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What Is It About the 1.66:1 Ratio That I Love So Much? (1 Viewer)

Douglas R

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If I have learned anything from the various home video releases of Kubrick films and bizarre press releases regarding them, it's that Leon Vitali has a habit of contradicting himself and misremembering things. So I wouldn't put much weight into claims that Kubrick shot Full Metal Jacket for 1.66:1.

Looking at all the old threads discussing the aspect ratio of Full Metal Jacket, it’s amazing how so many people were convinced it should be viewed 1.33:1. I don’t know what evidence there is that it was shown 1.66:1 in Europe. I saw the film the day it opened in London but unfortunately neglected to measure the screen area.
 

Dick

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The US Blu-ray is also 1.66:1. I didn't see the film theatrically when it was released, so I've no idea if it was screened at 1.66 or 1.85, but the BD looks just right.

David Lean was, by the late 50's with KWAI, a man who dedicated himself to epics, and used 2.35:1 exclusively, until after RYAN'S DAUGHTER, which tanked critically and at the b.o. He was so discouraged that he stopped making films for fourteen years (just think of the films we might have had if he'd ignored the critics and gone forward!). He was having trouble finding a distribution contract with a studio for A PASSAGE TO INDIA until HBO offered to co-fund it, but with a caveat: frame the film for t.v. audiences during those pre-widescreen t.v. days. Thus, the movie was framed for 1.66:1. I imagine it was always theatrically screened at 1.85:1. Must have been a heartbreaking situation for Lean, as this movie would have benefitted greatly from a wider composition. Personally, I have no issue with 1.66:1 on APTI.
 

Blu Eye

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Looking at all the old threads discussing the aspect ratio of Full Metal Jacket, it’s amazing how so many people were convinced it should be viewed 1.33:1. I don’t know what evidence there is that it was shown 1.66:1 in Europe. I saw the film the day it opened in London but unfortunately neglected to measure the screen area.

The point is it could not have been shown in 1.66 anyway in cinemas. All films that were shot in 1.66 would have been masked to 1.85.

See murrayThompson's post in this thread who was a projectionist for over 35 years who says that cinemas had/have 2 ratios which were 1:85 and cinemascope which is somethinhg Leon Vitali has mentioned.

Mr Kubrick was obviously aware of this which in my opinion is why he shot in 1.66 but also realized it would be masked which I believe is why the storyboards instruct to compose for 1:85 but protect the full 1:33 picture.

If you also look at that storyboard of The Shining posted in the FMJ 4k release thread which shows the 1:85 area you can see just how much of the original design of the frame is left out.

In my opinion, the full 1:33 picture emphasizes the isolation of the hotel in contrast to the bleak natural landscape that surrounds it. Around a third of the central path leading to the hotel is omitted in the 1:85 frame and almost a full tree is left out of the picture. If that wasn't important then why did Stanley design it in the first place?

Wouldn't he just compose a storyboard with the whole image framed within the 1:85 ratio?

Obviously I have not seen any of the other storyboards so I can't know for sure but until someone can convince me otherwise my opinion is still that Mr Kubrick shot for 1:66 predominantly.
 

Rob W

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The point is it could not have been shown in 1.66 anyway in cinemas. All films that were shot in 1.66 would have been masked to 1.85.

Wouldn't he just compose a storyboard with the whole image framed within the 1:85 ratio?

If they had absolutely wanted to push it, Kubrick's films could have been shown in 1:66 in North American cinemas if Warner Bros & Kubrick had wanted to hard-matte the 35mm prints with the 1:66 image pillar-boxed within the 1:85 frame. (Kubrick was one of the few directors who could have demanded this if he truly wanted it.) The presentation would have suffered as theatres likely could not pull in the masking to mask the two sides of the 1:66 image. They didn't do this, because most flat films of the 35mm era were protected for other ratios besides the theatrical 1:85, as 1:33 tv & cable sales were still an important factor in the recoupment of a film's cost. And that's also why the storyboards take into account the full 1:33 frame, so they can serve all masters. But when a storyboard is clearly labelled that you compose for 1:85, I don't know why people assume there were other intentions for the theatrical release.
 
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Blu Eye

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If they had absolutely wanted to push it, Kubrick's films could have been shown in 1:66 in North American cinemas if Warner Bros & Kubrick had wanted to hard-matte the 35mm prints with the 1:66 image pillar-boxed within the 1:85 frame. (Kubrick was one of the few directors who could have demanded this if he truly wanted it.)The presentation would have suffered as theatres likely could not pull in the masking to mask the two sides of the 1:66 image. They didn't do this, because most flat films of the 35mm era were protected for other ratios besides the theatrical 1:85, as 1:33 tv & cable sales were still an important factor in the recoupment of a film's cost. And that's also why the storyboards take into account the full 1:33 frame, so they can serve all masters. But when a storyboard is clearly labelled that you compose for 1:85, I don't know why people assume there were other intentions for the theatrical release.

The reason I assume it is because it simplifies his intent.

