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IMAX 101 Series: Inside the Mind of the IMAX® Camera

By IMAX à la août 21, 2012

The IMAX® camera is an integral part of IMAX’s history. The IMAX® camera is more than a piece of equipment used to capture images, it delivers lifelike images that no other camera has been able to match since its invention more than 35 years ago.

Take a behind the scenes look as Mike Hendriks of IMAXs Camera Department and Producer Lorne Orleans talk about IMAX film technology and the adventures of the IMAX® camera.

We’ve also compiled a list of interesting facts below about the IMAX camera and what makes it so spectacular. We’re not trying to brag, but we are pretty proud of it.

IMAX Camera used on the set of The Dark Knight Rises

- IMAX developed its first 2D 15perf / 65mm film camera in 1976. To this day, it remains the highest-resolution camera in the world.

- When captured with the IMAX® camera, the image projected in IMAX features approximately 10x more resolution than conventional 35mm film – providing unparalleled size and quality.

- In IMAX, sequences shot with the extremely high-resolution IMAX® cameras expand vertically to fill the entire screen – delivering up to 40% more of the image than standard theatres with unprecedented crispness, clarity and color saturation for a truly immersive experience.

IMAX 70mm vs. 35mm film

IMAX 70mm vs. standard 35 mm widescreen. Photo Courtesy of DC Comics/Warner Brothers Pictures

- To grasp the image clarity, consider a home HD television screen with 1,920 pixels of horizontal resolution. An IMAX frame from the original negative, meanwhile, has a resolution upward of 18,000 pixels.

- IMAX runs its film through the cameras and projectors sideways through a proprietary rolling-loop IMAX projector, with the sprocket holes — 15 perforations per frame — at the top and bottom instead of the sides.

- Only a select group of Hollywood directors have ever used IMAX® cameras in feature films, including Christopher Nolan in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, Michael Bay in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Brad Bird in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, to name a few.

M:I4 Burj Khalifa and Tom Cruise

- In Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the production crew had to remove 15 windows from the world’s tallest building, The Burj Khalifa, at 1.5 miles in the air to harness the IMAX® camera so it could capture Tom Cruise performing his death-defying and vertigo-inducing stunt.

- The first IMAX® 3D 15perf / 65mm film camera was developed in 1999. In 2011, IMAX’s Born to Be Wild 3D marked the first documentary to use IMAX® 3D digital cameras.

- In 1988, IMAX designed a special purpose camera for filming at speeds up to 120 frames per second (fps).  This camera has enabled filmmakers to film at speeds above the customary 24 fps, allowing for the slow-motion effect in large-format filmmaking. 

Polar bears in IMAX documentary To the Arctic

Scene from IMAX documentary To the Arctic Photo: Shaun MacGillivray

- IMAX® cameras have been modified to withstand the most frigid temperatures in Antarctica, the highest altitudes of Mount Everest and the deepest recesses of the ocean floor at the site of the Titanic (2.5 miles below sea level).

- Whether confronting tornados, meeting Earth’s most terrifying animals or being strapped to a Formula One car or an F16, IMAX® cameras have been capturing the experiences most people dream of (or fear) for more than 30 years.

- IMAX® cameras have accompanied NASA astronauts to space 24 times. During these trips, over 145 astronauts have been trained to use the camera.

Cosmic Voyage

A comet shortly before impact races towards primordial Earth in a scene from Cosmic Voyage, a large format film presented by the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum and the Motorola Foundation. Distributed by IMAX Corporation. ©MCMXCVI Smithsonian Institution & the Motorola Foundation. All Rights Reserved

Whether it be a space or nature documentary or a feature film, the IMAX camera has been used to capture some of the best moments that draw audiences into the movie for the most immersive experience available. More Hollywood directors are choosing to capture their movies using the IMAX camera. In 2013 you can expect to see the sequel to J.J. Abrams' Star Trek (May 17, 2013) and Francis Lawrence's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (November 22, 2013) in IMAX and these directors have chosen to capture select scenes using the IMAX camera. We are looking forward to watching this list grow and will update you with upcoming film announcements.


In the mean time, check out other IMAX 101 series posts below:

IMAX 101 Series: DMR (Digital Re-Mastering)—The Secret Sauce Behind The IMAX Experience®

IMAX 101 Series: Aspect Ratio: Your Point-of-View