Earlier this year, IMAX Melbourne installed a new screen, an updated sound system and, most importantly, a twin IMAX digital projection system. Now, in addition to showing movies in the 70mm film format, the cinema can screen the latest IMAX digital movies.
During our visit last month, we saw the projection room, several trailers, the first seven minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness in 3D, and the film Oblivion. The trailers, Star Trek teaser, and feature film we viewed were all projected using the new twin digital projector system and the images were stunningly bright and crisp.
The projection room was fascinating, and the projectionist showed us the 70mm film projector and the digital dual projectors, explaining the basics of their operation. It was interesting to note that the digital system requires two projectors in order to carry a bright enough image to the screen, and the incredibly powerful globes (15kW xenon arc lamps) used in the projection of the film have quite short life cycles and have to be replaced regularly.
While we were in the room, a screening of Oblivion was in progress using the digital projection system. It was remarkable how quiet it was, since the sound of the 70mm film projector is apparently very loud. The projectionist noted that preparing the system for a screening only takes a few minutes, unlike the much more involved 70mm film projector, which requires the use of a small forklift to move film reels around.
In late 2014, an entirely new IMAX laser projection system will be introduced, replacing both the 70mm film projector and the twin digital projection system. The cutting-edge laser system is meant to be brighter and offer a higher contrast ratio and more vibrant colours than its predecessors.
— Zachary Kendal