Are you looking for a movie tonight? If you have ever wondered what the difference between 3D and IMAX is, or even if there is a difference, the answer is really quite simple. IMAX and 3D are completely separate technologies that, like chocolate and peanut butter, go great together!
3D movie technology is the older of the two formats, dating back to the 1950s, when studios first released a large number of 3D movies. The original 3D systems had a number of problems, so after the initial boom period, very few 3D movies were released until recent developments led to the resurgence of the format. While all movies show the two dimensions of width and height, adding the third dimension of depth requires the projector to deliver slightly different images to each eye. This is done by the glasses given to you when you buy your ticket. There are a number of different types, but for most 3D showings today, you will be given glasses with polarized lenses. This means that the projector can put two images on the screen at the same time, one image which matches the polarization of the left lens of your glasses and one which matches the polarization of the right. This shows each of your eyes a slightly different picture, and your brain adds depth to the scene, just as it does when you look at objects in everyday life.
If you have impaired vision, or are prone to motion sickness, then 3D might not be for you, but otherwise, it can make your movie experience much more vivid.
The IMAX format dates back to the 1970s, and is based on giving you a much larger picture than a standard movie theater does. While a number of different types of venues are branded as IMAX, IMAX screens are typically huge; some may be seven stories high, and IMAX auditoriums have steeply banked stadium seating so that the seats are generally much closer to the screen than in more gently sloping halls. When this intimacy is combined with the high resolution of IMAX cameras and projectors, you feel more immersed in an IMAX movie than you do in a standard theater, and whether the movie is in 2D or 3D, you are much more a part of the action.
Like ordinary theaters, IMAX theaters can show 3D movies, and when you wear the special IMAX 3D glasses the effect of 3D shown on such a large, immersive screen is extraordinary.
So, go ahead and pick a movie. You can choose 2D or 3D, IMAX or standard, or any combination of those. It will all look good, and the popcorn will taste just as salty regardless!