Film-Tech Cinema Systems
Film-Tech Forum


Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile | my password | register | search | faq & rules | forum home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Digital Cinema Forum   » IMAX Digital semi-rant (Page 1)

 
This topic comprises 3 pages: 1  2  3 
 
Author Topic: IMAX Digital semi-rant
Thomas Pitt
Master Film Handler

Posts: 255
From: Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
Registered: May 2007


 - posted 08-02-2017 05:40 PM      Profile for Thomas Pitt   Email Thomas Pitt   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Not long ago, I went to see an IMAX short at the National Media Museum. This is real proper IMAX, not the 'IMAX Lite' (as I call it) that you get at the multiplexes.
Like most other IMAX venues, they have moved to a digital projection system now. But the quality is vastly inferior to the 70mm film... you can see the individual pixels!

I dare say the movies wouldn't look too bad on the smaller multiplex screens but for a full-size IMAX screen, digital projection really doesn't cut it. They really need to be made in a much higher resolution so you can enjoy it without being distracted by the screen door effect.

What's worse is that the sound is MUCH too loud for myself (and my family members) to cope with. They can't even turn it down at audience request since the volume levels are pre-set by the IMAX technicians and can't be changed. I've had to start bringing earplugs to each IMAX showing I attend these days...

 |  IP: Logged

Mike Schulz
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 119
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: May 2007


 - posted 08-02-2017 06:09 PM      Profile for Mike Schulz   Email Mike Schulz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The first generation IMAX digital system is basically just dual-2K projectors layered on top of each other. You're correct in that on a real IMAX screen, you can actually see the pixels on the screen when you're that close to it and it is blown up that big. It's horrible and why I avoided IMAX digital at all costs for the longest time.

IMAX does have a new dual-laser projection system that is vastly superior to the 2K crap they had before. While it's not quite as good as Dolby Vision, it's still very good and provides an image very close to 70mm film. I know the laser rollout has been a lot slower than IMAX wanted but I'm sure most of that reason comes down to cost. You might inquire about this at your local IMAX venue and see if they are on the list to get the laser system. If they are, then you will definitely want to check it out once they get it installed. As long as they are using the 2K xenon projectors, it's not worth it at all.

As for the sound system, IMAX is famous for being too loud. They don't want you to just hear the movie, they want you to FEEL it. It is a requirement to play the movies at their preset levels and this was true back when I worked at an AMC MPX venue years ago. Our management team hated it because we got complaints constantly.

 |  IP: Logged

Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6629
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 08-02-2017 07:41 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'd be interested to know if the audio level is actually legal.

In response to a customer complaint claiming that we were breaking the law during a screening at my last workplace (usual story: a-hole movie director at a fest screening believing that he has the right to damage his audience's ears, and insisting on a stupidly loud level), I took a course at the Google law school.

The only relevant thing I found was the California Code of Regulations, Subchapter 7, group 15, article 105, which states that in a workplace, an employee should not be exposed to 90dBA for more than eight minutes in every eight hours.

But that just covers employees in a workplace. Presumably, if a theater does not require an employee to be present in an auditorium throughout the screening, this is completely irrelevant, and the audio level that a movie is played at is completely unregulated. But I'd be astonished if there aren't any other jurisdictions with IMAX screens that do have a maximum volume law for movie theaters.

 |  IP: Logged

Edward Summerhays
Film Handler

Posts: 15
From: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Registered: Sep 2016


 - posted 08-02-2017 08:09 PM      Profile for Edward Summerhays   Email Edward Summerhays   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
To clarify, are you referring to the new 4K laser set up, or the LieMAX 2K set up?

I live in Sydney, home to the largest cinema screen in the world, being IMAX (however it's currently closed and won't reopen til 2019 due to a full rebuild).

