Christopher Nolan

I, like many of you, was amazed at the 70mm IMAX action sequences from Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight. Nolan decided not to shoot his latest film Inception using the same IMAX cameras.  Of course, filming a movie in IMAX is very restrictive, and not an easy achievement.

Nolan admits as much to Collider, saying that he “didn’t feel that we were going to be able to shoot in IMAX because of the size of the cameras because this film given that it deals with a potentially surreal area, the nature of dreams and so forth, I wanted it to be as realistic as possible. Not be bound by the scale of those IMAX cameras, even though I love the format dearly.” He then went on to reveal that they “went to the next best thing” … “a set of negative – that’s of the highest possible quality except IMAX.”

They shot the majority of the film using anamorphic 35mm, but Nolan says they “shot key sequences on 65mm” with “5 perf not 15 perf,” and they “shot VistaVision on certain other sequences.” For those of you who aren’t film tech geeks, this is a significant difference: 65mm 5 perf gives you 4.2 times the available image area behind the lens compared to regular four perf 35mm. Go check out the 1992 documentary Baraka to see what 65mm 5 perf can look like. The result is very vivid, practically no grain. In IMAX the film should look amazing.

“We have the highest quality image of any film that’s being made and that allows us to reformat the film for any distribution form that we’d like to put it in. We’re definitely going to do an IMAX release. We’re excited about doing that and using our original negative 65mm photography to maximize the effect of that release.”

Frosty also got Nolan to comment on the emerging 3D boom.Nolan, like Michael Bay (wait, did I just start a sentence comparing Bay to Nolan?), likes to shoot on film, using anamorphic lenses, and isn’t a fan of the video look. This leaves only one alternative, post production 3D conversion. Warner Bros head Alan Horn already announced that all their future tentpole films would be released in 3D, does this include Inception?

“3D I think is an interesting development in movies or the resurgence of 3D. It’s something we’re looking at and watching. There are certain limitations of shooting in 3D. You have to shoot on video, which I’m not a fan of. I like shooting on film. And so then you’re looking at post-conversion processes which are moving forward in very exciting ways.”

Nolan doesn’t seem to give a real answer. I’m guessing that he might be up for 3D post conversion when the technology improves, but I doubt they’ll do the process on Inception. Head on over to Collider to read the full roundtable interview with Nolan.

The film’s logline is “a contemporary sci-fi actioner set within the architecture of the mind.” The rumored plot claims Inception is about entering peoples’ minds/dreams. A technology to do so has been developed and is done through an injection. DiCaprio and his team supposedly work to enter the minds of other characters in order to steal/plant information.

Inception features Leonardo DiCaprio as Jacob, a CEO-type, Marion Cotillard (La Vie en rose, Public Enemies) as his wife, Ellen Page (Juno) as a young college grad student named Ariadne, who is also DiCaprio’s sidekick, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Arthur, an associate working for DiCaprio. Ken Watanabe will play the film’s villain, a man named Saito, who is blackmailing DiCaprio’s character. Tom Hardy (Bronson) plays Eames, a member of DiCaprio’s team. Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Sunshine) plays Fischer and Michael Caine is also involved.

Inception hits theaters on July 16th 2010.

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