Watch: The Incredibly Cool Process of Projecting 'Interstellar' in 70 mm IMAX

Watch: The Incredibly Cool Process of Projecting 'Interstellar' in 70 mm IMAX

Nov 04, 2014

Interstellar

Before I became a writer, I spent several years working as a movie-theater manager and projectionist. Every Thursday night was “build and breakdown time” – the day where you started disassembling the gigantic reels of films that were headed to other locations, and putting together the new arrivals. There’s something really fun about building a print – it’s not particularly hard (unless you have a Bollywood movie where all the markings on the reels are in a language you don’t speak – I know this from experience), but there’s something inherently cool about it – something that’s about to be  lost in the transition to digital. You can get a little taste of the old process in this video showing AutoNation IMAX’s chief projectionist Armando Mena assembling a 70 mm print of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.

While I never worked at a theater that could show 70 mm prints or IMAX, the process is largely the same. Mena has 48 reels of film that make up the movie (which is a lot – standard films back in my day were usually six reels long), which are wrapped onto the brain of a giant platter. When one reel is done, the next is spliced onto it until you have a full movie.

That film is then run through a series of rollers to the projector, through the machine, out onto another series of rollers, then rewraps itself on a different platter (there’s no rewinding a film print – something to keep in mind the next time a film breaks at your local theater) where it’s ready to go for the next screening. Think of it like a giant reel to reel machine and you’re on the right track.

Check out video of Mena explaining why seeing Interstellar in 70 mm IMAX is the way to go, and marvel at the old style of film projection before it’s completely replaced by digital once and for all below.

[via /Film]

 

 

 

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