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Robert Harris on The Bits - 8/12/02 column - OFFICIAL THREAD


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#1 of 63 OFFLINE   Bill Hunt

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Posted August 12 2002 - 11:05 AM

We've just posted Robert Harris' new column on The Digital Bits. This time around, Robert talks about aspect ratios and runs down some good titles to watch out for on DVD.

Aspect Ratios - Salve for the Soul

As always, click on the link to read Robert's comments and then come on back here to this official thread at the HTF to discuss, give feedback, ask questions of Robert and sound off as you will.

Enjoy!
Bill Hunt, Editor
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#2 of 63 OFFLINE   gregstaten

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Posted August 12 2002 - 11:38 AM

Glad to see you've included the SMPTE film alignment chart, but the graphic seems to have been cut off on the right side. It is cut off on the right side of the television aperture.

-greg

#3 of 63 OFFLINE   Paul McElligott

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Posted August 12 2002 - 11:51 AM

Yeah... I want to see the chart in it's original aspect ratio!
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#4 of 63 OFFLINE   Peter Kline

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Posted August 12 2002 - 01:19 PM

Ah yes, lemons and Atlantic City. Should have won an award for the best use of citrus fruit in a motion picture, or something like that. Posted Image

#5 of 63 OFFLINE   Bill Hunt

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Posted August 12 2002 - 03:02 PM

Just FYI, the SMPTE film alignment chart has now been corrected. My bad. ;-)
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#6 of 63 OFFLINE   Will*M

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Posted August 12 2002 - 03:54 PM

Bill & Robert:

Loving the articles, keep them coming.

#7 of 63 OFFLINE   oscar_merkx

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Posted August 12 2002 - 08:44 PM

just read the article, keep them coming. My DVD collection has just been expanded again with some new found gems.

I really enjoyed Tough Guys with Burt Lancaster & Kirk Douglas when it first came out, so Disney if you are reading this, bring it on

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#8 of 63 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted August 12 2002 - 10:40 PM

You can get The Leopard on region 2 DVD from Italy, folks. I own it. I love it. The transfer is very good: 2.35:1 anamorphic. Damn, big fat mono though, sounds like it was compressed at Monster Joe's Truck 'N Tow, man. It's the 180 minute version. Posted Image Still... it's a great DVD - if you understand Italian! Posted Image No, the film has English subtitles, but everything else - the interviews in disc 2 (oh, yeah it's a 2 discer!) have no subs, what a drag. Does Fox still own the rights to it in the USA? I'd love to see a 205 minute THX DD5.1/DTS 5.1 version with lots of extra features.

Here's a link to a site that can supply you with a copy of : The Leopard: http://shop.videopar...h?JKTjfdQy;;269

#9 of 63 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted August 13 2002 - 12:02 AM

The Leopard is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Unfortunately, it is also one of those films in desperate need of a full and complete reconstruction and restoration from original elements.

While there is some question about precisely what version was run at its premiere at Cannes re: running time, we do know that it was appreciatively longer than what we now have.

Any work done on this film should be done in large format, preserving the detail and fine resolution of the original.

RAH

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#10 of 63 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted August 13 2002 - 04:21 AM

Quote:
The Hustler* looks so good in anamorphic and gritty black and white, that it leads me to hope that Fox will finally do something about The Sound of Music - one of the worst looking major films to hit DVD - possibly with a new transfer, properly done this time. When this does occur, it would seem proper that Fox would include a rebate for those who were suckered into purchasing their original 5 Star Special Edition. The Sound of Music transfer is even more out of line with expectations when one realizes that it was filmed in 65mm.

Robert,

I couldn't agree with you more. The current transfer of TSOM is like some cruel joke. Add the artificial EE/ringing to the already bad image and things just get worse. I actually have had *novice* viewers spontaneously say things like "hey, what is that halo-thing around Julie Andrew's head? Looks kind-of like a ghost image..." and we're watching on a 34" 16x9 direct view from 10 feet away! SCARY.

Hard to believe they went through all that time and effort (so it seemed) and ended up with this as a result with what should have been the most careful, attentive, and no-holds-barred DVD transfer of all time.

Of course, it is THX certified...so I guess it *has* to be reference quality...my bad... Posted Image
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#11 of 63 OFFLINE   george kaplan

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Posted August 13 2002 - 06:58 AM

I rarely disagree with Bob Harris, and never on matters of fact regarding film. However, in terms of opinion, I have to disagree with the idea that cropping from 1.85 to 1.78 doesn't lose enough picture to care. What is enough. Cropped to 1.66? 1.37? 1.33? To me any cropping from the OAR is bad.

I guess I shouldn't bother to ask him if the academy standard in that pattern is 1.33 or 1.37. Posted Image
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#12 of 63 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted August 13 2002 - 07:09 AM

Re: George Kaplan's comments:

Actually the cropping goes the other way 'round.

The difference between 1.85 to 1.78 is added picture, not reduced picture.

Academy at .825 x .600 is 1.37:1

Hope I'm not mis-understanding your comments.

RAH

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#13 of 63 OFFLINE   Roberto Carlo

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Posted August 13 2002 - 08:22 AM

Thank you for your article, Mr. Harris. You mentioned the dismay at cropping from 1.85 to 1.78. My question involves the opposite. My laserdisc of North by Northwest had an aspect ratio of 1.66 to 1, which I think -- please correct me if I'm wrong -- was one of the ratios associated with Vista Vision. The DVD is 16:9, which makes anamorphic enhancement possible. It isn't only N By NW. Several Disney features appear to have been whatever the opposite of cropped is, also to make anamorphic possible. Am I correct in this observation and, if I am, what is your, or anyone else's, opinion on the matter?
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#14 of 63 OFFLINE   Eric Peterson

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Posted August 13 2002 - 08:46 AM

Excellent column as usual Mr. Harris. I have one request though. Is there anyway that I could get a copy of the diagram in a higher resolution? I'm having a hard time reading the small text and magnification doesn't help.

