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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Large Format Forum   » IMAX Theaters to Ditch Film, Use Digital DLP Projectors (Page 1)

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Author Topic: IMAX Theaters to Ditch Film, Use Digital DLP Projectors
Jeffry L. Johnson
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 809
From: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

 - posted 03-12-2008 08:28 PM      Profile for Jeffry L. Johnson   Author's Homepage   Email Jeffry L. Johnson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
gizmodo Web page
IMAX Theaters to Ditch Film, Use Digital DLP Projectors

IMAX and Texas Instruments announced they will be working together to transition IMAX from a film-based projection format to a DLP-based technology instead. Starting in the middle of 2008, all new IMAX projectors will include the digital DLP technology and eliminate the need for elaborate film-based projector setups currently found in IMAX Theaters. This raises the question: which billionaire will be the first to have a digital IMAX theater installed in his mega mansion?

Texas Instruments Announces IMAX Digital Projection System to be Powered by DLP Cinema® 2008 marks the 10th Anniversary of digital cinema led by DLP Cinema LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - March 11, 2008: Texas Instruments (TI) (NYSE: TXN) DLP Cinema® announced today at ShoWest that IMAX® Corporation (Nasdaq: IMAX) has decided to incorporate the DLP Cinema projector solution in its IMAX digital projection systems to be deployed by commercial exhibitors around the world. "We are excited to cement this alliance with DLP Cinema, and believe their technology will help ensure that our digital projection system delivers the best cinema experience available to audiences," said IMAX Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler. "We've evaluated competing cinema projection technology and found DLP Cinema to be the ideal match for IMAX." IMAX's highly anticipated digital projection system integrates a suite of proprietary IMAX intellectual properties with the DLP Cinema projector solution in a way that creates The IMAX Experience in a digital format. IMAX expects its transition to digital to help to drive profitability for studios, exhibitors and IMAX theatres by virtually eliminating the need for film prints, increasing program flexibility and ultimately increasing the number of movies shown on IMAX screens. With the implementation of DLP Cinema technology, IMAX moviegoers will experience precise, lifelike images in vibrant colors, delivered through the millions of microscopic mirrors on the DLP Cinema chip. "We are proud to work with IMAX and look forward to the development and rollout of the best digital cinema experience in the market," said Nancy Fares, Business Manager for DLP Cinema Products Group. "DLP Cinema projectors are the heart of every digital 2D and 3D movie experience for traditional and now large format venues. We look forward to participating in their move to digital in the months ahead." Digital cinema installations continue to be catalyzed by the increasing release of 3D film. The 3D movie format is serving as a revenue driver for the film industry overall, and has gained a resurgence of interest by moviegoers. IMAX has been a leader in 3D content, especially since the overwhelming box office success of The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience, which has grossed more than $65 million in IMAX theatres around the world since it opened in 2005. More recently, Beowulf: An IMAX 3D Experience grossed $25 million, representing a per screen average of more than $185,000. Celebrating its 10th year in the film industry, DLP Cinema projection technology is installed in over 6,000 theatres on every continent except Antarctica and is the only digital 3D single projector solution. Today there are more than 1,200 theatres in the country that offer the digital 3D experience powered by DLP Cinema technology, and this number will continue to increase as IMAX begins its rollout of digital projection systems powered by DLP Cinema. 10 Years of Digital Cinema 2008 marks the 10th Anniversary of DLP's entrance into the cinema industry, with the first fully functional and Hollywood endorsed digital DLP Cinema movie projector. After years of prototypes, DLP had delivered Hollywood's biggest image critics and cinematographers with a digital projector that met the world's highest standards on color, brightness and reliability and therefore pioneered the digital cinema concept. A year later in 1999 the studios released the first movie in digital format on DLP Cinema which was Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace. DLP Cinema honors the heritage of the ultimate viewing experience while incorporating the latest technology innovations, such as the 3D single projector solution, and cutting costs for cinema exhibitors, distributors and ultimately the consumer. About DLP Cinema DLP Cinema is a proprietary technology that delivers clear, sharp, bright and accurate images to movie theatres globally. To manufacture and market under the DLP Cinema trademark, technology licensees, including Barco, Christie and NEC, must meet stringent standards and guidelines meant to ensure the best possible performance and picture quality. This digital picture and standard of excellence ensures that a DLP Cinema movie screening looks flawless and each showing is as perfect as the first with no annoying scratches, tears or weaving that detract from the movie-going experience. For more information, or to find a DLP Cinema theatre near you, please About Texas Instruments DLP Products DLP display technology from Texas Instruments offers clarity down to the most minute detail, delivering pictures rich with color, contrast and brightness to large-screen HDTVs and projectors for business, home, professional venue and digital cinema (DLP Cinema®). 50 of the world's top projection and display manufacturers design, manufacture and market products based on DLP technology. DLP is the only HDTV technology built from a foundation in the digital cinema where it set the industry standard demonstrated by the deployment of DLP Cinema technology in 5,971 theatres worldwide. At the heart of every DLP chip is an array of up to 2.2 million microscopic mirrors which switch incredibly fast to create a high resolution, highly reliable, full color image. DLP technology's chip architecture and inherent speed advantage provides razor-sharp images and excellent reproduction of fast motion video. Since early 1996, more than 15.5 million DLP subsystems have been shipped. For more information, please About Texas Instruments: Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN) helps customers solve problems and develop new electronics that make the world smarter, healthier, safer, greener and more fun. A global semiconductor company, TI innovates through manufacturing, design and sales operations in more than 25 countries. For more information, DLP and DLP Cinema are registered trademarks of Texas Instruments. About IMAX Corporation IMAX Corporation is one of the world's leading digital entertainment and technology companies. The worldwide IMAX network is among the most important and successful theatrical distribution platforms for major event Hollywood films around the globe, with IMAX theatres delivering the world's best cinematic presentations using proprietary IMAX, IMAX 3D, and IMAX DMR technology. IMAX DMR is the Company's groundbreaking digital remastering technology that allows it to digitally transform virtually any conventional motion picture into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience. IMAX's renowned projectors and new digital systems display crystal-clear images on the world's biggest screens. The IMAX brand is recognized throughout the world for extraordinary and immersive entertainment experiences for consumers. As of September 30, 2007, there were 296 IMAX theatres operating in 40 countries. IMAX®, IMAX® 3D, IMAX DMR, and, IMAX MPX The IMAX Experience® are trademarks of IMAX Corporation. More information on the Company can be found at

