Night of the Hunter AOR

Discussion in 'DVD' started by rob kilbride, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. rob kilbride

    rob kilbride Supporting Actor

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    The DVD is full frame, but I've read much on the internet that seems to indicate it should be 1.66:1. I read something in which someone stated that movies in 1955 were matted, but I've seen other movies from around that time that were Academy ratio, such as Dial M for Murder which I just received. Does anyone know anything definite for example a statement from the studio or anyone who would have inside information?
     
  2. James 'Tiger' Lee

    James 'Tiger' Lee Second Unit

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    Both films were made for widescreen exhibition, standard practice for major studio films by then
     
  3. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

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    Films of that day (and even up to the 1980s) were shot with no hard matte. It was taken for granted by the theaters that they must be run widescreen, generally at 1.85:1 unless noted.

    In the first couple of years (1953-1955) of widescreen, aspect ratios were listed in trade magazines. As you can see below from Motion Picture Exhibitor, DIAL M was meant to be shown at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. chas speed

    chas speed Second Unit

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    I wouldn't call 1:66 to 1 "widescreen". Let's not get carried away and hack off the top and bottom of every movie from the past 60 years so it will fit on a widescreen TV.
     
  5. MichaelEl

    MichaelEl Stunt Coordinator

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    Excluding non-anamorphic discs, DVDs of films shot at 1.66:1 tend to show up as 1.78:1 (16:9 fullscreen) on an HDTV, which means a not-insignificant amount of information is lost at the top and bottom of the image.

    Sometimes this cropping happens because the DVD was authored at 16:9, and sometimes it happens because the TV overscans 1.66 films to 16:9. In any case, viewing a 1.66 film on an HDTV can be annoying, since the heads of actors are often cut off at the top of the screen - e.g., the famous shot of Christopher Lee baring his fangs in HORROR OF DRACULA.

    The cropping of 1.85:1 films to the 16:9 HD frame usually isn't as bad, since the amount of information lost is smaller and limited to the sides of the image, where there usually is a bit more leeway than at the top or bottom.

    I've read that there are a few HDTVs now without overscan, but of course eliminating overscan won't do you any good if the DVD is authored at 16:9, and most are from what I've seen.
     
  6. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

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    Well, whether you think 1.66 is "widescreen" isn't very important to anyone. But what is important is that a studio respects the aspect ratio of their film in transfer using documents in their possession rather than peoples' opinions and 50-year-old memories. It would lead to a lot less confusion.
     
  7. MichaelEl

    MichaelEl Stunt Coordinator

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    Unless the real world aspect ratio of a 1.66 or 1.85 film is exactly 1.78:1, then a 16:9 transfer should show small black bars at the sides or top and bottom of a display, assuming zero overscan by both the display and DVD player. Using my computer monitor and DVD-ROM (which have zero overscan), I've never actually seen black bars with any anamorphic DVD of any non-Scope film. I can only conclude then that 1.66 and 1.85 films are always cropped exactly to 16:9 when transferred to a 16:9 DVD, which indicates that some small amount of information is generally being lost somewhere. Whether or not this information is significant will obviously depend on the film, but again, the framing on a lot of DVDs of British films looks bad to me.
     
  8. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    My Oppo DVD player is set to output 1080p and my Samsung 1080p display is set to 1:1 mapping so I have zero overscan. I have a number of widescreen film DVDs of varying ratios, including the 1.66:1 films in the Hammer set you mention, that are displayed perfectly correctly with black bars showing.
     
  9. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    I'm skeptical that all films shown in 1.66:1 were meant to be shown in that format. For example, in Vincente Minnelli's autobiography he complains that The Band Wagon (1953) was sometimes shown cropped to 1.66:1 during exhibition which he says was never his intention.
     
  10. BillyFeldman

    BillyFeldman Supporting Actor

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    We all know there were examples in 1954 of studios taking films in Academy ratio and cropping them, Shane also being an example. But that stopped very quickly and the studios dictum from 1954 on was no more Academy ratio films in the US. Therefore, a transfer like Warners' The Bad Seed in Academy ratio is completely wrong and all you have to do is look at the headroom to know that. Dial M For Murder looks so right in 1.85:1 and never looked good open matte, but that's always how we've gotten it in the US. The region 2 DVD finally got it right. We've always gotten Night Of The Hunter open matte, too - when I finally saw it in 1.85:1 it was a true revelation.
     
