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IMAX On Board

In addition to standard media entertainment presented through IMAX technology, yacht cinemas of the future will feature live video feeds of fish and other underwater life outside the yacht.

Yacht entertainment systems may soon see a big, bold upgrade.

Among the hottest trends in home-entertainment today is 4K TV, which has four times higher image resolution than high-definition television. Marry that to the private cinema experience being regularly installed on board superyachts, and “blockbuster” takes on a whole new meaning. Now imagine the setup employing IMAX technology. It could become reality in a few years, if the client who tapped Ken Freivokh Design for a 492-footer (150-meter) signs a contract with a builder, and it would no doubt leave the door open to more installations just like it.

Image courtesy of Yacht Intelligence/Ken Freivokh Design

Image courtesy of Yacht Intelligence/Ken Freivokh Design

Freivokh’s is reportedly the first yachting design firm to be incorporating IMAX. Yacht Intelligence, which specializes in onboard cinemas with high-end audio and lighting, brought the possibility to his attention. It has been collaborating with IMAX Corporation to adapt IMAX to yachting, and together they wanted a designer to, as Yacht Intelligence puts it, “take the concept to the next level.” Since Yacht Intelligence had a good relationship with Freivokh, he seemed a natural fit.

Freivokh was already working on the above-mentioned 492-footer for a client who, fortunately, welcomes creative suggestions. “We strive to be innovative,” Freivokh said. “We work to evoke an exclusive feeling by developing uncommon spaces that are fundamentally spectacular. The first IMAX cinema on a yacht will be just that.”

The cinema will feature the IMAX Private Theatre system, created for high-end homes. It uses a 20-foot-wide screen to display dual (both 2-D and 3-D) imagery. Each system further has an image enhancer—a camera that reads the images on the screen and then sends them back to the projector for real-time clarity adjustments. IMAX additionally uses a dual 4K projection system to deliver the sharp visuals.

Of course, superyachts present challenges that homes don’t. There’s the spatial restriction of a hull shape, plus tanks and overall stowage for other needs. That’s why Alan Bernardi, director of Yacht Intelligence, believes that IMAX Private Theatres best suit yachts of 328 feet (100 meters) plus and should be incorporated into designs early for best results. “Everything needs to be considered in the design and build, from the technology itself to the usability of the yacht and even which furnishings provide optimum acoustic performance,” he says.

Image courtesy of Yacht Intelligence/Ken Freivokh Design

Image courtesy of Yacht Intelligence/Ken Freivokh Design

Then there’s the enormous size of an IMAX movie file, upwards of 60 gigabytes (GB). Yacht Intelligence says most superyacht clients have a 10- to 20-Mbps bandwidth, so a 60-GB flick will take four hours to download. Yacht Intelligence has dealt with similar download problems and believes varying bandwidth speed is the best solution. In other words, at nighttime (read: low-use periods) speed increases, while during daytime (high-use periods) it decreases. When the yacht is far offshore, initiating downloads overnight and via a VSAT should help.

Given the advanced technology, the 492-footer’s cinema has a special name, the “Nemo Room.” It will display live video feeds of fish and other underwater life from around the yacht on the video screen and even walls. The owner and guests will enter the room through sliding walls, not doors, for seamless immersion. Gaming and regular movies are also in the mix, and video conferencing will be possible, too, though it’ll surely be more fun to see the timbers of an old sunken ship than a board of directors in big, bold definition.

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