Aspect Ratio Documentation

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Bob Furmanek, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    There were questions raised in this thread (too many pages for me to find it) asking when UK production switched from 1.75 to 1.85. I had suggested that it was sometime in the late ‘60s to early ‘70s but that it didn’t seem to happen suddenly.

    1960s copies of Kine Weekly show that in 1964 almost all British films were 1.75. By 1967 there had been a change with about half of Pinewood Studio’s films being 1.85 and all Twickenham and Lee Studios being 1.85 although at the end of the ‘60s there were still a number of films at 1.75. There is hardly any mention of 1.66 throughout the ‘60s yet people continue to maintain that 1.66 was the UK standard until the change to 1.85.

    A couple of examples; REPULSION (1965) is 1.85 (the Criterion is 1.66) and DARLING is 1.85 (MGM DVD is 1.66).

    I’ll provide a more detailed report when I’ve had time to peruse Kine Weekly more closely – possibly next week (my research has to be carried out on Mondays!).
     
  2. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    Fantastic information Doug and SO important. Thank you very much for sharing it!

    If you'd like to prepare something which I could include with the other documentation on my website, I will be happy to do that. The more people that see the research, the better.

    For another voice of reason, check out these comments from Manderley at Film Score Monthly: http://filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?pageID=2&forumID=7&threadID=104065&archive=0
     
  3. Vahan_Nisanain

    Vahan_Nisanain Supporting Actor

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    Post removed
     
  4. EddieLarkin

    EddieLarkin Supporting Actor

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  5. Paul Penna

    Paul Penna Supporting Actor

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    It amazes me that some people, like another contributor to that thread, still trot out this head-scratcher about 1.37 being correct:
    Because, of course, taking into account the way the film would actually be exhibited wouldn't make any sense at at all.
     
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  6. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    Somebody on the Criterion board indicated there were quotes from Mann indicating his desire to replicate the TV broadcast on the big screen, therefore it MUST be 1.37:1.

    For some odd reason, he was not able to supply an actual source for that quote.

    Hmm...
     
  7. Vahan_Nisanain

    Vahan_Nisanain Supporting Actor

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    Bob, what was the aspect ratio in British theaters for Georgy Girl and Blow-Up? Are there any Kine Weekly issues from 1966 floating around somewhere?
     
  8. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    I'm sorry but I'm based in the U.S. and don't have access to issues of Kine Weekly.

    Hopefully, one our valued contributors from the UK can help with this information.
     
  9. Vahan_Nisanain

    Vahan_Nisanain Supporting Actor

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    As I mentioned a page earlier, Georgy Girl was shown last Saturday night on TCM open matte. Blow-Up looked like as it did in theaters originally, though.
     
  10. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    I would certainly interpret that as composed for 1.85 and protected for 1.65 or hard-matted to that.
     
  11. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    I'll try and get that information. I saw BLOW-UP at the Empire, London. Blowed if I can remember the aspect ratio though!
     
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  12. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    I saw it at the Sunrise Cinemas I & II in Fort Lauderdale, and blowed if I can, either! :)
     
  13. Vahan_Nisanain

    Vahan_Nisanain Supporting Actor

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    Thank you.
     
  14. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    File that one along with how filmmakers used to Academy wouldn't be used to working with widescreen...
     
  15. EddieLarkin

    EddieLarkin Supporting Actor

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    The widescreen but previously only released in 4x3 films Revenge of the Creature, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy and The Creature Walks Among Us are being re-released in this 30 disc Universal Monster Box Set:

    http://digitaljournal.com/pr/2011215

    I'm not hopeful. Presumably they'll just be the same masters/discs that have been previously available. Surprise us Universal!
     
  16. Yorkshire

    Yorkshire Screenwriter

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    I've said it before and I'll say it again, I personally suspect the reason is that the main UK cinema chain matted to 1.66:1.

    Steve W
     
  17. Yorkshire

    Yorkshire Screenwriter

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    Quite possibly. But then again, that's moving into the realms of (as you note) interpreting the documentation rather than the raw documentation itself.

    And it raises a very big and fairly obvious question.

    We all know that many films in the era were shot open matte, being composed for 1.85:1 (etc) but with plenty of extra information top and bottom for TV (4:3) versions.

    So if they were composing for 1.85:1, but protecting safe for 4:3, why the need to mention 1.65:1 at all? There is absolutely no need whatsoever.

    By definition if a film is composed for 1.85:1 but safe to full open matte, then 1.65:1 will be safe anyway, with absolutely no need to mention 1.65:1.

    The only logical conclusion is that '1.65:1 headroom' meant something else.

    Steve W
     
  18. EddieLarkin

    EddieLarkin Supporting Actor

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    It may have indicated hard matting at 1.65:1 (as in, this is how much head room you can play around with if you feel the need, Mr. Projectionist) or it may have just been there as reassurance to those cinemas that were set up as 1.65:1, and would have moaned about having to change things about every other film.
     
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  19. Yorkshire

    Yorkshire Screenwriter

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    Someone else will confirm, but HELP! is listed like this, and I'm pretty sure we've had home video versions in 4:3 before which were almost as wide as the widescreen releases, so i'm pretty sure that wasn't hard matted to 1.65/1.66:1..

    That leaves the second possibility, which pretty much ties in with my guess.

    But that then ties in with another argument we've heard time and time again from all quarters in this thread on any number of films - the film-makers surely knew what ratio the film would be projected at, and in the UK that was mainly 1.66:1, according to research at this thread..

    Steve W
     
  20. EddieLarkin

    EddieLarkin Supporting Actor

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    What's the evidence again that the majority of UK cinemas projected at 1.66:1 regardless of recommendation, and that they did this right through into the late 70s? I must have missed it.

    Even if it is the case though, I don't think it precludes 1.75:1 being the composed for ratio. It is after all, mentioned as well. The difference is so small* that I doubt the film makers would have been beside themselves to see their compositions receive a tad bit more space. Don't forget that many of these films were being shipped over to the US as well, where 1.85:1 was completely set in stone. Better to compose at 1.75:1 and lose a sliver of image in American cinemas, than to compose at 1.66:1 and lose a fair sized chunk, even if it means UK cinemas showing too much.

    *Though not always small enough. On the Blu-ray for The Mummy's Shroud, which is of course 1.66:1, there is a shot which establishes the location of the Mummy in the museum he is being kept in (in this one, he's standing rather than in laying in a case), and then there is a quick cut to a close up of his upper body. Despite the previous shot showing that no one else is in the museum, the close up shot reveals the top of a fez at the very bottom of the frame, showing that there is an actor stood in front of the Mummy, even though no character is (it's later revealed that this shot has been duplicated from a different scene where actors wearing fezes are indeed stood beneath the Mummy). In 1.75:1/1.85:1, that "movie mistake" is not visible.

    In addition to that, you also get every mid shot and close up having ample headroom to make 1.75:1/1.85:1 work too.

    Interestingly, the 1959 The Mummy admittedly looks spot on at 1.66:1, with heads always at the very top of the frame in mid shots and close ups. It could be missing side information, it could just be a case of cropped heads at 1.75:1 being intentional, as Bruce has suggested. But I'd really like to see what it was recommended at in Kine Weekly, if anyone can place hands on a copy.
     

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