Wednesday, October 12, 2011

When IMAXed My Eardums Lost

It was a stunning theater with seating for 600+ or so in the heart of Santa Clara near my Sunnyvale hotel room. I was down in San Jose last week for wireless training and during the evenings needed something other than Penn & Teller on Discovery channel to keep myself entertained. I had watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes the night before and was bitten by the movie bug. Since the local 20-plex had and IMAX theater I figured I would be remiss to go and not see a movie projected 72ft wide by 53ft high. I was right to go, but that viewing came at a cost!

They were re-showing a number of films in the IMAX theater that had long since been available on DVD. I presume this was because there were no current run movies in the IMAX format. As such when I went they had Star Trek (JJ Abrams) which was my first pick and Inception. Due to scheduling issues and the fact that I couldn't skip wireless class to see a movie, Inception was my choice.

What more is there to say about Inception that I've not already commented on? It was awesome! But lets rewind...

I sat down at T-10 miniutes to showtime. At that moment I was the ONLY soul in the theater. I took a picture to show the sheer scope of an empty house with that many seats.



I think we can all agree that is impressive. Here's another one...



As you can clearly see, no people are visible in either picture. Sigh... so much for the use of a camera phone with no flash.

Regardless, this brings me to my next point. IMAX sound is not calibrated to a room without people inside it. Sounds waves travel through matter and on doing so attenuate to a certain degree. Thus it is more difficult to hear someone speaking in a hall full of people than if that same hall was empty. Even if no other sounds were conflicting with the speaker, just the shear volume of matter in our bodies would absorb a large portion of the sound. In order to overcome that rooms have their sounds systems calibrated to room with more people in it rather than less.

An IMAX theater that can have 600 people in it is no different. So you will not be surprised when I tell you that I had absolutely zero trouble hearing the movie. In fact it was ringing in my ears for the remainder of the night and some of the next day.

Even with that I will contend, as any concert goer will tell you, that my loss of hearing was a small price to pay for the amazing spectacle of that performance. I almost wet my trousers when the freight train came barreling through the first layer of the dreamscape and gun fire came crescendoing up from the corners of the room.

And a near whetted set of trousers is good enough to tell anyone just how much entertainment was pounded into me on that Thursday evening, all alone in my IMAX experience.

1 comment:

Drake Davenport said...

Wow. You taught me something I never knew, but always wondered about: why there can be so many people talking in a crowded room, but you can never hear any of them.