Aspect ratio information needed

Discussion in 'DVD' started by John_Berger, Nov 25, 2001.

  1. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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    As some (maybe many) of you already know, my site, the Letterbox and Widescreen Advocacy Page at widescreen.org, is undergoing a massive upgrade to (as I call it) version 4.0. As such I want to make sure that I have all of my duckies in a row.
    In particular, want to make sure that my aspect ratio segment is correct, since that seems to be the target of some controversy.
    The problem that I've run into is that I get told that something regarding a particular film format is incorrect, so I correct it; then someone says that the "correction" that I made is not correct. I would like to make sure that everything is as correct as it can possibly be when the new site is up. (For those who are wondering, my target date is December 15, and it looks like that should not be a problem.)
    I've already made a few corrections on the new page and removed some unnecessary statements on my part in the new version. (Obviously, these changes are for the new version, so you won't see them if you go to my site now.) Since Home Theater Forum is for those who know what they're talking about, I would appreciate it if those in the know would let me know where there are inaccuracies so that I can correct them before the 15th.
    (Regarding my examples not being in the "proper" height, don't even go there. That's not the issue here. [​IMG] )
    I've seen that many of you on HTF hold my site in high regard, so I want to make sure that I live up to that. Any corrections for aspect ratio inaccuracies will be appreciated.
    If you want to reply here, that's fine, but contacting me by e-mail would be the most effective and efficient method. I don't get a lot of time to come back here that often.
    Thanks in advance! I hope that everyone had a good Thanksgiving!
    (Thanks for the idea, Josh!)
     
  2. Brian E

    Brian E Screenwriter

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    Just a thought, but if you have people reply here, instead of emailing, then what's right and wrong can be hashed out a bit so that you don't have to correct your corrections, etc.
     
  3. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Here's some clearups about aspect ratios:

    Cinerama (The actual Cinerama process, not the 1-strip versions used for 2001, It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, etc) is 2.59:1 with a CURVED screen. Movies filmed in this process include How The West Was Won and This is Cinerama.

    CinemaScope is 2.66:1, 2.55:1, and 2.35:1. Titles filmed in this process include 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, The Robe, How To Marry A Millionaire.

    Panavision is 2.35:1 (2.40:1 in theaters. The picture is matted slightly.) Titles filmed in the process include Star Wars, Amadeus, and Blazing Saddles.

    VistaVision has 3 varied aspect ratios. Some movies used the widest, some used the narrowest (and meant to be matted)... 1.66:1, 1.85:1, and 2.0:1. Titles filmed in the process include Vertigo, North By Northwest, White Christmas, and The Searchers.

    MGM Camera 65 (AKA Ultra Panavision) has a camera negative aspect ratio of 2.76:1, while some reissues had an aspect ratio of 2.66:1. Titles filmed in the process include Ben-Hur, Raintree County, and The Greatest Story Ever Told.

    Super Panavision had a camera negative of 2.10:1 and was usually shown in theaters in 2.20:1. Movies filmed in this process include 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lawrence of Arabia, and My Fair Lady.

    1.85:1 is a ratio that is usually not cropped on the sides like other widescreen processes. For most 1.85:1 films, the negative has an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. In theaters, the projectors will mask the image to 1.85:1. The 1.66:1 aspect ratio works in the same way. Some films are filmed with a matte blocking the top and bottom to give the matted widescreen image on the negative itself.

    Todd-AO is a 2.20:1 format which runs at 30 fps. (later 24 fps). Films in Todd-AO include Oklahoma!

    Super-35 is a process by which a camera negative of 1.33:1 is blown up to 2.35:1, thus eliminating much of the top and bottom of the original image. The films in the process were composed to be seen in the 2.35:1 (or sometimes 1.85:1) aspect ratio, but also the 1.33:1 sometimes. This process is used mainly to provide flexability with editing and TV showings, but it allows less light distortion that Panavision creates. Films in Super-35 include The Abyss, Fight Club, and GoodFellas.

    Technirama was a process like VistaVision which ran through a camera horizontally, but had an anamorphic image of 2.20:1.
     
  4. Joshua Clinard

    Joshua Clinard Screenwriter

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  5. Richard Kim

    Richard Kim Producer

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  6. Joel Fontenot

    Joel Fontenot Supporting Actor

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  7. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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  8. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    John_Berger,

    I understand your comment about correcting corrections, etc. Frustrated, I used to suggest corrections to such sites, but I learned that the majority opinion is often accepted over the facts among HT enthusiasts (no disrespect to our membership) and just let it go. For the final word I would strongly suggest referencing technical information used by filmmakers such as the American Cinematographer Manual, Panavision and Arriflex books, and publications from Focal Press. Samuel French bookstores are a good resource for these books.

    I am not an expert on some of the older ARs and rarely comment on them, but I work with the current formats professionally.

    On your site you say that Panavision (anamorphic 35) was originally 2.35:1 but is now 2.40:1. I'm not sure what you mean. Filming anamorphically on 35mm, "In Panavision", is a camera aperture of 2.35:1. However, SMPTE 195 currently specifies 35mm anamorphic projection at 2.39:1.

    I'm also not sure why you refer to 1.85:1 as not "true widescreen". What then is true widescreen? Not a matted negative? That's not the case. OAR is OAR no matter if there was more exposed image. One may compose a film with an OAR greater than 2.35:1 filming "In Panavision", thus matting that as well.

