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IMAX Movies: “MAX”imum Everything

Prior to the 21st century, IMAX cinemas were essentially relegated to being their own stand-alone auditoriums or part of a museum. Some of these theaters have a dome-shaped screen, while others are, for lack of a better word, square. But IMAX has long been a standard-bearer for all the technical wizardry capable with cinema, so what are the standout features of IMAX Movies?

The standard screen size in IMAX purpose-built theaters are on average 72 x 53 feet, which is multiple stories high. IMAX screen sizes are therefore well known and recognized for being much taller than they are wide, with a unique IMAX aspect ratio of 1.43:1. Since the company had to create new technology to realize its vision, innovation was the natural next step. 

IMAX is perhaps more popular today than it has ever been. In this guide, we will explore all there is to know about IMAX movies. We will take a look at the audio and visual specs that make the technology standout, and compare IMAX to other popular audio and visual movie upgrades. 

A Beautiful Planet - 4K Ultra HD - IMAX Enhanced [Blu-ray]

What Is an IMAX Movie?

IMAX is a company that has its own line of high-resolution cameras, film formats, projectors, and theaters. Its name often refers to the film format and the experience of watching the film. The differences between a regular movie theater auditorium basically boils down to the size of the screen and the auditorium itself. 

Additionally, IMAX tends to use speakers behind the screen and adjust their stadium seating to always be facing the taller screen face-first, no matter where a patron is seated. Finally, IMAX provides the highest quality imagery available, especially in the case of their physical 70mm film prints.

IMAX is a great way to experience movies. They have better sound, pictures, and more space than any other format available.

It’s also a really good way for theaters to make money because they charge more for it.

IMAX screens are typically at the top of buildings so that you can see them from afar when you’re driving by or walking down the street. If you’re ever in an area with one nearby and want to check out what it is like, just go inside!

What makes an IMAX movie stand out?

This question has been asked millions of times, but the answer can be tricky. The first thing you need to know about an Imax movie is that it’s not a regular theater experience.

There are many characteristics that make these movies so unique and different from any other standard film or theater show.

So let’s start with the basics: What does IMAX stand for?

It stands for “Image Maximum.” Basically, this means that everything on the screen will look larger than life.

Now you’re probably wondering how this could be possible when they have screens in theaters like any other type of screening room. IMAX 70mm film stock is known as 15/70 because, unlike traditional 70mm film, with five perforations (those holes you always see on physical celluloid), IMAX film stock has a whopping 15 perforations at the top and bottom of the strip.

The sound is a combination of an on-screen audio track with speakers in the theater that provide live orchestration or other pre-recorded sounds as well as surround sound effects.

The typical frame size for a standard Imax screen ranges from 15 to 18 meters wide (approximately 50 to 60 feet) by 6 meters high (approximately 20 feet).

The aspect ratio of an Imax film is typically 1.43:1 but can range anywhere from 1.33:1 to 2.39:1 if it was originally filmed.

IMAX: Deep Sea

Standard vs. Dolby vs. IMAX

Dolby Cinema provides a better movie experience in terms of image quality. The screen projection is beautiful, and there’s no way to compare Dolby Vision’s projection technology with standard or digital projection.

With up to four times higher resolution and 500 times higher contrast ratio, you’re getting the best image quality possible in a movie.

IMAX isn’t that far behind with its proprietary dual laser projection technology, but most of its theaters only use 2k resolution. You’d have to be lucky enough to have a new IMAX theater near you to experience watching a movie with dual 4k laser projectors. But even that only has three times more resolution than standard movie formats.

Image Format Comparison

IMAX is getting my recommendation for image format because Dolby Cinema is just average in this arena. The movies that we typically see in theaters; standard, digital, AMC Prime, ETX, and even Dolby Cinema, all use the same image format—2.40:1 aspect ratio.

This format is the same in almost every movie that we see, and is, in fact, the same aspect ratio that we get in newer phones.

On the other hand, IMAX uses its technology to display movies with a taller aspect ratio at 1.90:1. That’s 26% more screen real estate than what we would get from other movie formats. It’s also part of the reason why you should watch a movie, shot with IMAX cameras, in IMAX theaters.

You’re going to get more details and a better immersive experience from a taller IMAX screen than you would in a Dolby Cinema screen.

Audio Comparison

Being a company that specializes in audio, Dolby is an obvious winner with their Dolby Atmos technology. The sound quality is beyond any experience that you would get from a theater that doesn’t use this sound system. Right now, there are more than 5,000 Atmos-enabled theaters around the world.

Atmos is already impressive as it is, but Dolby Cinema at AMC even upgraded it by installing transducers within the seats. Not only will you be able to track a small moving object across the room with sound, but you’ll also feel low-frequency sounds in your seat.

IMAX’s sound system is great, and they’ve made it a lot better than most standard and digital movie formats. Its theaters have more speakers that are much bigger than what you would typically see and produce more precise and smoother sounds. However, Dolby Atmos is on a different level when it comes to enveloping moviegoers with immersive sound quality.

IMAX: National Geographic Extreme [Blu-ray]

What Is Best Row Of Seats In IMAX Theater?

The middle seats at IMAX are usually the best. The front seats are bad. You should avoid sitting in the 1st or 2nd row. The reason is that it reduces the 3D effect.

The movie objects appear closer to you. But, the 3D effect is not deep enough. So, it might feel a little artificial. In addition, the movie is unwatchable from the front rows.

Best Seating For IMAX

We referred to Dolby Cinema chairs as the “first-class” of theaters because they are. If you’re going to any Dolby Cinema, you’ll get the same high-end chairs that are wider and more comfortable than any theaters have. You can also recline it according to your liking, which isn’t a feature available for IMAX.

IMAX seats are comfortable, but you’ll have to adjust yourself several times throughout a movie. Another factor that can affect your comfort when watching a movie is the number of people inside the room. They are also less spacious, trying to fit in as many people as possible and just provide moviegoers with a “good enough” level of comfort.


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