This was hands-down one of my favorite jobs of all time. The pay was meh for the responsibilities involved, but still, it was a childhood dream come true to become an IMAX projectionist, especially at the Esquire. It really was like running engineering on a starship. We had to manage power, hydraulics, pneumatics, cooling, environmental systems, lighting, multi-channel sounds, and all the electronics and electricals that tied it all together.
In an ideal world, it really should have been a two-man shift, but as long as nothing went wrong, one projectionist could run the shift without breaking too much of a sweat.
Easily the happiest job I’ve held down. Sadly, the job itself was outmoded when IMAX went digital. No argument from me: it was far more cost-effective and less hazardous to go digital, and IMAX was able to offer more variety of shows with a faster turnaround. Quality-wise, you just can’t beat 70mm celluloid print recorded from an IMAX camera. Digital is a step down, but one most regular audience-goers will never ever notice. Me, I see pixels and refresh ghosting.
The most nerve-wracking and exciting part of the job was threading a 3D show, under the gun. I’ve done it literally hundreds of times, and it was a pure thrill ride every single time. And every single time, all the second-guessing and insecurities had to be vetted and squashed, just before hitting the “START” button. The most agonizing moments of my life are the 20 seconds it takes for the projector to start up and reach running speed before the shutter door opened. And then, I couldn’t really relax until I completed the running inspection. Though, finding anything wrong at that point pretty much means you’re fired. Even when the show was underway, my ears were always listening for any changes in the cacophony of the freight train I was standing next to, for the entire show. It’s a habit I carried with me from that job. When I’m on a motorcycle, I do the same thing, and it drives me nuts, which is why I have headphones in my helmet to keep my focus on the road.
I miss the school groups, all those curious minds, and the tours, when I was able to give them.
I can’t believe it’s been over ten years since I was hauling ass in that booth! Ah the memories, and the man, many many stories I’ll never be able to share publicly LoL