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New Imax Cameras


Dan Hasson
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Hey All,

Hope this is the right subform to post in.

I don't think anyones posted this news of Imax to develop new cameras: https://variety.com/2022/film/news/imax-new-cameras-1235208022/

I don't know much about Imax cameras, apart from the obvious like they're 65mm, they're loud and they're big. The article writes, "New features for Imax technology will include a quieter design and a number of usability enhancements." Can anyone speculate what else they could be working on for these new cameras just from knowing things about the current cameras? How much upgrading do they need? I only ask because I don't know much about them.

Interesting to see what they come out with.

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15-perf 65mm IMAX and 5-perf 65mm are in the same boat, the number of camera bodies keeping lowering as some get damaged beyond repair and never replaced.  Currently there are only enough for one production at a time if they need multiple bodies.  So if these formats are going to continue, at some point someone needs to make more cameras.  And it's high time for IMAX to make a sound-friendly modern camera along the lines of an ARRICAM.

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I would think that the motor and control electronics have made leaps and bounds in progress since the fleet of Imax cameras were built and they can probably use some really nice new controllers from a company like Galil Motion Control which would reduce the footprint of the electronics considerably.

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what about the Arri 765?  is the frame size different then Imax?

 

Edit:

Answered my own question.... I wasn't aware Imax runs horizontal so you get a lot more negative space then running it vertical in the 5perf Arri camera.

Edited by Albion Hockney
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The problem Nolan (and others) have had is noise. Where size is a problem, noise is way more of an issue and forces filmmakers to ADR and/or shoot 5 perf on dialog scenes, which is a total pain, especially if you wanna release in 1.44:1 aspect ratio full frame IMAX. 

It's not difficult to make a new camera that is quiet, but someone has to make a new camera. 

I'm sure, Nolan has been screaming about this for years and it just took a few other people to come together and realize, they needed to do something.

Might as well make 4 so there are more available than the only 2 panavision 5 perf sync sound cameras and 2 765's which aren't as quiet as the Panavisions. 

I wonder if Panavision is going to make them vs IMAX, since they were mentioned. That would be super interesting because they have a tremendous amount of engineering experience with isolating movements to make them quiet. IMAX really doesn't. 

There is a "mini" IMAX camera that shoots 500ft loads for Steadicam work. I wonder if they'll base it off that design and simply isolate the movement. 

Still very interesting. Can't wait to see one. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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I doubt Panavision would be able to financially develop new 65mm film cameras. If it wasn’t for their Federal Systems division, they may not still be in business. 
But Tyler is correct about the noisy cameras. They are loud! The other thing that IMAX needs to improve is the film jamming issues the older cameras have. They jam so easily and it’s a huge deal to clean out the camera, insure that it’s still in shutter time and getting it back into circulation. This can take an hour or more. I got around that a bit better than normal by slowing down the ramp up speed. But that did use more precious negative to do so and it didn’t eliminate the problem. 
 

G

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9 hours ago, Gregory Irwin said:

I doubt Panavision would be able to financially develop new 65mm film cameras. If it wasn’t for their Federal Systems division, they may not still be in business. 

I’m not sure what inside information you might have regarding Panavision’s financial position Greg, but as someone who works for them I really don’t understand this comment. From my vantage point we’re currently busier than we’ve ever been. There are constantly new products being designed and manufactured (including a new lens series that I predict will become very popular). The tough times were about a decade ago when the industry transitioned pretty rapidly to digital, and a lot of established rental houses struggled. 

At any rate, I doubt Panavision alone would be covering the costs of developing new IMAX cameras, since there are a number of stake holders. From the article it sounds like Panavision will be more involved in the service and maintenance side, and probably prototype consultancy.

12 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

It's not difficult to make a new camera that is quiet, but someone has to make a new camera. 

It’s certainly not difficult to sound authoritative on the internet about topics you actually have no real knowledge about. 🥸 

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14 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

It's not difficult to make a new camera that is quiet, but someone has to make a new camera.

Tyler, there is a wonderful SMPTE Journal 10.5594/J03852 "Designing a 65mm Motion-Picture
The ARRIFLEX 765".

You should buy it, it's a wonderful read and worth every penny. While it only scratches the surface of some of the problems ARRI ran into while developing the 765, it would hopefully change your view a bit.

The journal shows the difficulty of developing a 5/65mm camera. The challenges developing an IMAX camera are exponentially more difficult.

 

343663366336.thumb.JPG.4cc7f7ff46929a20bc035b6eeea3b8a3.JPG

Edited by David Sekanina
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22 hours ago, Gregory Irwin said:

The other thing that IMAX needs to improve is the film jamming issues the older cameras have. They jam so easily and it’s a huge deal to clean out the camera, insure that it’s still in shutter time and getting it back into circulation. This can take an hour or more. I got around that a bit better than normal by slowing down the ramp up speed. But that did use more precious negative to do so and it didn’t eliminate the problem. 

Yep, all of the 65mm cameras have jamming issues. The 765 seems to be the worst. I have friends who worked on both Tenet and Hateful Eight and they said, most of the downtime was from jamming cameras. When loading, if you don't get the loop size perfect, it will jam. I assume the IMAX cameras have similar issues. 

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11 hours ago, David Sekanina said:

The journal shows the difficulty of developing a 5/65mm camera. The challenges developing an IMAX camera are exponentially more difficult.

Very cool, thanks for pointing that out. 

