Learn Yourself About IMAX and 3D

As you walk up to the box-office of your local movie theater these days not only are you challenged with what movie to see, but now, also, what version.

  • IMAX
  • IMAX Digital
  • 3D
  • IMAX3D
  • IMAX3D Digital

Plus there are other theater brand specific digital screen presentations (ex: Cinemark XD) that are too numerous to list here.  What I want you to know is that much of this is a marketing gimmick and in many cases will not only cost you more money, but the end result product you’re about to see and hear isn’t as good, or the improvement you just paid the extra few dollars for.

First, IMAX.  IMAX is a standard started in the ’70s that in its original and purest form is a completely different medium from what you normally see 99.9% of all other movies.  It is a 70mm film, actual film and uses very heavy and special cameras to shoot.  It also requires very special and expensive projectors to show these movies and that’s why you normally only see real IMAX theaters at science museums and a very few number of commercial theaters.  Pretty much everyone has watched a space or underwater documentary on either the domed screen or giant flat wall versions of IMAX at some point in their life.  Today though many commercial screens now office “IMAX Digital” which really isn’t IMAX at all.  It’s just a watered down set of specifications and a marketing ploy.

IMAX Digital can be a superior experience to your normal screen.  It will generally be a little bigger in screen size and the sound system will be cranked up.  It will be using the newest digital projectors which can have some advantages over traditional film projectors (and some disadvantages). But additionally, pretty much none of the movies you see this summer will be shot in IMAX.  In fact, only a handful of movies (Dark Knight Rises, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) even shoot a just few scenes in the format, meaning using the IMAX cameras and resulting in a 70mm film stock, and even these won’t be presented properly on today’s IMAX digital screens.  If you look at the image to the right you’ll see the dramatic differences between a true IMAX screen and what is being marketed today at your local theater as IMAX Digital.  Slash Film has done a much better job of explaining this in far more detail and you should read it.

Now about 3D.

I hate 3D.  Avatar was about the only time I’ve watched a movie in 3D and almost fully enjoyed it.  I hate the glasses that don’t cover your entire field of vision, I dislike the ever so slightly out of focus and washed out colors image.  But if you insist on seeing a movie in 3D you should know that not all are equal.  Many movies today are not filmed in 3D, but are converted to 3D in post production.  The result is a far less successful effect.  Below is a list of 2012 movies (provided from this website) that native to the format and you should keep in mind when buying tickets.  So, do NOT see Avengers in 3D, but if you must, seeing Prometheus or Spider Man should be a better use of your money.

The point to all of this is to make you sure you know what you’re spending your money on

Shot in 3D

  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
  • The Amazing Spider-Man
  • Brave
  • Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
  • The Hobbit
  • Prometheus

Fake 3D (converted)

  • The Avengers
  • Frankenweenie
  • Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengence
  • Gravity
  • John Carter
  • Men in Black III
  • Star Wars Re-release
  • Titanic
  • Wrath of the Titans


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