At 18,000 pixels per frame, Imax’s movie cameras capture the best picture quality on Earth. Until recently, the giant-screen format was the domain of nature documentaries. Then came The Dark Knight , the first Hollywood blockbuster shot partially in Imax. Demand skyrocketed. But the company, which designs and assembles the cameras at its headquarters in Mississauga, won’t actually sell you one. Sure, it will lend you one of its 14 warhorse 65-millimetre-film models, and you might be able to borrow one of the Imax 3-D digital cameras – though there are only two, and Michael Bay is using one to shoot Transformers 4.
If you are lucky enough to be granted one of these clunky machines, Imax encourages you to be careful with it (not like the time Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman stunt-double in The Dark Knight Rises drove into one on her batpod motorcycle and busted it). In return, the company will let you screen the resulting film in one of its 738 Imax theatres in 54 countries, each of which it tightly controls. Remote sensors in the theatres monitor, in real time, everything from the brightness of the projector lamps to speaker output; conditions are adjusted from Mississauga. As chief technology officer Brian Bonnick says, “If you want to be the best, you have to think about every little thing.”