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Q re: BEATLES films aspect ratios

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Rob LoVerde, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. Rob LoVerde

    Rob LoVerde Active Member

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    Hello all and Happy Holidays,

    Can anyone here clarify for me what are the correct aspect ratios for:

    A Hard Day's Night
    Help!
    Let It Be

    ?

    It appears, at least judging from the DVD, that Yellow Submarine is 1.66:1. I don't know what the offered screen formats have been for the various DVDs of the first two films, and I know that Let It Be hasn't ever been on a digital home video format, but I'm curious what it was projected at in theaters.

    Anyone who can provide any information will be sent last night's holiday party leftovers. ;^)
     
  2. pitchman

    pitchman Well-Known Member

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    I am no expert, but IIRC, A Hard Day's Night may have been shot Academy ratio 1.37:1 but framed for 1.66:1 projection, which is how it was presented on the old Criterion LaserDisc.
     
  3. Wayne_j

    Wayne_j Well-Known Member

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    IMDB lists the restored ratio for A Hard Day's Night as 1.66:1 and the intended ratio as 1.75:1.

    Help! as 1.75:1.

    Let it Be as 1.37:1 as it was shot in 16MM.
     
  4. David Wilkins

    David Wilkins Well-Known Member

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    I would love to have 'Yellow Submarine' in BD. I wonder how much restoration would be needed for a top notch BD transfer. In the scope of possible releases, we might wait a long time for this one.
     
  5. lukejosephchung

    lukejosephchung Well-Known Member

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    "Yellow Submarine" was restored for both theatrical and DVD release back in 1999. The picture was cleaned up and stored on a hi-def digital transfer back then, so it shouldn't take too long for them to release it... if the surviving Beatles and their widows ever get around to it!!![​IMG] It's corporate inertia and bureacratic mentality that's basically holding back The Beatles LLP from releasing the items we want out there on the hi-def consumer market![​IMG]
     
  6. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Well-Known Member

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    I own that 1999 "Yellow Submarine" DVD. The presentation was in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio (which I assume was its theatrical aspect ratio); but the transfer was *not* anamorphically-enhanced.

    The thing is, the top and bottom framing seemed very tight in places. I would not be surprised if the animation was produced originally for the 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

    So, as is, the DVD provides the "worse of both worlds": It's apparently cropped to a 1.66:1 aspect ratio; but doesn't provide the anamorphic enhancement which would be the main advantage of that type of presentation.

    It is, of course, much better than nothing; and the provided transfer is better than average for a non-anamorphic DVD circa' 1999.

    Still, it's more than time for an update for this title on both DVD and Blu-ray.
     
  7. Derek Miner

    Derek Miner Well-Known Member

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    There have been many arguments over the years about the aspect ratios of "A Hard Day's Night," "Help!" and "Yellow Submarine." I have read most opinions and evidence out there and I am convinced all three were designed for matted theatrical presentation. Consider that studios had been having theaters play "flat" films with matted apsect ratios for nearly a decade when "A Hard Day's Night" was released.

    Some have suggested that "Yellow Submarine" was started as a television production and switched for theatrical before completion. Not true.

    "Let It Be," however, was filmed in 16mm intended to be a television documentary, so it was optically manipulated to frame properly on a theater screen. The home video release was done from an element like this and therefore represents a heavily zoomed version of the originally filmed image. One of the hopes of fans for years is that in restoring "Let It Be," they will go back to the elements and reconstruct the film in 4:3 using the 16mm film as shot, not as conformed for theaters.
     
  8. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Well-Known Member

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    1.66:1 was a very common aspect ratio for the UK (I don't know if it is still used as frequently anymore). Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that AHDN, Help!, and YS were all open matte and projected at 1.66:1. It's still a bone of contention for me over AHDN because the final "The End" head shot closing frames were presented "hard matte" in early 80's 16mm prints made from the original UA release. Believe it or not, I would prefer to see original mono optical mixes as soundtrack options on all future releases. The stereo fly-ins on AHDN are especially awkward.
     
