Seeking Input For Widescreen/P&S Comparison

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Randy A Salas, Jun 18, 2002.

  1. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

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    As mentioned in a previous thread, I'm planning to do a series of short articles in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (a large U.S. daily newspaper) called Widescreen 101. The articles, which will have to be crafted carefully to run in a small, formatted space, will be aimed at general consumers. Basically, I'm answering the call to educate consumers about widescreen in a mainstream way.
    But I'm looking for suggestions on what movie to use as the example for the first installment on "why are there black bars on my TV screen"? I'm familiar with the usual examples, but they don't meet my criteria for the perfect example:
    * A movie on a Region 1 U.S. DVD that's currently available.
    * A DVD that offers both widescreen and P&S options on the same disc (or the same set, if it's a double-disc set). Widescreen DVDs that have no P&S option are not ideal, nor are DVDs that have separate P&S and widescreen releases. The idea is to make it as simple as possible for readers to see for themselves what I'm talking about.
    * A 2.35:1 ratio movie--or one in which there is a dramatic contrast between the widescreen and P&S examples.
    * A popular movie that most people would know or at least know of. The bigger, the better.
    My favorite comparison example is The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, but the DVD is widescreen only. Failing to find something that meets all of my criteria, I'll probably use the "why widescreen?" examples on Pearl Harbor or Die Hard.
    Anyone have suggestions? Please keep the criteria in mind and stay on topic. I'll ask that the thread be deleted if this becomes a free-for-all.
    If I end up using a movie suggested here, I'll send a DVD to the first person who mentioned it.
     
  2. DavidBL

    DavidBL Stunt Coordinator

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    "The Mummy" Ultimate edition fits those criteria fairly well.

    David
     
  3. HenrikTull

    HenrikTull Second Unit

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    Actually, if you don't mind, I think the best example to use is Demolition Man. Marco Brambilla uses EXCELLENT use of the 2.35:1 frame. The movies is also shot anamorphic so the 4:3 version is hugely cropped.
    Just a suggestion.
     
  4. JamesHromadka

    JamesHromadka Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, I was watching "Wild Things" the other day, and picked a particular scene (:b) and flipped the DVD over to see what it looked like in P&S. You could really see a dramatic difference between the two. [​IMG]
     
  5. Derek Miner

    Derek Miner Screenwriter

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    There were a lot of great examples of bad translation from 2.35 to 1.33 with Ghostbusters, but unfortunately only Ghostbusters 2 offers both versions. That's a scope film as well, so it might offer some options for comparison.

    Ocean's Eleven might be a good choice. It's recent, so moviegoers and DVD buyers should be aware of it. There are some shots with a whole bunch of characters in them, which I think is great for widescreen comparisons ("Look, you can't see half the main characters!"). It's a 2.35 film, but I don't know if was shot Super 35, which would add more picture to the top and bottom of the pan & scan version.
     
  6. HenrikTull

    HenrikTull Second Unit

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  7. SteveK

    SteveK Supporting Actor

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    Randy- I wish you much luck in your widescreen education effort. Since I obviously don't know the restrictions your employer places upon you, can you refer interested readers to a website? If so, www.widescreen.org would be an excellent starting point. That was one of the first sites I discovered when I was researching widescreen movies (I had just purchased a DVD player at the time). I realize that not all of your readers will have access to a computer or the Internet, so you might not be able to include a web reference in your articles. But if you can do so, I think that would be an excellent starting point.
    Unfortunately, I can't think of any recent examples of P&S/Widescreen on the same disc, as lately separate releases or even P&S only releases seem to be more common than having both versions on the same disc. I'll look through my collection this evening and see if I can find some possible examples for you.
    Again, good luck with your education effort.
    Steve K.
     
  8. Martino

    Martino Supporting Actor

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    I have a great example with a popular movie. This movie is available in wide screen DVD, but is also seen on TV in P&S, and was available for years in P&S video. The movie is Halloween by John Carpenter. There is one seen where two girls stop to talk to a police officer about a break in that happened. For years all I saw in the P&S version was the conversation between the girl and the cop - and it kind of slowed down the action. When when the wide screen version came out, you can see this creepy car pull into the picture, stop, and watch them have this conversation. This pre-stalking is totally lost in the P&S version, and can be shown in a side by side comparison because it is in no way gross. It creped me out the first time I saw it, even though I had seen the P&S version so many times I had all of the lines memorized.
     
  9. Joe Schwartz

    Joe Schwartz Second Unit

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    I'll suggest Real Genius, even though it isn't a hugely popular blockbuster. It was shot in anamorphic 2.35:1 (not Super 35), and the DVD includes both the widescreen and P&S versions. Here are a few screen captures that illustrate the cropping in the P&S version:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  10. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    How about The Mask of Zorro (the Special Edition version)? It is 2.35:1 OAR, and the SE version of the DVD comes with both that and a P&S version.
    I don't have any screen caps I can easily post right now.
    Not really a super-blockbuster (I think it did just under $100 million in the USA), but it does have star appeal with Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins.
    Another possibility: Notting Hill (Ultimate Edition); it is 2.35:1, but has both versions in the package. Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant.
     
