Are more movies 2.35:1? If so, why?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Dave Poehlman, Dec 18, 2003.

  1. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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    I rented Identity the other day and noticed it was in a 2.35:1 ratio... I thought this was a little odd for a mystery thriller type film basically shot on a set... in the dark.

    Then, last night I watched Anger Management and noticed it also was in a 2.35:1 ratio. I mean, it's not like there's any huge epic-style shots in this film... it's Adam Sandler.

    Is it entirely the director's choice? Or (here's my theory), is the film industry pumping out more 2.35's to combat the popularity of 16:9 TV's? Like in the 50's when 4:3 TV's became popular, films began being shot in wider ratios to incent people to continue to come to the theaters.

    Your thoughts?
     
  2. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    I doubt that theory, personally. The DVD industry is a goldmine for the movie studios, the TV industry was the movie studio's competition in the 50's. Does not make sense when you take into account that DVD's are one of the reasons widescreen TV's are starting to take off. Why would you consider widescreen TV's competition if they might help sell more DVD's of the movie? Interesting theory, though.
     
  3. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    A wise guy might say these movies lack focus [​IMG]

    Personally, I would think 1.85:1, as closer to 16:9, would suit the widescreen TV sets neatly, so maybe Dave's idea is right.
     
  4. Gary Seven

    Gary Seven Grand Poo Pah

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    It is the director's choice. What it comes down to is how he/she wants to tell the story. That is in effect, the director's job. Part of telling the story comes down to film stock and composition. A wide screen frame allows the director to make use of a wider canvas for the characters to interact and react with each other. These interactions and reactions are part of the story. Anger Management is not "just" an Adam Sandler, it is also a Jack Nickolson movie. These two playing off each other is better conveyed in a 2.35:1 frame rather than 1.85:1 where the character's interaction can be composed better to suit that part of the story.

    As Spielberg once said, composition is part of the story. If the director needs a bigger canvas to make more appropriate compositions, than that's what they use.
     
  5. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    It's a common misconception that the 2.35:1 frame is best-suited to "epic-style shots". Epic style is a function of subject matter, not aspect ratio. The wider frame can be (and has been) used in many ways for a long time. Check out The Hustler (1961) or In Cold Blood (1967) or Chinatown (1974) or Blue Velvet (1986). Frederick Elmes, the cinematographer on Blue Velvet, has some interesting observations on the use of the wider frame in the recent DVD documentary.

    M.
     
  6. Aaron Garman

    Aaron Garman Second Unit

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    I like that many films being put out are in scope 2.35:1 because they tend to look much better when projected in 35mm. Essentially, it takes advantage of the light output better than films that are 1.85:1. Also, scope images are squeezed and then unsqueezed through the lens. This squeezed image covers the entire 35mm frame, and thus provides greater resolution than the cropped 1.85:1. Many of us have said that it'd be nice to develop a new system where 1.85:1 films are also squeezed on the film like an anamorphic DVD. It'd provide more resolution and most likely better light output.

    AJG
     
  7. Qui-Gon John

    Qui-Gon John Producer

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    I agree with this part of your statement. Although, like Dave, I think there is far too much use of 2.35 vs. 1.85, and IMHO, it is done just to be trendy. Widescreen is becoming a craze of sorts, for example, we see a lot of commercials shown now in 2.35:1 non-anamorphic. Oh it might be the director's decision, but it might also be that of whoever is funding the picture. Make it r e a l l y w i d e , people are into w i d e now! IMHO, a basic comedy or action thriller, cop movie, or horror flick, 1.85 is fine. You only need 2.35 for "epics" like Star Wars, Star Trek, LOTR, etc.

    I know I'll probably get bashed, that's what folks love to do around here, but this is just my opinion. I can't think of any movie in the genres I said 1.85 would be acceptable, that are 2.35 and I would have been dumbfounded to have had them been 1.85 instead. C'mon, did The American President really need to be 2.35?
     
  8. Gary Seven

    Gary Seven Grand Poo Pah

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    ^^^

    I disagree. Case in point.... Up In Smoke (Cheech and Chong). This movie was filmed 2.35:1. Being a comedy of a couple of potheads, why would it need to be 2.35:1, right?

    When I saw this movie back in 1979, I loved it. A few scant years later, I get a VHS copy of this movie (pan and scan, naturally, at that time) watched it and couldn't understand why I could not see many of the jokes that I had seen in the theater. At that time, I knew something was wrong but couldn't figure it out. Well the P&S version cropped many of the sight gags out. When I watched the laserdisc several years later in wide-screen, all the jokes I had missed were seen again for the first time in years.

