Another w/s vs. p&s thread (split off from "Universal addresses and fixes BTTF")

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dan Hitchman, Jan 12, 2003.

  1. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Do not, under any circumstance buy the FULL SCREEN VERSION!!

    Some posters' replies that I've read which state they are leaning to-wards the open matte version (even when Universal may fix the problems with the WS version) seem to show that they don't seem to understand wide-screen framing and composition.

    Even though you may see more of someone's legs or head (in a close up) in the full screen/open-matte version, does not mean the DP meant for you to see it that way.

    In order to stop this confusion over wide-screen composition I think all 1.66:1 to 1.85:1 matted films and Super 35 (using spherical instead of anamorphic lenses) from now on should be hard matted in-camera (such as James Cameron's Aliens was). That way the original composition is maintained (called "shoot and protect"). There would be very little chance of the telecine operator screwing things up then because the burned in matting would be the template for the film to video transfer composition.

    Dan
     
  2. Ryan Patterson

    Ryan Patterson Stunt Coordinator

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  3. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  4. Ryan Patterson

    Ryan Patterson Stunt Coordinator

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  5. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  6. Ryan Patterson

    Ryan Patterson Stunt Coordinator

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    And exactly what is on the mind of the director? Sure, some directors may place severe importance on the way a movie is framed, but we're talking about Back to the Future here. It was framed at 1.66:1 on LD and Zemeckis didn't complain? No, it's obvious that Zemeckis doesn't consider the theatrical ratio to be the biblical final framing ratio.
     
  7. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  8. Ryan Patterson

    Ryan Patterson Stunt Coordinator

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  9. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  10. Ryan Patterson

    Ryan Patterson Stunt Coordinator

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  11. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Re: James Cameron's supposed "preference" for 4:3 versions of his Super35 films.
    This is an internet urban legend perpetuated by careless commentators like some of those cited by Mr. Patterson above. Most of the people who parrot this canard have never even seen the single statement by Cameron, in 1993, on which it is based. Well, I still have my original LD box of The Abyss Special Edition, and here's what Cameron actually said in the liner notes (this is at least the third time I've typed this out for HTF):
     
  12. Chris Baucom

    Chris Baucom Stunt Coordinator

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    Cameron is definitely a Super-35 advocate (or was recently) and is somewhat skeptical about anamorphic. I wonder if that is still the case. I remember reading an article concerning Titanic and his desire to provide both full and widescreen versions, though I don't think he said which he preferred.

    On the OAR thing, yes if you are an OAR purist, the you can't back down on it. Back to the Future is one of those movies that can stir the pot a little here given it's filming technique and previous video release history.
     
  13. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  14. Chris Baucom

    Chris Baucom Stunt Coordinator

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    I was just making a comment, Michael, and was not trying to stir anything up. I agree that we don't need to get into it further in a BTTF thread.
     
  15. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Ryan,

    I know Aliens wasn't shot in Super35, but it was hard-matted in-camera to protect the 1.85:1 framing Cameron and his DP wanted (that's what I mean by using the term "shoot and protect"). It says as much in the liner notes of the CAV laserdisc boxed set of Aliens. They probably wanted to make sure framing problems, such as those made at the theater by unskilled high schoolers and those cropping up in the Back to the Future discs didn't occur.

    With the kinds of statements that some "OAR-sometimes" consumers are making, I can see my point of the DP using in-camera hard-matting to the intended aspect ratio for widescreen movies using spherical lenses (the use of anamorphic lenses are a different matter, of course) is a valid one. Currently, it seems to me the only way to safe guard the composition of the frame.

    Dan
     
  16. Seth_S

    Seth_S Second Unit

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  17. Grant H

    Grant H Cinematographer

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    All movies are art, period. Sure, they're entertainment (or most of them are supposed to be, anwyay), but filmmaking is an art. Look at all that has to come together to make a film, all those credits, sound, music, costumes, art, lighting, etc. etc. and someone is in charge of making all that come together, the director (and producers). If it weren't art, we'd have robots making the movies; it would be cheaper for the studios.
    Most people listen to music as entertainment too. It's still art. Whtether each work is good or bad, film and music are both art forms.
    The cinematography is just one aspect of the art, but an important one we like to see presented properly. For the audience film IS simpler: it's sound and picture, boom, boom. If they'd had a physicist shoot BTF, even one who did know how to travel through time, it's doubtful the film would look as good as if it was shot by a talented DP and director. Not to mention no one of any caliber would want to be in the movie because all the actors (who are artists too) wouldn't want to waste their time with someone who knew nothing about the ART of film-making.
     
  18. Ryan Patterson

    Ryan Patterson Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey Michael,
    Thanks for moving this to a new thread. If I had known this would've grown so fast, I would've created a new thread myself.
    Thanks for quoting the original line from Cameron. Although it clarifies things up, you must realize how easily the quote could've been misread. Cameron states that the P&S version was meant for assisting in the low resolution of NTSC video, but North American DVD is also NTSC. Yes, HDTVs and progressive scan players provide a very effective extension on NTSC, but you can see how even DVD enthusiasts can misread his statement.
    Cameron makes a point in which he shot the film in Super35 so that he could make a decent video transfer that he was "quite proud" of. This suggests that he feels changing the aspect ratio of the film to suit standard NTSC does not affect his 'artistic intent' enough to destroy the movie for a video release. The point I was trying to make for the BTTF movies is that possibly Zemeckis had the same feelings, considering that in the 80's all we had were NTSC interlaced displays (and most people only owned a 20" set at the time).
    My point is not that the OAR is inferior to any 4:3 version that comes out, but that sometimes the 4:3 version isn't bad enough to dismiss in certain situations. At least 3 people in the BTTF forum were commenting that the 4:3 versions might be a good buy considering the current problems with the widescreen versions of the films. Considering the overall uncertainty of the situation (ie. The return situation for any country other than the US, not to mention people phoning Universal and getting the "um, what?" treatment), this could be the only alternative for some people who want to get decent versions of the problematic scenes. Trust me, if it weren't for the current framing problem with the movies, I would never have posted this debate as I would've just bought the WS version without question. (As it was, I got the set for Christmas and will have to either risk sending in the defective Canadian discs or contemplate exchanging the set for the fullscreen versions).
    My point was that if that people like Chris Baucom, John Co, and Christopher*KH want to buy the fullscreen versions, more power to them. They've done their homework; ie. they realize that at least BTTF 1&3 do not suffer from major cropping on the sides and they don't feel that extra information on the top and bottom ruins the movie for them. I agree with them, and I only choose the WS versions at this point because I get more resolution with my HDTV in 16:9 enhanced mode than if I went with the FS versions. You don't know if these guys have NTSC interlaced displays, and thus I question Dan Hitchman's statement that under no circumstances should you buy the fullscreen versions.
     
  19. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  20. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Hard-matte all you want. That doesn't fix anything at all.
     

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