Author Topic: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE - modage wuz robbed!  (Read 4447 times)

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Reelist

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Re: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE - modage wuz robbed!
« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2017, 07:16:12 PM »
+7
 
   I've kept this close to my chest because it's been a difficult transition to make and I still have almost no idea what I'm doing, but over the past two weeks I've started training to be an IMAX projectionist. We use 70mm film on a massive domed screen, which is supposedly the only one in the Northeast.  All films shown are Nature/Science/Historical documentaries, but for the last 2 months out of every year 'The Polar Express' is screened. My boss has recently started pushing hard to get prints of 'The Force Awakens' and 'Rogue One' but our Museum simply can't afford them. Over the next 3 years our film projectors will be phased out as we upgrade to Digital, and I'm making it my goal not only to see every goddamn thing I can up there, but also to screen any kind of Narrative film besides 'The Polar Express'. The kind of films I'd want to see, like '2001' or 'Tron' unfortunately aren't 'family friendly' enough for our audiences. Some examples of what we've shown in the past are 'Harry Potter', 'Night At The Museum' and 'The Lion King'. I'm too new to the job to even begin to discuss how our programming and distribution from the studios works, but it's the next thing I'm really curious about after I've gotten the whole projection process down.

  I feel really lucky to be in this position for a myriad of reasons. I get to learn a process that won't be around for much longer in this format and use my knowledge to contribute to keeping it afloat wherever possible. I will also finally have a thorough understanding of how film works at the highest level. I've always been really intimidated by it, and thought it'd be too expensive for me to ever use myself, but the more I project it I may reach a comfort level with the technology that allows me to learn the photography side of it just as well. I'm also seeing how a movie theater runs, in the most old fashioned sense of everything depending on the film being perfectly locked in and ready to go.

  Unfortunately our ticket sales have been really low for a long time. I think it's an issue with our programming. Most customers are parents with their young children, and our movies don't quite appeal to that crowd. They're all really dry documentaries, these kids aren't gonna settle for anything less than Pixar. The films that do really hold their attention are the ones full of all different kinds of animals, but we haven't been playing anything like that for MONTHS! It's peculiar to me, that we wouldn't try to milk everything we can out of our most successful movies. Maybe it's that we need clearance from the distribution company before we screen their prints? This is all stuff I'll need to go over with my boss once I've gotten into the swing of things.

  I've been enjoying myself, learning a lot and trying to immerse myself in film more and more everyday. Watching tons of movies and feeling less guilty or lazy about it, because it only makes me care more about my job. Whereas watching movies was something I used to do to distract me from the day. They take on a much grander scope in my mind now because my interests and aptitudes towards it have been affirmed, instead of always brushed aside by myself and others as some worthless hobby. Everyday I feel a little closer to being a filmmaker, but for now I just have to focus on being a good projectionist, or 'Reelist', if you will.
 
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Lottery

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Re: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE - modage wuz robbed!
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2017, 08:29:09 PM »
+1
  ...or 'Reelist', if you will.
 

Aaaayyyyyyyyyy.

But really, that's awesome to hear.
Very specific technical knowledge. The last of our local 35mm projectors were converted to digital back around 2012.
I'd hate to see IMAX become a 'historical' format. Unfortunately, I don't think there are any film IMAX theaters left in my country.

Hopefully, Dunkirk will get more butts into them IMAX them seats. Relevant to this thread, Dunkirk is shot entirely on IMAX and 65mm.

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE - modage wuz robbed!
« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2017, 08:35:01 PM »
+1
That's fantastic! I'm jealous and/or happy for you.

The Science Museum of Minnesota has had the Omnitheater for a while. I remember going there on field trips in elementary school. Seeing high-definition nature and space documentaries projected on this dome absolutely blew my mind. Think about it... you'll have the chance to create those transformative experiences for today's youngsters.

Meanwhile, the IMAX theater I grew up with (we're talking floor-to-ceiling curved screen IMAX) has literally been demolished.
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Sleepless

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Re: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE - modage wuz robbed!
« Reply #18 on: April 06, 2017, 10:34:57 AM »
+1
That's awesome. Really happy for you (I know you're in your element) and I'm just as fascinated about the business decisions behind it all too. The science museum near me is, I believe, one of the few remaining genuine IMAX theaters in Texas. Their documentary programming smacks of the same issues you described, but they often get non-family-friendly blockbusters screened there too. Last movie I saw there is going back a ways (Dark Knight Rises) and it was a full house, plus a packed lobby waiting for the next showing when we came out.

