When The Dark Knight explodes into movie theaters today, certain scenes will look a little crisper, a little more real and a lot more intense — sort of like you’re in the action. That’s because director Christopher Nolan used IMAX cameras to film several key sequences of the film, including the opening bank heist and a climactic chase scene featuring the Bat-pod and a tractor-trailer. The Dark Knight marks the first time a director used IMAX cameras to film parts of a traditional theatrical release.
Shooting just a few scenes in IMAX format posed a number of challenges for the director and his crew. As IMAX uses 70 mm film, the cameras are larger and much heavier than a traditional 35 mm format. Not that Nolan and his crew let that stop them from pushing the envelope. To accommodate the cameras, technicians reinforced the head of an Ultimate Arm gyrostabilised remote control camera crane, which allowed the filmmakers to capture – and follow – the action during crucial chase and stunt sequences.
Members of the crew crafted sturdier rigs that could be mounted to the hood of Bruce Wayne’s Lamborghini or the side of a truck; all of the regular camera mounts had to be similarly strengthened. Nolan even convinced his director of photography, Wally Pfister, to shoulder the IMAX camera – literally – to capture a handheld shot of Gotham City’s S.W.A.T. team running into a building.
“Using IMAX technology to shoot some of the action scenes gave us the greatest possible canvas on which to tell the story,” Nolan said. “The result is an incredibly immersive experience.”
— Erin McCarthy