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2.35:1 movies reframed at 1.33:1/1.78:1 on DVD


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#1 of 210 OFFLINE   Gary Palmer

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Posted April 02 2005 - 05:04 AM

Though the vast majority of movies are currently released on DVD configured to their original theatrical aspect ratio (with 16:9 enhancement), I thought it might be helpful to initiate a thread devoted to 2.35:1 movies which are reframed or cropped on disc, anywhere from 1.33:1 to 1.78:1. Some titles are more significant than others, but all are important because they do not represent the original theatrical AR. As I argued recently in another thread, the intended AR of any DVD should be as close to the original theatrical ratio as possible. After all, it's the theatrical print which represents the actual movie, not the reframed DVD.

The issue has become clouded recently by directors who have chosen to shoot in Super 35 (a malleable format which allows for a variety of AR's across a range of media) for the express purpose of altering the AR for 1.78 presentations on DVD. For me, this sets a sinister precedent which could - in the long term - become more and more commonplace. Back in the old days (pre-DVD), 1.85 movies were configured on 1.33 TV's by simply 'opening up' the image at top and bottom, exposing slightly more info than you saw in theaters, distorting the original compositions and compromising the 'cinematic' quality of the image. Now, with the advent of 16:9 monitors, 1.85 films are represented with ease, but some directors seem intent on replacing the 1.85/1.33 conundrum with an all-new misrepresentation of cinematic images - the 2.35/1.78 conundrum.

Worse still, very few people seem to be concerned about this creeping state of affairs. No one expresses alarm when 2.35 movies are reframed to 1.78 on DVD at the behest of directors, because - they argue - it's the director's choice, and their word is sacrosanct. Frankly, I'd like to shake such filmmakers by the throat and physically restrain them from working at any ratio wider than 1.85!! If they're so concerned about how their 'scope' movie is going to look on TV, they should frame at 1.85 and be done with it! There's no excuse for employing a 2.35 frame if you have no intention of using it for any other reason than it looks 'bigger' in a multiplex auditorium. And reviewers should be appalled when such compromised versions are allowed on DVD, with no prospect of the original version becoming available again for the forseeable future. Like I said, the only true version of the film is the theatrical release print, and the DVD should reflect that version as closely as possible, especially if the director has reframed his/her movie in the misguided belief that modern televisions are somehow incapable of displaying them in an effective manner.

Anyone who compares the lateral scope compositions of 1953-1985 with the 'widescreen' images of today will see modern scope photography for what it is - 1.78 images cropped to 2.35, all the better to play on TV and home video. True, most people will see such movies on TV, but 16:9 is more than capable of handling the 2.35 image. It isn't perfect, but it will pass muster until 21:9 becomes a reality for home theater applications.

Anyway, what follows is a list of widescreen movies which have all been reframed on DVD from 2.35 to some other ratio. The list covers all regions, though most of the entries are concerned with region 1 discs. I have a sneaking suspicion this is only the tip of the iceberg, and I would urge everyone to contribute their own findings, whether the film in question is a huge Hollywood blockbuster or some obscure foreign import. All discs mentioned in the following list are 16:9 enhanced, unless otherwise noted:


BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS (2003)
[New Line - US R1]
Filmed in anamorphic Panavision and reframed at 1.78 on DVD. The film is available on disc outside the US in its original 2.35 ratio.

COMMUNION (1988)
[Elite - US R1]
Filmed in Super 35. For a variety of reasons, this was released theatrically at 1.85 against the director's wishes, and he was only able to restore the film to its intended ratio once it was issued on DVD (2.35). In general terms, the theatrical print remains paramount, but COMMUNION is the exception that proves the rule.

DRIVE (1997)
[Ardustry/Platinum - US R1]
Filmed in Super 35 and reframed at 1.33 on DVD. The film is available on disc in the UK in its original 2.35 ratio, from Medusa.

DUNE (2000)
[Artisan - US R1]
Filmed in Univisium, a Super 35-clone which renders a 2.00:1 ratio, despite the fact the movie was produced for TV. The disc version is reframed at 1.78.

