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Did Galaxy Quest have 3 aspect ratios in the theaters, and will (or even should?) we ever see it on the home release? (1 Viewer)

Carlo_M

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Background:

I love Galaxy Quest. However I never saw it in the theaters. I was in my early 20s and probably thought "oh here's a dumb sendoff of Star Trek" and skipped it. I was also single at the time and likely pursuing dates who weren't interested in GQ. For whatever reason I never saw it in the theaters. Many years later, I picked it up on DVD...and the rest is history.

My question:
Did Galaxy Quest really have 3 aspect ratios in the theatrical release? IMDb says it does, starting at 1.33:1 for the TV show opening (makes sense since it was spoofing an old school TV show aka Star Trek in the 60s). Then it expands to 1.85:1 until about 20 minutes into the movie. Looking at the timestamps, right about 20 minutes is when Jason Nesmith is sent back to Earth from the ship, and the big bay doors of the ship open up to the vastness of space. It is apparently at this time that sources say the theatrical aspect ratio finally opens up to 2.35:1 for the remainder of the movie.

Why am I asking:
For those who own GQ at home (DVD, BD, streaming) you'll know it opens up in 1.33:1 for the TV show part, and then expands immediately to 2.35:1 (where during the theatrical run it only opened to 1.85:1 until 20 minutes in)

Question 1
So for those who saw it theatrically, can you indeed confirm it was at 1.85:1 until 20 minutes?

Looking at the home version, the opening credits are spaced in a way that would support it initially being 1.85:1. They're alternately left and right justified, that's a typesetting term, and there's an inordinate amount of space between the justified side of the credits and the sides of the 2.35:1 frame. If it were 1.85:1 the justified side of the opening credits would be much closer to the side of the frame.

However as you continue to watch the convention and other scenes prior to the 20 minute mark, there are plenty of shots where, if you narrowed it to 1.85:1, the framing would be off. For example there are shots where you see the back of two heads (of the GQ actors) framed as a convention attendee is asking them a question and the framing is perfect. If you narrowed it to 1.85:1, you'd chop their heads in half.

Question 2
Given that observation about how good the framing is on certain shots, if we assume that it was indeed shown 1.85:1 until the 20 minute mark, should future versions of GQ on home video (still hoping for a physical UHD release) come out in the original 1.33 > 1.85 > 2.35 potentially altering those shots in the early part of the film?

For the longest time I just wanted the "how it was shown in the theaters" version. But I just happened to re-watch it the other night and paid close attention to the framing after it opens up to 2.35 but before the bay doors opening scene and thought "wow outside of the opening credits being kind of far from the edges of the screen...the framing for the rest of it seems pretty spot on and intentional, and cutting off the sides would maybe ruin the shot...

I'll try to take pics and add to this post so people know what I'm talking about.
 

Todd Erwin

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Rumor has it that the decision to use the 2.39:1 aspect ratio for all but the opening TV clip for home video was made by the film's director so as not to confuse viewers that their DVD might be defective, as the first 20 minutes would appear pillarboxed, and likely more frustrating considering when the movie was first released on DVD, most viewers were still watching on their 27-inch 4:3 CRT. The film was shot in Super 35.

Hopefully, if and when Paramount decides to strike a new home video master (they have been recycling that old HD transfer created for the initial DVD release for decades now), they will restore the three different aspect ratios.
 

Capt D McMars

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Rumor has it that the decision to use the 2.39:1 aspect ratio for all but the opening TV clip for home video was made by the film's director so as not to confuse viewers that their DVD might be defective, as the first 20 minutes would appear pillarboxed, and likely more frustrating considering when the movie was first released on DVD, most viewers were still watching on their 27-inch 4:3 CRT. The film was shot in Super 35.

Hopefully, if and when Paramount decides to strike a new home video master (they have been recycling that old HD transfer created for the initial DVD release for decades now), they will restore the three different aspect ratios.
It's Paramount, they'll screw that up too!! :dance:
 

Lord Dalek

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Unless there's another movie titled "Galaxy Quest" I'm not aware of, the one made in 1999 was shot anamorphic all the way through. And that includes the 1.33:1 bit at the start.
 

ahollis

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It was cropped. It was in three aspect ratios in theatres. We played it on a large screen. 1:33 was the start then it went to 1:85. I know this for a fact for I started to head to booth to tell the projectionist to bring in the masking (yes we had masking back then) as I was getting out of my seat, the scene where the earth characters open a shield and see they are in space started. The picture enlarged to 2.35 as the shield open. It was an awesome effect.
 

Lord Dalek

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It probably is a better idea to have 2.39 all the way through anyway on home video. I mean the way this would have appeared on 35mm prints isn't the most tv friendly

1680140879997.png


Look at all that black!
 