    Though a little off the topic of ARs, I think your stating that Panavision is the most successful maker of lenses and filming equipment is a bit dubious. They have not been around as long as some other makers, they certainly aren't the most used, and regarding being successful just don't study their financials. Anyway, Arri and Aaton and Moviecam cameras, or Zeiss and Cooke and Optex and Angenieux are all excellent. In fact, you can rent Arriflex and other cameras from Panavision, as well as spherical 1.78:1 HD video packages. Panavision Primo lenses are exceptional though. Panavision is essentially non-existent in 16mm production.

    Under "Academy" you suggest that the post-optical soundtrack negative AR is 1.33:1. 1.37:1 is the negative AR (camera aperture) either way.

    Under "Super 35" there are a few issues. I like the frame example with the common headroom btw - that's very common for such compositions and intents. Ahh, "widescreen" lenses are referenced! So it seems that you delineate true widescreen with anamorphic lenses. Hmm, filmmakers don't. And that would make HD 16:9 acquisition not widescreen as it is acquired with spherical lenses. Anyway, I am not sure what the "gritty" and "smooth" descriptions refer to in comparison, but Super35 is not a process, it's a method or format. If one wishes to compose 2.40:1 for anamorphic extraction, that extraction and printing is a process. But that is just one thing this format is used for. Contradicting the cited suggestion of using S35 for a gritty look (which I have never heard a DP to comment), S35 is often used for it's larger exposable aperture and thus in the case of 1.33:1 production it's extremely sharp and with the right stock exceptionally fine grain images. As it is sometimes used for questionable practices like composing for multiple aspect ratios simultaneously, and open-matte video transfers, and condemned as method for such, that is as unfair as condemning regular 35mm for it's 1.85:1 use. James Cameron's use is not indicative of others' use.

    Under "Open Matte" you suggest that Super35 is used for extractions. Well, it is, sometimes. But as noted above, suggesting that is the principle use for S35 is erroneous. Do we associate HD video with anamorphic extractions? No, but we could. George Lucas just shot SWE2 with Panavision 24P HD cameras* and is extracting a 2.40:1 frame from within the 1.78:1 exposed aperture/CCD. Also, it should read 1.37:1 in that section, not 1.33:1.

    Just about every film is shot open-matte, no matter the OAR. Few filmmakers employ hard mattes or gates in the camera. Not due to home video considerations, but for operational reasons. The OAR is delineated by the ground glass (in the viewing system) and the corresponding framing leader, not the camera aperture.

    Also, you may wish to note that no matter the OAR, current 35mm projection in the U.S. is at 1.37; 1.66; 1.85; and 2.39:1. Thus, theatrical exhibition is not necessarily the OAR.

    I'd like to see 16mm and Super16 discussed more on such sites. You view it all the time, and it is especially popular in acquisition for 1.78:1 HD broadcast material. Not widescreen? There's anamorphic 2.66:1 on regular 16mm.

    *Panavision 24P HD cameras are modified Sony HDW-F900 cameras that utilize Panavision Primo Digital lenses, other Panavision accessories, and have a few other tweaks. The camera has a native AR of 1.78:1, and there are currently no anamorphic lenses for it.
     
  9. Mark Bendiksen

    Mark Bendiksen Screenwriter

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    Wow. I have nothing valuable to add except my opinion that this is an extremely informative thread.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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    Scott, I just want give the other side to some of your points.
     
  11. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    John,
    Glad you could come back here to check in, it helps justify my babble[​IMG]
    Some responses:
     
  12. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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  13. Joshua Clinard

    Joshua Clinard Screenwriter

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    John, I just spent about 3 hours or more, reading all your commentaries, starting from the beginning. It appears that you have come a long way, since late 97. Keep up the good work! I can't wait for 4.0.
     
  14. Joshua Clinard

    Joshua Clinard Screenwriter

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    How's work on the site coming John?
     
  15. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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  16. Joshua Clinard

    Joshua Clinard Screenwriter

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    I like the flash animation. It is pretty effective, actually, but the text is a bit distracting. I had to watch it twice. Once to read the text, and once to watch the animation. I think it would really help to add sound. Not absolutly neccesarry, but beneficial. By the way, did you have time to read the last two e-mails I sent? I see that you didn't add any of my suggestions to the site. Or did you just not like them?
     
  17. RolandL

    RolandL Producer

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    I like the The Letterbox and Widescreen Advocacy Page. One correction. The Scent of Mystery was not filmed in Cinerama. Listed below are the five travelogues and the two MGM movies that were filmed in three-strip Cinerama. The remaining movies that were promoted as being "Presented in Cinerama" were filmed in 70mm. A few exceptions were Windjammer (filmed in Cinemiracle), The Best of Cinerama (scenes taken from the five travelogues)and Russian Adventure (scenes from various Soviet films filmed in three-strip Kinopanorama).

    This Is Cinerama

    Cinerama Holiday

    Seven Wonders of The World

    Search For Paradise

    Cinerama South Seas Adventure

    Windjammer (Cinemiracle)

    The Wonderful World of The Brothers Grimm

    The Best of Cinerama

    How The West was Won
     
  18. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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  19. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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  20. MarcusUdeh

    MarcusUdeh Supporting Actor

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