IMAX Corporation

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum

Not to be confused with I'Max.




Background

IMAX Corporation is a Canadian theater company which designs and manufactures IMAX cameras and projection systems as well as film development, production, post production and distribution to IMAX affiliated theaters worldwide. It was founded in 1968 as a result of Expo 67 in Montreal. It holds operations in Toronto, as well as New York and Los Angeles. They didn't use an animated logo until 1978.

1st Logo (1978-1993)



Visuals: There is a moving star field for a few seconds before a light tunnel appears in the distance and engulfs the screen. The light tunnel changes colors and shapes throughout this part of the logo (a la the 1970s Doctor Who titles or the famous "Stargate" sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and coincidentally, the studio behind this logo was also the design consultant of that film). It eventually moves even faster through the tunnel as light trails quickly zoom past, with some forming "X" shapes. There is then a flash, which replaces the tunnel with an extreme close-up of a blue outline of the IMAX logo, which zooms away with a light trail. When the IMAX logo is at a comfortable distance, the light trail disappears into the logo, which turns dark blue/purple.

Trivia: The tunnel was a template to dome cinemas in buildings such as the St. Louis Science Center.

Variant: A similar logo was made for “Omnimax” theaters, featuring different shapes and patterns in the stargate tunnel. The IMAX logo at the end is replaced by the "Omnimax" respectively as well.

Technique: Slitscan animation by Graphic Films.

Audio: Various humming sounds and eerie bell sounds that fit the mood of space are heard at the start, and a weird sound effect reminiscent of a jet engine starting up and taking off while inside the tunnel. The music and sound effects get more intense as the camera moves faster through the tunnel, along with whooshes that accompany the light trails and flash. When the IMAX logo is on screen, a futuristic organ-like chord reminiscent of the THX Deep Note is heard.

Availability: Most likely seen in the 1980s in IMAX Dome, or "Omnimax", theaters. It is unlikely this was shown in normal theaters. The Omnimax variant is considered lost, although it was partially resurfaced in an Illinois theater with a different logo design.

Legacy: Many consider this logo as one of the greatest theatrical logos ever, due to its animation.

2nd Logo (1993-2007)


Visuals: On a black background, a glowing orange "IMAX" zooms in. While it does, blue stripes shaped like thunderbolts fade in behind. "IMAX" then stops near the bottom of the screen, and then the logo fades out.

Variant: There is another variant in which the IMAX logo zooms in a little closer and settles in the center rather than the bottom of the screen. This was most likely used as a 3D effect for IMAX 3D releases. The blue stripes are also in the center, but they are thinner and further away. Another variant contains the blue stripes animated, spinning around and glowing.

Technique: CGI by Kleiser/Walczak.

Audio: A futuristic synth/orchestra fanfare.

Availability: Seen on IMAX screens between 1993 and 2004, and also preserved on DVD and Blu-ray releases of IMAX productions, as well as the IMAX version of Apollo 13. The animated variant was spotted on Mission to Mir (1997).

3rd Logo (November 5, 2003-May 25, 2012)


Visuals: On a traditional film backdrop, "SEE MORE", "HEAR MORE", and "FEEL MORE" are displayed before the countdown begins at 10. At 8, the scene makes a sudden transition to a blue CGI space environment as 7 becomes "THE WORLD'S LARGEST SCREENS", 5 becomes "12,000 WATTS OF DIGITAL SURROUND SOUND", and 3 becomes "CRYSTAL CLEAR IMAGES". The CGI text is in the same font as the IMAX logo. Finally, the screen zooms past the 1 as "THE ULTIMATE MOVIE EXPERIENCE" flips in against a black/blue background with blue mist and 3 rotating rings. The text then flips over to reveal a blue IMAX logo. After one of the rings passes over the logo, it dissolves to "think big" as the screen gets darker and the rings move off-screen before the screen acts like a TV turning off.

Variants:

  • On DMR releases, the text after the 1 says "DIGITALLY TRANSFORMED" before flipping out and disappearing to make room for "THE ULTIMATE MOVIE EXPERIENCE". The logo's running time is also slightly longer to accomodate this. At digital locations, instead of turning off like a TV, the whole thing fades to a black screen featuring the DLP logo.
  • On later digital screenings, "think big" is omitted, and the DLP logo fades in before the logo fades out. Sometimes, only the tail end, starting with the IMAX logo already present, is shown.

Technique: CGI by Hammer Creative.

