IMAX’s Greg Foster Talks Laser Projection and if Older IMAX Films Could Return to Theaters

     April 20, 2015


Last week I got my first taste of IMAX laser projection when the company invited a few reporters to the Chinese Theater in Hollywood for a special presentation. While I’d heard laser projection was the future, until last week I’d never seen it in action. After watching a few trailers and movie sequences on one of the biggest movie screens in the world, I’ve been converted. What’s amazing about the IMAX laser projection system is that every part of the screen – from the lower left corner to the top right – was absolutely crystal clear, super bright, and the contrast and black levels were superb. One sequence featured a train rolling along on a mountainside track with smoke billowing out of the top and it looked like I was watching real life coming through a movie screen. We also got to watch the first Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer in 2D and 3D and both were amazing on the huge screen. While I will always love IMAX film, I’m happy to report their laser projection system is an incredible achievement and something I will seek out for watching new movies.

Shortly after the presentation I interviewed IMAX CEO Greg Foster. He talked about why IMAX laser projection is the only option for big screen viewing, their new IMAX 2D camera that is making its debut on Captain America: Civil War, geeking out with J.J. Abrams about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the chances of older IMAX movies being shown on film in select theaters, and a lot more.

Here’s what Greg Foster had to say followed by a time index of the interview and 8 things to know about IMAX laser projection:



Image via IMAX

Greg Foster Time Index:

  • Talks about IMAX laser projection.
  • :40 – How it’s all a creative decision from filmmakers.
  • 1:40 – How laser projection is extremely bright and why IMAX laser projection is the only option for big screen viewing.
  • 2:55 – Talks about the new IMAX 2D digital camera. Talks about the resolution of the new camera versus the IMAX film camera.
  • 4:00 – Why they partnered with ARRI for the IMAX 2D digital camera and the specs. Says it can do full screen IMAX.
  • 4:45 – How many of the new cameras have they made? Talks about being selective with who uses them. Says they should have 15-20 cameras made.
  • 6:10 – When they upgrade will it be a firmware upgrade or a system upgrade?
  • 6:50 – Any chance of older IMAX movies being shown on film in theaters in the future? Could a small circuit in a small amount of cities show older IMAX films on the big screen?
  • 9:00 – How does film labs shutting down effect IMAX film.
  • 10:15 – What other hurdles are they trying to overcome. Talks about virtual reality.
  • 11:55 – How much does he enjoy getting to geek out with filmmakers like J.J. Abrams for Star Wars: The Force Awakens?
  • 13:00 – Has he talked with the other Star Wars filmmakers about using IMAX cameras?

Here’s some things to know about IMAX Laser Projection via IMAX:

  • Representing the largest R&D investment in its history, IMAX with laser draws on the company’s 47 years of intellectual property, the exclusive laser-related patents that IMAX licensed from Kodak, and laser innovations from its projection partner, Barco.
  • IMAX with laser delivers audiences unparalleled levels of brightness, contrast, color and sound.
  • It is designed for IMAX’s largest screens (75 feet or greater in width) and can present an aspect ratio of up to 1:43:1.
  • IMAX with laser features two 4K projectors running simultaneously with sub-pixel alignment in both 2D and 3D to deliver a perceived resolution greater than 4K.
  • A new 12 channel with sub-bass sound system, featuring ceiling loudspeakers and additional side wall speakers, that delivers a new kind of visceral sound experience.
  • In addition to built-in image calibration and audio tuning features, the system is linked to IMAX’s 24/7/365 Network Operations Center, which is constantly monitoring thousands of system components to ensure optimum performance, show after show.
  • The Cineplex ScotiaBank Theatre in Toronto was the first theatre to debut IMAX with laser. The TCL Chinese Theatre was the first in the U.S. to debut the technology and it was done in conjunction with the first worldwide film premiere to be presented in laser for Furious 7 in April 2015.
  • IMAX has signed more than 71 laser deals around the world including the most prestigious and iconic commercial theatres, museums and science centers.

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