Wired UK takes a look at IMAX digital projection via the Odeon IMAX Cinema in Greenwich:
Photo: Rob Boffard
“I could teach you how to do this in an hour,” says Jim Warburton. We’re in the projection room of the Odeon IMAX 3D cinema in Greenwich. Warburton is standing next to two massive, air-cooled projectors, currently beaming the new Harry Potter film onto the massive screen.
Warburton is big, burly man, a former milkman and supermarket cashier who has worked as a projectionist for the past four years. He’s demonstrating how to use a touchscreen PC to cue up ads, trailers and the film itself. It looks deceptively simple — all he has to do is line everything up, press play and leave the computer to do its work. “This is by far the best job I’ve ever had. I get paid to watch films!” he says.
. . .
The operation isn’t just drag-and-drop, it’s plug-and-play, too. Films are delivered on chunky, silver hard drives, connected to the projectors via a USB cable. Then, Blair and Warburton have to enter a KDM (Key Delivery Message) — essentially a password that unlocks a film for a set period of time. Once that’s done, the software inside the projector decodes and cues up the film.
IMAX won’t reveal what the innards of each projector are like, but there are a few clever technical tricks. For starters, each projector balances and aligns itself, so the pictures are never out of whack. Then there’s the image enhancer — a mysterious piece of tech that Blair describes as “like the best graphics card money can buy. It’s an independent system which they’ve developed, and it emphasises the picture.”
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