x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

This screen is big. Really, really big

Imax films are considered to give the ultimate viewing experience, using effects that are virtually 3-D.

A scene from Batman, which is breaking box-office records.
A scene from Batman, which is breaking box-office records.

Imax films are considered to give the ultimate viewing experience, plunging filmgoers right into the centre of the action using effects that are virtually 3-D. The first Imax film, In the Labyrinth, was produced for Expo 1967 in Montreal, with the first permanent Imax screen established in Ontario Place in Toronto four years later. An even larger screen was set up for Expo 1974 in Spokane, Washington, measuring 27 metres by 20 metres, and showing the exact field of vision of a man walking.

The experience was realistic enough to give some viewers motion sickness. Imax films are considerably more detailed than regular films, because of their higher resolution. They are shown on screens that are usually 16 metres high by 22 metres wide compared to the usual six metres high by 12 metres wide. Film inside an Imax camera is almost 10 times bigger than that of a normal movie camera, meaning that directors can shoot for only three minutes at a time. Imax cameras are also considerably larger than normal film cameras, making filming even more difficult.

Traditionally much more expensive to produce than normal films, Imax films tend to be shorter, usually lasting about40 minutes. However, more Hollywood blockbusters are being produced in a format suitable for Imax. Apollo 13, the tale of American astronauts stranded in space, was displayed in Imax in 1995. Since then, all five Harry Potter films, the two Matrix sequels, Martin Scorcese's Rolling Stones documentary Shine a Light and Superman Returns have all been released in the Imax format, considerably boosting box-office takings.

By the end of next year, Dubai will have two Imax cinemas. Aldar, the Abu Dhabi developer, would not comment on reports that the capital will also get an Imax cinema at the Yas Island development, where the new Formula One track is being built. @email:rhughes@thenational.ae