Archiving and Light Levels Top IMAX Concern List

A panel discussion at the Technology Summit for Cinema featured IMAX CQO, David Keighley and Jan Yarbrough, Senior Colorist, Motion Picture Imaging at Warner Bros. Both were in agreement that theaters are often too dim and the industry should do a better job of ensuring that theaters offer the prescribed 14 FtL (48nits) of peak brightness. Laser projection promises to do a better job of raising light levels, but don’t expect this to be a mainstream solution anytime soon.

IMAX specifies its brightness levels at 22 FtL, Keighley also noted and it now has its first laser IMAX theater at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

Keighley was also very concerned about the archiving of movies today. In another presentation, the author explained that as digital processing started to take hold in the 90s, the final movie was always archived as film. That practice has now disappeared and no good substitute has emerged.

Yarbrough and Keighley both agreed that if film is stored in a cool room it can still be in great condition 50 years later. But they both also lamented how they have had trouble getting good scans from film that was poorly stored or from LTO storage where frames “just disappeared”.

With the advent of new technologies like HDR and immersive audio in multiple flavors, the number of grades that studios must perform is multiplying. And, there is no standard for HDR and some of the other tools in the pipeline. Can we ever get to a single master grade from which all others can be derived? Keighley thinks that will never happen.