  11. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

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    My point is that they're not cropping it, they're just doing the transfer at 16:9 and leaving a little extra space open at top and bottom. They're not transferring it at 1.85:1 or whatever and cropping it. That doesn't make any sense if you can do it the other way around.

    The converse DOES happen for 1.66:1 film (such as the aforementioned HORROR OF DRACULA).
     
  12. chas speed

    chas speed Second Unit

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    I'm skeptical that every movie shot over the past 50 years should be matted to a 1:85 ratio. I'm always amazed to hear how unimportant everything at the top and bottom of the screen is (even in the middle of the screen), but the stuff on the very side of the screen is REAL important. Most directors of the past 50 years knew that the films would be seen on TV full frame went out of there way not to include important picture information on the sides, but the "let's matte every film ever made" bunch seem to ignore that.
     
  13. MichaelEl

    MichaelEl Stunt Coordinator

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    Assuming I understand you correctly, then the extra space should appear on a 16x9 HDTV as small black bars at the top and bottom (1.85) or sides (1.66) of the screen, assuming the transferred film has an aspect ratio roughly equal to 1.85:1 or 1.66:1, respectively.

    Again, having gone through a lot of different HDTV and DVD player combinations, I've never see any black bars with anamorphic DVDs of non-Scope widescreen films, which probably means that most HDTVs and/or players are overscanning (cropping) properly transferred 1.85 or 1.66 films to 16x9.

    John Hodson points out above that he does see black bars using an Oppo player and a Samsung TV, but you're likely not getting features like 1:1 pixel mapping and zero overscan with lower or mid range equipment, which means that most people are losing some of the picture when watching DVDs of 1.85 or 1.66 films.

    My experience is that this overscan problem isn't that significant for the 1.85 ratio, but for 1.66 you definitely notice a lot of heads and other objects at the top of the screen being chopped off relative to the way these objects appear on TCM prints.
     
  14. James 'Tiger' Lee

    James 'Tiger' Lee Second Unit

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    You've got me wrong. My insistence on matting is only for films that were clearly meant to be seen in widescreen, which is pretty much every major studio film made since 1953. Check the documents, check the press releases. I'm certainly not advocating cropping Casablanca
     
  15. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

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    Erm... we're having a line of communication severed here somewhere [​IMG]

    Films that are listed as being transferred at 1.85:1 on the back of the box are seldom actually 1.85, but 16x9. This we have established.

    But what you're thinking is that they're transferring this 1.85 film and cropping it on the sides, which isn't the case. They're simply transferring the film at 16x9 and leaving a little open space on the top and bottom.

    Now, that being said, there are a few films out there that do their transfers at 1.85 for whatever reason. In that case, yes, you'll get thin black bars at the top and bottom.

    But the truth is that there really aren't all that many true 1.85 presentations.

    With 1.66:1 films, the only examples I can cite-- those early Hammers that are 1.66-- yes, they're basically doing a tilt-and-scan on them in order to fit them to 16x9. If that, even. Usually they just do a 16x9 transfer and say "to hell with it" and the result is what you got with HORROR OF DRACULA.
     
  16. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Warners have already held their hands up on 1.66:1 films and vowed to present them properly where applicable - certainly, I'm confident that the next iteration of 'Horror of Dracula' (c'mon Warners and release it soon) will be spot on. In recent times, Universal and Sony have been doing a pretty good job in this regard, as did Paramount (when they gave a damn).
     
  17. Zack Gibbs

    Zack Gibbs Screenwriter

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    No, most 1.85 films are 1.85, and on a display with no overscanning will have very slight letterboxing. It sounds like you're confusing the overscan with an actual 1.78 frame.
     
  18. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

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    That's not what I've seen, both from sitting in on a telecine session and from looking at an image reduced on a monitor. Just flipping through a number of DVDs, I'm seeing a 16x9 transfer and no black bars on the top and bottom.
     
  19. MichaelEl

    MichaelEl Stunt Coordinator

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    I think I've now found a software player for my computer which displays a proper 16x9 frame without overscan. The screencap below (from THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE) shows how a properly transferred *1.66* film should look on an HDTV. Excluding the black bars at the sides, the film image has an aspect ratio of approximately 1.63:1.

    In contrast to my computer monitor, what my LCD TV displays is a smaller 16x9 frame taken from within the 16x9 image you see below. The result is that the black bars at the sides are gone and the top and bottom of the Frankenstein poster are slightly cropped off.

    [​IMG]
     

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