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Aspect Ratio Documentation

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Bob Furmanek, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    Good to know.

    Is there documentation for what Disney did in the 50s re: widescreen? At that time they did very few live action films, but I'm thinking more about their documentary and animated shorts. I know 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Lady and the Tramp are obviously CinemaScope but had "flat" Academy backups in case the widescreen trend went belly-up.
     
  2. John Skoda

    John Skoda Stunt Coordinator

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    I have the pressbook for Disney's 1961 BABES IN TOYLAND, and it says inside the front cover "Mr. Exhibitor, Perfect projection will assure your audiences of getting all the wonderful pleasures of "Babes in Toyland"...so be sure to use ASPECT RATIO 1:75 (sic) to 1
    WARNING: If projected at a ratio less than 1:75 (sic) to 1 there will be a black border at top and/or bottom of screen!"
    So it sounds like this film, at least, was sent out with matted 1.75:1 prints. Oddly, the DVD is full frame.
    The FAMILY BAND (1968) pressbook says use 1.85:1.
     
  3. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    On page 453 of The Stanley Kubrick archives, there is a photo of the Timberline Lodge (location for the Overlook Hotel for The Shining). Kubrick personally marked up the photo and added a bunch of very specific notes for the 2nd Unit crew to follow.

    The photo includes specific markings for 1-1:85 and the note: "...THE FRAME IS EXACTLY 1-1:85. Obviously you compose for that but protect the full 1-1:33 area."

    The author's note for the photo mentions that Kubrick for his last three films composed 1.85:1 for the theatrical release and protected the full frame for the television market. Or, put another way, he did exactly what Bob noted as the standard practice.

    I believe Kubrick did this because most people did not have very large screen or widescreen televisions for many years, and it didn't really become a thing until after his death. Had he lived to see HD widescreen televisions in most households, I strongly believe he would have asked WB to have widescreen home editions of his movies.
     
  4. mikeyhitchfan

    mikeyhitchfan Supporting Actor

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    You are correct, sir!! :D
     
  5. Brian McP

    Brian McP Supporting Actor

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    Thank you Bob for posting those shots for Plan 9 and the different aspect ratios -- I think Ed Wood's reputation may undergo a slight rehabilitation as the widescreen versions of his films make them look slightly more expensive!
     
  6. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    You're welcome, Brian. It does make Wood and Thompson look a bit more professional!
     
  7. zoetmb

    zoetmb Second Unit

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    Forgive me if someone else already answered this (haven't read all the posts), but I believe you're thinking of Magical Mystery Tour.
     
  8. zoetmb

    zoetmb Second Unit

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    Where are you getting those dimensions for Cinemascope? While "The Robe" was originally planned for 2.66, once they decided not to have a separate mag reel for sound like Cinerama did, the dimensions shrunk to 2.55:1. After they went mag-optical a few years later, it shrunk to 2.35:1.​
     
  9. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Cinematographer

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    If Romero and his collaborators used the same 35mm cameras they had been using to shoot television commercials to film NoLD, could it be possible that said cameras did not have ground-glass markings for theatrical 1.85:1 frame composition?
    Vincent
     
  10. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    THE ROBE completed principal photography on April 20 with some re-shoots started May 26.
    HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE completed principal photography circa April 15.
    The change from 2.66 to 2.55 was not done until May 28. Both films were photographed for the initial CinemaScope ratio of 2.66:1.
    Bob
     
  11. RolandL

    RolandL Producer

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    Full 2.66:1 frame of The Robe
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    I doubt it. They were composing for theatrical, not television. They were professionals and certainly knew the difference.
     
  13. John Weller

    John Weller Stunt Coordinator

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    So does this mean the Elite is definetly heavily cropped? It certainly does not frame well matted.
     
  14. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    While artists go back and make changes to previous works all the time, I find it impossible to believe that Romero has decided that he wants people to see Night in an incorrect aspect ratio.
     
  15. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Cinematographer

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    They produced television commercials in Pittsburgh (and on very low budgets at that) and NotLD was their first feature shot run-and-gun style with the equipment they had access to. I don't think it's a stretch to imagine that their cameras might not have had 1.85:1 ground-glass markings since they were used to shoot TV commercials.
    John: The Elite transfer isn't cropped at all. It's pretty much zoomed out as far as possible, as evidenced by the occasional vignetting at the edges of the frame. The Dimension master is zoomed in and cropped on all four sides, and compared to frame-grabs from the Elite it looks like it's zoomed to about the 1.66:1 frameline, so I'm guessing 1.66:1 might be the maximum that this can be matted without some frame repositionings during transfer.
    Vincent
     
  16. bgart13

    bgart13 Screenwriter

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    I made a 1.85 copy of the first Elite NOTLD version the other night and watched the first 30 mins so far. It actually works. Sometimes things get a hair tight, but it generally looks cinematic. Which is weird since the 1.37/1.33 open-matte version does have an effect too -- it makes it more news-like (in a sense).
    EDIT: Here's a couple examples of what a shot from NOTLD @ 1.85 would look like compared to the occasionally zoomed/cropped Weinstein transfer, put together by Deciazulado @ blu-ray.com:
    http://forum.blu-ray.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=48427&d=1338648035
    http://forum.blu-ray.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=48277&d=1338352670
     
  17. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    So you feel they were composing for television and not drive-ins?
    How did they expect all the gore to play on TV?
     
  18. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Cinematographer

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    No, I feel they were a group of run-and-run indie filmmakers who made due with the equipment and limited resources they had. While I appreciate your research and agree with the vast majority of what you've written in this thread, when it comes to regional indie cinema, I don't think it's quite so cut and dry as "after such and such a date, all movies were composed for widescreen". The fact that Romero has insisted that NotLD be presented full-frame on video speaks for itself.
    Vincent
     
  19. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    I understand Vincent and I certainly respect your point of view. I guess the final word should rest with the director, although I am reminded of Stanley Kubrick's blessings of the 1.37 versions of his films for television.
    If anybody knows what camera rig was used, we can probably ID the view-finder. Keep in mind, even the lower cost rigs used primarily for commercials would have finders marked for "TV safe" as well as different ratios.
    I'm sorry Martin, I forgot to answer your first question.
    For the past 22 years, we have searched with a fine tooth comb through studio correspondence and production files as well as industry trade journals from the period of 1951 - 1955. Utilizing documented, primary source materials such as Daily Variety, Boxoffice, Hollywood Reporter, American Cinematographer, Exhibitor, Motion Picture Herald, Film Daily, Showman’s Trade Review, Film Bulletin, Motion Picture Daily, Harrison's Reports, International Sound Technician and other industry journals, we are able to document this period of technological development (including widescreen and stereophonic sound) on a daily basis.
     
  20. 24fpssean

    24fpssean Stunt Coordinator

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    And now back to EXCALIBUR. Does anyone know the INTENDED aspect ratio for it? VHS was of course full frame, DVD and HD DVD and Blu ray have what looks like sever crowding especially at the top where characters' heads sometimes move above frame. I remember seeing a PAL to NTSC VHS twenty years ago with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and remember no crowding, no obvious cropping. In fact it looked wonderful...though there was no pitch correction.
     

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