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Of Apertures Aspect Ratio's and DVD's


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#1 of 4 Albion

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Posted August 19 2012 - 08:06 AM

In 2006 I stated this.............mind you I haven't said a lot since,despite being a frequent trawler of the HTF. I've edited the post a little to keep to the point. """This is a post, concerning the DVD release of The Curse of the Fly. Has this transfer been severely cropped? The reason I ask is important ,because if this title has been cropped badly,how do we know others have'nt.This title has a clue regarding that possibility,other titles may not have. As I am from the UK the DVD I refer to is the region 2.As COTF has also been released in Australia it would be interesting to compare with the region 2 transfer. The clue I refer to comes at the end credits.Clearly this shot is a continuation of the shot prior to the insert of the skull of the scientist in the car. It is plainly obvious that on the credit portion of this shot there is a lot more width to each side and quite a bit more information revealed at the bottom.There is also slightly more height.The stated AR of the transfer is 2.35,however the credit portion of the shot in question is about 2.12,suggestive of even more information missing from the sides.Indeed if you look carefully there is a strong suggestion of side masking/encoding to ensure the titles are not covered by Overscan.This additional (masked width) may account for the maximum extraction area available,most of which we are not seeing. If I am right,then this cropping may be the same throughout the entire film. Am I worrying over nothing.I have fond memories of this movie from when I first saw it.I would hate to think I am unable to see it in its full Cinemascope glory,as I have always wanted to. If anyone has this DVD's what do you think.When you see the shot concerned you will immediatly see what I am describing. If I am mistaken can anyone point out what in fact has taken place here?""""" The question still remains.Only after watching TCOTF again recently has the question started to vex me again.However now,I know a little more. We all know that the AR of modern Anamorphic widescreen films is industry accepted as 2.40:1.Previously (from around 1957) it was 2.35:1 But as Martin Hart has mentioned from the American Widescreen Museum,having a stated AR is no guarantee of content. Leaving aside the likes of Todd AO, VistaVision,Technirama and both Ultra and Super Panavision I'd like to concentrate on the bread and butter 2 x Anamorphic enhancement processes of Cinemascope and Panavision.Despite the fact that they use different lenses for most they are interchnageable terms. TCOTF was made around 1965 in Cinemascope,and according to all industry standards it should have been made with a projection ratio of 2.35:1 in mind.Perhaps it was.But what was actually on the negative. A DVD released in 2001 by IMAGE Entertainment called the Flesh and the Fiends with liner notes by genre writer Jonathan Sothcott,states clearly that this Widescreen Special Edition was newly transfered straight from the camera neagatives.The anamorphic process used was called Dylascope,but essentially the name is all that's different.It used a standard anamorphic 2 x enhancement just like post 1957 Cinemascope and modern Panavision. The difference with this transfer is that it is not 2.35:1 but 2.75:1. On the box it saysAR ,2.35:1 AR. Perhaps we should'nt be too surprised,this was a 2001 release after all. This release looks they bothered,as it also includes,the continental version of the film,as well as the liner notes already mentions,along with other special features. What I am trying to say is that if they state its from the original negative,then I believe them.I also assume that no one would crop a 2.35:1 negative to look like 2.75:1.It would'nt make any sense.No they accessed the negative,and transfered what was on it.Everthing short of the spockett holes. It not the first time something like this has happened of course.Look at the classic Christmas perennial "The Great Escape". Filmed with bog standard Panavision,it's first DVD release was about 2.6:1. No query here,all other releases despite being 2.35:1 all have common frame references. DVD beaver tells us why,and an e-mail to Martin Hartof The American Widescreen Museum,confirmed as much. For TGE,the whole of the silent film frame was used 1.33:1.That's a full Aperture gate of .980 x .735 leading to a 2.66:1 AR.Naturally the director John Sturges could'nt present it that way in theatres at the time.We are led to believe by DVD Beaver he wanted to film it this way in order to give him maximum control over the final content,but always intended on a 2.35:1 AR for projection. I wonder how many other films have been made this way.Using non standard Camera Apertures. For those who may not know (and there may be some) the silent film aperture is now only used when when filming in the super 35mm process,where no anamorphic lenses are used on the camera.However whilst acknowledged as an industry standard,it does not mean everyone follows the rules.To account for the introduction of sound on film,The silent aperture was reduced to the Academy standard of 1.37:1 and the aperture became .868 x .631,this, if used with an anamorphic lens becomes 2.75:1 (The Flesh and the Fiends). So where does 2.35:1 come from? Confusingly when Cinemascope was introduced the anamorphic ratio was 2.66:1 (Full Aperture) and sound was intended to be on a seperate magnetic track.This proved impractical.It was never shown that way.A small reduction in spockett holes with sound on magnetic stripe on the film,reduced the ratio to 2.55:1 with a consequential change to the camera aperture to .937 x .735. This continued to about 1956/1957.Then with the introduction of Optical Sound,more room was required and the ratio became 2.35:1.Camera apertures were changed by the industry to .864 x.732. As an aside it's one of my hobbies to try and obtain on DVD all 2.55 ratio movies using the larger aperture.Dissappointingly some are transfered incorrectly at 2.35:1. The Kentuckian,Man from Laramie and The Indian Fighter come to mind.But there are others. Going back to TCOTF then, is this a similar situation.Where knowingly or otherwise the director (in this case Don Sharpe) filmed using a larger camera aperture.The film afterall was made cheaply on a budget in B/W.Perhaps the last thing to be asked was,have we got the right sized gate in the camera. Another film made at around the same time,for Hammer , interestingly, also directed by DonSharpe and again in Cinemascope was Rasputin the Mad Monk.Only now do we know thanks to the restoration by Hammer Films,that this film's negative has a full 2.55:1 anamorphic content.According to the standards of the time however the right gate was .864 x .732 not .937 x .735 as seems likely. It seems the best way to ensure we get what we want is to go back to the original negative.We can then decide how we watch it?

