The Big Think

December 11, 2010


Filed under: Movies,Technology — jasony @ 8:35 am

The IMAX Projectionist. Neat behind-the-scenes story with some stuff I didn’t know about IMAX.

“It runs off of electricity…It also runs off of compressed air; I have a big industrial air compressor that supplies air at 120 pounds per square inch to the projector.”

“There’s also a circulating coolant that runs through the two xenon lamps that reach the temperature of the sun. So we don’t want things melting, especially the film. So there’s circulating water cooling the lamps and mirrors.

“Then there’s the proprietary software that IMAX has for the sound computer,” he explained. “It’s running Windows NT system with an ‘Oh, my heavens’ 400 megahertz processor. I don’t even think the Smithsonian would want it now. So you have to play computer programmer.

“I have a laptop running slides; it’s programmed in DOS. I’m probably the last person in Austin that daily programs in DOS. So it’s a big combination of odd skills. Plus you have to be willing to sit in the dark in a noisy room, can’t leave, for eight hours a day. That’s part of the contract with IMAX. Once that equipment is running, you stay in the projection room. The equipment is valued at about $5 million, so it behooves us to keep someone there to maintain an eye on everything,”

“It’s also heavy. In fact, it is so huge and heavy it comes not in one box, but many. An IMAX 3-D movie is twice as big, because it contains separate reels for the right and left eyes.

For example, Tron: Legacy, the 3-D sequel to the classic 1982 Tron , arrived at the Bullock this week in 76 boxes. Altogether, the 18 miles of film inside them weighed out at 1,100 pounds.”

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