The reason I went to all the trouble was that I had seen some people claiming that the DVD release of the film in widescreen was wrong and that the film was intended to be seen in a 1.33 (or 1.37) to 1 aspect ratio. I know that people here would have opinions on such things, so here's my analysis.
As a preface, my argument is based on the idea that just because a full frame of 35mm film is exposed, that does not mean it was meant to be seen in a theater. Here's an example of what I mean.
On the left is a frame from A Fish Called Wanda, letterboxed to present the film as it would be shown in a theater. In this scene, John Cleese is supposed to be standing naked in front of the people. As you can see on the right, the scene was filmed with Cleese wearing pants. It should be obvious, however, that the director (and cinematographer) would never intend you see the pants, because it ruins the joke. Movies have been shot like this - with the intent of only the center portion being seen - since the mid 1950s. While this change was not instantly adopted, I would think by 1968, when Yellow Submarine was released, the practice would be standard.
To see exactly what is lost by "matting" the top and bottom of Yellow Submarine, I decided to compare a "full frame" version from the 1980s laserdisc to the letterboxed DVD transfer.
First, I grabbed a section of each version of the movie (approx 8 min., or about 1/10 of the film) from the "Sea of Time" sequence through the end of "Only A Northern Song." I loaded these clips into Final Cut Pro. I cropped the black bars off the DVD clip and laid the laserdisc video underneath.
For the sake of this sample, I am assuming the DVD accurately represents the full width of the original film image.
Immediately I realized the laserdisc transfer showed less image width than the DVD, so I shrunk it down to match the DVD. I lined up the two as closely as possible without altering other dimensions of the image - there are skewing issues with the laserdisc transfer, particularly on the left side, so that part did not line up exactly.
As I looked through my sequence, I noticed that the size of the laserdisc video was not constant. In a few sections, I needed to adjust the laserdisc clip to be SMALLER, which means that the old video actually showed LESS of the full film image in those sections.
Here's an example of this during "When I'm 64"
The full image represents a 35mm frame. The DVD image is in the center, taking up 80% of the height. The blue box outline represents the section of the frame shown on the laserdisc.
On the left, you can see a frame that shows the most common framing of the laserdisc compared to the full film frame. In the center, however, you can see that in the next shot of the film, the laserdisc framing was adjusted (the image was enlarged). This is actually common for films transferred to video in "full-frame" versions. The picture will be enlarged then moved up or down to avoid showing something such as a boom microphone (or, if "A Fish Called Wanda" had been done properly, they could have avoided showing John Cleese's pants).
What this tells me is that in this section of the film, the image was manipulated to crop out something either at the top or bottom of the frame. This had to be done for a reason, because as the right image shows, more of the artwork is being lost on the side than if the framing had stayed the same as in the previous shot. Also, the word "let" in the center image is much too close to the edge of the laserdisc frame. On many television sets, that letter would probably never be seen. Again, there has to be something objectionable on the top or bottom of the frame that would warrant such a compromise.
Well, what kind of objectionable thing would be seen in the fringe of the full frame image? How about this one that was missed:
In this scene on the laserdisc, several frames show missing sections of Ringo's arm and shirt. I can't imagine they would have photographed the frame like this unless someone KNEW it wouldn't be seen in theaters.
Here's another example of something that I doubt the filmmakers intended to be noticed:
These are three consecutive positions of the submarine. Notice that the middle and right ones are not too different. It's not even seen in the first frame. You would think if that top portion of the frame was supposed to be seen, they would have animated the sub up there in the first frame, otherwise it appears to "pop" on the screen. If matted to widescreen, the "pop" isn't as noticable.
It's also interesting to note that of all the captures I've done, this sequence shows the most of the entire original frame.
Again, if we really were supposed to see the whole 4:3 frame, why would they have to reposition the video version at various points in the movie?
And keep in mind I only viewed about 10 percent of the movie.There could be other errors that slipped through the original laserdisc transfer, and there are likely other sections where the image was enlarged to crop out errors.
For these reasons, I fully believe Yellow Submarine was intended to be viewed in a 1.66 to 1 aspect ratio.
After this, I was referred to a similar presentation at:
And I responded to a couple claims from that site:
From the site:
|It was originally shot for TV in the TV aspect ratio which, like it or not, is proportionally a bigger picture than cinema widescreen. So, when the decision came to launch the film on movie screens instead, the filmmakers had three options...|