Todd AO and Oklahoma

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Frank PW, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. Frank PW

    Frank PW Stunt Coordinator

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    I recently watched Oklahoma and South Pacific on DVD. These were part of a larger box set of Rodgers & Hammerstein's musicals.

    The Oklahoma movie had two disks in the case. Both appeared to labeled identically. At first I thought the second disk was the extras but that wasn’t the case with Oklahoma.

    It turns out that each scene in the movie was shot twice. First using Cinemascope cameras and then a second time using Todd AO. One disk was Todd AO and the other was the cinemascope version.

    I’d never heard of this company. Fortunately the extra features contained a lot of information about this new (at the time) technology and what it meant to cinemagoers. Fascinating information.

    I’m by no means a film buff but the explanation of how it worked was amazing.

    What ever happen to the Todd AO system? It seemed like a winner.

    F
     
  2. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    Check out the history here. Martin Hart is very thorough in his analysis.
     
  3. Frank PW

    Frank PW Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Stephen! Everything I needed to know. Great site.

    F
     
  4. BethHarrison

    BethHarrison Second Unit

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    There's a documentary called Samsara being released this year that was shot in Panavision Super 70, which is a very similar format to Todd-AO: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0770802/combined

    Both formats use 65mm, instead of 35mm, and frames that are 5 instead of 4 perforations high. They both have the same 2.21:1 aspect ratio. The major difference is that the original Todd-AO system ran the film at 30 frames per second rather than 24.

    65mm is mainly used these days only for special effects because it is so expensive. I beleive Samsara will be the first all 65mm production since Hamlet (1996). Samsara is directed by Ron Frike, who also shot Baraka in 65mm using a camera that he built from scratch!. If you haven't seen the Baraka Blu-ray, do so immediately:
    http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDReviews42/baraka_blu-ray.htm
     
  5. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    expensive? Not particularly so. Yes, the film is almost twice as wide, and 20% longer. But once you get into the realm of hiring people, the cost of the film-stock and (chemical) processing of a film is almost negligable when compared to any other aspect of a Hollywood production.

    That said, however, the 35mm cameras have a lot more variety in cameras, and what they can do (noise, frame rates, et cetera.) Plus, 35mm cameras tend to weigh quite a bit less than 65mm cameras -- even before you factor in the mass of the film itself in the magazine. And then there is a huge "catalog" of lenses for 35mm cameras that just isn't there for 65mm.

    But where the real cost of 65/70mm film comes is in the release. 70mm film used to be only magnetic sound, which is something of an abomination. In that once a release print is struck and processed, it is run through another machine that applies the magnetic material to the two broad areas outside of the sprockets, and the two narrow tracks just inside the sprockets. These have to be done very accurately, so as to not go out-of-area beyond where the sound-head will be, and not cross into the active picture. Then the film is run through another machine, actually recording the sound to the magnetic track.

    Then the film is watched. By a person. To make sure that there are no drop-outs or other major issues. Every reel of every print is checked "by eye." The entire length.

    Then the print can go out.

    I know DTS was adapted to work on 70mm prints; I don't recall hearing about SDDS or DD/SR•D ever being done. I know that was a hoped-for to allow for a resurgence in 70mm releases that never seemed to materialize.

    Leo
     
  6. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    When I worked in Hollywood, several of the old timers told me that the 70mm cameras were so loud, that almost all 70mm productions had the entire soundtrack looped in later, no live sound from the set. this was the norma at Fox who had to loop all of King and I, Hello Dolly, etc.

    I know Warners looped all of My Fair Lady and Camelot. I went through the daily production logs for these films and read all of this.

    Almost all of the dialgoue in Ben Hur was post recorded.
     