    I brought this movie up since the director chose to film this in 2.35:1. Why did he do this? I can only extrapolate based on the movie itself... he filled the screen with peripheral sight gags that had it been in 1.85:1, would have been a cramped composition. The compositon of shots was reflective of Cheech and Chong's humor and the movie really suffered when it was in P&S.

    As I stated earlier, composition is part of the story. Whether you incorporate that composition into the story, via conscious or sub-conscious perception, is probably the subject of another thread.

    Wide-screen done to be trendy? I see no difference between the amount of movies released in wide-screen today vs what was released in previous decades.

    If the director chooses 2.35:1 to tell a story, he had a reason for it. American President is no different.
     
  9. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    Blake Edwards always used scope for his comedies. The Pink Panther movies look horrible panned and scanned.

    Lots of dramas used CinemaScope to great effect 45-50 years ago. It's not just for epics.
     
  10. Chad A Wright

    Chad A Wright Supporting Actor

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    It's all up to the directors. If I was making movies, I would use the 2.35:1 frame for everything. It's just visually a more pleasing aspect ratio.
     
  11. Nathan V

    Nathan V Supporting Actor

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    The scope frame is so much better for visual compositions. You can do a lot more. I speak as a photographer. I shoot all my photos in 2.5:1 (instead of 1.5:1), because I can do worlds more with framing. Michael Mann, Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Clint Eastwood, and Paul Thomas Anderson usually use the scope ratio, regardless of whether or not their stories are "epics". The Graduate is not an epic, but the use of scope enhances the character development significantly (notice Hoffman is often at the edge of the frame).
    This is an all-too common misconception, that the scope should only be used for David Lean type movies. I agree, it is a bit odd to be shooting Zoolander in scope, but any film with strong visuals should be filmed in scope, simply for higher resolution and better composition oppurtunities.
     
  12. Qui-Gon John

    Qui-Gon John Producer

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    Gary & Steve, why are you both bringing P&S into this? I never said anything about supporting P&S. I said I'd prefer more movies in a properly framed 1.85 aspect ratio, and that's a heck of a lot different than P&S.

    And Chad, I don't agree. I'd be willing to bet that there has been at least one director, somewhere along the way, who was forced to use a different AR than what he wanted, for one reason or another. True, most often it is the director's choice. But I would not go as far as saying it's all up to the directors.
     
  13. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    In some respects, the 2.35 AR has more of a natural width for your field of vision, and many directors exploit that to their advantage if they are skillful enough.
     
  14. Qui-Gon John

    Qui-Gon John Producer

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    Yes, I can see that about side to side, but to me, it seems 2.35 greatly restricts vision in the vertical plane. When I look around a room at people, I just don't see from their waist to their head, I see the whole person, the floor and the ceiling. This is often gone in a lot of 2.35 shots.
     
  15. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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    And does the sight of the floor and ceiling (which you aren't meant to focus on anyway) somehow add to the value of the composition that you're seeing? I mean, really...
     
  16. Sean Moon

    Sean Moon Cinematographer

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    It is all in directors intent. Me personally, I prefer the 2.35 ratio, as it feels more visually pleasing. When I was in college for animation I did a lot of stuff in that ratio as well for many reasons. I preferred the layout of it and how you could compose shots mainly, but to save myself precious time it was less to render for my classes(yes that was kinda cheating), also I was the only student doing it, so I was unique in that.

    But anyways. It is all in the intent. And American Wedding was 2.35 if I remember correctly as well, not exactly epic, but felt more open for all the extra width.
     
  17. Eric Eash

    Eric Eash Second Unit

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    i personally love the 2.35 AR and the 2.40 AR. i think it adds more to the movie theater feel at home. any wider i think wouldn't work. i wish pixar did movies in 2.35!


    eric
     
  18. Sean Moon

    Sean Moon Cinematographer

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    Bugs Life was 2.35. The Incredibles looks to be 2.35 from the trailers and storyboards shown online.
     
  19. Qui-Gon John

    Qui-Gon John Producer

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    [​IMG]

    That's not the point and you know it!

    Patrick was talking about how he felt that 2.35 has more of a natural width for your field of vision. So, to me that meant how he felt a 2.35 AR was more like you actually see things in real life. And I was just commenting that in many respects that is not so, especially talking about the vertical plane.

    Heck, I remember many times watching 2.35 movies, especially in some of the tighter, close shots, wondering if I'm getting a cropped image vertically, because maybe I only see the actor's face from the hairline to the chin, etc. This is just an example.
     
  20. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Field of vision?

    I see in IMAX!

    Seriously, when I'm trying to hear someone, I generally look in the direction of their head, though with good looking women, I might be a bit distracted [​IMG]
     

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