New Restorations-New Croppings

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ira Siegel, Oct 17, 2005.

  1. Ira Siegel

    Ira Siegel Stunt Coordinator

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    Looking at Gary Tooze's DVDBeaver site, and of course comparing my double-dipped copies of some films, I've noticed that with new restorations there appears to be significantly different cropping of the films notwithstanding identical nominal aspect ratios. For example, with the recently restored Casablanca, a significant portion of the right side of the image is cropped and sometimes important information is missing (e.g., Rick's signing a check early in the movie that is supposed to say December 2, 1941 so that we know the USA is not yet in the war (sure we know soon enough), but in the restored verson the 41 is completely chopped off). Now with the Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection, the "new" version of Rear Window is cropped differently from the version from about 2001 (or is it 2003?).
    Anyone know why do we end up with different croppings?
     
  2. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    I was wondering the same thing. It seems that this happens on a lot of titles (particularly WB, I have noticed.)
     
  3. Jaime_Weinman

    Jaime_Weinman Supporting Actor

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    I noticed the same thing with "Casablanca" -- actually, the '41 isn't completely chopped off if you watch it on a PC (without overscan); you get the 4, but not the 1.

    As to why this happens, I dunno... anything from a mistake in framing (happens more than we'd like to think), to trying to hide damage at the edge of the frame.
     
  4. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    It may just be a change in framing.

    The earlier DVD of Casablanca may have been framed to expose more of the frame, while the SE may have used the SMPTE (basically, official standards) framing for Academy Ratio films.

    I think a lot of people become too obsessed with cropping. More image in any ratio doesn't always mean it's correct. Even with Ben-Hur, they opened up the height that's always supposed to be seen, but also opens up the width all the way to 2.76:1. The film was always meant to be seen at 2.55:1, so a lot of resolution was wasted on parts of the frame that no one would have seen in the theater.

    www.widescreenmuseum.com can explain things pretty well... and everything on the site is extremely accurate.
     
  5. Jeffrey Nelson

    Jeffrey Nelson Screenwriter

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    But why wouldn't the complete date on the check be intended to be seen?
     
  6. Ira Siegel

    Ira Siegel Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks, Patrick, for the reference to the Widescreen Museum.
    I think the "Curator" there disagrees with your point about caring to much about cropping. He says, So that there is no misunderstanding, in connection with Ben Hur, the height did not result in what the Curator thought was an overly wide image. The same frame height is shown having four alternate widths.
    So, what is going on with the framing? As noted above, "mis-framing" (or cropping) resulted in significant lost information in Casablanca, by way of example. (Jeffrey, it is my understanding that the full date was intended to be seen.)
     
  7. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Just looking at DVDBeaver's captures... you can hardly see the date in the old DVD. This is a brief close-up of a check, so I really doubt the date was that crucial, anyways.


    No, but all previous transfers cropped the top and bottom of the frame, which is incorrect for the format (the result of using an improperly made reduction). The new DVD finally has the right vertical information, but didn't need to be any wider than 2.55:1.


    We're only basing what is correct framing by comparing DVD's, so there's no indication of which is right.
     
  8. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    Patrick,
    Do you think the new framings are more in line with what was actually projected, rather than what the frame area was (Ben-Hur not withstanding)? In other words, the new dvds are framed in the appropriate Academy format.
     
  9. GregK

    GregK Screenwriter

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  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    There is no such thing as a "normal projected image."

    RAH
     
  11. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I honestly don't know. I saw Casablanca in a theater, but it was cropped to 1.85:1. As for the width, you could see the the edges of the frame (black "lines" on scren) on the left and right, which isn't right either.

    To really find the correct framing, you'd basically have to overlay the standard aperture (STMPE specs) over a 35mm (or 70mm) frame. Even so, since you're adapting film to video, you might want to open up or crop the frame a little bit depending on what looks best. Confused yet?
     
  12. RoyM

    RoyM Stunt Coordinator

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    Although I think Jaime's supposition about cropping being done to hide frame damage or flaws has some merit, it also may come to down to something as elementary as the technician who mastered the transfer thought that such framing looked better from an aesthetic standpoint. Really, in many cases framing choices are so esoteric that it may come down to simple personal preference, especially given that there usually is no clear reference as to what is "correct."
     
  13. Ira Siegel

    Ira Siegel Stunt Coordinator

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    Patrick, you write, But for telling us the date (which is the week before Japan and Germany declared war on the USA), the closeup of the check has no other purpose, and that closeup certainly was purposeful.
    Of course, in Casablanca that cropping, while an annoyance, is really no big deal. My question still stands, why, with each restoration, do we seem to get different cropping (or framing)?
     
  14. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    Are you talking about the shot right before the one that introduces Bogey? I.e., we see him sign "OK, Rick", and then we get our first look at him. I don't remember ever paying much attention to the date on the check. The shot helps to establish that "this is the guy who's really in charge" before we see him for the first time, a "star entrance," if you will. I'm not disputing the point about whether the date is/should be visible, but I do think there was more of a point to shooting that check in close-up than just revealing the date.
     
  15. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    Casablanca is such a well-constructed film that virtually every visual has a part to play in building or advancing the story and tone, and most have two. That's what makes it a masterpiece of the motion picture art: it is a unitary whole, in which hardly a frame is wasted.

    As for framing differences, the process of transferring film to video is rather tricky and it would be difficult to get exactly the same results every time. Even on the same equipment, such as NHK's laser-based flying-spot scanner, with the same calibration and the same film element, one would be hard-pressed to set the deflections and timings exactly the same to photograph the exact same area each time, to say nothing of the delicacy of adjustments to the physical position of the film and scanning apparatus.
     
  16. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    I don't think the concern is that one shot as much as it is that the rest of the film is cropped on the right as well. If you look at dvdbeaver.com, you can tell a difference between the three versions shown. I guess we are all just wondering how you can get such different results from a 1.37:1 transfer.
     

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