If he said I have designed the frame for 1:66 but compose it in 1:85 wouldn't it confuse the recipients?

Or I have designed the frame for both 1:66 and 1:85 but focus on 1:85.

He does state protect the full 1:33 picture. If it wasn't important why would he state that?

Why did he not just state compose for 1:85 only?
 

Mark-P

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If they had absolutely wanted to push it, Kubrick's films could have been shown in 1:66 in North American cinemas if Warner Bros & Kubrick had wanted to hard-matte the 35mm prints with the 1:66 image pillar-boxed within the 1:85 frame.
This is called an optical reduction, and optical reductions didn’t come into place until the 1990s when they were finally used for theatrical re-releases of classics such as The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind and various Disney animated classics to show them pillar-boxed in theaters.
 

Rob W

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The reason I assume it is because it simplifies his intent.

If he said I have designed the frame for 1:66 but compose it in 1:85 wouldn't it confuse the recipients?

Or I have designed the frame for both 1:66 and 1:85 but focus on 1:85.

He does state protect the full 1:33 picture. If it wasn't important why would he state that?

Why did he not just state compose for 1:85 only?

I explained why he protected the 1:33 picture - for future tv & cable sales. 99% of all non scope films from the introduction of widescreen were shot that way.
 

Blu Eye

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I explained why he protected the 1:33 picture - for future tv & cable sales. 99% of all non scope films from the introduction of widescreen were shot that way.

I don't think Stanley was an artist that made films with an ounce of thought for future TV and cable sales.

I also think he would have been aware of technology in relation to TVs and video and probably knew how it would have evolve over time.

However, you could be correct so I won't say you are wrong on the matter.

I still want the movie released in both ratios. That way if you are correct then I can watch it on my TV the way he wanted me to in 1:33.
 

murrayThompson

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Most films that were not scope in commercial cinemas were shown in 1.85 ratio. The aperture plate was cut for every theatre to mask down the higher image on the frame. There were never theatres thats screened films in our so called talk of today, 1:1 pixel ratio.

Even scope films had to be cropped a bit with the aperture plate, if they werent the scope negative splices would flash on the screen.

I know of one major theatre that had the largest scope screen in the Southern Hemisphere at the time that didnt crop scope films enough, the negative splices showed as a flash on the screen everytime there was a scene change, it was horrible. ...

Vistavision was designed to be screened in three ratios and after the changeover to the incoming projector they had small crosses top right hand side (two sets 8 secs apart) for the projectionist to line up the framing for whatever ratio they were projectng it at.

I always remember watching The Ten Commandements, and waiting for the first set of changeover cues at the end of a reel, then another set of small crosses top right hand corner on the next reel to line up the framing for whatever ratio they were projecting it at.

VistaVision's 3 variable aspect ratios of 1.66, 1.85, or 2.0. However most theatres would have used there normal 1.85 ratio.
And here is that famous cue mark the projectionist used.
vistavisionprojectionmark.jpg
 
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Josh Steinberg

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There seems to be some confusion over what “protection” means in the context of shooting film. “Protect for 1.33:1” doesn’t mean “I prefer the film be seen in 1.33:1.” It means “Keep the 1.33:1 frame free of boom mikes, lights and other elements not part of the intended film, so that when it is shown on television, the shots aren’t ruined by revealing equipment that the audience isn’t meant to see.”
 

OLDTIMER

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I know of one major theatre that had the largest scope screen in the Southern Hemisphere at the time that didnt crop scope films enough, the negative splices showed as a flash on the screen everytime there was a scene change, it was horrible.
Was that the Clayton Drive In (formerly the Metro) in Melbourne? I moonlighted there as a projectionist for a couple of years in the 1960s and we had Cinemascope splice flash problems.
 
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Blu Eye

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Most films that were not scope in commercial cinemas were shown in 1.85 ratio. The aperture plate was cut for every theatre to mask down the higher image on the frame. There were never theatres thats screened films in our so called talk of today, 1:1 pixel ratio.

Even scope films had to be cropped a bit with the aperture plate, if they werent the scope negative splices would flash on the screen.

I know of one major theatre that had the largest scope screen in the Southern Hemisphere at the time that didnt crop scope films enough, the negative splices showed as a flash on the screen everytime there was a scene change, it was horrible. ...

Vistavision was designed to be screened in three ratios and after the changeover to the incoming projector they had small crosses top right hand side (two sets 8 secs apart) for the projectionist to line up the framing for whatever ratio they were projectng it at.

I always remember watching The Ten Commandements, and waiting for the first set of changeover cues at the end of a reel, then another set of small crosses top right hand corner on the next reel to line up the framing for whatever ratio they were projecting it at.

VistaVision's 3 variable aspect ratios of 1.66, 1.85, or 2.0. However most theatres would have used there normal 1.85 ratio.
And here is that famous cue mark the projectionist used. View attachment 77171

I have to say your home theatre looks magnificent in your gallery.

Extremely envious. Must have cost a fortune too.

