Spielberg's Aspect Ratios

TheoGB

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Just wondering. Does anyone know why Spielberg turned his back on 2.35:1? For a while now everything he's done appears to be in 1.85:1. Personally I much prefer 2.35:1 and don't see why he shouldn't use it. Or am I totally wrong and he still films in this ratio?
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Zack Scott

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simple...T.V. With 1.85:1 you don't lose as much of the picture than you do with 2.35:1. So J6P can watch Jurrasic Park in Full Frame and still see most of what the director intended on seeing without those annoying black bars on the top and bottom of the screen.
 

Patrick McCart

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A lot of directors like open matte and Super-35 filming because of a lot of things...
The main reason is that you can get a better picture and it's not as hard to focus.
Believe me, if I had to shoot a movie, I would shoot in a non-anamorphic format (prefferably 2:10:1 70mm )
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With JP he wanted to show the height of the dinosaurs in comparison to the people.
 

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I believe I heard that he chooses to shoot in 1.85:1 these days because he feels that that ratio is closer in proportion to human sight.
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Scott H

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quote: A lot of directors like open matte and Super-35 filming because of a lot of things...[/quote]
Of course, open matte is no more properly attributed to Super35 than any other method of filming, and probably less so in practice than regular 35.
quote: I believe I heard that he chooses to shoot in 1.85:1 these days because he feels that that ratio is closer in proportion to human sight.[/quote]
Forum mythology. For aspect ratios to be relevant in analogies to human sight viewers must stare at the center of the screen at all times, taking in most of the action with their peripheral vision.
Maybe he just prefers to compose for and tell stories with that AR for the projects he has done of late. And of course 2.40:1 is not better an AR than 1.33:1, just as paintings are typically not appreciated based on their dimensions.
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[Edited last by Scott H on October 14, 2001 at 08:25 PM]
 

TomRS4

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And of course 2.40:1 is not better an AR than 1.33:1...
This is an opinion. Everyone has one, and I'm not sure that it's possible to have a 'wrong' opinion on this matter. My DVD collection includes films supposedly shown in: 1.33:1, 1.66:1, 1.70:1, 1.85:1, 2.20:1, 2.21:1, 2.35:1, and 2.55:1. I say supposedly because I've never actually measured the dimensions on the screen to see how they measure up, and most of the 1.85:1 films actually completely fill my television screen, making them 1.67:1 (16:9). Of all of these, what is easily the worst screen ratio for movies is 1.33:1, so I disagree completely with the above quoted opinion.
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TomRS4, in thirteen years of professional theatrical and commercial film production, plus film school, I have never known a single person, including notable directors and cinematographers engaged in such discussions to state that any one aspect ratio is better than another. Fortunately I have known many, including myself, to definitely state that they believe a particular aspect ratio is better for a particular project than another. I have also never known anyone on this forum to post that any aspect ratio was better than another in seriousness, only that they have a preference for one over another. Hence my inclusion of the words "of course" in that statement. In teaching or discussion or application, I have and will state the same thing.
This is an opinion, as you state, but I do think it's illogical to state that there are any AR's inherently superior to another. I can't figure how such a thing could be possible. You are the first person I have ever known to disagree with that, and so I completely disagree with your opinion

I'm not sure what you mean to convey in regards to ARs on your TV. But I must point out that you erroneously identify the AR of a 16:9 display, it is 1.78:1. Thus, in consideration of typical overscan, it is expected that precisely framed 1.85:1 material will fill a 1.78:1 TV screen.
Submitted respectfully.
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TomRS4, I apologize if my above response was overwrought, but it was a somewhat significant moment to have someone make that comment

Had you not called 1.33:1 the worst AR for movies, I would have thought we likely had an issue of semantics...
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[Edited last by Scott H on October 14, 2001 at 10:41 PM]
 

Peter Apruzzese

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When I saw A.I., I know it was in 2.35:1. And I don't think it was improperly framed.
A.I. was absolutely NOT in 2.35:1, it should have been projected at 1.85. I've run a 35mm print through my hands and it was not in 'scope. If you saw it in 2.35, the theater was showing it incorrectly framed. Remember, you can almost always tell if a film is in 2.35 in a theater (at least for 35mm prints): just look for the reel-change cue marks, if they are round, the film is flat (1.85); if they are oval, it's a 'scope presentation (2.35). The cue marks never lie.
 

