Seattle is now officially home to one of the world’s most advanced movie theaters.
After four months of renovation, the Boeing IMAX theater at the Pacific Science Center will re-open on Friday with new 4K laser projectors, a cutting-edge sound system, giant new seats, and an upgraded concession stand.
Earlier this month, GeekWire had a chance to watch a construction crew install a new 80-foot wide screen.
Now, here’s the finished product:
The 4K laser projection system exists in just three other locations worldwide. IMAX Chief Technology Officer Brian Bonnick told GeekWire that the laser technology represents the largest R&D investment in the company’s history.
“IMAX with laser is more than a handful of new innovations — it’s a re-imagination of the movie theater experience,” he said.
Bonnick said that the two 4K laser projectors double the amount of pixels on the screen, resulting in greater perceived resolution. Compared to the old technology, Bonnick said that movie-goers will also enjoy improved brightness, contrast, color, and resolution.
The laser system will also create a better experience for watching 3D movies “because we can project a left eye and right eye image at the same time to eliminate 3D artifacts and motion blur,” Bonnick explained. There are special new 3D glasses available, too:
The dual 4K projectors require a substantial amount of cooling, delivered by these four boxes and black tubes:
The screen itself was custom-built for the laser projectors and is painted silver to brighten the image. Tiny perforations allow sound to come through.
There’s also a next-generation immersive sound system that features six 600-pound speakers and eight more “effects” speakers.
“Whether it’s a pin drop or feeling the heart-palpating force of a volcano, audiences will experience a new kind of visceral sound experience,” Bonnick said.
The actual movies now come in a simple box, as opposed to giant reels. Here’s what PSC employees had to lug up to the projection room in the past:
And here’s what they use today:
Another neat aspect of the renovation are lighting trusses that can be lowered from the ceiling, making it easier for employees to swap out new bulbs.
Pacific Science Center also revamped its concession stand, complete with new digital menus:
Finally, there is also new Internet-connected monitoring technology that allows engineers at the IMAX headquarters to remotely fix any software bugs or issues that arise.
Pacific Science Center is the first science center to launch the new IMAX technology. Theaters in Toronto, Hollywood, and Virginia also have the 4K laser projection system. IMAX has signed more than 71 laser systems worldwide to date.
“When you look at all of the individual components involved, there is a lot of sophisticated technology and science at play,” Bonnick said. “But for us, it is more about how can we blend science with art to deliver a cinema experience that suspends disbelief and transports audiences to new worlds. It’s the difference between watching a movie and being a part of one.”
The Boeing theater will reopen on May 1 with Avengers: Age of Ultron An IMAX 3D Experience. The documentary Humpback Whales 3D will start showing on May 4. You can buy tickets here.