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Can IMAX’s New Camera Make Big Movies Worth Big Money?
Jun 20, 2014

IMAX Camera

With its 3D Digital Camera, the company responsible for supersizing the film experience is revolutionizing the film industry yet again.

Transformers 4: Age of Extinction, opening next Friday all across the United States, clocks in at 150 minutes jam-packed with rippling muscles, swooping action shots, and earth-shattering explosions. Somewhere within there are 30 minutes shot with an IMAX camera—the first digital 3D IMAX® camera the company has yet developed. How will you know which ones they are? They’ll likely be the most vivid, most thrilling, most awesome 30 minutes of the movie.

IMAX® has been prototyping the camera about four years, and now, finally, it’s rolling it out at Hollywood scale. The camera itself--the company’s first digital offering--is a big step forward for IMAX®. But bigger still is what it will mean for consumers: more movies with better image quality, and a whole new reason to go to the movie theater.

A New Way to Shoot

IMAX® has been making cameras since the 1970s, but even into the 2000s, all of them used film. Film captures images with a more refined level of detail than digital has yet achieved, and so in terms of picture quality, it can’t be beat. Film cameras, however, aren't perfect: Heavier and clunkier than digital cameras, they can limit the shots a director or a cinematographer is able to achieve. And because an IMAX® negative is nearly nine times the size of a standard film frame, their cameras are particularly massive.

Passing film that size through the camera at the standard cinema rate of 24 frames per second creates one hell of a racket, which limits further how and when directors can use them. “They’re not great at close-up or dialogue scenes,” admits Hugh Murray, IMAX’s senior vice president of film production. With The Dark Knight (2008), Christopher Nolan became the first Hollywood director to shoot sequences for a feature film with IMAX® hardware. Others including J.J. Abrams (Star Trek Into Darkness), Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), and Brad Bird (Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol) followed suit. The noise from the cameras was such that actors were often forced to re-record their dialogue after the fact.

To read more about the IMAX® 3D camera revolutionizing the film industry visit Fast Company.