How do I know IMAX won't make me sick?
November 28, 2006 3:57 AM   Subscribe

How do I know if IMAX will make me sick?

We're getting a new IMAX theater in my city, and I've never been to one. A friend said it made her so sick that she vomited. Are there theaters that give test runs (say, a 5-minute short clip) to see if you can handle it? Or is it routine for IMAX theaters to give you your money back if you have to leave partway through because you get sick?
posted by IndigoRain to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total)
I wouldn't worry about it. Went to one last week and the only people leaving were those who went to get snacks.

Noone will give you a test run tha I know of, but almost any theatre will give you your money back if you ask early enough . . .
posted by jeremias at 4:03 AM on November 28, 2006

I get quite motion sick if i sit at the front of a movie theatre, and have similarly struggled at an IMAX. That might be a good test for you -- if you can sit in the front row of a normal film without freaking out, you're probably fine for the IMAX.
posted by ukdanae at 4:12 AM on November 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

ukdanae has it. I also get quite motion sick if I sit at the front of a movie theatre, but have been to IMAX multiple times and sitting near the back, I'm just fine. Omnimax/IMAX dome is another matter however - doesn't matter where I sit, I'm ill. But with the latter, you can't get that far away from the screen no matter where you sit.
posted by meerkatty at 4:34 AM on November 28, 2006

Indeed... IMax isn't all that likely to give you motion sickness. And note that not all Imax movies are simulating rollercoasters or flying in a plane. Some are all about the big, beautiful scenery.
posted by antifuse at 4:35 AM on November 28, 2006

I normally have no issues at movies, but during IMAX "Ring of Fire" there were a couple of bits where I felt a bit dizzy, but not to the point of worrying about being sick. For the majority of the movie, there were no issues.
posted by mikepop at 5:11 AM on November 28, 2006

My advice, and they'll tell you this at the start of the movie too, is to look down at the floor and the nausea will subside. Sounds obvious, but it works well. I don't have a problem with IMAX movies, but I remember my mom did feel a little queasy during one IMAX film, and looking down for a little bit removed the visual stimulus and made her OK to go on. Might be something to try if you feel a little queasy during certain parts.

They really are super neat, so hopefully you'll be able to watch a whole movie. As a neat gearhead fact, I've heard: The IMAX reels are so heavy from all the film that they have to be laid sideways as they are spooled out into the projector.
posted by GreenTentacle at 6:05 AM on November 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

One thing you might try is to see if you can walk around the IMAX theater without a movie playing. I get vertigo from IMAX movies, but for me, the dizziness sets in the moment I step into the theater; something about the lack of actual ceiling and the roundness of the whole room makes me totally lose my center of balance. So, if you can persuade an employee to let you wander around between movies (maybe while they're cleaning), do it; walk up the aisle, sit down and look aaaaaall the way around, walk back down the aisle. Being okay for that experiment doesn't guarantee no nausea, but NOT being okay is a likely sign of things to come.

On preview, I realize that I've only been to IMAX dome/Omnimax theaters; I don't know how regular IMAX theaters are laid out, but maybe they're similar? :)
posted by sarahsynonymous at 6:39 AM on November 28, 2006

Timely question. We took the kids to see "Happy Feet" (lame and preachy IMO) at our Imax dome over the weekend, and I was queasy some of the time and had sensory overload the rest. Everything feels like it is in your face all the time; to the point where the images were disorted, which I think led to my queasy. I'm crossing it off my list and don't plan to go again. (To set a benchmark, I was constantly carsick as a kid and still prefer never to be in the back seat, so I guess I am pretty sensitive.)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:52 AM on November 28, 2006

I've been to both. The 'regular' IMAX theater has very steep seating terraces, but the screen is straight in the vertical plane (it wraps around only in the horizontal plane.) I really dislike the Omni screen; there's so much distortion at all the edges that it is not at all enjoyable. It didn't make me sick, but I won't be going back. The other type of screen was a pretty awesome experience.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:53 AM on November 28, 2006

The theater can be slightly disorienting, and I occasionally get headaches. Nausea/motion sickness, however, will usually subside if you just close your eyes for a few seconds, or if you look at the floor/person next to you. Also, the effects are stronger while sitting in the first few rows, since the screen covers most of your peripheral vision.

All in all, your best options for avoiding motion sickness are:
Sit back farther than the first 5-10 rows.
If the urge to purge hits you, close your eyes for a few seconds.
Throughout the movie, regardless of how you feel, look at something besides the screen for a few seconds.
Always remind yourself that you are, in fact, not moving.
posted by fvox13 at 7:00 AM on November 28, 2006

I've never been to an IMAX screen and not come away with a headache.
posted by popcassady at 7:15 AM on November 28, 2006

You're overthinking this. If you do happen to get sick (rare) and they refuse to refund your money (unlikely), you're out a few bucks -- but you now know that you get sick at IMAX.
posted by smackfu at 7:15 AM on November 28, 2006

Positioning yourself at a distance from the screen twice the width of the screen creates optical conditions roughly equivalent to a 50mm or "normal" lens and will give the most natural viewing experience in most cases.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:18 AM on November 28, 2006

Speaking from personal experience, don't see an IMAX movie when you're extremely hungover.
posted by suki at 7:54 AM on November 28, 2006

This is not a big deal. If you start to feel dizzy or queasy, just close your eyes for a minute and you'll feel better.
posted by Dasein at 9:26 AM on November 28, 2006

I got extremely sick at the 360 degree theaters at Epcot, but have never gotten sick at an IMAX or OmniMax movie. I think it may depend on how finely tuned the equipment is?

If you do go and do get sick, as Green Tentacle said, look down at the floor. The trick is to convince your eyes to agree with your ears that you aren't moving. Closing my eyes, while it seems like it would work, has never helped me at all.
posted by Jaie at 9:38 AM on November 28, 2006

I get motion sickness pretty easily and I'm also EXTREMELY photosensitive. Any kind of flashing light has the potentially to make me mind-bogglingly ill, even something as benign as a fluorescent bulb about to go out will send me to bed sometimes. At normal movies, I absolutely must sit as far back as I can.

I've had two experiences in an IMAX theatre - one was watching Deep Sea 3D and I was totally fine. No complaints and I thought the movie was pretty cute. I went back to see a safari movie (also 3D) and had to close my eyes for half of it because it was simulating riding around in a desert Jeep and I just couldn't take it.

Thankfully, the still shots of the animals were fine with me, but some movies don't offer any kind of balance between still shots and motion shots. If you're feeling ill, try closing your eyes for a few minutes. If that doesn't work, head to the lobby, get some water, and politely ask for a refund.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:09 AM on November 28, 2006

The IMAX theater here in Columbus, Ohio is attached to a set of regular theatres. I've been know to step into the IMAX theatre to kill some time while waiting for my standard format movie to start. Perhaps you could just duck in and sit down for a minute or two?
posted by dgeiser13 at 10:48 AM on November 28, 2006

Ditto to all those who posted that their motion sickness/photosensitivity led to bad IMAX experiences. I am one of those people and my husband is not. I think it's built-in... you either get sick like that or you don't.

I can't ride any amusement park ride that spins or loops, I can't sit in the way-back of buses or vans, and I can't read in the car. But I know lots of people who do all these things and are completely unaffected.

If you have "the gene" for predispsition to motion sickness, I think you're SOL. Or take some Dramamine before the show.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:11 PM on November 28, 2006

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