Audio: Flash photography sounds, grainy film sounds, and the countdown sound are heard with the traditional film backdrop before transitioning into an intense futuristic synth piece with drums and other sound effects. A more relaxing synth-piano piece is heard when "IMAX" faces us. The electricity buzzing sound can briefly be heard as the screen "turns off."

Audio Variants:

  • In the DMR variant, there is an extra "boom" when "THE ULTIMATE MOVIE EXPERIENCE" flies into view, and the synth piece resumes as normal.
  • The DLP variant does not have the electric buzzing noise; there is only the end of the relaxing synth chord when the logo finishes.

Availability: First seen in IMAX theatres before The Matrix Revolutions: The IMAX Experience, and last seen before IMAX and IMAX 3D prints of Men in Black 3. This is sometimes preserved on DVD and Blu-ray releases of IMAX productions, including Under the Sea 3D.

4th Logo (March 3, 2004-)


Visuals: On a black background, there is the IMAX logo in blue zoom in towards the screen.

Variant: In Island of Lemurs: Madagascar, the logo is still.

Technique: CGI.

Audio: None or the opening theme of the movie.

Availability: Seen on almost all of its movies since 2004 (and usually through Warner Bros. Pictures). First seen on NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience.

5th Logo (2005-November 2015 [2019 in Brazil; 2005-present in some theaters])


Visuals: The sequence begins at a three-dimension grid of spheres, spinning around the space, as a voice instructs to prepare for the "IMAX Theater Optimization Cross-Check". At the conclusion of this voiceover, the spheres turn past 180 degrees and end on a slope. After a quick fade, the sequence ends up at another grid, and zoom out of the space to discover a rectangle of spheres. After this, the vertical axis expands by a fair bit; and then flips on its side and expands its size, to reflect IMAX's large screen (a female voice comes in mentioning the screen has been maximized). Another quick fade happens, and a wavy pattern forms from a flash. After the male voiceover returns to "power up" the projectors, another flash happens that wipes away the wavy patterns. Then a teal landscape of waves forms, almost akin to a virtual desert. After falling into one of these waves, it dissolves away and then a spiral of spheres converge into a cylinder. After a short piano theme and another voiceover mentioning IMAX's sound system, the spheres break from the cylindrical formation and return to the spiral. The camera looks upward and the spiral pattern in its entirety, with the female voiceover mentioning the sounds had been perfected. Initially, the camera rises slowly, but after the female voiceover finishes; the movement quickly accelerate, and streaks of light come into the frame while the male voiceover comes in to "prepare the audience for maximum impact". Shortly after this voiceover finishes, another flash happens, and the spheres dissolve into the same wavy patterns as before. The screen then cuts away to another wavy landscape full of spheres, although not quite as detailed. Finally, after the male voice mentions "the world's most immersive movie experience begins...", the IMAX logo dissolves in. After a couple of seconds, the announcer finishes his sentence with "...now." Right as he completes the sentence, one final flash with a sphere around it hits the screen, before fading out.

Variant: In the IMAX AMC variant, there is more red, due to the partnership with AMC Theatres.

Technique: CGI.

Audio: Two main voiceovers, a male leader (Jonathan Cook) and a female assistant. Additionally, other sounds include mechanical whirring sounds, high-tech audio noises, and a short piano ditty. Simple, but effective.

Audio Variants: In Brazilian theaters, the voiceovers are in Portuguese.

Availability: Was used as an alternate IMAX trailer in tandem with the 3rd and 6th logos, serving as a more technical trailer compared to the more aggressive nature of those two trailers. This trailer's objective was eventually replaced with the 7th logo, but was retained in Brazil as late as 2019. Although this trailer was retired in 2015 for the 7th logo instead, some theaters still retain this trailer, such as the IMAX Theater at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, NJ.

6th Logo (June 8, 2012-)


Visuals: Same as the 3rd logo, but the blue CGI environment looks more enhanced and appears to be in space. The first three words, shown against the film backdrop, now read "PREPARE... TO... BELIEVE" in Impact font. The phrases in the countdown now read "MIND-BLOWING IMAGES", "EARTH SHATTERING SOUND", and "THE ULTIMATE MOVIE EXPERIENCE", respectively. Also, the words and numbers are now silver instead of a metallic blue, and the phrase from the DMR variant of the previous logo, "DIGITALLY TRANSFORMED... THE ULTIMATE MOVIE EXPERIENCE", now reads "WATCH A MOVIE... OR BE PART OF ONE" and is now shown before native IMAX productions as well. The text appears over a moving blue starfield. As the ring passes over the IMAX logo, a silver line with the text "- IS BELIEVING -" underneath it are wiped in below the logo. The whole thing then fades out, leaving a thin, blue silhouette of one of the rings that shines as it moves off-screen and a flash in the middle of the screen.