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Jim Cassedy
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: San Francisco, CA
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 - posted 03-12-2008 08:39 PM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Oh Wow! I can hardly wait for old Imax projectors to start showing up on e-bay! [Big Grin] [Big Grin]

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Brad Miller

Posts: 17687
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 03-12-2008 09:26 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Yeah, that's not going to look like ass or anything. [Roll Eyes]

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Mark Lensenmayer
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: Upper Arlington, OH
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 - posted 03-13-2008 10:14 AM      Profile for Mark Lensenmayer   Email Mark Lensenmayer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I can see how they could use DLP to fill those Imax Jr. screens they put in with the MPX systems, but I just can't see them running DLP on the full-size Imax screens.

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Paul Mayer
Oh get out of it Melvin, before it pulls you under!

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From: Albuquerque, NM
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 - posted 03-13-2008 11:11 AM      Profile for Paul Mayer   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Mayer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Never underestimate the stupidity of the suits. Yet another idea from someone that should just stick to counting someone else's beans. My favorite description for such plans (seems to be getting used a lot lately): "Breathtakingly stupid!" [Roll Eyes]

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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From: Lawton, OK, USA
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 - posted 03-13-2008 12:50 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Oh well. Another marriage of "digital equals perfect" and "good enough" ethics of American style big business.


Just what exactly do they intend to do with 2K DLP chip projectors? Install about 10 of them in one booth and try to tile the image?

I wouldn't put it past the "suits" to use only one 2K projector with an over-powered lamp house and blast the image up big enough where each pixel is the size of a kitchen table top.

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Ron Funderburg
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Chickasha, Oklahoma, USA
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 - posted 03-13-2008 12:57 PM      Profile for Ron Funderburg   Author's Homepage   Email Ron Funderburg   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Sad even a 4K can't put an image up equal to the 70MM quality they are getting now. I just cant see this working on todays technology. I would think 8K might make it not even sure about that.

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Dick Vaughan
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 - posted 03-13-2008 03:47 PM      Profile for Dick Vaughan   Author's Homepage   Email Dick Vaughan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The current IMAX digital system is designed for a MPX sized theatre and aspect ratio using 2 2k projectors.

There had been talk about Sony 4k projectors being used but there seems to be a problem as they can't accommodate lamps of an high enough wattage to fill an IMAX sized screen.

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Brian Michael Weidemann
Expert cat molester

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From: Costa Mesa, CA United States
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 - posted 03-13-2008 08:32 PM      Profile for Brian Michael Weidemann   Author's Homepage   Email Brian Michael Weidemann   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: important IMAX people
... their technology will help ensure that our digital projection system delivers the best cinema experience available to audiences.
I'm really sure that the audiences are their primary concern. Did they conduct audience surveys or something? "This feature that you just paid $16 to see, this wasn't the best experience, so would you come back again once we make it better? Yes or no?"