  11. Joe Schwartz

    Joe Schwartz Second Unit

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    For curiosity's sake, here are two more captures from Real Genius. In this shot, the P&S image wasn't just cropped -- it was also squashed horizontally in order to fit the entire sign on screen. The distortion remains throughout the shot -- in the second P&S image, notice that the mouse's wheel isn't round.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  12. SteveK

    SteveK Supporting Actor

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    Joe- The examples you gave (and countless other examples that could be provided) would seemingly be enough to make even the most ardent defender of P&S at least realize they must be missing something. After all, who is holding that pencil and paper in the first shot? What about that guy cut in half on the bottom shot? What kind of director would make such poor shots? Even your average amateur photographer isn't happy with shots where a person winds up getting cut in half. Yet the average P&S fan seems perfectly content with images where only part of a person is onscreen.

    I don't have a lot of room to talk, as I preferred fullframe until I bought my first DVD. I had only seen movies on VHS, and it was an adjustment to get used to widescreen. But now that I've seen widescreen, I could never go back to watching P&S, which is why I don't watch any movies on network TV or most "premium" channels.

    Steve K.
     
  13. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  14. Joe Schwartz

    Joe Schwartz Second Unit

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    Ah, thanks for explaining that, Damin. I was never sure what "scanning" actually referred to.
     
  15. Bjorn Olav Nyberg

    Bjorn Olav Nyberg Supporting Actor

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    A few John Carpenter movies would also fit the bill, including Ghosts of mars, Vampires, In the mouth of madness, Escape from New york.

    Also Deliverance
     
  16. Phil Thron

    Phil Thron Second Unit

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    It's interesting, Randy, that I first jumped into reading this thread with the idea of immediately suggesting "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly", because it was the film that convinced my wife to never watch a pan & scan version of anything ever again. There is, perhaps, no greater example of WHY P&S is so heinous than the final showdown between G, B, & U. When she saw the P&S version and saw Lee Van Cleef standing alone in that beautiful wide shot, all dynamic visual tension drained from the scene...well, that was it.

    Anyway, your criteria suggest that older DVDs are the way to go, really, because there was a greater proliferation of discs that offered both versions. Here are several that fit the bill:

    Air Force One
    Cool Hand Luke
    Unforgiven
    Deliverance (which Bjorn suggested above)

    The use of environment in both Unforgiven and Deliverance seem ideal to illustrate exactly what people are missing when they don't watch films OAR. But certainly Air Force One with its action premise and use of claustrophic interiors do the same in other ways. As for Cool Hand Luke, any scene involving a fight or a crowded bunker will show just how many bodies get separated from the crowd and how much is missed among the reactions of the men; crucial to this character study.

    In any case, good luck with your project. It's good to know the word is being spread.
     
  17. DaveBB

    DaveBB Supporting Actor

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  18. Craig W

    Craig W Second Unit

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    Randy,

    As a Twin City resident, I am looking forward to your column.

    I really wish that Star Wars was available. The opening shot of the Star Destroyer flying in overhead from behind is the most perfect example of why widescreen rules. In the Pan-n-scan the ship quickly fills the entire frame and then all you see is the bottom of the ship moving forward. In the widescreen you really get a sense of size in not only the length of the ship but also the width.

    I wish I really had a specific example you could use, but I hardly ever watch pan-n-scan so I can't think of any specific shots.

    It would be nice if you could make the reader aware that a film does not have to be widescreen to maintain its OAR (example Gone with the Wind closely maintains its original aspect ratio even though it is presented in full screen since it was filmed in the Academy ratio.) But I understand that you have to keep this simple for the target audience.

    Also, another good point to bring up would be that widescreen is designed for your TV of tomorrow. Like Philips new slogan "TV formatted to fit your movie"
     
  19. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    It's not extraordinarily popular, but I'd suggest Paul Anderson's "Soldier" from Warner. It was shot scope, and it's a really beautiful movie with some really gorgeous visuals. The pan & scan version is a real disaster.
    Here's an example. You can't even see one of the planet's four suns in the pan & scan version!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  20. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

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    To all of you, I extend a heartfelt thanks. There are some great suggestions here, and I'll be wading through those titles to see which might have the most impact. I have two firm choices in mind, but I need to see how they pan out. (Ahem!) Joe and Carl, I especially appreciate your taking the time to post screen caps--although I don't want anyone to get caught up spending all of their time trying to do that. [​IMG]
    SteveK, I really am fortunate in that I don't have any restrictions placed on me by the Star Tribune. I determine the content and how it's covered. Since I'm an editor, I also write the headlines and photo captions, which is unusual. The tradeoff is that writing the column is not my job, what I get paid for. I do all of the viewing and most of the writing on my own time. I know: Everyone should be so lucky--and I have a heck of a forum. But it is a lot of work.
    My biggest restriction is space limitations. Here is what the weekly half-page DVD package looks like:
    [​IMG]
    That's guaranteed space; it never changes and always follows that format--although the size and position of the lead art changes. (Isn't that a great image?) That's today's column, leading with the two wonderful Douglas Fairbanks DVDs from Kino. The space on the left of the package is reserved for that week's new titles, my main column. The right-hand column always has the DVD sales chart at the bottom. (I dropped Billboard's and started running Video Business' this week.) And the top of the right-hand column is where I run a variety of rotating features: news and notes, themed round-ups of recent titles, commentaries (my Disney P&S rant), etc. It is in this top right-hand space that I have to run Widescreen 101--quite a challenge. I'll have room for two screen caps, some explanatory text (basically, just an intro and extended photo captions) and some additonal resources. That last part will list the web site you suggested, Steve, as well as refer consumers to the explanatory features on Pearl Harbor and Die Hard. Part 1 is obvious. Future lessons will cover open matte, anamorphic widescreen, various ratios and more.
    Anyway, again, I appreciate everyone's input. I'll let you know what I end up doing. Thanks.
     

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