Aspect ratio question

Discussion in 'Displays' started by David Payne, Apr 17, 2006.

  1. David Payne

    David Payne Stunt Coordinator

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    I've been thinking about something. I know TV's tend to make the 1.85:1 aspect ratio look "bigger" than the 2.35:1 ratio. But I've always assumed this wasn't the case, and that really, 2.35:1 has more width and less height than 1.85:1, and 1.85:1 had more height and less width than 2.35:1 (as opposed to them both having the same width, but 1.85:1 having more height - which is what you see on a TV screen!). Am I right about this? Which one actually has the largest area? Are they both about the same? Is a projector the only way to get the true dimensions for both?
     
  2. Michael TLV

    Michael TLV THX Video Instructor/Calibrator

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    Greetings

    Ask yourself what is bigger in the theater. [​IMG] 2.35 of course.

    The film is the same size though ... one just has an anamorphic lens in front of it to stretch the image out. The 2.35 takes all of the film frame ... while the 1.85 is matted so it takes up less of the film frame.

    Less film frame ... less detail. However ... 2.35 is spread over a larger canvas ... so overall detail drops.

    Regards
     
  3. David Payne

    David Payne Stunt Coordinator

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    Oh, yeah, the cinema. Didn't think of that. So as far as the actual image goes then, 1.85:1 looks like it has more height, while 2.35:1 has more width? And 1.85:1 is actually the smaller area? Is this what happens on home theater projectors?
     
  4. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    Using the height (VSIZE) and width (HSIZE) controls on the TV or projector you can make either bigger or smaller than the other on the screen.

    Usually the 1.85:1 image on film is bigger than the 2.35:1 image, the latter is usually shot to require more matting applied either in the camera leaving more black bars on the film or in the projector when you can't tell easily by looking at the film itself.
     
  5. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    So this is not accurate? (And if you consider older films, there's this.)
     
  6. David Payne

    David Payne Stunt Coordinator

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    ^I've also seen both in modern cinemas. But in most of the ones I use, BOTH height and width are adjusted for each aspect ratio. I saw a good demonstration of this when I went to see King Kong. Some idiot set their projector to 1.85:1 when it's actually a 2.35:1 film. When they evetually changed it, there image was shorter but wider (lost height but gained width). I've even seen some cinemas adjust the position of the screen for the different aspect ratios (comes closer for 2.35:1). Incidentally, does anyone know what aspect ratio they use for commercials and trailers? It always looks 1.85:1 to me, but is it just something similar?

    And regarding what I was saying about home projectors, I think I've realised what happens there: it's basically the same as for a widescreen TV! The biggest image will be for sources that have the same ratio as the native ratio of your display device (usually 16:9), and anything wider will have to be shrunk slightly to fit the screen. So 2.35:1 looks smaller than 1.85:1, and both look smaller than 16:9 - unless of course, we do what Allan Jayne suggested, and use the V and H size settings to compensate for this.
     
  7. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    In a way, you're asking the wrong question. 1.85:1 and 2.35:1 are simply ratios - they are self-referential, only comparing the width of an object to the height of the same object. Neither is inherently "bigger or smaller" than the other. The native aspect ratio of a 16:9 television can also be expressed as 1.78:1. If you watch the same 1.78:1 feed on 16:9 TVs with diagonal measurements of 37", 42", 56" inches, the 56" image is obviously going to be biggest, even though they're all the same ratio. Conversely a 2.35:1 image on the 42" set will probably be bigger than a 1.85:1 image on the 37" set, but smaller than a 1.85:1 image on the 56" set.

    BTW, most 2.35:1 film prints used in theaters are anamorphic - that's where the DVD guys got the idea. The imaged is "squeezed" from the sides so everything looks tall and thin, and then "unsqueezed" by a special lens in the projector to normal proportions. So far from being smaller and more heavily matted most 2.35:1 images fill the entire available image area of a standard 35mm piece of film, just the way most 1.85:1 movies do. (They are typically matted in the projector to the desired ratio.)

    70mm film allows the extra-wide 2.35:1 frame to be printed "full sized" without manipulation, but must be run in special 70mmm projectors which most theaters lack. 70mm prints actually are larger than 35mm ones, but this is not inherently a function of the aspect ratio.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  8. David Payne

    David Payne Stunt Coordinator

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    ^I know what you mean, but I was wondering if there were standards that specified how large they should be, relatively speaking, when projected up on to a screen. I guess the answer just depends on which cinema you go to.

    And when it comes to display devices what I said was right: if you always set for the biggest possible picture, then anything wider than your native aspect ratio will have to be shrunk - so it tends to look like 2.35:1 is smaller than 1.85:1, which in turn looks smaller than 16:9!

    It's weird how sometimes you can overthink something. All my original assumptions are just turning out to be true!
     

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