Variants:

  • In non-English-speaking countries that have IMAX theaters, the text is in their respective languages.
  • At digital locations, the whole thing instead faded to a black screen featuring the DLP logo until 2018, where the ring silhouette version is the standard variant still used today.
  • As with the 3rd logo, only the tail end is shown sometimes. This mostly appears on Christopher Nolan's films, including Interstellar, Dunkirk and Oppenheimer.
  • When IMAX opened its 1000th theater in Taiyuan, China, a special variant was made for this. The opening text reads "CELEBRATING... 1000... THEATERS." Nothing else was changed except for the music.
  • On some occasions, "-IS BELIEVING-" would not appear below the IMAX logo.

Technique: CGI.

Audio:

  • June 8, 2012-November 5, 2015: Same as the 3rd logo. Although it would be replaced by the "Sonic Anthem" in late 2015, this is still used in the short version.
  • November 6, 2015-present: A synth/orchestra piece known by IMAX themselves as the "Sonic Anthem", composed by Joel Beckerman at Man Made Music. The sounds at the beginning however, mostly remain the same.

Availability: Currently shown on IMAX screens. The film-specific variants were only shown before their respective films. The non-digital versions are rare, as by the time this logo debuted; digital cinema had been in the overwhelming majority of IMAX installations. The Sonic Anthem made it's debut before IMAX screenings of Spectre.

7th Logo (December 18, 2015-)


Visuals: On a black background, there is the IMAX logo, the first half lit in blue, and the other half dim. The full logo starts to light up after a few seconds, retaining a blue glow around it. The sequence starts to zoom in to the logo. While that happens, the logo transforms from a glossy texture to a futuristic city skyline. A full view of the city is later shown as it appears to be entering a very high-tech tunnel. A diamond suddenly pops up and shoots out purple-blue-green color. Then a video reel that is meant to look like a film strip (a la Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment) of a racing automobile speeds across a track. The screen pans around the race car in driver's view, putting 2 more racing cars in view. It then starts to travel at lightspeed, teleporting to a blue background with what seems to be blurred circles forming a circle as the screen zooms through it. Audio visualization waves pop up from the left and right of the screen. The waves later fade out and fade back in as one wave, shown at the center of the screen, then later the bottom. Mini-explosions occur, causing the scene to change. There is a pin falling to what seems to be sand (or dirt) specks. The pin bounces and shines. Change of scene: On a very starry night, there is a plane starting to take off. The plane starts to leave wavy streaks behind it, later to become a solid to form the IMAX logo. After a few seconds, the screen zooms past the logo.

Technique: CGI by design artist Timothy Evans.

Audio: Corresponding sound effects throughout the logo, beginning with 3 timpani hits. After that, Aaron May says "Welcome to IMAX, the world's most immersive movie experience. Powered by a combination of the most advanced technology, we'll take you from the edge of your seat (slight pause) to the edge of reality. Enjoy crystal clear images (slight pause) and colors so intense, they will take your breath away! In specially designed theaters (pause) that bring you closer to the movies you love. Huge panoramic screens (pause) that allow you to escape into your favorite movie scenes, and immersive sound (pause) that will surround you from here..." A trap song plays. "...here... and here. (long pause) We can take you from a pindrop..." There is the sound of a pindrop falling. "...to the thunder of a jet engine." Then the jet engine soaring. "So, sit back, and get ready to enjoy an unparalleled movie experience. (long pause) IMAX. Never compromise."

Availability: Currently shown on IMAX screens, alongside the previous logo. First seen on the IMAX release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Logo (2010s)



Visuals: Various crystals are shown as the text "CRYSTAL CLEAR IMAGES" appears on screen. Then there is a spiky, metallic layer pulse with what is presumably the intended audio of the logo, the text "IMMERSIVE SOUND" appearing to the left. An explosion of blue and silver energy occurs, followed by an explosion that includes some normal colored fire but is mostly magenta. Purple and turquoise crystal-like energy forms as "WIDER COLOR SPECTRUM" appears to its right. What almost looks like a pulsing pelt of fur made of gold is shown with the text "EXCLUSIVITY". Finally many rainbow pins of light form an iris-like shape as the text "ADVANCED THEATER TECHNOLOGY" appears to the bottom right. The IMAX logo forms in an unknown way.

Technique: CGI by Michael Daniels at Devastudios.

Audio: Unknown, as everything is just style frames.

Availability: Unused. Can only be seen in the form of style frames on Michael Daniels' website here.

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