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.
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.