IMAX seats can be notoriously pricey so it makes sense that you want to book the best seat in the house.
This guide will help you choose the best in an IMAX theater and get the most out of the experience.
The best seats in an IMAX theater are in the middle, around four or five rows from the back. You should be in the center both vertically and horizontally. These are prime spots in terms of movie sound and projection. You get the clearest audio and picture, with the least overall distortion.
If the IMAX theater is built to standards, the optimal seats are always two-thirds from the big screen. These are the best for both visual & aural perception.
The middle seats in a theater are the positions that audio mixing rooms are meant to stimulate. They have a more clear-cut separation between surround sound channels.
If you are sitting towards the left end of the row, the sound of the leftmost speaker is bound to be louder than those on the right, and vice versa.
If you are sitting closer to the front, the dialogues will sound louder than ideal. You will also not get to appreciate the surround effects.
Sitting in the front row will also be tricky during 3D films. Eye strain becomes an issue. Meanwhile, if you sit off to one side, the picture gets slanted.
You should go for the middle seats – middle front to back, middle left to right – and avoid sitting in the front rows, last rows, or near the edges.
Sitting closer or further from the screen is a personal choice, but you should still know your options. This will spell the difference in your overall viewing experience.
IMAX screens are huge. When you sit in the front row, immersion is increased as the image fills up more of your view. However, since a human's peripheral vision is not infinite, you will not see the entire picture if you are too close.
Many moviegoers also report discomfort when they are seated in the first couple of rows. This has to do with moving the neck and eyes side to side to view the whole screen.
When you sit in front, you have to tilt your head and neck upward because of the screen’s position relative to your seat. This can be rectified if you sit further inside the IMAX theater.
Moreover, 3D images tend to have more depth when you sit in the back. Of course, this places scene objects further away from you. You will also get to follow fast action easier.
Regardless of your preference to sit in front or back, you should aim to be near the centerline, from left to right, to minimize image distortion.
Locate the center of the IMAX theater by drawing two diagonal lines through the cinema. The intersection of the two lines is the center.
The centerline of the theater provides the best experience, both visually and aurally, so booking these seats is a must.
It is easy to find the center of the theater when you buy your ticket online. Since you can view the theater’s layout, you will be able to select the best seats in advance.
Lateral positioning will determine the sound quality you will experience while in the IMAX theater, so it is an important consideration when choosing your seat.
IMAX utilizes a proprietary surround sound system allowing audio to be delivered from all directions. This increases the audience's immersion in the movie they are watching.
Because of this surround sound, you will want to sit at the center of the theater, from left to right. You can get the most comprehensive sound experience this way.
Lateral positioning also affects how much image distortion is perceived by the audience.
It should not matter if you sit in the front or back row as long as you are at the center of the theater.
If there are no available seats in the center, you can sit in one of the back corners. Image distortion is not significant at this angle.
There are three things to consider when deciding on a seat in an IMAX theater – sound system, 3D projection, and keystone distortion.
IMAX’s sound system ensures that only high-quality immersive audio will be presented to the audience. There are twelve channels to ensure that sound appears to come from all around you instead of behind the screen.
Having 12 speakers (seven around and five above the theater) means you need to carefully consider where you are going to sit. If you are too close to any of the speakers, this can drown out other sounds. Certain audios will also seem closer than others.
This is why seating at the dead center of the IMAX theater gives you the best auditory experience.
3D projection is another aspect you need to consider since it is a central feature in the whole IMAX experience.
Your seating position in the theater will decide your level of enjoyment when watching a 3D movie. It is not ideal if you sit too close or too far since the 3D process slightly distorts the image if not viewed head-on.
If you sit in the front row, the image will appear twisted from being off-center and compacted from being too close.
Meanwhile, the further you sit from the screen, the stronger and more profound the 3D effect will register in your eyes.
Keystoning happens when an image is projected onto an angled surface. Unless keystone correction is applied, the effect will cause the image to look misaligned and not flat.
Theaters correct keystone distortion, but some remain visible in the picture, especially when viewed from certain angles, particularly from the side.
You must choose a seat in the IMAX theater where the keystone effect appears minimal while watching. The center seats are your best option for this.