The profitability bit for the distributors sounds more like it. Audiences aren't going to be buying any more tickets than they are now. And, of course, the "best experience" is hardly guaranteed to be the digital one. [Frown]

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John Plasket
Film Handler

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From: Berks County, PA, USA
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 - posted 03-14-2008 02:57 AM      Profile for John Plasket     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have to wonder what they're going to do with the IMAX theater at the Franklin Institute (science museum) in Philadelphia (the Tuttleman Omniverse). The entire projection setup is located behind glass inside the main lobby, making the booth itself an exhibit.

Digital projectors in use aren't as cool to watch. Stupid science.

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

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From: Montgomery, AL
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 - posted 03-14-2008 01:25 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: John Plasket
I have to wonder what they're going to do with the IMAX theater at the Franklin Institute (science museum) in Philadelphia (the Tuttleman Omniverse). The entire projection setup is located behind glass inside the main lobby, making the booth itself an exhibit.
The McWane Center in Birmingham, AL does that also. They also have the IMAX Dome setup which the manage to keep consistently out of focus. So a switch to digital won't be noticed;>

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Sean McKinnon
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 - posted 03-15-2008 09:34 AM      Profile for Sean McKinnon   Email Sean McKinnon   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The Mugar Omnimax Theatre at the Museum of Science in Boston, Ma has one wall of thier projection booth completely made of glass so that people can see the QTRU, The platter, all the racks etc... Im not sure how common this is but the actual IMAX projector is on a lift, after threading it is raised like 2 stories up to the port. Pretty cool in my opinion.

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Joseph L. Kleiman
Master Film Handler

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From: Sacramento, CA
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 - posted 03-16-2008 12:24 PM      Profile for Joseph L. Kleiman   Email Joseph L. Kleiman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The current IMAX digital projector is a replacement for the MPX system. According to IMAX's technical people, the replacement for the GT and SR projectors is another three to five years off.

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Brian Michael Weidemann
Expert cat molester

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From: Costa Mesa, CA United States
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 - posted 03-17-2008 04:03 AM      Profile for Brian Michael Weidemann   Author's Homepage   Email Brian Michael Weidemann   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes, the digital projectors, once they get them working, are meant to replace the MPX houses ... but MPX projectors aren't, after all, truly IMAX. Okay, they may have patented the technologies, but what MEANS "IMAX" to me does not exist in MPX, no matter what IMAX itself has to say about it.

I know IMAX is just a company, and anything they do is subject to their redefining what their own name means, but they successfully (in my eyes) synonymized their brand with 15/70 film and the quality of image the format can produce on a 7-storey tall screen. DMRed super-35mm movies on a regular screen via MPX is a far cry from the peripheral-vision-filling "experience" of IMAX from, say, ten years ago.

To keep up with cinema trends, they have to go digital, and yes the capabilities of digital replacing what the GT system can produce are AT LEAST three-to-five years off. And that's IF digital cinema is successful enough (and there are enough surges in digital cinema technological advances).

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Frank Angel
Film God

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 - posted 03-17-2008 07:11 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Mark G. in another thread explained that they were going to use multiple projectors, possibly more than 2, and at the time, they were talking about using Sony 4K in multiples....guess that was shelved. Thing is, you do have to concede that if what the CEO said in a speech in a shareholder's meeting is true, that the cost of each IMAX 15/70 print was around $20,000 and going up, and multiply that for each one of their 250 plus theatres, you can see how eliminating that nut for every new IMAX release would bring tears of happiness to the eyes of the bean counters.

On the other hand, eliminating the quality which 15/70 produces and which has defined the IMAX "experience" for decades may just be the same thing as eliminating the very thing that makes IMAX worth seeing and paying a premium price.

So will all those IMAX theatres that have a library of many of the 15/70 IMAX titles be able to keep the film projectors and just ADD the digital projector so they can still play the film library or will the digital system not only replace film for upcoming IMAX digital screenings, but will make the film library worthless so those IMAX theatres can no longer play the older film titles that they've invested in? I thought the thing that made the IMAX theatres profitable was that they could cycle the IMAX classic titles over and over for the life of the prints that they bought. So this kills the theatre's ability to play the film prints they've already invested in? So future generations...the public, which they all keep saying will be so well served by this, will never get to actually experience those great, earlier IMAX films? I can't wait for NORTH OF SUPERIOR, THE LAST BUFFALO, et al to start showing up on Big Reel!

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