the higher standards of IMAX in both shooting and screening. As mentioned above, not all IMAX movies have this special picture that is wider up and down.
▲ Movie “Bumblebee”. Picture from: insider
The first IMAX movie released in China last year was “Bumblebee”. Most of the pictures used the 1.85:1 frame, and some of the content had frame changes. (Actually, this is the screen-to-frame ratio. The frame is more referring to the “bottom size” of the camera, but nowadays the screen-to-frame ratio is often called the frame on social platforms.)
Subsequent “Predatory City” and “Deadpool 2: I Love My Family” are all 2.39:1 frame, no special frame picture, and then “Crazy Alien”, “Wandering Earth”, “Speeding Life” The three Spring Festival movies are 2.66:1.
Obviously, Hollywood is more mature for the IMAX film industry. “Alita: Battle Angel”, released on February 22, has a 40-minute frame expansion to 1.90:1, which is the effect of the IMAX digital camera frame being fully opened. The IMAX theater can also achieve full-screen playback with no black borders up and down, and the screen is 26% larger than the normal ratio of movies.
Later, “Captain Marvel” also adopted a 1.90:1 format for some of the shots. It is worth mentioning that the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s third stage ending works “Avengers 3: Infinity War” and “Avengers 4: Endgame” “Battle” was filmed with IMAX cameras throughout. Last year’s “Reunion 4” film was all 1.90:1 frame, the visual effect of the IMAX version was very shocking.
Last year, the last Marvel movie “Spider-Man: Far From Home” was 1.90:1 without “Reunion 4”, but there were also about 50 minutes of content using 1.90:1 format.
It can be said that if Nolan is the spokesperson of the 70mm film IMAX camera, then Marvel is the new Arri Alexa 65 IMAX, the digital version of the IMAX camera controller. Nolan relies on his personal strength and charm to make the IMAX screen shocking. Marvel uses Hollywood’s most mature industrial assembly line to bring IMAX to the mainstream public.
Among other Disney movies, only “Maleficent 2” uses a 1.90:1 format, like the 2.39:1 format used in all films of “Frozen 2”.
Other IMAX films with special formats include “The Lion King” full 1.85:1, “Heroes of Fire”, “Free Rock Climbing”, “Man in Black” and “Dumbo” are also 1.85:1 format, this is average It is called masking, and there will be small black borders above and below the first-generation laser IMAX.
To further extend to a question, I said that one of the major advantages of the IMAX version is that the full frame can reach 1.90:1, and even the film version can reach 1.43:1, with more upper and lower content than ordinary movies.
However, it was also mentioned that the screens of many ordinary cinemas now use a ratio of 1.85:1, which can play full-screen IMAX movies. If the ordinary cinema is also 1.85:1, the IMAX version has the advantage Is it greatly reduced?
Not so, even with the 1.85:1 screen, the specifications and design of the auditorium are still significantly smaller than that of the IMAX auditorium, which leads to a huge gap between the two in experience, such as IMAX’s 12-channel, seat design And screen material and so on.
Even the worst has happened in Douban comments. An ordinary wide-screen movie theater used a 1.85:1 mask to play “Men in Black”, which resulted in “big black borders” appearing on the left and right. Ordinary theaters are not well shielded, resulting in serious white fringing.
The theater design plays a key role in the audiovisual experience. For example, in addition to the larger screen, the IMAX theater also has many special designs like Dolby Cinema. For example, the top of the screen is curved inward and is very tall, achieving the effect of “upright and standing upright”, and the material itself is more reflective and brighter.
▲ Picture from: Indesignlive.hk
In addition, the seating design of IMAX theaters is different. Many ordinary theaters are actually very “flat”. Basically, the back row is above the head of the front row for viewing. If the person in front is taller, you will receive a comparison. Serious impact.
On the other hand, the IMAX theater is even more “scattered”. The height difference between the rows is wider. Not only does everyone have a better viewing experience, but they also get closer to the screen and have a stronger visual impact.
To sum up, in order to bring the audience more extreme audio-visual enjoyment, IMAX film is a very expensive process from shooting to screening, which also leads to too high costs. Actually, not many people are willing to pay for 70mm film IMAX films. Not only movie fans, but capitalists also feel that this kind of cinema simply cannot recover its costs.
The current blooming of IMAX theaters is that IMAX itself has compromised in business, which is also the last resort to reduce costs and gain more audiences.
IMAX, or Image Maximum, means giant screen movie. Although the quality of IMAX theaters currently varies greatly, as long as Nolan has a persistent director and Hollywood is promoted by Marvel, I think IMAX can still not forget its original intention and continue to provide audiences with a better audiovisual experience.
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