THE EIGHTEENTH ANGEL (1997)
[Columbia Tristar - US R1]
Filmed in anamorphic Panavision and reframed at 1.78 on DVD.

EXORCIST THE BEGINNING (2004)
[Warner Bros. - US R1/UK R2]
Filmed in Univisum. As with DUNE (above), cinematographer Vittorio Storaro insisted on using this irrelevant cinematic 'process' (worse still, the studio allowed him to use it!), framing the movie at 2.00:1. However, it was released theatrically at 2.35, and that has been carried over to the DVD version. Storaro is unhappy with the compromise, but I don't have much sympathy for his standpoint, given that the Univisium specs correspond to no known theatrical or television standard.

FAIRY TALES (1978)
[Full Moon - US R1]
Filmed in an uncredited anamorphic process and cropped to 1.33 on DVD.

THE HAIRDRESSER'S HUSBAND (1990)
[Second Sight - UK R2]
Filmed in anamorphic Panavision and cropped to 1.33 on DVD. The film was originally released on disc in the UK by Tartan, who provided a 2.20 version, without 16:9 enhancement.

HALLOWEEN III SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982)
[Anchor Bay - UK R2]
Filmed in anamorphic Panavision and reframed at 1.78 on DVD. This is part of a HALLOWEEN box-set recently released in the UK, and the disc is not only horribly misframed, it's also badly censored. Sadly, Anchor Bay were unable to get hold of an alternative print. The US disc, released by Universal, is correctly framed and completely uncut.

ICEMAN (1984)
[Universal - US R1]
Filmed in anamorphic Panavision and cropped to 1.33 on DVD. Inexcusable.

A LIFE LESS ORDINARY (1997)
[Fox - All regions]
Filmed in Super 35. As with COMMUNION (above), this was released theatrically at 1.85 against the director's wishes, and the correct 2.35 ratio was only restored when the movie was released to DVD.

ME WITHOUT YOU (2001)
[Columbia Tristar - US R1]
Filmed in anamorphic Panavision and reframed at 1.78 on DVD. The UK version (from Momentum) is correctly framed at 2.35, and there's an audio commentary in which the director specifically addresses her use of the widescreen frame.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO (2003)
[Columbia Tristar - All regions]
Filmed in HD24p Widescreen, which renders a native 1.78 image, from which the 2.35 theatrical frame is optically extracted. The movie - intended to replicate the look and feel of widescreen spaghetti westerns from the 1960's - was reframed at 1.78 on DVD at the request of director Robert Rodriguez. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to have 'protected' the frame for 1.78 during principal photography, which means the image has been blown-up and pan-scanned in some places to remove booms and dolly tracks at top and bottom of the frame.

THE RECRUIT (2003)
[Buena Vista - All regions]
Filmed in Super 35 and reframed at 1.78 on DVD. This was done deliberately by director Roger Donaldson, who framed for both 2.35 and 1.78 during shooting, for the specific purpose of releasing a 2.35 theatrical print and a compromised 1.78 version on DVD. As such, the film is neither one thing or another, and sets an appalling precedent...

SET IT OFF (1996)
[New Line - US R1]
Filmed in Super 35 and reframed at 1.78 on DVD. This was done at the director's request, at a time when 16:9 TV's were still a minority purchase in the US. The previous laserdisc release was framed correctly at 2.35.

SPACEHUNTER ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE (1983).
[Columbia Tristar - US R1]
Filmed in McNabb 3-D and framed at 1.78 on DVD. However, this is a special case: It was filmed in a process which actually pre-empted the introduction of Super 35, exposing the full 1.37 frame, from which the theatrical 2.35 image was optically extracted for the 3-D release prints. However, the film was screened theatrically in 'flat' (non 3-D) engagements at 1.85, exposing more of the image than the 3-D print, and this is the version which has been transferred to DVD. However, the movie was conceived and executed as a 3-D feature, and the 3-D version was 2.35, so...

