Experience Chloé Zhao's Full Vision For 'Eternals' at Home with IMAX
IMAX's Expanded Aspect Ratio showcases the vast scale of Marvel Studios' latest blockbuster, now streaming on Disney+!
"When we set out to make Eternals, the word 'immersion' was everything," explains director Chloé Zhao.
Marvel Studios' Eternals arrived earlier this week on Disney+, and you can stream last year's blockbuster hit with IMAX's Expanded Aspect Ratio and witness Zhao's full vision in the comfort of your own home.
"In IMAX, especially with the Expanded Aspect Ratio, it gives so much more," continues Zhao in the featurette above. "The reason why EAR particularly worked well with Eternals is that we're constantly seeing our characters, which is human-sized, interacting with Celestials that are ten times the size of Earth. So it's actually a tool to immerse the audience in the experience of our characters. IMAX just finds that perfect balance, the mythology of the Celestials, the origin of the MCU, in the most glorious format."
In celebration of Eternals' arrival on Disney+, Marvel.com had the opportunity to speak to Bruce Markoe, senior vice president of post production/operations and DMR at IMAX, and Evan Jacobs, creative finishing supervisor at Marvel Studios, on how IMAX's EAR enhances the home viewing experiences and highlights Zhao's theatrical vision.
Marvel.com: Through the power of IMAX Enhanced, Marvel fans and Disney+ users have the opportunity to witness the majesty as close to director Chloé Zhao’s intended vision of Marvel Studios’ Eternals in the comfort of our homes. How much of Eternals is expanded in IMAX’s exclusive Expanded Aspect Ratio (“EAR”)?
Bruce Markoe: Eternals features around 67 minutes of IMAX’s expanded aspect ratio – including 60 minutes in our 1.90 aspect ratio and 7 minutes in the larger 1.43 ratio, which is a first for Marvel.
Evan Jacobs: Translating IMAX’s 1.43 ratio for the home environment presented an interesting challenge. We looked at a couple of options, including what is referred to as ‘pillar-boxing.’ That means instead of black bars on the top and bottom, they appear on the sides of the frame so that you get the entire 1.43 image.
But for Eternals, because those scenes are intended to be overwhelming in scale, the idea of going from a bigger image to a smaller image seemed like the opposite creatively of what we wanted to do.
So instead, we filled the frame in its entirety: going from 1.90 to 1.78 for those 1.43 sequences. That way, we’re filling the screen at home as much as possible.
Marvel.com: Eternals was Zhao’s first foray into filming for IMAX, which she credits fellow director Denis Villeneuve in showing her the scope of what IMAX has to offer. How did IMAX’s EAR contribute to Eternals’ storytelling and enhance Zhao’s predominantly grounded approach to filmmaking?
Bruce Markoe: The most important thing for us is that we honor and preserve the filmmaker’s storytelling choices. We’re delighted that Ms. Zhao pushed the envelope with her utilization of expanded aspect ratio to heighten some of the film’s most epic, immersive qualities. Ms. Zhao spent a lot of time at IMAX Headquarters viewing different versions and worked in a live interactive environment in our theater to test out different looks to optimize the movie for our screens.
Evan Jacobs: What’s critical is communicating the emotional intent of a storytelling moment. There are times when you open up the aspect ratio and you can almost feel the audience lean in. And then with the 'World Forge' sequence, we fill the TV all the way to 1.78 you can feel the emotionality and how it serves the story. It makes more of a difference than you think, by subliminally pulling you into the picture without being a distraction.
Marvel.com: Did your team collaborate with Zhao and her team on how to tailor her creative vision for the large format theatrical and for the home presentation and make the visceral worlds something audiences can almost feel and touch?
Bruce Markoe: We collaborated closely with Ms. Zhao and the Marvel team to ensure they were maximizing the benefits of our “Filmed for IMAX” program – from using IMAX-certified digital cameras during production to optimizing use of expanded aspect ratio throughout the post-production process. We were quite hands-on in providing guidance and support for different creative scenarios, which translated beautifully as an IMAX presentation, both theatrically and in-home.
Evan Jacobs: Chloe was meticulous in making certain choices with cameras, lenses, framing and composition for Eternals in IMAX; nothing was an afterthought. Therefore, the transition from theatrical to the home in IMAX Enhanced is seamless; you can trust that the version you’re seeing is what the filmmaker intended.
Marvel.com: How does IMAX's EAR balance the scale of a MCU blockbuster with the intimacy of a Zhao film? And how does IMAX translate that balance and then accommodate for the different types of television sets and devices the average Disney+ user has in their home?
Bruce Markoe: The great thing about IMAX EAR is that it puts the viewer at the center of the action, which creates an effect that feels both expansive and intensely intimate. This translates nicely in the home on any TV, where using multiple aspect ratios can pull viewers into select scenes as they expand. Ms. Zhao is masterful at finding subtle, unique ways of harnessing that dynamic to make the overall viewing experience even more transporting.
In terms of the in-home product, our #1 priority is providing the highest-fidelity experience for the consumer, bar none. For those with devices capable of IMAX-quality playback, they’ll soon be rewarded with additional features that will amplify an already incredible experience.
Evan Jacobs: Through IMAX’s Expanded Aspect Ratio, IMAX Enhanced carries the filmmaker’s intention all the way to the home. Our fans are not casual viewers; they seek out ways to recreate a more theatrical experience at-home.
Believe me when I say Marvel films are the most heavily scrutinized and analyzed, so we set the bar extremely high to avoid any technical errors. Everything is faithfully and honestly translated to consider the home viewing environment.
Marvel.com: In Eternals, which scene or sequence really demonstrates how immersive IMAX's EAR experience can be?
Bruce Markoe: Certainly the 7-minute scene with the Celestials is quite effective in how it opens up the canvas to allow for a larger aspect ratio. All three aspect ratios in the movie work to further pull you into the action and drama of each scene as it unfolds.
Evan Jacobs: The ‘World Forge’ sequence is particularly impressive but there are many other scenes where it adds something. Babylon, for example, looks awesome. Chloé put a lot of time into crafting the IMAX experience, so it’s great that people can experience the film that way at home.
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