Reelist

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Re: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE - modage wuz robbed!
« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2017, 06:12:16 PM »
+10
Well, I've been doing it a little over two months now and I can handle every part of the process on my own, but I don't think I've fully grasped what all of those steps are for, if you follow. I'm really just trying to memorize everything in the correct order so it becomes second nature and it's almost impossible for me to screw up as long as I go by that drill. So, even though I've threaded up and played many films by this point, I haven't yet been entrusted with running the theater entirely on my own. Which I am prepared to do, but it will be a stressful day when it does come. I will like working on my own because there won't be the feeling of eyeballs on my every move, making sure I don't miss anything. I'll also have that sense of pride in knowing that these people got to watch their movies today because of me, and only me.

It's bizarre to work with Film everyday, the relationship is so intimate. You're lugging these massive reels around and touching the film in this variety off odd ways that feel so unnatural at first. The celluloid itself is very strong, it's the equipment that's super sensitive and prone to mess something up with the smallest glitch. Man, I've made pretty much every blunder you possibly can, but I've learned that it's all pretty much to be expected and the training process is really closer to 5 months. Where I am now, I can do everything, but that doesn't mean I understand how it all works.

Anyways, today was good because I got to work with the 3rd projectionist of our crew who I hadn't been with before, and he's exactly the type of mentor I need in this whole learning process. He's been projecting films for 60 years and it seemed like everything that came out of his mouth was something even more helpful and interesting. The other guys I work with are a little more jaded by all of it, their particular life circumstances seemed to have gotten in the way of them handing me down any real wisdom. It's a weird give and take because the one guy, who I've known for years really hounds me and gets on my ass when I mess up, and the other one is the most easygoing guy about it, but he seems to really want to do all the work himself. Since he's not there to see what I'm being taught everyday he really doesn't know how far along I am in the training and freaks out whenever he see's me doing stuff on my own.

I've been unnecessarily stressing out about this job when I make little mistakes and assume their thinking "well, maybe he's not cut out for this after all," but working with a guy like George today who's been doing it for so long and seen the worst of it finally got it through to me that a lot of things are going to fuck up along the way and our job is basically just damage control.
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Reelist

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Re: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE - modage wuz robbed!
« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2017, 07:40:13 PM »
+4
That's fantastic! I'm jealous and/or happy for you.

The Science Museum of Minnesota has had the Omnitheater for a while. I remember going there on field trips in elementary school. Seeing high-definition nature and space documentaries projected on this dome absolutely blew my mind. Think about it... you'll have the chance to create those transformative experiences for today's youngsters.

That has been the single most gratifying part of the job so far. Right now we're getting an influx of school groups everyday since their year is winding down and it's the only time we ever have a packed house. We keep a microphone in the theater that's feeding into the projection booth so we can check on the sound quality at all times, and after eavesdropping on whatever inane bullshit they're talking about, when the lights go down there's always this cacophony of screams. Then the image comes up and there's a resounding "WHOOOAAAAA!!!" throughout the theater.  And you'll hear kids like "Oh my god! This is awesome!" What's so cool about it is that we are using IMAX for it's highest function right there, to amaze and educate. Our regular theatergoers are very skeptical about the whole thing, I don't think most of them come into the theater having much of a grasp of what they're about to see. It's hard to gage their reactions unless they speak up about it. I've heard a guy say "Oh, it's one of the old fashioned ones that feels like you're in a bubble and make you all dizzy," and people who flat out loved it and want to know everything on our schedule. Those kids have no financial stake in the deal, they get to be in a movie theater instead of a classroom. We don't get any happier customers than that.
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Reelist

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Re: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE - modage wuz robbed!
« Reply #21 on: Yesterday at 06:49:24 PM »
+6
I haven't posted in such a long time because the excitement of getting this new job and learning a skill I'm passionate about has been outweighed by the stressors of dealing with all the ways our theater has been mismanaged and failing for YEARS. We're still under this outdated model of operations from the mid-90's, and the majority of our employees were around then when the theater was thriving, so they see no need to change it despite the fact we're making so little money. Every new idea we pass by them throws a monkey wrench in the works because they've literally been doing the exact same thing for 20 years and think the place would explode if they were done differently. They don't seem to understand that it already has bitten the dust and it's largely due to their resistance from thinking outside the box. Now I find myself in a management position, because I'm there the most and make the biggest paycheck of anyone ( it still sucks ), yet I don't feel like I have any input into how the place is run because everyone see me as this "new fish."  "Oh, it looks like he has another idea about something, How cute." They don't seem to understand how much we disappoint and fail our customers on a daily basis, and I guess it's simply because they're not having my experience of seeing people deal with the same frustrating issues so many times everyday without them being fixed.

