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The Force Awakens in 70mm IMAX

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I thought I’d make a thread specifically for discussing the (awesome!) 70mm print IMAX screenings since previous discussion had been scattered around in various other threads.

Anyway, I’d like to start out by asking if anyone here has seen it at the Omnimax/IMAX Dome in Saint Louis, or any of the other dome theaters that have shown it? I’d like to know how bad the distortion in the image is when projected on the dome screen. Was it really bad? Did you even notice?

I might have a chance to see this in 15/70 a second time in Saint Louis but I’m trying to figure out if it’s worth the trouble it would be to get to the theater (I won’t have a car and I’ll be way across town from the museum/theater). Part of me of course says, “absolutely! You may never get to see another Star Wars film in 70mm again!” But the other part of me says “eh… I’ve seen non dome-formatted IMAX documentaries on a dome screen before and it kind of sucked…”

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Yeah, I saw it in Omnimax at the Franklin Institute in Philly.

It’s the only non-dome-formatted movie I’ve seen in a dome… honestly, it kinda sucked. Sure, the image is HUGE, but it’s very distorted. Even the Falcon escape from Jakku was super distorted.

Side note, can anyone explain what the benefit of the Falcon scene being shot in IMAX is? I’ve seen it twice in IMAX 3D and I notice nothing noteworthy about it (other than it’s exciting and totally kicks ass anyway!).

At the Omnimax showing, a little bit more of the dome was filled in during that scene… which honestly added nothing.

Anyone remember different camera angles from ROTJ?

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Funny story. I went to a screening at the Tech Museum in San Jose with my dad who had had spinal surgery a few weeks earlier. He couldn’t handle the ‘stimulation overload’ so we had to leave after about five minutes.

I loved what I saw (and heard) of the film. The image was slightly distorted, but this didn’t bother me.

Also, I noticed that the opening crawl seemed to jitter independently of the star field. Does anyone know if they did this on purpose? There’s no reason for that to happen if it was done digitally which I assume that it was. Right?

The best part was seeing the audience’s heads move left and right to read the crawl. The sound of the film projector before the film started was an awesome throwback as well. I really hope that they exhibit Episode VIII in this format next year.

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I saw the IMAX 3D showing, and there was absolutely no benefit there. I’m sure it would have been awesome on a dome, but the difference in aspect ratio is minute when seen in digital.

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I saw the Force Awakens in San Jose twice.

First time I was sitting near the bottom of the dome and had to literally lie down on the base of my seat to see the screen. The curvature made it a nightmare to read the crawl. (Luckily, it was not my first time watching the movie). The second time I arrived an hour early and got great seats. Really, it improved the experience tenfold.

Overall, the film experience as one I was glad to have. Nothing at all like the prints of yesteryear, this modern day 70mm print only resulted in the slightest of increased color and contrast. Honestly, I wouldn’t travel the world to go see a print, as it looks very similar to the digital. That said, the fine grain, I found, improved the image, helping guise the effects and making Snoke and Maz Kanata blend in more with everyone else. Aesthetically, it gave it a tad more visual grit lacking in the digital projection I saw at the Metreon, San Francisco. It was also fun to hear the projector whir, and film dirt pop up every now and then.

Interestingly enough, a year ago, I saw a gloriously run-down 35mm print of that other space fantasy- Guardians of the Galaxy, which looked RADICALLY different than the digital release; the analog look made it seem a lot like a 1980s movie. But, that is for another thread…

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13las said:

Also, I noticed that the opening crawl seemed to jitter independently of the star field. Does anyone know if they did this on purpose? There’s no reason for that to happen if it was done digitally which I assume that it was. Right?

Yeah, I thought I saw that too. We’ll have to check the home release.

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SpilkaBilka said:

Side note, can anyone explain what the benefit of the Falcon scene being shot in IMAX is? I’ve seen it twice in IMAX 3D and I notice nothing noteworthy about it (other than it’s exciting and totally kicks ass anyway!).

Watching on 70mm at the Science Museum London…twice:
A) The aspect ratio. The screen expanding to 1.44 just completely fills your vision and makes it more immersive.
B) On the huge screen the image was of a different quality compared to the 35mm footage. This is the same as when watching Interstellar (or Dark Knight/Rises), although to a lesser extent.

I saw it once in IMAX 3D as well, the difference was not as noticeable, the screen was a 1.9 aspect ratio so although it expanded it wasn’t as much. The 3D was giving me a headache and eyestrain, though, so I can’t comment too much on it.