I have a love/hate relationship with IMAX. I have gone back and re-watched Nolan's films several times. There is nothing out there like it. I am simply blown away despite having been several times. However, that was once ever two years when he'd release a film. He is the only director to shoot on IMAX and edit photo-chemically. Even when other directors used IMAX cameras (never as good as Nolan anyway) they were scanned in digitally at perhaps 4K and then printed back into film. Not the same thing.

Every other time other than these rare film presentations, you're watching a 2K presentation that doesn't even fit the width of the screen. Their digital projectors were obviously low resolution and chose not to fill up the screen, as you'd see the pixel structure more than you already could.

Before I educated myself on IMAX's digital setup, I was really excited to see Spectre, as I knew it was a 4K DCP, and knew it would look amazing on the IMAX screen. However, was so disappointed. I remember thinking "this is not sharp at all". I later learnt it was their 2K system. The image only fills about 60-70% of the screen width.

I have been to only one 4K IMAX laser presentation (this was in Melbourne as Sydney never installed the 4K digital projector), however it was a 2K film in 3D. It was hard to compare to 15/70 as I wasn't watching good source material.

I remember the Dunkirk trailer before hand looked good, but it was only a minute long.

IMAX always prided themselves on surpassing what ordinary cinemas provided, however perhaps they should have aimed higher and gone 8K? 4K is already what most cinemas can push out, and 70MM can scan in higher than 8K.

I always find it a big sad when locals and tourists come to Sydney to watch the biggest screen in the world, but they're given a 2K presentation that doesn't fill the screen. I could just go to my local multiplex and I'd be seeing a true 4K presentation on a screen not much smaller.

 |  IP: Logged

Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10538
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 08-02-2017 10:13 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think IMAX is in a spot of trouble.

First of all, I agree extremely that the 2K digital projection system is woefully inadequate for giant sized IMAX screens originally built for 15-perf 70mm film projection. If you're not seeing the obvious pixel grid with such a setup then the projection system is merely dialed out of focus enough to turn the picture into a big blurry mess.

The dual 2K thing only works on modest-sized multiplex screens bearing the IMAX logo.

The dual 4K laser-based system would be better for all those previous 15/70mm IMAX houses. Unfortunately IMAX With Laser is costing IMAX over $2 million per screen to install. There's still only 13 IMAX With Laser installations in the US -it's been at that level for going on a year. Worse yet, there are complaints about all sorts of rainbow speckle in the imagery, something that doesn't seem to be affecting Dolby Cinema screens nearly as bad. Meanwhile AMC has over 50 Dolby Cinema screens, with plans to have more than 100 such screens by next year.

quote: Edward Summerhays
IMAX always prided themselves on surpassing what ordinary cinemas provided, however perhaps they should have aimed higher and gone 8K? 4K is already what most cinemas can push out, and 70MM can scan in higher than 8K.
Like I said, IMAX is in a tough spot.

IMAX does not have the capability, nor does any d-cinema equipment manufacturer, to build an 8K d-cinema projector. They might be able to put together the optics, light path and other hardware for the projection system, but they're dead in the water when it comes to the imaging chips. IMAX, like all the other d-cinema companies, are dependent on Texas Instruments to blow billions of dollars to develop new DLP chips that go past the 4K barrier. I don't think TI is ever going to do that.

In all actuality there is a real chance TI could pull the plug on DLP chip fabrication lines. There's really not much money in DLP anymore. Texas Instruments needs a hell of a lot more than just the professional cinema market to justify making DLP chips. Projection sales are in the toilet over in the consumer and industrial sector. Giant flat panel TVs have eaten a lot of the market for consumer and office video projectors. And no one is making rear projection screen TV sets anymore. So the market for DLP is shrinking worse and worse.

It costs a lot of money to keep a chip fabrication facility in operation. Every chip fabricator routinely kills off old product lines and re-uses that floor space to build different, newer, better lines of products. At some point TI is not going to feel like maintaining what amounts to a technology museum when they can use that production space to build different kinds of semiconductors that will sell in far greater numbers.