STAGE BEAUTY (2004)
[Lion's Gate - US R1]
Filmed in Super 35 and reframed at 1.78 on DVD. The film is available on disc outside the US in its original 2.35 ratio.

TRUE BLUE (1996)
[Cinema Club - UK R2]
Filmed in Super 35 and reframed at 1.78 on DVD.

#2 of 210 OFFLINE   Kai Penttila

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Posted April 02 2005 - 05:54 AM

An excellent post, Gary.

A few addenda that came to mind immediately:

APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)/ APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX (2001) - all regions (?) reframed to the “Univisium” ratio 2:1 (original Panavision)

THE CARS THAT ATE PARIS (1974) - the British R2 reframed to 16:9 (original Panavision)

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (1967) - the British R2 reframed to 16:9 (original Panavision)

PORTRAIT OF A LADY (1996) – the British R2 reframed to 16:9 (original Super 35)

THE RECRUIT (2003) – the Nordic R2 retains the original scope ratio.

#3 of 210 OFFLINE   Seymour Uranowitz

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Posted April 02 2005 - 06:44 AM

Quote:
THE HAIRDRESSER'S HUSBAND (1990)
[Second Sight - R2]
Filmed in anamorphic Panavision and cropped to 1.33 on DVD. The film was originally released on disc in the UK by Tartan, who provided a 2.20 version, without 16:9 enhancement.
Second Sight recently released a version in anamorphic widescreen...

http://www.amazon.co....id=1112471019/

#4 of 210 OFFLINE   Mike_Richardson

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Posted April 02 2005 - 06:49 AM

Quote:
Worse still, very few people seem to be concerned about this creeping state of affairs. No one expresses alarm when 2.35 movies are reframed to 1.78 on DVD at the behest of directors, because - they argue - it's the director's choice, and their word is sacrosanct. Frankly, I'd like to shake such filmmakers by the throat and physically restrain them from working at any ratio wider than 1.85!! If they're so concerned about how their 'scope' movie is going to look on TV, THEY SHOULD FRAME AT 1.85 AND BE DONE WITH IT! There's no excuse for employing a 2.35 frame if you have no intention of using it for any other reason than it looks 'bigger' in a multiplex auditorium.

After all, it's the THEATRICAL PRINT which represents the ACTUAL MOVIE, not the reframed DVD.

I applaud your list, but I have an issue with your argument here. Part of the reason directors chose to shoot in Super 35 is so there will be TWO valid aspect ratios -- one for widescreen, another for full-screen TVs. James Cameron has said THE ABYSS and TRUE LIES are just as valid in full-screen as they in 2.35. Directors are clearly conscious of the fact that more people will be ultimately watching the movie on video than will see it in theaters, which is why for one reason Super 35 became common for many filmmakers.

Whether or not you "like" their reasoning is completely missing the point. You have the respect their decisions, regardless of how misguided you think they are, and whether or not it fits your argument. It's not as black and white as you'd like it to be, and it's not as easy as saying "everything not formatted for my 16:9 TV isn't valid!".

#5 of 210 OFFLINE   ChristopherDAC

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Posted April 02 2005 - 06:53 AM

I'm surprised by this "Univisium" deal. You say that "the Univisium specs correspond to no known theatrical or television standard"? As I understand it, the Japanese adopted "scope" filming very heavily, and a number of films such as the "Lone Wolf and Cub" series were shot in anamorphic 2:1. I forget what the name of the process was, and I guess it was less common than 2.4:1 TohoScope, but it seems to have been used extensively.

#6 of 210 OFFLINE   Joseph Bolus

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Posted April 02 2005 - 08:20 AM

I believe the first Austin Powers movie ("International Man of Mystery") was presented on DVD in a 2.20:1 aspect ratio when it was exhibited theatrically at 2.35:1. This was even mentioned briefly during the commentary track when it was explained that it was "slightly opened up" due to its Super 35 origins.
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#7 of 210 OFFLINE   Gary Palmer

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Posted April 02 2005 - 08:23 AM

Part of the reason directors chose to shoot in Super 35 is so there will be TWO valid aspect ratios -- one for widescreen, another for full-screen TVs.

