"IMAX is believing"

IMAX Facts

IMAX, which stands for maximum image, is a motion picture system invented and developed by the Toronto-based IMAX Corporation. Here are a few facts about this exciting film format:

Filming the famous Galapagos tortoise 'Lonesome George' shortly before his death
© 2013 Alexander Hemingway for Colossus Productions/nWave Pictures

Behind the scenes during the filming of Galapagos 3D: Nature's Wonderland.

  • IMAX movie screens are designed to make viewers a part of the action with movie screens that extend beyond the peripheral vision for a full view of images. The razor-sharp images and six-channel surround sound systems also help immerse the viewer in the films.
  • The theater's six-channel digital sound system is designed in a surround sound pattern so that every moviegoer can hear even the smallest sound effect. A network of 44 speakers bathes every seat in 12,000 watts of sound.
  • IMAX uses the largest film frame in the motion picture industry - 10 times larger than Hollywood's standard 35-mm film format and 3 times bigger than the standard 70-mm frame. The larger film frame creates images of unsurpassed clarity and impact.
  • The size of the IMAX film is so large that one 40-minute film is approximately 3 miles long.
  • The specially designed IMAX camera photographs the largest frame ever used in motion pictures on horizontally moving 65-mm film. Because of the increased information carrying capacity of the huge frame, the camera records images with much greater detail than does any other motion picture camera.
  • The screen is painted by a robot to ensure an even coating of highly reflective paint. There are also thousands of tiny holes spaced evenly around the screen to permit the sound to travel directly toward the audience.

On 3D Technology

Hubble 3D movie still

A scene from Hubble 3D.

  • Key to the IMAX projection system's performance, reliability, extraordinary sharpness and clarity is the sheer size of the screen, combined with the unique "rolling loop" film movement, which advances the film horizontally in a smooth, wave-like motion. During projection, each film frame is positioned on fixed registration pins, while the film is held firmly against the back of the lens by a vacuum. As a result, the picture and focus steadiness exceed normal standards.
  • The 3D projector—the size of a small car—alternately projects the left- and right-eye images onto the giant screen.
  • 3D technology is based on human vision: it mimics the way we see the real world. When you look at an object, each of your eyes sees a slightly different view of that object. Through a process called stereopsis, the brain "fuses" the two images into a single 3D image.

On the California Science Center IMAX Theater

  • First nonprofit educational theater with 3D capability built on the West Coast.
  • Boasts a 7-story high by 90-feet wide screen
  • Seats 477 people. Steeply-pitched stadium seating allows everyone to have full view of the screen.
  • For 3D performances, we offer audiences child and adult size polarized, lightweight glasses with large lenses, providing extra wide viewing of the screen. The glasses, combined with the giant screen, bring images closer to the audience than any other 3D format developed to date.
  • We offer you the choice of two hearing assistance system for the hearing impaired. An in-ear assisted listening device where visitors have the movie's narration amplified via a wireless earpiece connected to a portable transmitter. The second option is a closed caption system where guests read captions projected directly in front of them via a portable reader board.