When most people think of Imax, they think of swooping, grandiose shots and dramatic camera angles capturing natural splendor. They remember those huge wall-to-wall screens and imagine the expensive equipment, cameras and film required to produce the films.
But would Imax still be Imax without that large-format 70mm film? The company thinks so, and so does Texas Instruments, which struck a deal Tuesday with Imax to use TI's DLP Cinema chips as the movie company converts to a digital projection system.
Imax's decision to go digital was announced last
year, but the company initially talked about using a digital projection
system designed by Sony. Instead, Imax chose TI's DLP system powered by
"millions of tiny mirrors" — you've probably seen a commercial touting
the technology. "We've evaluated competing cinema projection technology
and found DLP Cinema to be the ideal match for the launch of the IMAX
Digital projection system," said Imax's co-CEOs Richard L. Gelfond and
Bradley J. Wechsler in a statement.
Imax's move to digital was motivated more by cost savings than by
artistic or stylistic preferences (according to TI DLP cinema products
group business manager Nancy Fares, digital Imax movies will simply
"look a lot better"). Print costs for a 2-D Imax movie are about
$22,000, and $45,000 for a 3-D film, according to The Hollywood
Reporter. We don't know how much it will cost Imax to install each
digital projection system in its many theaters, but we do know there's
no real cost to duplicating a digital file. —Rachel Rosmarin
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