Rob W

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Disney's Brother Bear also starts in 1:85 and changes to 2:39 at the 24 minute mark.
 

Robert Harris

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Mixed aspect ratios can work far better in digital projection that analogue. Each aspect ratio in analogue (done properly) would have its own aperture plate, lens and screen masking - something that can only be done via a change-over system, with a single ratio per projector.

Think MagnaScope.

In the digital realm, the projector can be programmed to change formats at desired, with the appropriate lag in maskings.
 

JoshZ

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This movie was designed for Constant Image Height projection, which is unfortunately rare in the home, even among projector users. Watching the original version on a 16:9 screen would be very confusing for most audiences, as more than 20 minutes of the movie would pass with the entire picture windowboxed into the middle of the screen with bars on all sides. As such, the director decided that the home video version would compromise by opening the side mattes on all the footage previously masked to 1.85:1, so that now only a couple minutes (the old TV show clips in 4:3) are fully windowboxed.

As Rob W mentioned above, Disney's Brother Bear took the risk of maintaining its original CIH presentation. Enchanted does the same (albeit for only about 10 minutes).

Douglas Trumbull's Brainstorm takes this to an extreme. The majority of the movie is windowboxed 1.66:1, while only the "brainstorm" sequences expand in width to 2.40:1.

However as you continue to watch the convention and other scenes prior to the 20 minute mark, there are plenty of shots where, if you narrowed it to 1.85:1, the framing would be off. For example there are shots where you see the back of two heads (of the GQ actors) framed as a convention attendee is asking them a question and the framing is perfect. If you narrowed it to 1.85:1, you'd chop their heads in half.

You assume that framing the shot to only see half of each actor's head is incorrect. That's a legitimate framing as well. However, I can understand why it would feel "wrong" if you're used to seeing the wider version of the shot.
 

Bryan Tuck

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I saw GQ three times in theaters and can confirm the three ratios. The 1.33 and 1.85 sections were both pillarboxed within the 2.39 frame of a standard scope print.

My guess is that it was a post-production decision to frame the first 20 minutes (after the TV clip) at 1.85. The footage seems framed pretty comfortably for 2.39 to me, so they might have done some slight panning-and-scanning for certain shots.

Even the director has admitted this was maybe a misguided idea, as it apparently did confuse some projectionists (and audiences) at the time. I can live with the consistent 2.39 framing, but for a future disc release, it seems like it'd be a snap to seamlessly branch two versions of that opening 20 minutes so viewers could take their pick.
 

Lord Dalek

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This movie was designed for Constant Image Height projection, which is unfortunately rare in the home, even among projector users. Watching the original version on a 16:9 screen would be very confusing for most audiences, as more than 20 minutes of the movie would pass with the entire picture windowboxed into the middle of the screen with bars on all sides. As such, the director decided that the home video version would compromise by opening the side mattes on all the footage previously masked to 1.85:1, so that now only a couple minutes (the old TV show clips in 4:3) are fully windowboxed.
Exactly. If you were lucky enough to have a 720p TV in 2000 when Galaxy Quest came out on DVD, and they left the matting as is, it would have looked kinda like this.

1680207881068.png


But for the rest of us who watched dvds on our good ol cathode ray tubes, it would have been more like this...

1680208087307.png


People wonder why Storaro kept pushing Univisium. Its because he hated the lack of resolution on standard def tvs and how they made his scope films even softer with these thick black bars.
 
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Bryan Tuck

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Of course, one of the ironies of all this is that after years of people getting used to seeing letterboxed 2.39 movies on TVs, some theaters have come to the conclusion that this is acceptable in theaters, too. :huh:

One of my biggest pet peeves right now is the lack of screen masking in a lot of theaters. It just looks tacky to me unless the movie was specifically designed to switch between ratios (and even then I'm not a huge fan of it), and it removes some of the allure of seeing a movie on a theater screen. Fortunately, I live in an area with a number of theaters, some of which do still pretty consistently use their masking (or at least have a mixture of CIH and CIW screens), so I have options. But a lot of people don't anymore.

One argument I've heard in favor of not using masking is that more movies nowadays use unusual ratios like 2:1 or 2.20, but to me that's all the more reason to mask for at least right container. If you have a 2.20: film framed within a 1.85 DCP (like NOPE) and show it on an umasked 2.39 screen, the entire movie is windowboxed, which looks ridiculous. And that's on top of the fact that, although more movies do indeed use those ratios nowadays, the vast majority are still either 1.85 or 2.39. So it's a silly excuse, IMO.

Sorry; this is one of my soap boxes right now. :)
 

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