Aspect Ratio: Your Point-of-View
Experiencing your favorite movie in IMAX consists of plenty of speechless moments but isn’t quiet at all. It’s filled with breathtaking gasps and frightening shrieks as you assume the part of the hero or even the villain; taking death-defying leaps that make you clinch the hand of your neighbor and close your eyes before you hit the ground. Yes, IMAX is that real and there are several elements that go into creating those moments that you’ll never forget.
But what is it that makes you nearly lose your lunch from looking down from the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, with Tom Cruise in M:I4 or swinging from New York’s skyscapers with Spider-Man? Well it’s actually several things that go into creating that experience, one of which is the aspect ratio of the scene, which helps bring you into the action of the film.
So what exactly is aspect ratio? It is the proportional relationship between an image’s width and its height. Most films today are presented in an aspect ratio called CinemaScope (2:40:1). When a film is presented in CinemaScope it is cropped and uses only part of the image the movie camera captures. This is the reason most ordinary screens are very wide, but not particularly high—like looking at the world through a narrow slit.
Many filmmakers are compelled to show viewers more of the image that is captured during the filmmaking process to create a more immersive experience. In those situations, they are turning to IMAX. IMAX has truly broken the mold by providing filmmakers with the ability to expand their film’s aspect ratio for an IMAX presentation. By shooting with the extremely high-resolution IMAX® camera (capable of an aspect ratio of 1.43:1) moviegoers can see up to approximately 40 percent more of the original image in IMAX than in standard theatres. Filmmakers also have the ability to increase the aspect ratio (up to IMAX® 1.9:1) during production or by protecting more of the image during their post-production process which shows up to approximately 21 percent more of the original image in IMAX than in standard theatres.
When images with increased aspect ratio are projected onto an IMAX® screen, which isn’t simply larger; but also curved, taller for its width and positioned closer to the audience than ordinary screens, the result provides you with a full panoramic view that fills your peripheral vision more than any other cinematic experience. That’s why when you watch an IMAX movie, you feel surrounded and completely drawn into the intensity of each moment of the film.
Recent IMAX films that featured unique IMAX DNA such as the increased aspect ratio include Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, where the entire film expands to nearly the full IMAX screen. Check out Director Ridley Scott and Executive Producer and Writer Damon Lindeloff talk about the IMAX Experience® in the Prometheus below:
Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man will also show up to 21 percent more of the original image captured in select scenes, including the film’s climax. See Marc Webb speak about TASM’s increased aspect ratio here: Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises will feature more than an hour of footage filmed with IMAX® camera. By filming with IMAX cameras, the highest-resolution camera in the world, this footage will be displayed at the 1.43:1 aspect ratio and expand to fill the entire IMAX screen; showing moviegoers up to 40 percent more of the original image than in your standard cinema.
IMAX’s aspect ratio is just one component to creating The IMAX Experience®. Stay tuned for upcoming posts regarding IMAX DMR® (Digital Re-Mastering), the IMAX® camera and audio system and much more.