So, when it comes to showing off imagery that's better than 4K in a commercial movie theater, 70mm film projection is the only way to do it currently. The only possible digital-based, better than 4K solution that could come about in the years ahead is LED-based "jumbotron" movie screens. But the cost is so freaking ridiculous it won't be practical on any mainstream basis for a long time. And then there's the matter of developing a system that can pass sound through the screen.

Movie theaters are stuck doing no better than 4K in digital presentation, perhaps permanently. With that being said, Hollywood studios are still post producing and rendering most of their content in mere 2K, which even makes 4K overkill in both commercial settings and even at home where 4K UHDTV sets are now very common. And that gets back to the comment about 8K. Hollywood studios don't fart around blowing a ton of extra money to render something like 8K unless there is a specialized and high profile purpose behind it -like 70mm film-out of a big name project. And even some of the CGI material in Dunkirk was rendered in 6K. In most cases the bean counters are all too happy to "phone it in" and spit out the same old usual, TV-quality 2K stuff. It's "digital" and therefore "good enough."

 |  IP: Logged

Geoff Jones
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 512
From: Broomfield, CO, USA
Registered: Feb 2006


 - posted 08-02-2017 11:26 PM      Profile for Geoff Jones   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Bobby Henderson
The dual 2K thing only works on modest-sized multiplex screens bearing the IMAX logo.
Based on watching the Raiders of the Lost Ark reissue on a modest-sized multiplex LieMax screen (the only LieMax movie I have ever seen), this statement is not true.

It was as if I was watching the movie through a screen door. Visible pixels.

It might be correct to say:

"The dual 2K thing only works when viewed from the back few rows of modest-sized multiplex screens bearing the IMAX logo."

 |  IP: Logged

William Kucharski
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 164
From: Louisville, Colorado, United States of America
Registered: Oct 2012


 - posted 08-03-2017 03:19 AM      Profile for William Kucharski   Email William Kucharski   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'd say that's not far from the truth.

What kind of does work is IMAX 3D, at least at the UA Colorado Center in Denver, perhaps because when you have the 3D glasses on you don't notice the stacked projectors are slightly out of registration with each other (watch the 2D end credits and you'll wonder why your eyes have gone wonky/if your glasses are dirty.)

 |  IP: Logged

Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7867
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-03-2017 05:32 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Couldn't they just use multiple 2K or 4K projectors in a tiled configuration, rather than needing 8K or higher resolution DLP chips? The alignment could be computer-controlled and checked/adjusted daily, and the picture would be sufficiently better than 2K or 4K such that Imax could sell it as being something special.

Or they could just stick with 15/70, which still looks amazing.

 |  IP: Logged

William Kucharski
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 164
From: Louisville, Colorado, United States of America
Registered: Oct 2012


 - posted 08-03-2017 09:29 AM      Profile for William Kucharski   Email William Kucharski   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In theory, but given they can't seem to keep dual 2K projectors aligned, I'd hate to see what a nightmare four or more would be because there will always be keystoning.

My local Dolby Cinema has a very nasty problem with alignment also; the sides of the screen have clear errors in alignment but the center is spot on.

 |  IP: Logged

Jonathan Althaus
Master Film Handler

Posts: 435
From: Bedford, TX
Registered: Dec 2008


 - posted 08-03-2017 10:16 AM      Profile for Jonathan Althaus   Email Jonathan Althaus   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I saw Dunkirk in 15/70 (Cinemark Dallas) and laser IMAX (Bob Bullock Austin) on back to back days. I thought the laser presentation was actually more dim of an image than the 15/70 was. Not very impressed at all

 |  IP: Logged

Edward Summerhays
Film Handler

Posts: 15
From: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Registered: Sep 2016


