Laser audience

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn about IMAX with Laser

IMAX with LASER

About IMAX® with Laser

Designed from the ground up for IMAX’s largest screens, the dual 4K laser projection system is equipped with a new optical engine and suite of proprietary IMAX technologies capable of projecting an image with up to a 1.43:1 aspect ratio with maximum resolution and sharpness, unparalleled 2D and 3D brightness, industry-leading contrast and an expanded color gamut that will allow filmmakers to present more vivid and exotic colors than ever before.

IMAX’s next-generation sound system delivers even greater power and precision for ultimate audio immersion. The new system has been upgraded to 12 discrete channels plus sub-bass, and includes additional side channels as well as new overhead channels that will improve the system’s ability to position sounds around the audience and further ensure every seat is the best in the house.

In addition to built-in image calibration and audio tuning features, the system is linked to IMAX’s 24/7/365 Network Operations Center that is constantly monitoring thousands of points of information to ensure optimum performance, show after show.

What this means for moviegoers

  • Brightness: A laser light source provides substantially more brightness than a xenon bulb, and will allow IMAX to fill its largest screens with even sharper and more lifelike images. This is significant for 3D because 3D glasses dim the image. With IMAX’s laser, audiences are going to be able to experience full brightness in 2D and 3D.

  • Contrast: Contrast is the difference between the whitest white and the blackest black. Filmmakers love it, but it’s been a problem with existing digital projection systems. IMAX has always delivered the greatest contrast but now with laser IMAX is going to reach contrast levels substantially higher than ever before. Getting more contrast means more detail in the image, and a heightened level of realism that makes you forget you are watching a movie.
  • Color: IMAX with laser will allow filmmakers to explore and expand their use of colors. This means a wider gamut of colors, and a more vivid, more lifelike image. Audiences will get to experience colors that exist in the real world but could never before be shown onscreen.
  • Sound: IMAX’s next-generation sound system delivers even greater power and precision. The new system has been upgraded to 12 discrete channels plus a seriously beefy sub-bass. We’ve built on our existing system by adding new loudspeakers on the ceiling above the audience, as well as additional ones on the side. Whether you’re hearing a pin drop or feeling the heart-palpating force of a volcano or a rock concert or a thunderstorm – you’re going to have a new kind of visceral sound experience.

What is IMAX with laser and what are the benefits of the new technology (consumer friendly)?

IMAX with laser represents a quantum leap in cinema technology – providing audiences with the sharpest, brightest, clearest and most vivid digital images ever combined with a whole new level of immersive audio.

Designed from the ground up specifically for IMAX’s largest screens, IMAX with laser is the world’s most advanced cinema experience – delivering unparalleled levels of brightness, contrast, color and sound. It is a re-imagination of the movie theatre experience that will draw you into the action like never before.

What is IMAX with laser and what are the benefits of the new technology (technical)?

Designed from the ground up for IMAX’s largest screens, IMAX with laser features a dual 4K laser projection system that is equipped with a new optical engine and suite of proprietary IMAX technologies capable of projecting an image with up to a 1.43:1 aspect ratio with maximum resolution and sharpness, unparalleled 2D and 3D brightness, industry-leading contrast with the blackest blacks and whitest whites and an expanded color gamut that will allow filmmakers to present more vivid and exotic colors than ever before.

IMAX’s new laser system will include next-generation IMAX sound technology that delivers even greater power and precision for ultimate audio immersion. The new system has been upgraded to 12 discrete channels plus sub-bass, and includes additional side channels as well as new overhead channels that will improve the system’s ability to position sounds at any point in the auditorium – even where there may not be a loudspeaker – and further ensure every seat is the best in the house.

Have any upgrades been made to the IMAX sound system?

IMAX’s new laser system will include next-generation IMAX sound technology that delivers even greater power and precision for ultimate audio immersion. The new system has been upgraded to 12 discrete channels plus sub-bass, and includes additional side channels as well as new overhead channels that will improve the system’s ability to reproduce sounds that seem to originate at any point in the auditorium – even where there may not be a physical loudspeaker – and further ensure every seat is the best in the house.

How does IMAX sound compare to other competitor systems?

Sound is a critical element of The IMAX Experience® and IMAX uses its patents, proprietary technology and decades of experience to deliver the best auditory experience. IMAX’s unique approach to sound begins with the actual patented design of the theatre and incorporates superior acoustical treatment and more effective placement of loudspeakers to ensure an ideal listening environment.

