IMAGINE yourself at the summit of Mt. Everest, riding beside an international motorsports superstar, or coming face to face with sharks. With the state-of-the-art Image Maximum (IMAX) technology now available in the Philippines, all of these adventures are only a movie ticket away.

IMAX is the latest in motion-picture technology, using the most sophisticated movie screen, projector, camera, film, and speakers in theaters today that give you the feel of the real from the reel.

According to Shoemart’s IMAX manager Janet Deriada, the 568-seat theater at the SM Mall of Asia, visited by over 30,000 people on its opening day alone, is the first of its kind in the Philippines.

Founded by Canadian film entrepreneurs Grahame Ferguson, Roman Kroitor and Robert Kerr in 1967, IMAX technology first premiered in the ‘70 Expo in Osaka, Japan. In 1971, the first permanent IMAX projection system was established in Ontario Place’s Cinesphere in Toronto, Canada, while the first IMAX theater in Southeast Asia was opened in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1984.

Today, with over 250 theaters worldwide, the “IMAX experience” continues to delight the senses, as it integrates viewing pleasure with interaction, through the three-dimensional (3D) image technology.

According to Dr. Augusto Morales of the UST Graduate School, 3D image technology is the perception of depth, be it in relation to sound or image.

“Humans register images using two eyes, so IMAX projects two images on the screen at the same time. Then, the polarized glasses help bring the two images together,” Morales told the Varsitarian.

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The polarized glasses, made from any material that filters light, limit the colors entering the eyes, making it possible for viewers to watch IMAX movies in 3D.

Bigger is better

All the magic of IMAX is based on individual elements of gigantic proportions. Morales said the IMAX screen, the projector, the IMAX film, the frame rate, and the sounds, give the moviegoer an almost true-to-life experience.

At 20 x 29 meters, the IMAX screen is the biggest in the Philippines, almost twice as high as the UST Medicine building. Also, the screen is wide enough to cover the entire field of a person’s view, even his peripheral vision.

The IMAX projector, meanwhile, is the most complex, most powerful, and most precise theater projector to date. It functions by moving the film horizontally in a smooth, wave-like motion to allow a steadier and higher-quality picture and focus.

While regular theaters make use of only four-perforation, 35-mm (4/35) film (perforators are the holes at the film’s side that allow movement through the projector), IMAX makes use of the larger 15-perforation, 70-mm (15/70) film—the largest film strip ever made.

IMAX films are shot using special IMAX cameras weighing between 42 and 100 pounds and are suited for any environment. The cameras are specifically designed to shoot 15/70 film.

Moreover, the digital IMAX speaker system makes use of 44 speakers grouped into six clusters placed behind the screen and at the back of the theater. Further, the IMAX theater’s sound is controlled by amplifiers that generate over 12,000 watts, enough for each person inside the theater to hear every sound with superb quality.

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Sound is recorded separately from the film itself, and is only played with the film simultaneously. “Our ability to perceive reality, be it sound or light, depends on the information that can be stored on media like DVD’s, CD’s, or in this case, IMAX film. The more information you can store, the more realistic the experience becomes,” Morales said.

The magic continues

IMAX Philippines shows educational documentaries on a wide array of topics like motorsports and Mt. Everest, but it doesn’t end there. Morales said IMAX also has the technology to convert famous Hollywood blockbusters into 3D movies. With the power of IMAX digital remastering, it is possible to transform regular 35-mm film into digital IMAX-compatible form. The first Hollywood IMAX movie scheduled for show in SM is Warner Brothers’ Superman Returns.

IMAX surely changed the face of regular movie viewing. But as movie technology research continues and with endless possibilities at hand, the movie audience will just have to wait for the next evolution in motion picture technology. For now, enjoy larger-than-life movies at SM Mall of Asia’s IMAX cinema, and get the experience fake VCD’s and DVD’s cannot give.

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