matted widescreen

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chris Yesh, Sep 16, 2001.

  1. Chris Yesh

    Chris Yesh Agent

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    I have a question in regards to a matted widescreen. I was watching, and there's more information on the 4X3 side, tahan the matted widescreen sides. Do they just take the 4X3, and put black bars to make a widescreen? If so, was the movie then filmed in 4X3, and converted at the theatre for the matting? Why would one want to watch a movie this way, if there's less picture. I do love widescreen movies when done right.
     
  2. Robert Ringwald

    Robert Ringwald Cinematographer

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    Because the picture being covered wasn't meant to be seen. Sometimes a boom mike or something is in the way, and that is because they know that it will be covered by the theatrical version.
    When they film the movie they film it with the idea they will have it matted later on, so the area being covered isn't something you are going to miss.
     
  3. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    It helps to bring aesthetic focus to the shot, and restores the original compositions.
     
  4. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    One of the most common aspect ratios for films today is 1.85:1. The problem is, there's no film format with that aspect ratio. Standard 35mm film has an aspect ratio of about 1.375:1. To keep things simple, they just frame the "widescreen" image within that "standard" frame, with the idea that the top and bottom will be cropped off later, creating the proper composition.
     
  5. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    Original composition is the thing to keep in mind, your seeing the intended composition when watching a movie matted to it's 1.85:1 ratio.
    Problems arise when the mattes are removed, examples, a close up shot becomes a medium close up shot when viewd full frame, and as stated above, mistakes such as boom mikes, and dolly tracks can make thier way into a frame, watch Pee Wees Big Adventure in full frame for a virtual guided tour of these types of mistakes!
    Their also a technique called 'Super 35' used for filming movies that are composed for 2.35:1 where the principle is pretty much the same as matted 1.85:1 films. Some directors like James Cameron like Super 35 because it doesn't produce unwanted lens flares associated with anamorphic lenses allowing him to light his sets the way he wants without having to worry about such things. Titanic would have been a lens flare extravaganza if he had shot in Panavision anamorphic beause of all the lights he had to use to light the massive sets!
    Then you have directors like John Carpenter who only shoots in Panavision anamorphic. This technique sqeezes the entire exposed 2.35:1 image vertically to fit a 35mm film frame, this also increases resolution because ALL of the frame will be used when the film is played back at the theater and 'un-sqeezed' if you will, by another anamorphic lens inside the projector back to it's intended ratio of 2.35:1. This is the principle behind 'anamorphic dvd' as well. Directors who shoot in this technique actually like the lens flares and use them artistically.
    I watched Christine earlier today for example, and the lens flares that stretched across the screen from 'Christine's' headlights made her look even more menacing and gave the car a greater sense of presance. Other directors use it because it just looks cool!
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  6. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

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    Another thing of note is that full frame transfers of 1.85:1 theatrical films never show the entire filmed negative (except for Kubrick films and a select few that framed 1.37:1 in the camera) As previously mentioned, a lot of DP's and directors let boom mikes, camera flaps, dolly tracks, hard mattes, etc outside of the 1.85:1 safe zone, since when it is matted by the projector they'll never show.
    If you've ever watched a 1.85:1 film in a theater misframed however, or by accident if it is being projected anamorphic 2.40:1, chances are you'll see any of these artifacts in the frame. (I recently saw the 1.85:1 "Spy Kids" special edition projected in 2.40:1 and it was a disaster -- I saw boom mikes all over the place, hard mattes on effects shots, stedicam flaps, etc.)
    Full frame transfers on video are reframed shot by shot to remove such artifacts and also to reframe the composition (so there's not too much dead space at both ends on the frame). If you have the UE disc of "Terminator 2", the Super 35 video demonstration shows quite clearly how reframed video transfers are. (Just think 1.85:1 instead of Super 35 recomposion, mind you)
    And just a reminder -- Theatrical Anamorphic "Scope" is 2.40:1, not 2.35:1.
    Jason
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  7. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    Chris, as others have noted, what matters is what aspect ratio was the primary composition. Nearly every film is matted to the intended frame after filming. The fully exposed aperture/negative is rarely intended to be seen.
     
  8. Hendrik

    Hendrik Supporting Actor

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  9. TheoGB

    TheoGB Screenwriter

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    It can be quite interesting when you watch the making of... docu on a DVD for a movie that was in some way matted since they often show the unmatted frames on the 4:3 ratio of the documentary.
    This allows you to compare and get a sense of what works. The best example for me is American Beauty. You get the 4:3 version of the opening shot of their house and of them sitting at the table for dinner. Both shots loose the important sense of oppression and distance between characters that the 2.35:1 framing gives them.
    (Personally I would rather all documentaries made for these DVDs such as the Stand By Me and When Harry Met Sally were at least in 1.85:1 or 16:9 anamorphic - it cant' be that hard!)
    Theo
     
  10. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    Hendrik, as a very early member of the Cinematography and CML forums/sites, I must comment that that page is but a cursory introduction to some cinematography terms, but very far from exhaustive and unfortunately incomplete and somewhat out of date. I recall recent comments elsewhere about a more thorough and informative and current site, which I found impressive but failed to bookmark... I will post it if I locate it again.
    I recommend visiting camera manufacturers sites, and rental house site for some very informative and specific technical information relating to acquisition (aspect ratios, mechanics, etc.). An example might be the wonderful Super16 pages at Abel Cine Tech: http://www.abelcine.com/FINALABELWEB...eframeset.html
    It is directly from Arri and Aaton websites, for example, that I have PDF files featuring all available ground glass/viewing screens with applicable production ARs.
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