Each sound system is custom-developed in-house for the auditorium into which it is going, using extremely high-grade loudspeaker components that provide unprecedented audio fidelity and a wider frequency response, which means higher highs and lows so low they’re as much vibrations as sounds. The system also leverages a technology called proportional point source (PPS), which allows IMAX to reproduce sounds that can seem to originate at any specific point in the auditorium – even where there may not be a physical loudspeaker.

In IMAX’s next-generation sound system, the additional side channels will supplement IMAX’s ability to reproduce sounds originating from points in between front and rear loudspeakers while the new overhead channels will improve the system’s ability to position sounds above the audience.

Another important component in IMAX sound is that in all IMAX films the soundtrack itself has been enhanced. Through IMAX’s proprietary Digital Re-mastering (DMR) process, the sound of the original movie is re-mixed in post-production together with the filmmakers to recapture its full dynamic range and tweaked to make it brighter, crisper and more exhilarating.  This process takes full advantage of the unique, responsive sound system in an IMAX theatre and means you are hearing the movie the way the filmmaker intended.

One particular area that differentiates IMAX is its commitment to delivering a consistent quality sound experience. The new system features IMAX’s patented automated multi-point tuning process that ensures each system is optimized for the specific auditorium in which it is installed and runs a daily calibration test using high-performance microphones permanently located within the theatre to ensure the audio system is always running at peak performance. 

By focusing on every aspect that makes great sound, IMAX is able to deliver the most visceral and captivating sound experience available.

How does IMAX with laser compare to IMAX’s existing xenon and 15/70mm film systems?

IMAX with laser represents IMAX’s largest R&D project in the company’s history. The system was designed from the ground up specifically for IMAX’s largest screens (75 feet and above), a magnitude which previously required IMAX’s 15/70 film projection systems to fill. While there will always be slight differences between film and digital formats, IMAX believes the new laser system meets and in many cases exceeds the performance of its 15/70mm film projection.

The completely re-designed optical engine and laser light source allows IMAX to reach unparalleled levels of contrast, 3D brightness, sharpness and color and with two 4K laser projectors running simultaneously in sub-pixel alignment for both 2D and 3D IMAX is able to achieve a perceived resolution greater than 4K. IMAX’s xenon system continues to be the best-in-class solution for its mid-sized screens.

What is contrast and how does it benefit the viewing experience?

Contrast is the difference between the whitest white and the blackest black. Filmmakers love it, but it’s been a problem with existing digital projection systems. IMAX has always delivered the greatest contrast but now, with laser, IMAX has reached contrast levels substantially higher than ever before. Getting more contrast means more detail in the image – particularly in very dark or bright scenes – and a heightened level of realism that makes you forget you are watching a movie.

How does the new technology impact 3D? Will I still need to wear glasses?

A laser light source provides substantially more brightness than a xenon bulb, and allows IMAX to power its largest screens with even sharper and more lifelike images. This is significant for 3D because 3D glasses dim the image. With IMAX laser, audiences are going to be able to experience full brightness in 2D and 3D.

IMAX is equipping its new laser venues with new, state-of-the art 3D glasses that were selected to optimize the experienced provided by the laser system.

How does IMAX’s laser technology compare to other competing laser systems?

IMAX has a long history of innovation. It’s constantly looking at how it can do things better. In developing its next-generation laser system, it took a radically different approach from others in the industry. This wasn’t about making a few tweaks and enhancements here and there, or just swapping out xenon bulbs for a laser light source. It abandoned the way projection systems have been built until now and started from the ground up. Partnering with Barco, and combining the patents it acquired from Kodak and its own intellectual property, IMAX invented a system that takes advantage of all of the benefits laser provides.

This means you’re going to experience the sharpest, brightest images the movie industry has ever seen. IMAX’s laser system is about more than just a handful of innovations – it’s a re-imagination of the movie theatre experience.

Is anything unique about the content? Will it still go through IMAX’s Digital Re-mastering process (IMAX DMR)?

All films presented through IMAX’s new laser system will be digitally re-mastered specifically for the new system to take advantage of the increased contrast, brightness, color and other attributes it can deliver. The soundtracks will also be re-mixed for IMAX’s new 12 channel system.