Matthew Chmiel

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When I saw A.I., I know it was in 2.35:1. And I don't think it was improperly framed.
A.I. was filmed in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. I saw it twice at two different theaters and both had the film shown at 1.85:1.
Why Spielberg films in 1.85:1 now of days, I heard the same thing that John Williamson said earlier in this thread.
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TheoGB

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Jeez. That would be awful if Indy 4 was in 1.85:1. Well except it's almost certain to suck.

Interesting about the reel-change marks. The fake one in Fight Club is oval from what I remember but that's a Super35 movie framed to 2.35:1. I guess they were going for maximum authenticity.
 

Peter Apruzzese

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Interesting about the reel-change marks. The fake one in Fight Club is oval from what I remember but that's a Super35 movie framed to 2.35:1. I guess they were going for maximum authenticity.
But remember, Fight Club was presented theatrically in 'scope (anamorphic 2.35), so any cue marks on the film - real OR fake - would be seen as oval on the screen. Super35 is an acquisition format only, not an exhibition one, so the theatrical prints are almost always (99.9% of the time) anamorphic 2.35 and require the use of the special "unsqueeze" projection lens.
 

Chad R

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Spielberg chooses an aspect ratio in regard to the project. He has alternated between the two modern formats throughout his career, and I think each time it's been the correct choice.
 

TomRS4

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Scott H,
Before I go on let me say that I enjoyed your posts regarding my earlier posts, except for your pointing out my error in the AR of 16:9 TVs. I don't know what I was thinking. Don't I feel like an idiot.
Thus, in consideration of typical overscan, it is expected that precisely framed 1.85:1 material will fill a 1.78:1 TV screen.
I understand. I do have at least one DVD which leaves slight bars at the top and bottom of the screen. I suspect the picture I'm getting with this DVD is close to a 1.85:1 AR. The majority of my '1.85:1' DVDs are cropped to 1.78:1 on my 16:9 display, making them, for all intents and purposes 1.78:1. I do not have a front projection set-up (maybe someday) or have the overscan reduced on my television, but if I ever do, these DVDs may then be able to be viewed at the 'correct' 1.85:1 AR.
Perhaps my reaction was a bit strong, and I hope I didn't cause you to take too many Rolaids, but I still have problems with 1.33:1.
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I would agree that 4:3 is not a good ratio for anything. In fact the golden rectangle would be a better one which is closer to 5:3 as it is considered the most pleasing rectangular aspect.

However, I definitely prefer wideness as it gives a greater scope for framing things for damatic purposes.
 

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I'm not sure what you mean to convey in regards to ARs on your TV. But I must point out that you erroneously identify the AR of a 16:9 display, it is 1.78:1. Thus, in consideration of typical overscan, it is expected that precisely framed 1.85:1 material will fill a 1.78:1 TV screen.
Actually, in addition to my "real" home theater setup, I also use my PC to watch movies on occassion. They show up in a window, and thus have no overscan... even the overscan border is there. 1.85:1 movies are almost always framed at 1.78:1 for DVD. This has nothing to do with overscan, but rather that such a miniscule (4%) amount of information is being lost by these trims, it makes sense to "fill" the 16x9 screen. 2.35:1 films, having such a large difference in AR, are always properly framed.
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Dan Brecher

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Spielberg chooses an aspect ratio in regard to the project. He has alternated between the two modern formats throughout his career, and I think each time it's been the correct choice.
Perfectly put, Chad!
His constant bond with 1.85:1 over the past ten years really doesn't bother me, in fact it makes perfect sense. If you look at all his films that he made after Hook (his last Panavision feature) they work as being 1.85:1 movies.
Many, if not all directors will work with a specific AR in the hope it brings more to their movie. In the case of Schindler's List, the two JP movies, Amistad, Pvt Ryan and A.I, the aspect ratio is beneficial. In many cases like Pvt Ryan, Schindler, and Amistad, 1.85:1 helped bring a feeling of confinement to the viewer, at times giving a claustrophobic effect and generally helps you focus on one single strong element on screen. They're not movies that call for scope, simple as that. As Rob said, in the case of the JP movies, 1.85:1 helped greatly in depicting the height of a number of the dinosaurs.
He's a great director for picking the right AR for a project I agree.
Dan (UK)
 

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