Hard to believe it's 6 metres by 4. The room looks huge to me.
 

murrayThompson

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Was that the Clayton Drive In (formerly the Metro) in Melbourne? I moonlighted there as a projectionist for a couple of years in the 1960s and we had Cinemascope splice flash problems.
No it was the Civic Theatre in Auckland who at the time opening up with the Robe (the first scope film) had the largest Cinemascope screen in the Southern Hemisphere.

I was also a projectionist in Sydney for 20 years (never Melbourne), but I didnt see that scope neg flash problem due to not cropping the height enough on scope films in any of the theatres I worked in there.

Im really pleased you know what Im talking about, not too many people these days whould know this. Not too many people today even know that the history of commercial cinema always had to crop (mask) films smaller than what was actually on the film frame. Movies were designed to be cropped for all these tech issues.

Only the Art House theatres had a variety of ratios (aperture plates and lenses) and the reason for that is obvious. Screening a subtitle film that may have been 4.3, 1.66, 1.75 say in 1.85 probaly would chop the heads... We had to frame the film up to see the subtitles, if some of those films were screened in 1.85 the heads of the actors we chopped off. This is the very reason that most of the commercial cinemas never screened the International Film Festivals, the purists in the audience would all be screaming with the heads chopped off due to the projectionist having to frame in the subtitles. Many European countries were still shooting in smaller formats like standard (4.3) 1.66, 1.75 when Hollywood had moved to 1.85 years earlier.

Civic Theatre Auckland Cinemascope Screen Install for the Robe
20171111_185344 - Copy (2).jpg
 

OLDTIMER

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m really pleased you know what Im talking about, not too many people these days would know this. Not too many people today even know that the history of commercial cinema always had to crop (mask) films smaller than what was actually on the film frame. Movies were designed to be cropped for all these tech issues.
I posted earlier that I projected 35mm at home. I had 4 different lenses and several (home-made) aperture plates for various films.
 

JoshZ

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However, I must say it is beginning to annoy me how many modern movies are 2:35 which seems to be de rigueur.

In my opinion, not many filmakers justify their choosing of 2:35 especially in most films I have seen post 2000.

Actually, I immediately begin to think a filmaker is an amateur when I watch a film and realize it is another 2:35 ratio. It makes me think they are just copying someone they might admire and that they probably don't know what they are doing.

Why should they need to justify shooting in 2.35:1? Do directors who compose for 1.85:1 justify that ratio? What kind of justification are you looking for?

The irony in this train of thought is that 1.85:1 is very close to the TV ratio of 16:9. An argument can easily be made that directors who compose for 1.85:1 are being more "amateurish" by shooting their project for TV and not for cinema.

Since most people watch on a TV screen these days, (and cinema audiences are diminishing) I would have thought it would have been to most viewers' benefit for movie-makers to produce their films at 1.78 or thereabouts.

That's the same complaint people used to make about how filmmakers should just compose and shoot their movies in 4:3 since most viewers would wind up watching them that way on VHS anyway. Good thing nobody listened to those whiners, isn't it? :)
 

Worth

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...The irony in this train of thought is that 1.85:1 is very close to the TV ratio of 16:9. An argument can easily be made that directors who compose for 1.85:1 are being more "amateurish" by shooting their project for TV and not for cinema...
At this point, it's really all the same thing. Filmmakers may think they're making a theatrical feature, only to have it end up bypassing theatres and going directly to Netflix or digital on-demand. Or a series like Game of Thrones may end up with some theatrical showings.

I mentioned this in another thread, but the thing that I don't like about 'scope now is that it's no longer wider, it's just shorter. The entire raison d'etre of widescreen was to get people away from their televisions and back into cinemas - it was less about a wider picture and more about it a bigger picture. It was akin to what IMAX is today. IMAX may be narrower, but it's not about the screen proportions, it's about the screen size and viewing impact. But now, most cinemas are constant-width, so 'scope films are smaller than flat ones. And that's true with television, too, unless you're one of the 0.01% that has a constant-height projection set up.
 

Blu Eye

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Why should they need to justify shooting in 2.35:1? Do directors who compose for 1.85:1 justify that ratio? What kind of justification are you looking for?

The irony in this train of thought is that 1.85:1 is very close to the TV ratio of 16:9. An argument can easily be made that directors who compose for 1.85:1 are being more "amateurish" by shooting their project for TV and not for cinema.



That's the same complaint people used to make about how filmmakers should just compose and shoot their movies in 4:3 since most viewers would wind up watching them that way on VHS anyway. Good thing nobody listened to those whiners, isn't it? :)

My argument was that directors shoot in 2:35 when they don't need to. They are not utilizing the wider picture in contrast to 1:85.

They don't need to justify anything. Obviously they can do what they want.

I personally always end up disappointed with many films that use the ratio and scratch my head as to why they filmed it in 2:35.

Perhaps I have high expectations when watching any new film. Maybe it's because we are many decades since the ratio was first used and most ideas and conventions have been set.

Probably best we put it down to just personal taste with these things as viewers thoughts on the matter are subjective.
 

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