The Scissors of the Silver Screen
July 5, 2012 10:11 AM   Subscribe

How to replace an Imax Screen. London's BFI, after 13 years, needed a new screen. Not the simplest of jobs, given the screen is 85 feet x 65 feet in size. Luckily, when they did change it this week, they brought a camera along to take some pictures.
posted by ewan (23 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
It deserved a better christening than "Spiderman."
posted by ColdChef at 10:27 AM on July 5, 2012


It's oddly beautiful when the screen is cut from the top to the bottom just before it comes down.
posted by xingcat at 10:28 AM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


xingcat: I was thinking the same thing, but in a 'oh is that it?' kind of a way. Strange to be reminded that, actually, that screen right there is just a bit piece of cloth. Monuments also seem diminished when they get taken down I guess.
posted by litleozy at 10:33 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shame that they had to destroy the old screen. I wonder if that was some sort of contractual obligation with IMAX? Would have been nice to see it repurposed. :(
posted by xedrik at 10:35 AM on July 5, 2012


For some reason I thought it was implied that the old screen would be returned to the manufacturer, but on reread I don't know where I got that notion.
posted by elizardbits at 10:38 AM on July 5, 2012


Huh. I didn't know they actually had to spray the silver coating on the perforated screen on-site after hanging the screen, but I guess that makes sense because the coating would probably flake or rub off when folded and packed for transportation.

Also, it seems like a huge waste to cut up the old screen and just throw it away. I bet a lot of projection and video artists would love to have giant chunks of free IMAX screen to repurpose for installations and projections.
posted by loquacious at 10:39 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think we can be rest assured that an IMAX's theater's least priority is helping any "projection and video artists".
posted by jscott at 10:54 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


It deserved a better christening than "Spiderman."

I hate that I am doing this, ColdChef, because I'm really not emotionally involved in the issue, but the grammar nazi that controls me insists I tell you it's:

Spider-Man
posted by Turtles all the way down at 11:15 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


but I guess that makes sense because the coating would probably flake or rub off when folded and packed for transportation.

Also, it seems like a huge waste to cut up the old screen and just throw it away.


Doesn't it seem like the first issues precludes the second?
posted by smackfu at 11:16 AM on July 5, 2012


I hate that I am doing this, ColdChef, because I'm really not emotionally involved in the issue, but the grammar nazi that controls me insists I tell you it's:

Spider-Man


It's not pedantry! The hyphen is thematically crucial!
posted by eugenen at 11:40 AM on July 5, 2012


Also, it seems like a huge waste to cut up the old screen and just throw it away. I bet a lot of projection and video artists would love to have giant chunks of free IMAX screen to repurpose for installations and projections.

It'll probably be burned to recover the silver, not thrown away.
posted by atrazine at 12:02 PM on July 5, 2012


I found it amusing that they had all that scaffolding set up, laser alignment tools, special tracks for precision robot-controlled sprayers, etc... and yet apparently the plan was to just dump the crate down in the middle of the lobby, take the top off, and then get a bunch of dudes to lug all 1800 pounds of it up the stairs with their bare hands. With all the attention to detail and special tooling I would have expected some kind of backstage loading dock to be used, or perhaps some kind of ramp and loader system.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:21 PM on July 5, 2012


Pardon my ignorance here, but when you're all talking about it being a shame that they haven't donated the IMAX screen to a needy video artist, what's so special about it apart from the silver coating? As an IMAX screen does it have anything the screen at my local multiplex does not?
posted by jontyjago at 12:27 PM on July 5, 2012


There was a discussion awhile ago in an AskMefi.

There's the original IMAX, that uses 70mm film (so each frame of the film has twice the width, or 4 times the area of 35mm film!) and projects that incredible resolution and detail onto enormous screens, such as this 85 foot one mentioned in this posting.

and there's faux IMAX, which is just a local multiplex screen made slightly larger (28 feet) and uses a digital projector.

Most IMAX advertised today is faux IMAX. Real IMAX is hard to find, but there are a few that can be found in various cities.
posted by eye of newt at 12:53 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


As an IMAX screen does it have anything the screen at my local multiplex does not?

It's acoustically transparent, for one. Do regular movie theaters have speakers behind the screen?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 12:57 PM on July 5, 2012


what's so special about it apart from the silver coating?

The main things that are special about projection screen material is that it is very, very uniform in tone and reflectivity. It's also very dimensionally uniform and dimensionally stable. It's also usually perforated in a very particular way that lets audio from the center channel speakers behind the screen through, while aiding light reflection while also allowing the screen to still breath a bit and not billow like a sail in the wind of a door opening and closing, or audience members moving around.

Even old used projection screen fabric is going to be a very nice projection surface compared to a blank white wall, or a bedsheet or other DIY sources.

Real film and video projection "scrim" that video/projection artists use is usually crazy expensive - about $20-50 per square yard or more. It comes in different grades of opacity or transparency. When you see large, professional video arts installations at festivals and concerts (or even art galleries or museums) where they're doing stuff like broadcasting through multiple floating screens, or other mid-air effects or doing rear projection - they're usually using projection scrim.

Or as you can see in the "scrim" link above, it's also traditionally used in theater and stagework for special set dressing effects.

Many video artists have to cheat and use inferior fabrics as scrim - certain synthetic meshes and gauzes are a popular choice - but finding bolts large enough and wide enough to use is difficult, and you're often left with unevenly knit fabrics or inconsistent dyes or other flaws that stand out and are revealed when used as a projection surface.

I've had a few friends that do video projection art and installations, so when I see several thousand square feet of high quality projection screen getting sliced up like that I can't help but think about how a lot of people would love to reuse it, even if it's just going to end up at a rave or Burning Man or something similar.
posted by loquacious at 1:07 PM on July 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


If you had an IMAX screen showing a picture of the same IMAX screen at actual size, you could show a film adaptation of this on it.
posted by gimonca at 1:16 PM on July 5, 2012


I hate that I am doing this, ColdChef, because I'm really not emotionally involved in the issue, but the grammar nazi that controls me insists I tell you it's: Spider-Man

Ah, but only "Spiderman" works for me, because I pronounce it as a last name. As in "Ira Spiderman".
posted by ColdChef at 1:58 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of the New Jersey Spidermans?
posted by Rhomboid at 3:45 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's oddly beautiful when the screen is cut from the top to the bottom just before it comes down.

I really, really hope that at least one person leapt from the scaffolding and stabbed a cutlass into it, then rode the rip down to the floor like in an old pirate movie.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:05 PM on July 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's not pedantry! The hyphen is thematically crucial!
As demonstrated here.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:10 PM on July 5, 2012


Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug: Do regular movie theaters have speakers behind the screen?

They do! The screen/speakers set-up shown here is like the set-up at regular movie theaters, but everything is much bigger (and there are more speakers than usual).
posted by bubukaba at 11:50 PM on July 5, 2012


23 comments and no one's linked to BFI's own page about this to go along with the reddit/imgur link? Not that there's much to read there, but it is their screen...
posted by fragmede at 11:07 AM on July 6, 2012


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