Most will deny this to the grave. And if you think about it, you cannot compose for two specific ratios without compromising both. You can compose for one ratio and protect for another, but that also leads to compromise, which is why so many Super 35 movies look like cropped 1.78.

James Cameron has said THE ABYSS and TRUE LIES are just as valid in full-screen as they in 2.35.

Cameron said this a long time ago, well before the introduction of widescreen TV's and 16:9 enhanced DVD's. At the time, he was concerned about the compromises in a 2.35 image on 4:3 NTSC TV's. Clearly, that is no longer an issue, and it would be interesting to hear his viewpoint today.

Directors are clearly conscious of the fact that more people will be ultimately watching the movie on video than will see it in theaters, which is why for one reason Super 35 became common for many filmmakers.

As I said in my earlier posting, the advent of 16:9 makes such practices wholly unnecessary, as the 2.35 image can be easily accommodated within the 1.78 frame.

You have the respect their decisions

I cannot respect decisions which have turned modern Hollywood movies into little more than big budget TV fodder. I have nothing against TV, but when I watch a movie, I'd rather it looked like a movie, and not like an episode of a TV series. All the arguments for and against Super 35 have been brought to the table, and I've argued them many times on different forums. No one has been able to persuade me that this process (which actually harks back to the 1950's, when it started out as Superscope) represents anything less than an aesthetic compromise, every step of the way.

THE HAIRDRESSER'S HUSBAND: The DVD Times website reviewed a 4:3 copy of this disc at the following URL:

http://www.dvdtimes....contentid=56532

This appears to have been a review copy only. I searched around and discovered that the retail version is indeed 16:9 enhanced, but is still incorrectly framed at 1.78 (the closing credits are 2.35).

As I understand it, the Japanese adopted "scope" filming very heavily, and a number of films such as the "Lone Wolf and Cub" series were shot in anamorphic 2:1.

The Lone Wolf series was filmed in anamorphic Tohoscope at 2.35, though many of them may have been released on home video at a compromise of their original AR. All the widescreen Japanese films from this period were photographed anamorphically, and there are no anamorphic 35mm processes capable of capturing anything other than a 2.35 image. Some of them may have been photographed in Techniscope, but even this would have rendered a 2.35 image. If you see one of them on video/DVD at anything less than 2.35, it means the sides of the image have been cropped.

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#8 of 210 OFFLINE   ArthurMy

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Posted April 02 2005 - 08:37 AM

I posted about the Second Sight Hairdresser's Husband in the Regional section. It is indeed mis-framed at 1:78 or whatever. Thankfully, I have a properly framed 2:35 anamorphic version from France (amusingsly MIS-identified on the back of the box as 1:85).

Add another US release of a Patrice Leconte film to the pile - The Widow of St. Pierre - mis-framed to 1:85 rather than its 2:35 ratio. The UK disc is properly framed and anamorphic.

#9 of 210 OFFLINE   Jason Hughes

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Posted April 02 2005 - 08:49 AM

Wasn't Life as a House re-framed?
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#10 of 210 OFFLINE   Gary Palmer

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Posted April 02 2005 - 09:04 AM

APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)/ APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX (2001) - all regions (?) reframed to the “Univisium” ratio 2:1 (original Panavision)

Vittorio Storaro again. He's obsessed with the 2.00:1 ratio (which led him to create the Univisium process in the first place), and he wants all the movies he's photographed in widescreen - even those composed for 2.35 - to be transferred onto home video at the compromise ratio (TUCKER THE MAN AND HIS DREAM, photographed in anamorphic Technovision, is another casualty). EXORCIST THE BEGINNING proves that he doesn't always get his own way. There was some concern among fans when it was announced recently that Storaro is helping supervise the transfer of Blue Underground's upcoming DVD version of THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (photographed by Storaro in 2-perf Cromoscope), though I've heard the film will be released at the original 2.35 ratio.

