The IMAX theatre on board M/Y Lady S is one of a kind and truly magnificent. Not only does the double height room have twin IMAX projectors, it also features a fully certified Dolby Atmos sound system. IMAX for video and Dolby for sound. That may be a dream combination to those in the know, but it wasn’t plain sailing to achieve this wonderful space.
The client knew they wanted an IMAX theatre when they ordered the vessel from renowned yacht builder Feadship. This was important as the entire general arrangement of the vessel needed to be planned around the theatre space, not only because of spanning two decks, but also positioning was critical to ensure it was in the most stable part of the vessel and away from areas that would generate a lot of noise (such as the engine room).
There were quite a lot of changes required to make the IMAX Private Theatre meet the clients requirements.
The SMART team redesigned the entire audio chain to encompass Dolby Atmos and consumer audio formats, as well as the consumer video chain to ensure 4K playback was possible and integrated with the vessel’s wider AV system.
We took charge of the discussion's with the shipyard and noise & vibration specialist from California, to ensure the theatre was as quiet as possible, yet realistically achievable in its implementation. To ensure a perfect delivery, we were part of the commissioning team ensuring the relevant standards were met and pragmatically suggesting ways they could be achieved.
The engineering management was also overseen by SMART, collaborating with integrators and various specialists that were brought in during the build and commissioning stages.
The room features twin IMAX projectors which project into a mirror system and through the projection windows onto the massive 2:1 ratio curved screen. The projectors aren’t exactly small, so they needed to be housed within their own room at the rear of the theatre on a lift mechanism that would automatically lower for the projectors to be serviced. The projectors themselves are not quiet things, the wall between the projector room and the theatre required acoustic treatment to ensure the client or their guests could not hear the projectors or the cooling fans.
The room itself sits over 3.5 metres high, allowing a screen that is almost 6 meters wide to fit. The staged seating gives everyone in the theatre the perfect view of the screen.
The sound system is not that of a standard IMAX Private Theatre, but under SMART's direction, it was customised to ensure compatibility with the commercial version of the Dolby Atmos sound format.
Dolby Atmos and IMAX speaker layouts are very different (understandably) so being able to reproduce the sonic experience as the movie director intended is really quite impressive. This was done with some clever positioning of the speakers, multiple sound map files, and curves in the digital signal processor. Depending on the format played back, the speakers automatically remap to reproduce the sound as was intended by the mixing engineers in the Hollywood studios.
There are seventeen speakers, seven subwoofers and over 11 kW of audio power within the theatre.
Of course, we didn’t do this alone and none of it would have been possible without the support of the shipyard and the various specialists involved throughout.
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