Different Aspect Ratios on DVD - Wide & Wider?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by RodneyT, Jun 15, 2004.

  1. RodneyT

    RodneyT Stunt Coordinator

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    I have some questions. Hopefully somebody can answer them for me.

    The 2.35:1 aspect ratio has become the norm on DVD for the scope films as presented on our favourite format. Yet it occurs to me that even this aspect may not be the true (correct) aspect for the film in question. Most people accept that Star Wars is presented in its letterbox format at a ratio of 2.35:1, yet theatrically, the film is presented in the slightly wider 2.40:1. I distincly remember this due to the moment in Episode 1 where Darth Maul "forces" something from the ground to a doorswitch just as his fight with Obi Wan and Qui Gon begins. On the theatrical print, this is presented clearly and in full view. On the DVD, however, a portion of this image is lost (to the extreme right) and we miss some of this visual imagery. While not exactly critical to the plot, it raises a very interesting question.

    Are some films presented on DVD in a cropped ratio, from 2.40:1 down to 2.35:1 for a reason aside from just trying to make a compromise for asthetic purposes? Some films, such as Master & Commander and the recent Peter Pan, are displayed at 2.40:1, while almost all other releases are 2.35:1.

    My questions are these:

    1) Am i correct in assuming that some films are cropped from the 2.40 aspect to a "fatter" (for want of a better phrase) 2.35 aspect for DVD?

    2) Is this something that the studios control, or is it a directorial edict?

    3) If the film has been matted theatrically for 2.40:1 and was actually shot in 2.35:1, then which is the correct OAR for the DVD? Surely the aspect shown theatrically would be correct.

    4) I know I am sounding nitpicky over this, but I am trying to understand whether I am reading the situation wrong, or that some kind of compromise is being made by the studios for a bigger screen image (more visual output on a 2.35 aspect than a slightly "thinner" 2.40 aspect) relative to the technical merits of keeping the wider aspect ratio in the first place.

    Gee, I hope this makes sense. If anybody can shed some light on this, I would appreciate it. Its been bugging me for a while now.

    Cheers,

    Rodney
     
  2. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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    In most cases, anamorphic scope film prints have a ratio of 2.35:1. This is matted slightly to approximately 2.40:1 (actually closer to 2.39:1) by the aperture plate. Sometimes, for the DVD this matting is retained, sometimes it is not. I would guess it's up to the director or the DP.

    As for the Star Wars example you gave, that may be just a case of overscan.

    Hope that helps a bit.
     
  3. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    I've heard it this way.

    All anamorphic prints on 35mm film yield an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. When the ARs on DVD are listed, the studio just rounds up to 2.40:1 or down to 2.35:1. Notice that on many AR listings the word "approximately." Sometimes 2.39:1 is actually the listed AR. If you have the DVD of "Minority Report" you can see this.
     
  4. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    I've heard it this way.

    All anamorphic prints on 35mm film yield an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. When the ARs on DVD are listed, the studio just rounds up to 2.40:1 or down to 2.35:1. Notice that on many AR listings the word "approximately." Sometimes 2.39:1 is actually the listed AR. If you have the DVD of "Minority Report" you can see this.
     
  5. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    Are you basing this claim on measuring the pixels on the DVD's output or just by reading the back of the packaging?

    DJ
     
  6. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    Are you basing this claim on measuring the pixels on the DVD's output or just by reading the back of the packaging?

    DJ
     
  7. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    No, the prints actually are generally closer to 2.35:1. Bryan Tuck had it correct in his description.

    However: other than the obvious effect that the 1.85, 2.20, 2.40 has, the AR of the source has very little to do with how much of the film frame that finally winds up on the DVD.

    Careless telecine operators rarely strive to transfer the full available frame from the film elements to the video elements, which is what results in missing parts of the image, such as the Star Wars example cited above.

    If you want to see examples, go here:

    http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/lbx.htm

    Ted
     
  8. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    No, the prints actually are generally closer to 2.35:1. Bryan Tuck had it correct in his description.

    However: other than the obvious effect that the 1.85, 2.20, 2.40 has, the AR of the source has very little to do with how much of the film frame that finally winds up on the DVD.

    Careless telecine operators rarely strive to transfer the full available frame from the film elements to the video elements, which is what results in missing parts of the image, such as the Star Wars example cited above.

    If you want to see examples, go here:

    http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/lbx.htm

    Ted
     

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