Posted on Sunday, February 28th, 2010 by Peter Sciretta
After the Tron Legacy Trailer Premiere Event in Los Angeles (video blogged here), Alex from FirstShowing and I were talking with director Joseph Kosinski and learned a bit of news. After telling Joseph how wonderful I thought it was to see the trailer fill so much of the huge IMAX screen, creating a more immersive 3D experience, Kosinski revealed to me that five action sequences from Tron Legacy will be shown in 1.7:1 aspect ratio, exclusively in IMAX Theatres.
If you’ve ever seen a theatrical 3D film on the IMAX screen, then you know that the movie doesn’t fill the whole screen, leaving huge bars to the top and bottom. With The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan shot a few sequences and establishing shots with IMAX cameras, allowing the screen image to switch aspect ratios and fill the entire huge IMAX screen. If you pay to see Tron Legacy in IMAX, you will see something similar.
Most of the film will be presented in widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, like it will be in your normal multiplex screen. But in the IMAX presentation, five special action sequences are being rendered at 1.7:1, which means that you will see a lot more on the top and the bottom. This makes a huge difference for a 3D presentation. As you know, an IMAX screen is up to eight stories high and are designed to extend to the edge of your peripheral vision, creating a more immersive experience.
I created the image above to give you an idea of the difference. While not 100% to spec, created using the Tron Legacy poster graphic (allowing me to show more horizontal), the image gives you a good idea of what to expect during these sequences. In the smaller Digital IMAX (“liemax) Theatres, the 1.7:1 ratio image will fill the entire screen (due to the different aspect ratio), but in the larger traditional IMAX theatres, there will be small black bars on the top and the bottom (as seen in the illustration). Again, remember, the whole movie will not be presented in that aspect ratio, and will revert back to the normal 2.39:1 ratio during the rest of the film.
I was also told that Disney would be releasing a special IMAX trailer online to show moviegoers the difference. Tron Legacy hits theaters on December 17th 2010.
Update: Some people have been asking me this question, so maybe I wasn’t clear about it in my initial post. The IMAX presentation will not be zoomed in or cropped. Kosinski was very clear to me in saying that IMAX moviegoers would see more of the movie at the top and bottom of the frame. No, the movie was not shot on IMAX cameras — it was shot using Sony CineAlta Fusion 3D cameras. I know that camera has a native 16:9 frame, which is close to the 1.7:1 frame of the IMAX presentation. So its very possible that the extra hieght was captured in camera during the shoot, and cropped out for the theatrical presentation. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was shot on that camera series in 16:9 and cropped to 2.35:1 for the release. But the bottom line is: Its not zoomed in or cropped, you will see more in the IMAX release.