I believe the first Austin Powers movie ("International Man of Mystery") was presented on DVD in a 2.20:1 aspect ratio when it was exhibited theatrically at 2.35:1.

Reframing the image from 2.35 to 2.20 isn't too much of a hardship, as the difference is minimal. However, the difference is so minimal that it makes the whole thing quite pointless...

By the way, keep the list of compromised DVD's coming, guys. If we get enough, I'll compile all titles into a single post at a later date, for reference purposes.

One more for the list:

TURBULENCE (1997)
[HBO - US R1]
Filmed in Super 35 and reframed on DVD at 1.78. The previous laserdisc edition was correctly framed at 2.35.

#11 of 210 OFFLINE   Gary Palmer

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Posted April 02 2005 - 09:12 AM

Wasn't Life as a House re-framed?

Very slightly, to 2.10. This begins to push the envelope a little, as the closer you get to 2.00:1, the more the image is compromised. I'd say 2.10 was about the absolute limit, though I wouldn't encourage it's wholesale adoption, by any means!! ;-)

STAR TREK VI THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991)
[Paramount - All regions]
Filmed in Super 35 and reframed at 1.95 on DVD at the insistence of the director. All the other Trek movies to date have been photographed in anamorphic Panavision and transferred correctly at 2.35, so why Nicholas Meyer should consider this movie so visually fragile is a mystery.

#12 of 210 OFFLINE   Seymour Uranowitz

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Posted April 02 2005 - 10:13 AM

Quote:
I posted about the Second Sight Hairdresser's Husband in the Regional section. It is indeed mis-framed at 1:78 or whatever. Thankfully, I have a properly framed 2:35 anamorphic version from France (amusingly MIS-identified on the back of the box as 1:85).
I had purchased the French version just before the Second Sight re-release. When I saw the 1.85 label on the package I was kicking myself for not waiting, assuming that Second Sight would get it right. What a relief when I played it and realized it was mislabeled!

For those who are looking, here's the one to get:


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#13 of 210 OFFLINE   Jeff Adkins

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Posted April 02 2005 - 10:48 AM

PLAYING BY HEART (1998) - [Miramax - all regions (?)] DVD is reframed to the 1.78 from its 2.35 aspect ratio (original Panavision). Non-anamorphic.

#14 of 210 OFFLINE   MatthewLouwrens

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Posted April 02 2005 - 11:01 AM

I believe the r4 release of Gosford Park is in 1.78:1, rather than 2.35:1. Have't seen the disc myself, but here is the source of my information.
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#15 of 210 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted April 02 2005 - 12:22 PM

Sort of the opposite, but every widescreen video of the 1956 Don Siegel version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" has been 2:1.

It was actually filmed for Academy Ratio, but released in SuperScope only because Allied Artists insisted. I'm REALLY hoping that whenever Paramount does a new DVD (when they get the Republic/Spelling catalog later this year), they release the first DVD in its intended ratio. They'd probably have to put a disclaimer before the film explaining the past crop jobs, but it'll be great to finally see it right.

#16 of 210 OFFLINE   Scott Temple

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Posted April 02 2005 - 01:34 PM

The Goodtimes DVD (Region 1, NTSC) of Judgment Night (1993) was misframed at 1.78:1, but was surprisingly 16x9 enhanced. Goodtimes rarely ever released 16x9 transfers. The one time they did they got the aspect ratio wrong. D'oh! Posted Image Fortunately, that DVD is OOP and has been replaced by Universal's disc which is presented in the OAR of 2.35:1 (16x9).
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#17 of 210 OFFLINE   Simon Howson

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Posted April 02 2005 - 01:55 PM

Quote:
EXORCIST THE BEGINNING (2004)[Warner Bros. - R1]
Filmed in Univisum. As with DUNE (above), cinematographer Vittorio Storaro insisted on using this irrelevant cinematic 'process' (worse still, the studio allowed him to use it!), framing the movie at 2.00:1. However, it was released theatrically at 2.35, and that has been carried over to the DVD version. Storaro is unhappy with the compromise, but I don't have much sympathy for his standpoint, given that the Univisium specs correspond to no known theatrical or television standard.

