With 11 cinemas in the UK now offering an ISENSE film experience, from Bournemouth to Birmingham, and many more planned for 2019, we investigate what ISENSE cinemas are and whether it is worth trying at your local Odeon.

What is ISENSE?

ISENSE screens are part of Odeon Cinemas and can only be found in Odeon multiplexes. It is Odeon’s own brand large screen format, rivalling that of Vue’s Extreme screen and most significantly IMAX.

Consisting of 4K digital projection, Dolby Atmos 3D sound system with large optimised screen plus the added benefits of a luxury screen environment including leather recliners and extra legroom, ISENSE is an immersive film experience.

ISENSE screens are big; really really big, in order to compete with IMAX screens. One screen in the UK measures 55ft in width and 23ft in height. That’s as long as two double decker buses! ISENSE screens uses state-of-the-art 4K digital projectors which allows for four times the resolution of standard projectors, providing nearly nine million pixels for a more detailed picture. The picture quality is noticeably better than your average cinema screen, delivering all the brightness and clarity you would expect from 4K resolution. ISENSE screens are also curved in order to benefit from light reflection which is pretty significant in 3D films.

However the real highlight of ISENSE cinemas is the introduction of Dolby Atmos 3D sound projection. It is a huge leap forward in sound quality when compared to your average cinema screen sound system. Similarly to the digital projection, this technology enables audiences to truly hear the whole picture, with incredible clarity to each sound unlike any other system currently available in the UK.

So what are the differences between ISENSE and IMAX?

Both ISENSE and IMAX are in essence, large screen cinema formats built to maximise the screen size and quality of projection. They give you the chance to experience films on a much larger screen, with noticeably improved picture and sound whilst enjoying a superior auditorium environment. This is, when compared to the average 2D film screening at a multiplex.

Nevertheless, there are notable differences between the two options:

1.) IMAX screens have been built to showcase films shot specifically in IMAX format, a proprietary technology that originates from Canada in the 1970’s. It is a closed technology system meaning that only films shot by IMAX cameras, with the right calibration and resolution can be shown on IMAX screens.  Cinemas must meet very strict guidelines on theatre dimensions, resolution, calibration and sound in order to use the trademark and sell IMAX tickets. This differs to ISENSE where any film, as long as it was shot in 4K can be shown on an ISENSE screen. Both large screen formats offer you 4k digital projection so there shouldn’t be any differences in picture brightness and clarity.

2.) However not all films are shot in IMAX, and as such, there are significantly more options for films to be shown in ISENSE versus IMAX. This makes ISENSE more inclusive to both filmmakers and audiences alike.

3.) This is very much in our experience, but the sound quality witnessed from the Dolby Atmos system is far superior to the IMAX Sonics Sound system. This is not to say that sound quality in IMAX theatres is not excellent and suitably impressive. Dolby Atmos is just newer technology that allows for sound clarity and atmosphere I have not experienced in IMAX screenings.

4.) IMAX is a global brand in it’s own right. It is proud and protective of the quality of film experience audiences receive when watching a film in their technology. Yet this comes at a cost which is why IMAX tickets are more expensive than ISENSE tickets. This is another positive for the ISENSE format which can offer a similar experience for a reduced cost.

5.) Importantly though, IMAX screens are generally still larger in size and scale than ISENSE screens – which means from a visual impact and experience point of view, this can really affect your enjoyment of a film. This is the key differentiator between ISENSE and IMAX. And why people would still choose, despite the cost and equally good picture quality, to go and see big Hollywood movies in IMAX.

Our Verdict

By understanding the nuances in film projection and film screen options available to audiences, you can maximise your cinema experience, the impact a film makes on you and importantly, get the most out of your hard earned pounds! This is especially important when paying sizeable sums to take your family to see the latest blockbuster at the cinema in either IMAX or ISENSE. Neither are the cheapest screening options yet do offer a superior film experience that we would recommend highly as opposed to traditional 3D or even 4DX formats. But we advise picking the right films for the right screen type.

A very good example of the type of film to see in ISENSE versus IMAX would be the latest Avengers installment, Infinity War. The impact and experience gotten from the large screen, great picture quality and fantastic sound clarity would not have been improved upon by seeing this film on a bigger screen.  It was a perfect match for this film.

Yet, a classic example of where it really would make the difference seeing a film in IMAX versus ISENSE would be films where the impact of size and space are only truly realised by the largest screens in the country. Films like Interstellar and Gravity would have been great to see in ISENSE but in IMAX are truly jaw-dropping. And worth every penny for that admission.

Neither screen format is better than the other, they both have their place in cinemas up and down the country. But we do highly recommend trying ISENSE – it far exceeded our expectations and does challenge the dominance of IMAX in large screen film formats. So once you have decided what film to watch this weekend, pick the right screen type, whether IMAX or ISENSE in order that you get the best possible cinema experience for those blockbusters!

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