  7. Roger Addams

    Roger Addams Auditioning

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    Yes, Todd-AO was a great system and it produced a better picture than IMAX, but it went the way of most 70mm systems. The day of the single theatre ended, large screens disappeared, most of the large cinemas closed, and smaller multiplex theaters were built. Originally Todd-AO used a 120 foot screen where possible on a deep curve. Very few theaters have a large screen any more and even fewer have the carbon arc lamps to really get a bright picture. Of course large xeon lamps are used today. There are still a few theaters left that can run it but as production cost is high and few theaters will run it so the process is no longer used.
     
  8. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    The ironic thing is that Oklahoma was filmed at 30 frames per second to lower flicker. But much of it had higher flicker because one of the dcameras had a bad shutter !! You can particularly see it on the Kansas City number.
     
  9. ShowsOn

    ShowsOn Second Unit

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    Blu-ray can't accomodate 30p, so the Todd-AO version of Oklahoma on Blu-ray will have to be interlaced.
     
  10. Roger Addams

    Roger Addams Auditioning

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    Camera shutters don't cause flicker they cause skipping and the Todd-AO print I viewed in a theater with Todd-AO projectors did not have any flicker.
     
  11. Worth

    Worth Screenwriter

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    Ironically, it was the rise of digital sound that helped kill off 70mm releases. Once all films started to be released with six-track soundtracks, there wasn't as much of a reason to spend the extra money on 70mm - particularly since almost everything was simply a 35mm blow-up.
     
  12. Roger Addams

    Roger Addams Auditioning

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    70mm mag prints are a thing of the past as the chemicals required to do the mag are too hazardous. DTS is the only sound available for new prints and that comes in the standard Dolby 5.1 channel mix (three stage channels, two surround channels and a sub woofer). DTS also has a six channel play back available with five stage channels and a surround channel for playing older films that had a conventional six channel mix. There are new 70mm 6 channel DTS prints of Sound of Music among other films. Very few theaters run 70mm so there are very few new productions filmed in the wider 65mm negative but there are theaters that run the older films that were shot for release in 70mm.
     
  13. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    I can't say I ever heard that the mag-coat application was particularly dangerous. After all, it's not significantly different than adding mag-coatings to mylar, polyestar, acetate, or any of the other plastic substrates used in floppy-discs, cassette or reel-to-reel tape, VHS tapes, or magnetic "full-coat" (perforated 16mm and 35mm magnetic "film" for production. IMAX also used to use it for audio playback in the theaters.)

    Leo
     
  14. Roger Addams

    Roger Addams Auditioning

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    well it is no one in this country will mag stripe a print 35mm or 70mm print besdies it is a different process than mag tape and the acetate used for film and tape are different
     
  15. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    LOL! Oh yes it can. Blu-ray 1080p is natively 60p - 60 progressive fields per second which translates to 30 frames per second which is, guess what?, an exact match to Oklahoma!'s frame-rate.


     
  16. ahollis

    ahollis Producer

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    It is a lost art form. With digital sound, there is no need for it anymore and as with the law of supply and demand. No demand, no supply then not done anymore. Just as digital projection will end film as we know it today so Deluxe and Technicolor labs will go the way of Kodachrome.
     
  17. Roger Addams

    Roger Addams Auditioning

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    Todd-AO was a winner and it looked better with a bigger screen than IMAX. The first problem was when the showman behind the process died and left his rights to Liz Tailor. Cleopatra was shot in the Todd-AO process and the cost of using the 65mm negative and making 70mm prints proved to be not worth the trouble. As movie attendance dropped and films like Easy Rider (low quality) out grossed Hello Dolly (Todd-AO) the use of large screen formats involving the larger negative became a thing of the past. There are few if any theaters in the world that can show a Todd-AO film properly. The proper Todd-AO theater had a very large curved screen (anywhere from 65 feet wide to 120 feet wide) and to get enough light on that screen the theater needed huge water cooled carbon arcs and water cooled projectors.
     
  18. AnthonyClarke

    AnthonyClarke Screenwriter

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    And meantime , we're still waiting, waiting,. waiting .....
    This is so overdue for release!
    Does anyone know why the delay on this and the other classic R & H title 'Carousel'?
     

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