#2 of 4 Stan

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Posted August 19 2012 - 09:15 AM

In 2006 I stated this.............mind you I haven't said a lot since,despite being a frequent trawler of the HTF. I've edited the post a little to keep to the point. ... It seems the best way to ensure we get what we want is to go back to the original negative.We can then decide how we watch it?

I don't think we'll have much choice in the matter. The corporations decide what sells best and the "evil black bars" that are hated by Joe Six-Pack consumers have never been popular. I'm guessing that in the future most films will be cropped to fit the standard 16:9 screen, which is obviously much better than the pan and scan for a 4:3 television, but we'll still lose some of the picture. True widescreen films 2.35:1 or higher will probably lose out unless newer televisions are introduced or studios refuse to bow down to the masses and keep films in their original format. Enjoyed your post. I was a projectionist for about six years in the 80s and we simply called films "Flat", "Scope" or the occasional 70mm widescreen and changed lenses as needed between films. On another topic, I've been a member since the late 90s and am just now approaching 1,000 posts. I thought I was kind of rare and not all that chatty, but you've got me beaten by a landslide.
Stan

#3 of 4 Albion

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Posted August 20 2012 - 12:31 AM

Thanks for your comments Stan. I suppose I have a general regard for the evil black bars.I can remember eagerly buying the first VHS widescreen releases,and black bars (the bigger they were the better) on playing them on a 4x3 CRT Television.Knowing that I was seeing more than the pan and scan brigade.Until that is I discovered the dreaded overscan,and that AR was no guarantee of content. One of my favourite past times is watching Widecreen DVD's on a 5x4 Monitor,as the black bars are then even deeper.It's a peculiarly odd individual and nostalgia ridden affliction,but it makes me happy. Whether the industry rids themselves of 2.35 seems unlikely,although I note with the gradual disappearance of film as a medium,some are advocating the end of anamorphic lenses with digital cinema cameras.Even Panavision comment that their latest digital genesis camera can use all other Panavision lenses including anamorphics,except there will be some distortion.Now that is worrying.Fortunately there are still those who point out that even anamorphic lenses should be used in digital cinema production as it still uses more of the sensor area recorded by the camera. Certainly 1.85 is a thing of the past,at least in the digital cinema world.The industry still has the 1.85 ratio as standard,but from now on anything made at 1.85 will be transfered in 16/9. As a projectionist I presume to,that you are sad to see the demise of film as a projection medium.Long gone are the days it seems when true film prints,struck from the original negative were ever put on a cinema screen. As the Cinema Digital revolution engulfs us,my absence from these forums (for which I have nothing but long winded excuses) will no doubt decline as I try and understand the finer points of sensor sizes,megapixels and digital noise reduction. Fortunately though enough films have been made in the past for me to contiue on and on about original negatives,apertures and incorrect aspect ratio's on DVD's and Blu-ray..

#4 of 4 Stan

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Posted August 20 2012 - 03:05 PM

I still own about 15-20 widescreen VHS films. The Die Hard trilogy, the Star Wars silver box set, Titanic and others. I refused to purchase "regular" VHS films because of the pan and scan issue, knowing how much of the picture was missing. Luckily the DVD revolution was just starting and knew immediately how popular it would be and that VHS would fade away. In my own small way even hope that I contributed to Circuit City's failure with DIVX. Letterboxed VHS films are now almost impossible to watch. It's amazing how bad the picture quality is, but at the time I thought it was wonderful, seeing the true widescreen version of a film as it was meant to be. I do miss the nostalgia factor of real film, but picture and sound quality now has pretty much taken care of that. No scratches, missing frames, dirty prints, splicing reels together, etc. I'm happy to leave the past behind.
Stan