IMAX is developing new cameras: is the full-screen format on the rise?

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What could be more effective than a very large image to immerse yourself in a film? This is the philosophy of IMAX, an acronym for Image Maximum. This high-quality XXL image format has never ceased to delight moviegoers since its creation. With the support of the most prominent filmmakers of the moment, IMAX has decided to promote and popularize this immersive image format. And thrill us even more in front of movie screens. For this, new IMAX cameras are being developed…

Christopher Nolan turned to the IMAX standard to shoot his film Dunkirk.

Shooting movies in IMAX isn’t easy, though. It requires a significant investment (cameras are few and far between and IMAX film is expensive). It also implies thinking about the audio aspect of the film (usually in DTS:X format) to achieve a truly immersive experience.

IMAX: the ultimate cinema experience

In order to further develop the reach of this premium image format in cinemas and to meet the demand of filmmakers, IMAX has embarked on the development of a new fleet of cameras. To do so, the film production company is working with several partners. Kodak for film, Panavision for the cameras themselves, and FotoKem (Californian studio) for post-production and mastering. IMAX plans to develop four new movie cameras in the next two years. The first one is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2023.

The IMAX MSM 9802 65mm camera still has a bright future ahead of it, but the newcomers will make it possible to shoot even more material in this format, much to the delight of moviegoers.

IMAX can count on filmmakers such as Jordan Peele and Christopher Nolan to help develop the prototype and identify new features. The two directors are familiar with this format which they use regularly. Their next films (Nope for Jordan Peele, and Oppenheimer for Christopher Nolan), scheduled to be released in the summer of 2022 and during 2023 respectively, are shot with the current generation of IMAX cameras on Kodak 65mm film.

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Christopher Nolan is a strong supporter of IMAX. He used the format to shoot many scenes in his films.

“IMAX film brings images to life,” Christopher Nolan said in a statement. “IMAX film brings images to life. From resolution and color to sharpness and overall quality, there is nothing compared to using IMAX film cameras today. Filmmakers and movie fans worldwide should be thrilled at the prospect of new and improved Imax film cameras – I know I am.”

Jordan Peele shot his film Nope (to be released in summer 2022) in IMAX with 65mm cameras. © Universal/courtesy Everett/Everett Collection

For his part, Jordan Peele says: “IMAX is movie magic pushed to its limit. When you see a film in an IMAX theater, it feels like you are there. It’s complete immersion, and there’s nothing quite like it. And we are only at the beginning, there’s still so much to be explored in this format.”

How to enjoy IMAX Enhanced immersive cinema

In addition the new IMAX cameras, IMAX wishes to optimize the entire filming process in this format within the framework of this ambitious development program. The company states:

“Kodak will offer enhanced technical support and manufacturing of the 65mm film stock; Panavision is providing a global network of enhanced service and maintenance for Imax camera productions around the globe along with new tools for the cameras and technical support; while FotoKem will work alongside the Imax camera and post-production departments to improve production workflows and coordinate lab and post services.”

Six IMAX cameras were built into Tom Cruise’s cockpit during the in-flight filming scenes of Top Gun: Maverick.

This announcement comes at a time when IMAX is getting more and more involved in the filmmaking process. In 2022, there will be at least 10 movies that involve IMAX cameras in their filming process, including Jurassic World: Dominion, Top Gun: Maverick, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets. Many directors like Denis Villeneuve and Chloé Zhao now shoot directly in IMAX rather than adapting their film to this format later during post-production. An ardent defender of the IMAX format, Denis Villeneuve has encouraged spectators on many occasions to see Dune in IMAX theaters. The perfect conditions to fully experience the adventures of young Paul Atreides on Arrakis.

The IMAX format therefore seems to have a bright future ahead of it. This should allow us to enjoy films with an even more intense feeling of immersion, whether in movie theaters, in our living rooms or in our home theaters.

IMAX Enhanced: the selection

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