About The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre Experience
Our "Ultimate Movie Experience" at The Henry Ford combines a variety of technological innovations: Special IMAX cameras and projectors, Michigan’s largest screen and footage shot on native 15-perforation/70mm (15/70) film stock. Our IMAX Experience cannot be found at multiplex locations. Consider the following...
Our IMAX motion picture projection system, invented and developed by IMAX Corporation, is the finest motion picture projection system in the world. Images of unsurpassed size, clarity and impact, enhanced by a specially-designed 6-channel, multi-speaker digital sound system are projected onto our giant, classic IMAX screen which is 8 stories (85 ft.) wide and 6 stories (62 ft.) tall. Our IMAX Theatre is the largest IMAX Theatre in the State of Michigan having the capability to show both 2D and 3D IMAX films. Seating capacity is 440 patrons for 2D shows, 410 patrons for 3D shows, and is fully handicapped accessible in accordance with ADA regulations. We also provide our guests with the highest-quality, single-use model of 3D glasses to ensure the best-possible 3D viewing experience and a comfortable fit for those guests who wear corrective lenses.
The classic IMAX film frame is 10 times larger than a conventional 35mm film frame and 3 times larger than a standard 70mm film frame. It is horizontally oriented and has a surface area of 5.5 square inches. The sheer size of an IMAX film frame combined with the unique IMAX Rolling-Loop projection technology is the key to the extraordinary sharpness and clarity of IMAX films. The film is Kodak ESTAR-base motion picture stock and is strong enough to tow a car. The film is projected at the industry standard of 24 frames per second and passes through the projector at a rate of 330 feet per minute or 5.5 feet per second. A typical 40-minute 2D IMAX film print is comprised of about 57,000 individual frames, and if out-stretched, it would span a distance of about 2.5 miles!
Sound is just as critical to the IMAX Experience as are the visual images themselves. The 6-channel, discrete digital IMAX sound system, with sub-bass, is also manufactured by IMAX Corporation. IMAX’s Proportional Point Source (PPS) loudspeaker system, specifically designed for classic IMAX Theatres like The Henry Ford, eliminates variations in volume and sound quality over the entire theatre seating area. This allows all members of the audience to experience superb sound quality regardless of where they may be seated.
It is power, not volume, which provides the audience with life-like sound emitting from 6 speaker clusters and 2 sub-bass units. Each of the sub-bass units comprise 4, 18-inch diameter woofers fully enclosed in a fiberglass insulated cabinet. Sounds as soft as a breeze can be heard along with crashing waves in our true-to-form surround sound environment. Sixteen Bryston® amplifiers of low, mid and high frequencies provide over 12,000 watts of power to the 1½ tons of speakers in the theatre. Low frequency sounds are so deep they are literally “felt” more than they are heard!
The lamp house, situated atop the IMAX projector, utilizes two 15,000-watt liquid-cooled, short-arc xenon lamps manufactured by USHIO America, Inc. The lamps weigh 10 pounds each, and are nearly 2 feet in length. Costing more than $5,000 each, the lamps have a life expectancy of about 1,200 hours of operation and are replaced several times each year. Because of the extreme high-pressure xenon gas inside the quartz glass envelope of the lamp, IMAX projectionists must wear ballistic safety gear when replacing a lamp. If dropped, the xenon lamp would explode with the destructive force of a hand grenade.
The average luminance of one of these xenon lamps is approximately 1.6 billion candles per square yard—about equal to that of the Sun as viewed from the Earth's surface! The lamp has a light output of approximately 600,000 lumens. Niagara Falls uses this same type of lamp to illuminate the falls at night.
During normal operation, the clear quartz glass envelope of the lamp has a surface temperature of about 1,300 degrees. To prevent the lamp from overheating, it has coolant "jackets" that allow chilled distilled water to be pumped around the electrodes at a flow rate of 8 gallons per minute and a pressure rate of 100 psi. In addition, an exterior exhaust fan removes 1,200 cubic feet of air per minute from the lamp house. The xenon lamps operate at 37.5 volts DC and 400 amperes of current and are powered by 2 Miller® Dimension rectifiers.
The million-dollar IMAX 15/70 3D GT (Grand Theatre) projector remains to this day the most advanced, highest-precision and most powerful projector ever built by IMAX Corporation. The key to its superior performance and reliability is the unique, patented "Rolling Loop" film movement. The Rolling Loop advances the film horizontally in a smooth, wave-like motion. During projection, each film frame is positioned on fixed registration pins and the film is held firmly against the rear element of the lens by a vacuum. As a result, picture and focus steadiness are far above conventional 35mm and digital projection standards and provide outstanding image clarity and resolution on The Henry Ford’s classic IMAX screen.
IMAX 15/70 film prints are projected and rewound from large, heavy platters made of magnesium. These platters are 1/4 inch thick and can be up to 6 feet in diameter. They are harmonically balanced and can support up to 2¾ hours of film weighing well over 800 pounds. Fourteen platters are operated from three individual reel units, which are independent of the projector itself. Four platters are used simultaneously to project one 3D IMAX film (two platters for feed-out and two platters for take-up.)
When guests exit at the rear of the IMAX Theatre following the end of each show, they are directed up to the third floor where they can get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of our entire IMAX projection system operation. The rear wall of the projection booth features floor-to-ceiling windows which allow guests to view our highly-skilled projectionists operate and reload film into the projector. Private tours of our IMAX projection booth may be arranged in advance for students of film or theatre, as well as members of the media.
For more information about The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre, see our YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3ZvNyq8vS8.