Over the past week, “Game of Thrones” has been putting up big numbers, not in the ratings, but at the box office. Fans have been turning out in droves to see the last two episodes of the HBO show’s Season 4 in its one-week Imax-only theatrical release. The big screen has made the Battle of Castle Black -- from Season 4’s “Watchers on the Wall” -- an even more exciting event than when it first premiered last summer. But what had to happen for the show to make the colossal jump from the small screen to Imax?
Since 2002, Imax has been converting major motion pictures into its trademark high resolution format for theatrical release on the worlds’ biggest screens, but “Game of Thrones” is the first television show ever to receive the special treatment. Unlike normal theatrical releases, which requires films’ “digital cinema packages” to be compatible with a range of projectors and screens in various theaters across the country, Imax theaters have a standardized format and, therefore, complete control over the picture and sound quality.
That quality, though, is achieved through a meticulous process called Imax DMR -- digital remastering. The Imax team goes through each frame of film shot by shot, removing and correcting visual noise -- random variations in brightness and color in the original footage -- correcting color, fixing any grainy frames and even reducing any camera unsteadiness.
A similar process enhances the sound quality of the show or movie. Imax sound specialists go through the original production audio tracks -- called “stems” -- and retool them for the uncompressed, full fidelity sound systems in Imax theaters.
The result for “Game of Thrones” is a level of visual quality not possible on television screens, regardless of screen size.
“I’m still kind of in shock,” “Thrones” creator D.B.Weiss told Entertainment Weekly. ”It’s a completely different viewing experience, one that’s so immersive and so superior.”
However, fans eager to experience the superior quality for themselves had better hurry. The Imax release only runs through Thursday. Meanwhile, Season 5 of the popular series will premiere on HBO, on the small screen, April 12.
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