Matte -- Open Matte?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Adam_WM, Mar 13, 2002.

  1. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Screenwriter

    Oct 25, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Can somebody please explain to me the different types of "matte"-ing (sp) used on DVD's.
  2. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

    Mar 9, 2000
    Likes Received:

    While theatrical filmmakers typically choose to compose for an aspect ratio of either 1.85:1 or ~2.40, most conventional motion picture cameras expose 35mm film at ~1.37:1. The filmmakers use a ground glass, which is installed in the viewing system of the camera and indicates their intended frame, to compose within the larger ~1.37:1 aperture. Later, the prints or transfers showing the full ~1.37:1 exposure will need to be matted to the intended aspect ratio. This is done using a framing leader, which was filmed during camera prep and corresponds precisely to the markings on the ground glass. This common method is known as filming soft-matte.

    If at some point a print or transfer is made from such a film without being matted to the original aspect ratio, that is referred to open-matte. They have simply removed the mattes that should be there to, in most cases, reveal the entire exposed aperture. In most cases, this is not what the filmmakers intended.

    If a film is shot using anamorphic lenses (which has nothing to do with anamorphic enhancement of DVD) the film is not matted as the ~2.40:1 image is horizontally compressed to fit within the 1.37:1 exposed aperture. When such a film is projected or transfered it is properly expanded from 1.37:1 to the original aspect ratio of ~2.40:1. There are no mattes in this instance because the entire exposed aperture equals the intended aspect ratio because of the anamorphic lenses. Also, if you are composing ~1.37:1, you will not need to matte anything.

    That is a simplified explanation, and there are many exceptions to this as there are different methods used.

    I hope that's what you meant, but as you said 'on DVDs', I may have misinterpreted the question.

    In the ideal situation the matting that you would see when watching a DVD would correspond with the intended original aspect ratio, as I described in the first paragraph. So the black bars represented on either 4:3 (1.33:1) or 16:9 (1.78:1) TVs would be necessitated only to properly frame the original aspect ratio within the available display area of the TV.
  3. NeilEdwards

    NeilEdwards Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 9, 2001
    Likes Received:
    My feeling is that, if you can frequently see microphones and the top of sets, it is Open Matte. If the titles are pretty much in the center of the frame, then it possibly is Open Matte.

    If you have a 16:9 TV set, then you can zoom in to fill up the frame cutting off the top and bottom on these Open Matte films.

    Is there a list of Open Matte DVD's?

    My list includes:

    Anatomy of a Murder

    A Christmas Story

    David and Lisa

    David Copperfield (1970)




    Full Metal Jacket - since this is Kubrick, I don't want to start an argument.

    Grumpy Old Men

    Heartbreak Kid

    Hijacking Hollywood

    I Think I Do


    A Murder of Crows

    Night of the Hunter

    The Prince and the Showgirl

    QB VII

    A Soldier's Tale

    The Sum of Us



    The Trial (1993)

    I am sure there are lots more, but these are all that I have come across to date.
  4. Rodney

    Rodney Supporting Actor

    Jan 12, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Is there a complete list (or nearly complete) of DVD's that are open matte, as opposed to P&S?
  5. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    May 16, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    A film such as Vacation is open matte, regardless to how a DVD presents the image. That's what is on the negative.

Share This Page