I know I've informed most of you that our movie selection is pretty lame, but this isn't even about that part of it. It's in how differently we function than any other movie theater and how that confuses and pisses off our customers. For instance, because we are a 'Domed' theater (one of 15 in the World, I'm told ) the rows are at a very steep slant, as seen here: http://www.most.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/IMAXWatchWEB.jpg

This means that we have to keep the doors locked at all times unless you're being escorted by an usher, and the reason I've been told is it's because there's a possibility someone could walk in there and injure themselves using the stairs since it's so dim while a movie is playing. Probably the more serious reason is that it's a children's museum and we don't want to risk a kid just running in there and getting lost. Anyway, it's SO UNUSUAL for a movie theater to do, because every other one you've ever been to practically has those saloon doors you can just swing through whenever you please. At ours, you only have a ten minute window to get in and find a seat before it starts, and then the doors lock. If you're late to the show, you also only have a ten minute window for 'late seating' which requires you to take an elevator to our second floor and enter from the top. The problem is, NO ONE GIVES THESE INSTRUCTIONS AT THE TICKET BOOTH, and there are no signs telling you to do that, so people arrive two minutes late to find the door locked and go "What the fuck?" They have to walk a football field's length back to the front desk and ask what they're supposed to do, requiring someone who doesn't even work at the theater to escort them back and inform the usher they're coming so they can unlock the door for them. Doesn't this sound batshit insane? At least 5 of our customers go through this a day, and it doesn't help that there's no appropriate signage telling you where the IMAX is. Sure, there are signs indicating we have an Omnitheater somewhere in the museum but it's anyone's guess where the hell that is when there are no arrows directing them where to go and we've chosen to scatter them throughout the museum instead of placing them all within and around the actual lobby. So, people will come up to the concession stand and go "Where's the IMAX lobby?" and multiple times a day an usher will have to tell them "it's right here!" like they're stupid when there are no signs around telling them that.

So, recently I noticed my boss was getting rid of all these old posters and I was looking through them to see if there were any that would be worth hanging up at home. One of them was for "The Polar Express" which is our highest selling movie ever, mind you that's because we've been showing it every holiday season for thirteen years, the same print. I thought, "Wait a minute, this is the biggest money maker for our theater, packs it out every year, and we have absolutely no promotion for it throughout the museum besides a clip of the trailer playing on flatscreens." It's very likely that many customers walk through our entire museum without even knowing we're playing it! So, I figured why not put that up in front of our concessions stand, then people will be reminded we're playing it and also say to themselves "Hey, this must be where the theater is! I see a movie poster.." Ever since putting it up, I haven't had anyone ask directions to the lobby they're in again, because they would look up and see the cartoon Tom Hanks and indeed feel very stupid.

That doesn't even begin to go into the half of it, but that's all on the part of how our museum is lazily designed and no one seems to want to put in the tiniest bit of effort to make it an easier experience for our customers until I put that rinky dink cardboard sign up.

Anyways, this is obviously a big vent, because you run into a wall with anyone you discuss making changes who works there since to them all they're hearing in every idea you have is more work for them. This has been the modus operandi I've noticed ever since I started working there and I've took it upon myself to make countless little changes like this all around the place without asking permission because I'm just so tired of seeing how dissatisfied the public is with the experience we're offering. I thought you guys as moviegoers might have some interesting feedback. Have you ever been to a theater with locking doors before?
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wilberfan

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Re: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE - modage wuz robbed!
« Reply #22 on: Yesterday at 08:45:50 PM »
0
The first thing I'm impressed by is that it's still possible to have a job running celluloid thru a projector!

And I shudder at the memory of my experience as a manager--with complete responsibility and zero power to actually change anything.   It's the absolute definition of "lose-lose".
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