 - posted 08-03-2017 08:54 PM      Profile for Edward Summerhays   Email Edward Summerhays   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: William Kucharski
My local Dolby Cinema has a very nasty problem with alignment also; the sides of the screen have clear errors in alignment but the center is spot on.
Same. About 20mins from my house is the largest multiplex screen in Australia. That's 28m wide. It has dual 4K Christie projectors. I have been twice, never to return, as the PROJECTORS AREN'T ALIGNED. When text is on screen, you can clearly see it doubling. The first time I went, I reported it and they said they'd fix it. I came again a few months later, and the same issue. The chain boasts this as their largest cinema, but can't even set it up properly.

 |  IP: Logged

William Kucharski
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 164
From: Louisville, Colorado, United States of America
Registered: Oct 2012


 - posted 08-03-2017 09:00 PM      Profile for William Kucharski   Email William Kucharski   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Edward Summerhays
The first time I went, I reported it and they said they'd fix it. I came again a few months later, and the same issue.
Same here with mine.

Especially with their losses, I doubt AMC for one will be having techs fly around anytime soon.

I've tried complaining directly to Dolby, who seemed concerned, but I popped my head in last time I was at that theater seeing something in another house and it doesn't look like anything improved.

 |  IP: Logged

Marcel Birgelen
Film God

Posts: 2232
From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
Registered: Feb 2012


 - posted 08-04-2017 07:31 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If I understand the deal correctly, at least the ORIGINAL deal is that AMC is NOT paying for the tech and neither the maintenance in the room, but Dolby is.

Dolby Cinema is supposed to be a revenue-sharing concept, where one party furnishes the room (AMC) and the infrastructure around it and the other the stuff to make the magic happen (Dolby).

The AMC deal doesn't seem to be a native Dolby Cinema roll-out, so maybe something is different here, though I still think the technical side of things is in the hands of Dolby.

 |  IP: Logged

Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 15885
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-04-2017 11:08 AM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It's possible that Dolbly structured the deal so they actually get paid. AMC is in deep doo-doo right now financially after being cut off from it's Chinese lifeline...

Mark

 |  IP: Logged

Marco Giustini
Film God

Posts: 2496
From: Reading, UK
Registered: Nov 2007


 - posted 08-05-2017 06:09 AM      Profile for Marco Giustini   Email Marco Giustini   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Mike Schulz
You're correct in that on a real IMAX screen, you can actually see the pixels on the screen when you're that close to it and it is blown up that big. It's horrible and why I avoided IMAX digital at all costs for the longest time.
I didn't know about that when I was asked an arm and a leg to watch "Skyfall" in a proper IMAX theatre. The show started and I could see pixels as big as watermelons. I thought it was a different projector used for commercial but my hopes disappeared when the MGM logo hit the screen. I promised myself I would never set foot in an Imax theatre again after that experience.

quote: Mike Schulz
As for the sound system, IMAX is famous for being too loud. They don't want you to just hear the movie, they want you to FEEL it. It is a requirement to play the movies at their preset levels and this was true back when I worked at an AMC MPX venue years ago. Our management team hated it because we got complaints constantly.
I like it loud. But the few IMAX shows I've attended where just that: loud. Sound was not crisp and dynamic. It felt like the system was struggling to cope with those levels and the low end was not deep - just very loud.

 |  IP: Logged



All times are Central (GMT -6:00)
This topic comprises 3 pages: 1  2  3 
 
Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic    next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:



Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classicTM 6.3.1.2

The Film-Tech Forums are designed for various members related to the cinema industry to express their opinions, viewpoints and testimonials on various products, services and events based upon speculation, personal knowledge and factual information through use, therefore all views represented here allow no liability upon the publishers of this web site and the owners of said views assume no liability for any ill will resulting from these postings. The posts made here are for educational as well as entertainment purposes and as such anyone viewing this portion of the website must accept these views as statements of the author of that opinion and agrees to release the authors from any and all liability.

© 1999-2018 Film-Tech Cinema Systems, LLC. All rights reserved.