IMAX Behind the Scenes Tour

15 Mar

My dad’s company cleans the windows on the Maryland Science Center, including the window on the projection room of the IMAX theater. Since he knows some people in charge at the Science Center, they were able to give us a behind the scenes tour of the theater when Ed and I went to see Deep Sea 3D there, before the movie started. Here are some cool pictures of the projection room.

The projector (says IMAX on it) and the screen (purple) in the distance. The projector is both liquid and air cooled. The big pipe you see is the exhaust pipe from the air. There is another room adjacent to the projection room that has loud equipment in it. There were two power inverters to change the current from A/C to D/C which is required for showing films or else the alternating nature of A/C would interfere with the framerate of the film. The other room also had an air compressor and cooler that was used to blow air onto the film to keep it at the right distance from the lens and cool the air to keep the projector’s two Xenon bulbs cool.

This is the 3D setup, with both angles of Deep Sea 3D on the top and middle spools. This is a newer setup that doesn’t require the film to be rewound after it’s shown because it is fed out of the middle. This reduces wear on the film and increases its lifetime.

This is the other setup. It cannot do 3D films and requires the films to be rewound afterwards. I was told that it is about 20 years old and part of the original equipment from when the theater was opened.

The projectionist loading the Deep Sea 3D for the next showing that we watched.

This is another shot of the 3D spools. This is a newer piece but it still cannot be used for Hollywood length 3D films because the size of the spools can only hold about 60 minutes worth of 3D film. In order to show longer films, they would need to get wider platters to support more film and get a different stand that could hold much more weight. Software and computer hardware upgrades of the playing equipment would also be required.
The bottom is a full spool of film which (I think, though I’m not sure) is only about an hour and 15 minutes of film.

The black rack on the right of the picture controlled the sound. Most of the sound now comes on DVDs although they still have the ability to play analog audio for older films.

I think that these numbers on the film are used to sync up the sound with the video.

Inside the theater, looking up at the projection room.

Behind the screen. There were multiple sets of huge speakers producing thousands of watts of power behind the screen but it was too dark to get a picture without the flash.

Finally situated in our seats, ready to enjoy Deep Sea 3D. I had already seen the film once but it is so amazing so I didn’t mind seeing it a second time!

2 Responses to “IMAX Behind the Scenes Tour”

  1. David Rodriguez 17. Feb, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    amazing! always wanted to take a look inside an Imax projection room! cool

  2. Eddie Strong 24. Apr, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    I was a projectionist from mid 50s to mid 60s,working on the early Fox cinemascope films and remember visiting the London Casino theatre to see the,then,new Cinerama projection set – three 35mm linked machines and another 35mm machine high up in the top of the building which showed a single picture to open the show. How I remember the big impact cinemascope made when it came out. Happy days. Changeovers every 15-20 minutes, spotlight on the icecream salesgirls in the intervals etc. In those days we put a real show on – changing the colourd footlights during the intervals, app. records to the programme etc. I shall stop reminicing now, but thanks so very much for all this interesting info on the latest equipment. It is really quite mind blowing.