No idea about Dome Viewing

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 (Edited)

Thanks for the replies! Yeah I saw it in 70mm on a proper flat IMAX screen in Indianapolis opening weekend, and it was WELL worth it and was incredibly immersive (especially the Falcon escape sequence).

I made a special trip just for that and am glad I did. But this time I’m just gonna be in Saint Louis for work and saw that they’re still showing the 70mm print when I’ll be there so I thought I might try to take advantage of it. But seeing it’s a dome theater gave me pause.

I just don’t understand why they show normally formatted movies and documentaries on the domes. It really hurts the experience IMO. And as one person above implied when he mentioned on the dome the falcon escape scene expanded some, but not a lot - you’re not seeing the full image. Since the screen is more or less a circle, it cuts off all the corners. I’ve never seen anything that discusses or calculates this, but I’d bet you’re easily losing 25% of the image. Maybe more.

And it’s all the more baffling when you find out that at least some of the dome theaters can rotate the dome up out of the way and reveal a full size normal flat IMAX screen behind it. The obvious intent being that the theater can show any IMAX film on the proper screen for which it is formatted. But the handful of theaters I’ve been to that have this capability never seem to use it and just project everything on the dome.

It’s a shame too b/c if you ever have the chance to see a film that was actually shot for the dome with the special lenses and everything they really are quite amazing. And unlike a normal film on the dome, you don’t have to lie flat in your seat and stare straight up because the special fisheye lense they use is calibrated to put the focus near the bottom of the image. So the focus is out in front of you, NOT In the middle of the image which is actually high above your head.

JEDIT: In that image, not only can you see how the optical axis is NOT in the center of the frame, you can see just how much of the frame is cut off on the dome screen…

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timdiggerm said:

13las said:

Also, I noticed that the opening crawl seemed to jitter independently of the star field. Does anyone know if they did this on purpose? There’s no reason for that to happen if it was done digitally which I assume that it was. Right?

Yeah, I thought I saw that too. We’ll have to check the home release.

I saw a bit of jitter on the end credits as well, where letters would slide in front of the stationary stars of the starfield. I think it was intentionally done in order to evoke the nature of optical effects.

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I too saw it in Indianapolis, and also noticed the text jitters, which I didn’t notice in the Standard 3D I had seen before (maybe because the words were “farther away” from the stars?).

I wouldn’t see it in a dome, but if you can get to a 15/70 showing, definitely check it out.

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 (Edited)

I saw it in San Jose this weekend. Twice! (Wish I could have done it more.) In spite of the caveats about showing it on a domed screen, I felt like I was in the movie. 3D may never cut the mustard for me again.

The joy of seeing honest to goodness film, and hearing a projector whirring somewhere in the darkness is something I will treasure for a long time.

The sound was absolutely superb. I heard things that were buried in the mix when I saw it last month. The sunken TIE fighter exploding made me jump even when I knew it was coming.

There was also a nice little documentary before the movie showing how the print is meticulously assembled from a multitude of three minute(!) reels.

And since somebody beat me to starting a thread, I guess I’ll post the pics I took at the theater (not of the screen) when I get the chance.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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SilverWook said:
The sound was absolutely superb. I heard things that were buried in the mix when I saw it last month. The sunken TIE fighter exploding made me jump even when I knew it was coming.

Forgot to say. The sound was indeed a big improvement over the IMAX 3D projection in San Francisco’s Metreon. The dialogue was horribly drowned out there but crystal clear in San Jose. Got a lot more subtle jokes when I saw the 70mm.

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We really dropped the ball on having an OT meetup for this. 😉

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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 (Edited)

Hey, cool. I saw it in St. Louis (I live pretty close to it), but just at a normal theater.

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I apologize in advance for the crappy cell phone pics. I didn’t think they would appreciate me sneaking in my good camera.

‘I’ve got a golden ticket!’

The projection booth area was behind a wall of glass and difficult to shoot. The entire projector booth is actually below the auditorium. The business end of the projector comes out of what looks like a Death Star laser turret in the middle of the seating area. It’s the steepest stadium seating I’ve ever encountered. How nobody ever falls to their doom is anyone’s guess.

I got a little choked up when I saw this. Film! Miles of film! The glass is the only thing keeping my grubby paws from touching it. 😉

This guy has the coolest job in the world. These pics can’t convey how freaking huge the entire film platter really is. I don’t think even Poita has room in his house to scan one of these. 😉

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Where were you in '77?

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The prints didn’t hit my neck of the woods and the Henry Ford closed down to install the laser system. Woe is me 😄.

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