  9. Derek Miner

    Derek Miner Well-Known Member

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    Agreed! Thankfully I have recordings of the "restored" versions of "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!" that aired on American Movie Classics what must have been about 10 years ago by now. I can't believe they didn't include the mono track on the otherwise comprehensive "Help!" DVD either.

    Also, in reference to my use of "matted" before, I'm thinking this isn't technically accurate considering that might imply hard mattes on the film. "Open matte and projected at 1.66:1," as Keith says above, is the idea I was trying to get across.
     
  10. Rob LoVerde

    Rob LoVerde Active Member

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    What was the stated aspect ratio on the Criterion Laserdisc of "Help!", anybody know?
     
  11. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Well-Known Member

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    The Criterion Beatles laserdiscs were all full-frame (!)
     
  12. Rob LoVerde

    Rob LoVerde Active Member

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    Oh, interesting. "pitchman" posted above that "A Hard Day's Night" was 1.66:1.
     
  13. Derek Miner

    Derek Miner Well-Known Member

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    Both Beatles films from Criterion were full-frame, but my suspicion is that they just released what the owners of the films provided, which were exactly the same transfers that MPI released on VHS.
     
  14. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Well-Known Member

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    A Hard Day's Night and Help! are 1.75:1, but the current DVDs open up the image slightly to 1.66:1. Yellow Submarine is probably 1.66:1, but it's not shot for 1.33:1. Let It Be and Magical Mystery Tour were shot for standard on 16mm, but LiB's 35mm theatrical release was cropped to 1.66:1 via hard-matting.

    Apparently, Richard Lester approved both the 4x3 transfers of AHDN and Help!, as well as the new 16x9 versions.

    Hopefully the BluRay editions will add back the original mono mixes.
     
  15. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Well-Known Member

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    Here are just a few examples from the 1999 1.66:1 AR "Yellow Submarine" DVD that indicates the "tight framing" that I alluded to in the post above:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    Joseph,

    This is a particularly enlightening thread on the correct AR for Yellow Submarine: http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htf/...idescreen.html

    None of the examples you point to looks particularly tight. If what you're referring to is the cropping of characters at the top or bottom of the frame, that submission is incorrect. Directors, both animated and otherwise, have been cropping non-essential elements out of the frame for decades now.
     
  17. pitchman

    pitchman Well-Known Member

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    My bad.[​IMG] I no longer have the Criterion laserdisc but Goggle-searched the title and wound up on Wikipedia. That's where I got the (mis)information. Keith is exactly right, both the CAV and CLV Criterion discs are 1.33:1. If I thought about it at the time, I should have realized what I was typing. Heck, even my MPI DVD is full-frame! I NEVER would have unloaded the Criterion LD if it presented the film in a different aspect ratio. My recollection at the time is that the MPI was almost identical to my Criterion CLV in terms of content, so that's why I sold it. Now watch... Someone here will set me straight on that call too![​IMG] Since my Pioneer combi-player died years ago, it's a moot point. All it would doing is joining the pile of other laserdiscs I can no longer play...
     
  18. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the link. After reading through that thread I feel a little more comfortable now regarding the provided AR on the DVD, even if I'm still not *entirely* convinced.

    One item that I think we can all agree upon is that the Widescreen presentation on the DVD should have included anamorphic enhancement. (As I recall, for some reason MGM - which held the domestic distribution rights at that time - refused to provide anamorphic enhancement for *any* of their 1.66:1 AR WS movies prior to 2000.) Let's hope that this very unique movie is afforded a state-of-the-art HD presentation whenever it's released again.
     
  19. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Well-Known Member

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    Maybe MGM created the 1.66:1 master by adding matting on top of the 4x3? I recall that the 4x3 transfer did not have visible cel edges like the old 1987 laserdisc/VHS edition.
     
  20. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Well-Known Member

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    I think that this is a distinct possibility.

    Notice that the credits are "window-boxed" inside the 1.66:1 frame:

    [​IMG]

    Also, in this frame a "Blue Meanie" is launching a missile. Due to the apparent cropping, we never actually see the missile launch:

    [​IMG]
     

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