The 765 is very complicated, they tried to pull off an all electronic camera with independent motor drive, maybe not the best idea. The Panavision version is way less complicated and has way less issues, so it's possible to use a very similar design on other cameras.

People forget, there was a single prototype made of a silent vista vision camera which is a very similar design to IMAX. What they did was isolate the movement and work hard to get rid of drive noise. It just never took off because at it's release vistavision was not used for sync sound scenes anyway, so nobody wanted to pay the hefty price of the "silent" camera.  

The problem with IMAX cameras is that they have to run multiple pulldown pins because the film is so heavy and it has to pull substantially more, meaning a greater deal of sound coming from the movement than even vistavision. I don't think adjusting the movement design would be feasible. Instead, I'd focus on making the entire thing out of much lighter components. I'd figure out a way to run smaller motors, to compress the size of the movement down even further. Then I'd do what nearly all of the sync sound cameras do and mount the entire movement on rubber mounts, isolating them from the outside chassis. The magazine would still mount to the outside housing, but if the movement was isolated and there was a double door system for the movement, one door which was attached to the movement and one door that was on the outside, with some sound damping, I think you could probably get the sound level down to the 30db range. That's really all they need to do because getting 20db out of it, wouldn't be possible. Sadly, the camera height would probably have to be the same due to the backwards compatibility of magazines and that huge shutter. 

The viewfinder could also be nixed and digital camera system installed which would save weight/space similar to the Steadicam version. 

Remember, IMAX does have a very small version of the 15p camera already, it's used for Steadicam shots. So it's not like you can't make a much smaller camera, the new camera just needs to be based on that design instead of the typical MKIV studio camera. 

So yea, I think the 30db range is doable for sure. But much below that, I doubt they'll even try to go for. Sound guys will be ok with 30 - 34db I think, it's not that bad to remove the camera noise from quiet scenes. The Panavision system 65 sound camera is not much quieter. 

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Wasn't it the practice to take a camera movement that was proven to work really well, such as the Mitchell for 35mm, build a smaller inner camera body, then build basically a second camera body bigger than the first and pad it internally with sound-dampening material (including the magazines) and put the smaller inside the larger on sound-absorbing mounts? The biggest problem I think was sound coming out around the lens mount. It would be great if someone could design a light, very quiet-running, large format film camera but I'm wondering if it's possible. It might be best just to compromise and to accept that 65mm means big, heavy equipment for sync-sound. Use MOS cameras and dubbing if necessary for shots requiring a lighter camera.

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3 hours ago, Jon O'Brien said:

Wasn't it the practice to take a camera movement that was proven to work really well, such as the Mitchell for 35mm, build a smaller inner camera body, then build basically a second camera body bigger than the first and pad it internally with sound-dampening material (including the magazines) and put the smaller inside the larger on sound-absorbing mounts? The biggest problem I think was sound coming out around the lens mount. It would be great if someone could design a light, very quiet-running, large format film camera but I'm wondering if it's possible. It might be best just to compromise and to accept that 65mm means big, heavy equipment for sync-sound. Use MOS cameras and dubbing if necessary for shots requiring a lighter camera.

Yea, the initially put complete MOS cameras into boxes. 

Then Panavision came up with the idea of mounting the Mitchel movement on rubber mounts. Then by making the movement super quiet though a combination of pulldown mechanism and removing gear drive in favor of belt drive, the cameras with some padding, became pretty quiet. Over the generations they were able to scale things down and make much smaller variants. 

Arri and Moviecam did similar things, but they went a few steps further by making their cameras smaller, using clever movement designs. 

You can do a hybrid of a old Mitchel design and old Arri design combined and it would work fine. 

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Just the 5 perf 65mm cameras used by David Lean were like small tanks. There's a video of the behind the scenes for Ryan's Daughter and it shows two assistants carrying one of the camera bodies and putting it onto one of the geared heads prior to the day's shooting. That thing looks big and ... heavy! It's just the body minus lens, matte box, mag, or anything else.

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On 3/20/2022 at 3:53 AM, Dom Jaeger said:

I’m not sure what inside information you might have regarding Panavision’s financial position Greg, but as someone who works for them I really don’t understand this comment. From my vantage point we’re currently busier than we’ve ever been.  

I didn’t mean to offend you at all Dom for I respect you very much. I’ve been in the inner circle of Panavision since around 1980. I’ve seen all of the ups and downs the company has been through. I’ve personally known every CEO, including your current one. My point is simple. The DXL hasn’t been the success Panavision had hoped for and I doubt very much that they would invest capital on a large format film camera that would see overall limited use in a digitally dominated market. I do realize that your lens development and other products move forward at a rapid pace. All good. I enjoy all of your knowledge in this area. 
 

G

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22 hours ago, Gregory Irwin said:

I didn’t mean to offend you at all Dom

Oh I wasn’t offended Greg, just a bit puzzled. Like I said, we’re so busy I don’t have time to scratch myself. 

I agree with you about developing an IMAX camera though. I don’t think it’s something Panavision would want to plow a lot of money into. I suspect IMAX will be the ones who will fund this development, or maybe even the studios who spend hundreds of millions on a single movie could throw a few coins in the bucket.

Was it Interstellar where you got to use the IMAX camera? Have you shot with any other 65mm cameras?

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4 hours ago, Dom Jaeger said:

Was it Interstellar where you got to use the IMAX camera? Have you shot with any other 65mm cameras?

Yes it was Dom. I had all four, existing 15 perf MSMs. I’ve used the Panavision 65 in the past and have played with the Arri 765 although Ive never shot with it. 
 

G

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