The entire process of hot-rodding the m130 is documented in an exhaustive, yet entertaining article over at The Verge. Aside from financial considerations, sticking with the device was a practical decision designed to make projectionists’ lives easier. As a company spokesperson told Motherboard:
“The original Quick Turn Reel Units operated on PalmPilots. In advance of the release of ‘Oppenheimer,’ Imax Engineering designed and manufactured an emulator that mimics the look and feel of a PalmPilot to keep it simple and familiar for Imax film projectionists.”
Is this ingenuity worth the trouble? Though the exhibition of actual film is now a boutique industry, I assure you, if you take a Zoomer who’s grown up on DCP projection and streaming media, they will sense the difference. As utilized by a visual master like Nolan, it will likely blow their minds.
I know that young shutterbugs have been getting turned on by analog photography of late, so the celluloid adherent in me doesn’t want to give up hope as to the fate of 35mm and 70mm film. Digital won this battle long ago, but if a massively popular director like Nolan can turn younger generations on to the unmatched texture and beauty of film, a renewed demand for the projection of celluloid doesn’t seem entirely unrealistic. The challenge would be finding people skilled enough to run the projectors.
But if a ridiculously outmoded Palm Pilot can prove useful in 2023, surely we can find mechanically inclined people to master the art of projection. And when people discover movies don’t have to look dark and lifeless, maybe the industry’s current revival will turn into an artistic windfall. Wouldn’t it be nice?