ETO X: The race for the best cinema onboard…


With the Med season wrapping up, everyone’s thoughts have now turned to how we will best use the winter period to complete AV/IT upgrades. And though there are many upgrades on the radar, one area demanding a lot of focus this year is the theatre rooms.

I am currently implementing Plex for guests to run alongside the already-installed Kaleidesape. This is simply because it means we can download paid content and get it out to guests faster than if we wait for it to come out on disc, then put it into Kaleidesape. A lot of yachts are also implementing new surround sound, for which Dolby Atmos seems to be a popular choice.

However, most captivating of all are the rumours that there is a newbuild project – expected to be completed next year – installing IMAX projectors on board. This will make it the first boat in history to have an IMAX theatre room.

Of course, the main issue in building an IMAX cinema on board is keeping the projectors stable. It requires two projectors that have to be kept within a certain pixel distance of the screen, and vibrations from the ship could easily make them unwatchable. To counteract this, the shipyard would essentially have to build the IMAX theatre in a rubber room.

This is not a problem for new builds, who would take this into consideration whilst in the design stage. It would also be a possibility in refit for boats of 100m+, as they are likely to have theatre rooms already. As such, it would be a matter of ripping the previous theatre room apart and building the floating rubber room inside. However, it is unlikely that smaller vessels would have the space to fit this level of cinematic technology.

Another potential problem is support; whilst IMAX allegedly offers 24/7 support for any private home cinemas it installs, how will this translate when it comes to a hard-to-reach location in the middle of the ocean?

That said, it is a very exciting project. It seems the yacht is planning to implement dual 4K Laser Projectors – one 2D and the other 3D – over the standard Xenon arc lamp. This technology is not yet being used at land-based IMAX theatres, but as 4K becomes more and more in demand on yachts this is certainly a good way to ensure your vessel is future-proofed.

With developments like this imminent, it will be interesting to see how companies like Sony – who also manufacture 4K projectors – will react in order to secure their share of the yachting cinematic market, as owners race to have the biggest and best. Kaleidescape currently claims to have the largest selection of feature films in true 4K Ultra HD, so will this IMAX theatre be used in conjunction with its online movie store? Or, with streaming servers such as Plex also offering 4K viewing, will Kaleidescape have to find a way to speed up its movie delivery time in order to stay in the game? Only time will tell!

ETO X: The race for the best cinema onboard…

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