Firstly, Storaro only shoots on film in Univisum, which is 3 perf 35mm composed for 2.00:1. Original director Paul Schrader became aware of this when he asked Storaro to shoot the original version of the film, and was happy with.

It is essentially a 3 perf version of SuperScope. SuperScope in both its 2.00:1 and 2.35:1 configurations was accomodated by exhibition from CinemaScope compatible prints, there is no reason why this procedure couldn't be continued now. The only reason the film wasn't presented in 2.00:1 is due to studio ignorance, and this dumbed down belief that the only valid aspect ratios are 2.4:1 or 1.85:1.

I agree that Storaro's desire to have exhibition norms changed to accomedate the format from contact prints is unrealistic. However there is a film format that supports a 2.00:1 theatrical image - an anamorphic print with black bars added on the sides to protect the composition. Morgan Creek cropped the image at the top and bottom to acheive the 2.4:1 theatrical image, I mean hey if that is a valid modification, then why not show all Super 35 films 1.85:1?

Paul Schrader's original version of the film finally screened from film for the first time at a Brussels horror film festival. Apparently it was presented there in the correct 2.00:1 aspect ratio from an anamorphic print.

I think it is actually a good thing that a cinematographer wishes to innovate a new aspect ratio that would be explicitly designed to unify both theatrical and home presentation of films. If that was the case then we wouldn't need to have this discussion thread :-)

Moreover, if this thread is about retaining the integrity of the theatrical aspect ratio, then shouldn't consideration be given to the intention of the cinematographer and director? In that case the 2.00:1 theatrical aspect ratio of Univisium should stand, because it IS a legitimate format that can be very easily accomdated even by the restricted nature of contemporary exhibition practices.

#18 of 210 OFFLINE   Simon Howson

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Posted April 02 2005 - 02:01 PM

Quote:
Part of the reason directors chose to shoot in Super 35 is so there will be TWO valid aspect ratios -- one for widescreen, another for full-screen TVs.

Most will deny this to the grave. And if you think about it, you cannot compose for two specific ratios without compromising both. You can compose for one ratio and protect for another, but that also leads to compromise, which is why so many Super 35 movies look like cropped 1.78.

I think you identify the problem with this whole issue. I've seen many contemporary Hollywood Super 35 films where it looks like 2.4:1 was an after thought, and that the DVD could be transferred 4:3, 1.78:1 or 2.4:1 and it wouldn't make much difference. Contemporary Hollywood style is so imprecise, so wholly concerned with close ups that composition is more or less dead. The best widescreen films made in Hollywood are generally anamorphic.

Having said that I do think it is good that you want DVDs to show the theatrical image, but I don't really think this will alter widescreen composition. Plus I object to 2.00:1 not being considered a valid aspect ratio, which it certainly is assuming studios weren't so ignorant to film technology.

#19 of 210 OFFLINE   Damin J Toell

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Posted April 02 2005 - 08:46 PM

Quote:
DUNE (2000)
[Artisan - R1]
Filmed in Univisium, a Super 35-clone which renders a 2.00:1 ratio, despite the fact the movie was produced for TV. The disc version is reframed at 1.78.


Wasn't the original broadcast done at 1.78:1? If so, the DVD accurately relfects the OAR, no matter what format was used.

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#20 of 210 OFFLINE   PeterTHX

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Posted April 02 2005 - 10:23 PM

"Backdraft" was shown theatrically 1.85, but shot Super35 (Super 1.85). On DVD it's reframed at 2:1 using the old LaserDisc transfer, which itself was made when Universal had the policy of reframing anything Super35 at 2:1 (Dr. Giggles, etc) regardless of OAR.

What is Super 1.85? 1.85 OAR on a Super35 frame, more negative exposure. Coppola used it on "The Godfather, Part III".


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