Inside Wales' first IMAX cinema

Wednesday 16 December 2009, 14:51

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This is the fifth IMAX Odeon have opened in Britain, although around a dozen other IMAXes are open across the UK. Apparently Cardiff Bay has one of Europe's first installations of their latest digital projection technology and audio system, so it's something of a coup for Welsh cinema lovers.

All this comes at a price, of course. The installation of the 7.7m by 16.8m screen in Cardiff Bay apparently cost around £500,000, including an acoustically treated auditorium, twin digital projectors for 2D and 3D films, and laser-aligned (whatever that involves) digital surround sound.

And of course there's the 3D technology. We were lucky enough to see a display of forthcoming feature films, including Under The Sea 3D, A Christmas Carol, the new DreamWorks animation How To Train Your Dragon, Tim Burton's sumptuous-looking Alice In Wonderland, and James Cameron's inevitable blockbuster Avatar, which is the first film to be shown on the Cardiff screen.

For those of us who haven't ventured near a 3D film since the third Jaws flick way back in 1983, the technology's come a long way. Objects jump out of the screen to appear right in front of your nose, and figures have real depth and distance against their surroundings, although the blocky black glasses they give you to wear do detract from the immersive experience IMAX are so keen to push.

Having a new IMAX is a welcome new addition for the city of Cardiff, of course, and for Wales as a whole. Odeon say people will travel much further than the typical 15-20 miles for an IMAX experience, and the Cardiff cinema claims to already have advance bookings from as far away as Swindon.

For those who find joy in films which don't rely so much on whizz-bang technology, it's possibly not for you. It's questionable whether the films of Ingmar Bergman or Orson Welles would been improved by digital surround sound or 3D effects, for instance. But with Hollywood currently going action and sci-fi crazy, and with around 50% of new major films in 2010 to be use 3D tech, it's clear which way the tide's turning.

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