IMAX Enhanced is a new feature that Disney+ recently added to its streaming service. It is only offered for some titles of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and advanced functions of the format are missing to be implemented. Still, the truth is that it looks perfect and without the need for new hardware since any television purchased in recent years can support it.
Some users have good equipment to enjoy home theater, quality televisions, and large diagonals; or use the alternative offered by projectors; multi-channel sound equipment at the level of video and even units dedicated exclusively to enjoying good cinema and getting closer to what a commercial projection room offers at home. We say approach because it is impossible to replicate a movie theater experience and even more so when talking about one as spectacular as IMAX.
What is IMAX Enhanced?
Since it is not possible to replicate the screen size, audio, or the same facilities of this cinematographic projection standard (perhaps the most advanced on the market), what Disney Plus does with IMAX Enhanced is to use its main format. This aspect ratio allows the viewing by 26% over the traditional design of today’s movies and eliminates a good section of the horizontal black stripes.
As you know, the aspect ratio is the ratio between the width and height measurements of a display screen. It is calculated by dividing both and generally expressed as “X: Y,” although trade names can also find it. There are plenty of them, each with their native resolutions. If the most common computer monitors today are 16:9, 16:10, or 21:9, others are used in cinematography.
While a movie shot in ultrawide format uses an aspect ratio of 2.39:1, IMAX uses unique cameras and tapes to deliver 1.90:1. Since home TVs are generally 1.77:1 aspect ratio, you still see the black lines, but they are much smaller in size, improving viewing capacity and offering a much better experience.
Although some platforms such as Sony’s Bravia Core or Rakuten TV support it, Disney + is the only streaming service among the big ones that offer it. At the moment, it is limited to some Marvel titles and not entirely in video or audio.
It must be said that IMAX Enhanced is more than just a particular aspect ratio. Includes certifications and guidelines for HDR high dynamic range content and advanced audio standards. For example, IMAX partnered with the company responsible for DTS (alternative to Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos) to include its features. Disney has not yet added these features, although it is expected to do so in the future.
Also, note that the extremely high price of IMAX camera systems reduces their use in film productions (just as it limits the number of theaters available to project them). There is not as much content as those passionate about this type of film would like. In addition, some films do not use it in all of their footage and are limited to shooting some types of scenes, such as action scenes.
IMAX Enhanced: better experience and free
As we said, Disney + currently supports the format for some Marvel deliveries. It is only available for some scenes in titles like Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, or Black Widow. In contrast, others like the last two installments of Avengers or Shang-Chi offer it throughout its entire length.
In these cases, if you add a good soundbar or (better) a complete set with an A/V amplifier and good speakers in a multi-channel system, the experience is outstanding, always understanding our limitations at home, size of the living room, or the television. And the respect due to the neighbors if you turn up the volume.
The good thing is that Disney+ offers it at no additional cost to the subscription price and that it has promised to add features (and hopefully more movies beyond Marvel) to this IMAX format that we can get closer to at least in its format, increase viewing a 26% no less and reduce those annoying black streaks of traditional ultrawide designs that are the vast majority of today’s film landscape. Even most titles recorded for IMAX end up in standard format when distributed to the home.
Another advantage. You do not need additional hardware or dedicated televisions to enjoy this format. Although Sony, HiSense, or TCL models take advantage of marketing to show themselves as “compatible,” the reality is that you can use it on almost any television purchased from 2018. Or on mobile devices or PC monitors through web browsers or the Disney+ apps. And if you don’t like this format (it will be rare), some titles also offer the standard widescreen version, with a selection of one or the other in the ‘versions‘ tab.
IMAX Enhanced on Disney Plus does not go much beyond the enlarged aspect ratio, and specifications are lacking, especially on the audio side. Still, this adaptation is appreciated, which allows you to get closer to what IMAX offers from the comfort of your living room.