Science Museum's Imax films debut on Blu-ray

  • Article by: RANDY A. SALAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 16, 2011 - 2:16 PM

The dunes of the Namib Desert are featured in "The Greatest Places."

Photo: SCIENCE MUSEUM OF MINNESOTA

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Imax films have always been ahead of their time.

"We were shooting in high-def before the words existed," said Mike Day, a senior vice president at the Science Museum of Minnesota, which has produced many short documentaries in the oversized film format through the years.

Two of those films, "The Greatest Places" and "Search for the Great Sharks," debut Tuesday on Blu-ray. And they look as stunning as the day they were first shown on gigantic Imax screens in the mid- to late '90s, more than a decade before the high-definition discs became popular.

"Shooting in the world's largest film format, the data we have on every frame is more than anything," said Day, who oversees all things Imax at the St. Paul museum. "So going to Blu-ray for us, it's like we had to wait until the technology was invented."

Imax films are visual essays filled with eye-popping imagery, whether it's the towering sand dunes of the Namib Desert in "The Greatest Places" or the rarely captured coral reef spawning in "Search for the Great Sharks." Blu-ray presents it in uncompromised fidelity on home-theater screens.

"Visually, it couldn't be a more perfect marriage," Day said.

And because the films emphasize vivid cinematography, they don't feel dated.

"We purposely designed these films for a 20-year shelf life, and we have exceeded that," Day said.

Because the Science Museum of Minnesota produced the films -- the institution's logo is stamped on the Blu-ray covers -- it receives royalties from each disc sold. That's true whether fans buy the $15 to $20 titles at the museum's gift shop, Best Buy, Amazon or other retailers.

Tuesday's release of "The Greatest Places" and "Search for the Great Sharks" is the first volley in a four-picture Blu-ray deal with Inception Media Group. Coming July 12 are two even older Imax films produced by the museum, "Ring of Fire" and "Tropical Rainforest," from the early '90s.

It's about time that home-video technology caught up.

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