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I didn’t know a single thing about IMAX before I undertook this restoration, so to give you some context, IMAX (which isn’t an acronym) is a whole enchilada of movie cameras, projectors, and theaters meant to accommodate horizontal (normal film runs vertical) 70mm film, which gets you over eight times the usable surface area as normal 35mm. That’s a lot more detail! It’s also a lot more expensive. Since the switch to cheaper digital systems, IMAX has apparently lost a lot of its luster, but I won’t get into that here. Back in the 90s where we’re concerned, IMAX was still all about 70mm film and “experience” movies, getting up close and personal with space cities, Atlantis, T-rexes, and the Rolling Stones (but I repeat myself). (They weren’t that old yet, I’m kidding.)

I was looking for a good first site to restore since joining the Protoweb team, and the IMAX site from 1998 (thanks to JackNet in the Discord for the suggestion) stuck out to me for being incredibly well-preserved. If you’ve ever used the Wayback Machine, and if you’re interested in Protoweb, I’ll assume you have, you know full well how commonly images and entire pages go missing from its grabs. had, not counting a few subsites that were too nibbled to be usable, perhaps a dozen images across the entire site that needed to be recreated. The rest were all accounted for. Every last page deep in the “Innovations” section? Present in full. Even among the subsites, the ones for T-REX: Back to the Cretaceous and Race for Atlantis were, like a fossilized Pteranodon skull, nicely preserved and nearly perfect. Even the company’s financial records in vintage 90s PDF form were completely intact!

Well-preserved or not, still took some time to restore! This site gave me a nice crash course in recreating images, trying to match fonts and colors and frame timing using an old copy of Microsoft GIF Animator, peeling through inline JavaScript to hide missing hover images, regenerating server-side imagemaps (by 1998, we had client-side ones, but featured the old server-side ones for backwards compatibility and the Wayback Machine never grabs them correctly), and hunting for broken links for a few hours using wget. It was tedious at times, but highly rewarding!

This is a big site, and there’s lots to see on it. If you like movies, there’s a lot about IMAX’s technical achievements, including IMAX Dome, where the film is projected onto a big dome in front of, above, and around the audience, and the ways they were converting their big-screen, 3D movies into attractions and simulator rides that shake, rattle, and roll the seats as the action gets hot on screen. You can even see, with imagemaps of world maps, which IMAX theaters were present around you at the time! (In my limited research, a lot of them are still there too, which is cool.) Happy browsing, folks!

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