Cool Links Fun Facts Day in the Life Ask an Expert Careers

National Engineering Week
Canada's Top Five Engineering Achievements

The IMAX system of motion picture photography and projection has revolutionized the way the world experiences the movies.  Its story is one of engineering ingenuity and persistence.

At Expo '67 in Montreal, audiences were thrilled by multi-image presentations. Surrounded by screens and filling their field of vision, these presentations, which involved using many different projectors to show multiple, large images simultaneously, took movie-going to a whole new height.  There were problems however; maintenance and synchronization were difficult and operation of the complex projectors was challenging.

Three young Canadians -- Roman Kroitor, Graeme Ferguson and Robert Kerr -- knew that they could come up with a better, all-in-one system.  It was already known that turning 70 mm film sideways created three times the image area.  However, traditional projectors wouldn't take sideways film.  A rolling loop projector prototype from Australia only used 35 mm film but seemed to be a step in the right direction.  They asked Bill Shaw, P.Eng., a mechanical engineer, to take on the challenge of marrying the film with the projector.

Over the next year and a half, Mr. Shaw and his team built three prototypes and chewed up a lot of film in their quest to make the system work.  The larger film required more force to advance it through the projector.  Yet more force meant that the film would bunch up or tear.  Finally, in late 1969, they came up with a way to make the two work together.  It is a system that has remained unchanged.

Film images measuring 10 times larger than conventional 35mm frames and three times bigger than standard 70 mm frames advance through the unique Arolling loop@ projector, and the controlled, wave-like motion of the film results in extraordinary clarity and visual impact.

Bill Shaw has won many awards over the years, including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Leonardo Da Vinci Award.  In presenting the award, the Society noted that it was unusual to see a mechanical engineering development that is still state-of-the-art 30 years later.  IMAX Corporation also received a Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which, in 1997, was upgraded to an Oscar.

Confederation Bridge IMAX Canadarm Transcontinental Railway
Pacemaker Engineering Week


Home | K-6 | 7-9 | 10-12 | Teachers & Parents | Careers
Ask an Expert | Day in the Life | Fun Facts | Cool Links | Calendar of Events
Publications | Comments | APEGGA | Site Map |Contact Us


Edmonton Office
1500 Scotia One
10060 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4A2
Phone: (780) 426-3990
1-800-661-7020 toll free
Fax: (780) 426-1877

Calgary Office
1600 Life Plaza
734 - 7 Avenue S.W.
Calgary, Alberta T2P 3P8
Phone: (403) 262-7714
Fax: (403) 269-2787
Home Contact Us Site Map Teachers & Parents Grades 10 & Up Grades 7-9 Grades K-6 Day in the Life Ask an Expert Cool Links What's New? Careers Comments Publications Events Calendar APEGGA Site