For a long time, I couldn’t do IMAX. In my teen years I started to gain an appreciation for wider aspect ratios and developed a crude eye for shot composition, so I started to feel a need to sit a fair distance from the screen to see as much of the frame as possible. In a true IMAX cinema, the screens are so overwhelmingly immense that you always feel like you’re sitting in the front row. Your neck gets stiff, you have to look left and right to see the edges of the frame, and you get lost in the image. That sounded pretty awful to me.
So when I saw Interstellar in 70 mm IMAX, I hadn’t seen anything in real IMAX format for maybe 15 years. And it was pretty fucking cool. Interstellar may have been an ass-numbing cornball of a film, but it was also one hell of an IMAX experience. The presentation was so overwhelming that it often compensated for the film’s underwhelming aspects. The sheer resolution of the 70 mm IMAX stuff was incredible. I had never been able to appreciate it in my younger days in IMAX theaters, but now I see what an incredible tool large format cinematography can be.
Trying to replicate those results digitally has been shaky, though. Celluloid is now a luxury instead of a necessity, and digital IMAX formats will soon take over because they’ll be cheaper and more convenient. But will they be as good? Shooting with a traditional IMAX camera means your on-set sound is usually crap because the camera sounds like a Harley Davidson at half throttle. Arri’s got a new digital IMAX camera that will see its first use in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, and the success of Arri’s Alexa platform will likely help that new camera become the IMAX standard. The kicker: it’s digital, so operation will be damn near silent. It won’t have the beauty of celluloid, but it could make things much easier in production and post-production.
However, this kind of large format and super high resolution is designed and priced for blockbuster filmmaking. What if there was a way to bring super high resolution to low-budget filmmaking without needing a crazy new camera? What if you could just strap 6 GoPros to a homemade camera rig or a quadrotor drone, stitch the video files together, and get a HUGE seamless wide-angle video that you could then matte and re-frame however you like? Well, some clever engineers at Disney’s Research Hub have figured that out, and the results are really, really intriguing. Check it out below.
I know this is super nerdy, but I need a break from Star Wars stuff and DC movie costume and prop photos. I figured maybe you guys could use one too.