Friday, February 26, 2016

Air and Space Museum Unveils New IMAX Laser Projector

There's a big difference between a cinephile and a film aficionado. The latter uses (and understands) terms like cross-cutting, stop-motion and unmotivated lighting. They can also explain the difference between 1.85:1 and 2.39:1 aspect ratios... without batting an eye. Not me. I pretty much draw the line at "that movie was really awesome." That said, it didn't take long to be wowed at Thursday's IMAX with Laser preview event at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum's Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater.
After some nice opening words from Smithsonian Director of Theaters Zarth Bertsch, IMAX Chief Quality Officer David Keighley took center stage and guided us through an impressive video (and audio) showcase, that began with a six-minute clip from 2011's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (sandstorm, scaling Burj Khalifa, etc.) Immediately afterwards, Keighley declared, "We're the Lamborghini of the motion picture industry." He ain't kidding.

The preview continued with a mixture of old and new IMAX favorites... Rocky Mountain Express, Living in the Age of Airplanes (deep blacks and all) five minutes of To Fly! (still boring) and the incredible conclusion to Stones at the Max, featuring "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." In a word, breathtaking. In between, we got to see "enhanced" trailers of The Martian and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, before wrapping up with a sneak peak of Toni Myer's A Beautiful Planet (coming in April.)

Also improved... the sound system. That demo was my favorite part of the program, highlighted by an incredible auto race and Space Shuttle launch. Suddenly my new 4K television doesn't look/sound so great anymore (in comparison.) With over 1,000 IMAX screens worldwide (across 66 countries) it seems almost criminal to watch a movie anywhere else.

Check out the IMAX press release below for tech details, etc.; or better yet, stop by and experience it for yourself. I already have my ticket in hand for today's 5:45 screening of The Force Awakens (cue envy.)

From our friends at Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum...

Smithsonian Launches IMAX’s New Laser Technology at Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater

Smithsonian Theaters is launching IMAX’s new laser projection system in the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, February 25. The new system represents a quantum leap forward in cinema technology - providing audiences with the sharpest, brightest, clearest and most vivid digital images ever, combined with a new level of immersive audio.

The Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater is among the first theaters in the world to feature this cutting-edge technology. The museum’s 74-by-49-foot screen is one of the largest screens in the Mid-Atlantic. The theater’s upgrade will include a brand-new screen, new state-of-the-art 3-D glasses that optimize the laser-system experience and a new sound and projection system. The theater will reopen with an impressive set of curated films with themes that tie into the museum such as Journey to Space, D-Day: Normandy 1944 and Living in the Age of Airplanes. Coming soon is Toni Myer’s highly anticipated A Beautiful Planet April 29.

The new laser digital system allows the theater to play a wider range of movies at the museum. To kick off the exciting new changes, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is returning February 26-28 for a three-day-only Washington exclusive, featuring the new state-of-the-art laser 3-D projection and 12-channel sound system. During the theater’s “Sci-Fi Sundays” in March, guests can watch The Martian in IMAX 3D March 6, 13, 20 and 27 at 3:30 PM.

The new IMAX laser system is a re-imagination of the movie-theater experience. The dual 4K laser projection system is equipped with a new optical engine and suite of proprietary technologies capable of projecting an image with up to a 1.43:1 aspect ratio with maximum resolution and sharpness, unparalleled 2-D and 3-D brightness, industry-leading contrast and an expanded color range that will allow filmmakers to present more vivid and exotic colors than ever before.

The next-generation sound system delivers greater power and precision for ultimate audio immersion. The new system has been upgraded to 12 discrete channels plus sub-bass, and it includes additional side channels and new overhead channels that will improve the system’s ability to position sounds around the audience.

In addition to built-in image calibration and audio-tuning features, the system is linked to a 24/7/365 Network Operations Center that is constantly monitoring thousands of points of information to ensure optimum performance, show after show. The combination of these new advances together with images and soundtracks remastered specifically for the new laser system will further elevate the audience’s ability to suspend disbelief through the world’s most advanced cinema technology.

Tickets are available at the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater box office or online at Groups of 10 or more may reserve tickets now for any date during the film’s expected run by calling (866) 868-7774 or visiting The Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater is located on the second floor of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, which is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue, SW on the National Mall.