Thanks in advance.

#15 of 63 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted August 13 2002 - 09:17 AM

One of the points that I was attempting to make is that aspect ratios have very little meaning unless you are making direct comparisons to either a negative or print of the title in question.

VistaVision was created to be projected anywhere from 1.66 or slightly wider up to over 2:1, and everything in between.

N x NW may work fine in 1.66, although the title does need cropping to eliminate artifacts outside of protected range, but recorded on the negative.

Not having made any direct comparisons, it is possible that a 1.66 image is a 1.85 image with the sides cropped.

One would have to look at the exact frame.

Re: chart resolution...

I can certainly email a copy of the chart to Ron in Photoshop format, but I don't know if he'd care to use his bandwidth in that manner.

RAH

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#16 of 63 OFFLINE   gregstaten

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Posted August 13 2002 - 09:39 AM

George - methinks you doth protest too much. Opening up the 1.85 masking to 1.78 is not a significant change. In fact, you don't know how good you have it on DVD aspect-ratio wise as compared to a theatrical presentation.

A theater may have a screen with an exact 1.85:1 aspect ratio. But, I can just about guarantee you that you are not seeing the entire 1.85 image as composed on the ground glass by the cinematographer. Sure, the image has the right shape, but you aren't seeing the entire image.

Let's take the most ideal, and least likely, situation: the projector is perfectly aligned on axis to the center of the screen - there is no keystone and no parallax. The size of the image on the screen is a combination of the projector's throw length and the lens' focal length. I've yet to see a theater where there's a perfect match that exactly fills the screen. They almost always overshoot. This means the edges of the frame spill over the masking. Why is this done? Well, it makes it easier to "rough-in" framing on a hard matted print.

But you don't see all that spill on the masking, you say? That's because the aperature plate in the projector was filed down to mask most of the spill. Yup. The plate is covering over part of the image. (If the theater is set up to SMPTE specs, the total loss should be no more than 5% per side.)


Now let's leave that perfect world and talk about the average theater today. The projection booth is not on axis with the screen. Indeed, with the advent of stadium seating, it could be as much as 30 degrees off axis or more. This creates a keystone effect. Plus, large screens are generally curved inward. That results in a parallax effect.

(Keystoning results in an image that is longer at the bottom than at the top. Parallax results in an image that is bowed downward like a smile.)

To ensure that the viewer doesn't see these effects, the image must be blown up more and the aperture plate ground to hide these effects. So, in a typical theater, you're seeing less of the image at the bottom of the frame and less of the image at the corners on the top and less of the image at the middle of the bottom.

Add to this the fact that the framing may well be incorrect and you may lose even more at the top or bottom. I've attended screenings where subtitles were partially offscreen due to a combination of all of the above.

---

So, I can guarantee you that you're seeing more of the image on DVD than you ever saw in a theater and you're seeing the image framed better than you saw it in a theater. (Unless you get to see films in places like the DGA theater in LA - probably one of the best set up and run theaters I've ever seen.)

Why complain about those few extra scan lines in the 1.78:1 transfer?

-greg

#17 of 63 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted August 13 2002 - 09:44 AM

In reply to: Robert Harris
Visconti's Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) is one of those films where you see the medium at it's most powerful. Like Sir David's Lawrence Of Arabia and Coppola's The Godfather Part II. Pulverizing. There's a shot in The Leopard that begins with a shot of the moon being smothered by clouds and Burt and... what's his name(?) are walking across the field, and the light in that shot is just incredible, extrodinarily beautiful. Technirama was something else. WOW!

Gee, I mean the DVD looks great, but I really wonder about the negative of that film. Italian labs and all. Weird. Anchor Bay went to Rome to get the neg of Dario Argento's legendary 1977 horror film Suspiria which filmed in Technovision (2.35:1 anamorphic) and 3 Stripe Technicolor, and they THX'd a print from that and it looks SO great.

Thanks again, Bob!


Gordon

#18 of 63 OFFLINE   george kaplan

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Posted August 13 2002 - 10:59 AM

Robert,

Thanks for the reply. Just to be clear to everyone, I don't lose sleep over this stuff. I realize that framing issues are complex and when I'm watching a dvd or ld, I am watching the movie itself and don't think about misframing unless you see someone talking to someone's nose.

But I still hate the idea of losing any picture at all, even if it's the difference between 1.33 and 1.37. That doesn't mean I worry about it in real life, or let it stop me from purchasing and watching dvds. I only really think about it when it comes up in a thread here at HTF.
"Movies should be like amusement parks. People should go to them to have fun." - Billy Wilder

"Subtitles good. Hollywood bad." - Tarzan, Sight & Sound 2012 voter.

"My films are not slices of life, they are pieces of cake." - Alfred Hitchcock"My great humility is just one of the many reasons that I...

#19 of 63 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted August 13 2002 - 01:44 PM

To George Kaplan:

I just want to make certain that I haven't confused the issue and that you and the rest of the group understand that going from 1.85 to 1.78 gives you MORE information.

Correct?

RAH

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#20 of 63 OFFLINE   Damin J Toell

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Posted August 13 2002 - 04:04 PM

Quote:
VistaVision was created to be projected anywhere from 1.66 or slightly wider up to over 2:1, and everything in between.

N x NW may work fine in 1.66, although the title does need cropping to eliminate artifacts outside of protected range, but recorded on the negative.


Robert,

Would you happen to know what NxNW was composed at during filming (e.g., the ground glass markings)? This would presumably give a better indication of the ideal exhibition AR (to me, at least).

Thanks,
DJ





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