Earlier this year, J.J. Abrams tweeted a picture of an IMAX camera from the set of Star Wars: Episode VII. We knew the majority of the film was being shot in 35mm, but if you were hoping for IMAX to be a large (no pun intended) part of the movie, you’re going to be disappointed.
In an article largely about Interstellar and its use of IMAX, Variety dropped in a small tidbit from Episode VII: “The benefits outweigh the headache of shooting on Imax cameras,” says Abrams, who used them for a single sequence in “Star Wars.” “The opportunity to have an action sequence for this movie done in Imax’s natural format was too delicious an idea to pass up. As a filmgoer, it’s something I want to see.” Hit the jump for more. Star Wars: Episode VII opens December 18, 2015.
Abrams isn’t wrong when he talks about the drawbacks of using IMAX cameras. I love IMAX, but I understand why directors are wary of the technology because while it can facilitate some truly remarkable shots, they cameras are also noisy and cumbersome. Perhaps as IMAX continues to perfect its cameras and make them smaller and quieter more directors will embrace the format, but in the meantime, IMAX remains a format where only a select few directors such as Christopher Nolan and Michael Bay know how to properly use it.
I am a bit perplexed that there’s only one sequence in Episode VII that uses IMAX. IMAX changes the aspect ratio for a movie, and since most films don’t use IMAX for all the shots, the ratio keeps changing throughout the movie. This change is usually subtle, but it also helps that IMAX is periodically used throughout the film.
But with Episode VII only using it in one sequence, I’m curious to see how it will play. Is it the centerpiece action scene of the picture or just one that really facilitated the use of IMAX cameras? When the sequence ends, will it feel like “And now we return you to your regularly sized film?” I doubt it will be a big deal, but I can’t recall another recent film that only used IMAX for one scene. If anyone does, sounds off in the comments section.