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

Stephen_J_H

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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.
I don't think we can discount the impact of formats like Super35 either. There are directors who shot in Super35 so that they could have the biggest screen in the multiplex [since the majority of cinemas are constant image width rather than constant image height] and flexibility when creating the home video release in the days of 4:3 TVs. I'm sure there are directors now who shoot digitally in 16:9 and then crop to 2.35:1 for the same reason, since certain cable channels will modify films to fit the 16:9 frame.

One of my favourite theatrical experiences was seeing Pulp Fiction and especially how Tarantino used the scope frame. There's a shot towards the end that is almost 75% black with Samuel L. Jackson only visible on the extreme left side of the frame. I love it when directors use the extremes like that. I also enjoy it when directors push things to the extreme edges and use the negative space to great effect. OTOH, I've seen flat aspect films where you could see exactly where the 4:3 video version would be extracted. That's just lazy.
 

OLDTIMER

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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.
Film makers tried wide screen ratios in the 1920s and earlier and it failed. I wonder why?
 

Josh Steinberg

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Film makers tried wide screen ratios in the 1920s and earlier and it failed. I wonder why?

The infrastructure to screen them didn’t exist. The earliest widescreen experiments utilized special film sizes, which would have required theaters to buy all new equipment. One of the reasons widescreen took off was the decision to utilize an anamorphic lens paired with 35mm film, so theaters just needed to add a new lens, rather than buying a whole new projector. It’s one thing to develop a new format; it’s another thing entirely to get enough exhibitors to buy into it so that it can be shown to a large enough audience to justify its existence.
 

john a hunter

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You also should recall that in the 20's,lens manufacturing was still very expensive and difficult to achieve good results.
The wider frame both for taking and projection would need a new set of lenses as well as new equipment.
Also everything then was basically B&W and colour is really needed to show off the advantages of the process.
Add sound in its earliest stages,it is not too difficult to see why it then was unsuccessful.
 

OLDTIMER

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Speaking of widescreen!

IMG.JPG
 

OLDTIMER

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And conversely, here's a frame grab from the 1930 British film "Harmony Heaven" It's 1.18 :1 ... So "What is it about 1.66 that I love so much" - It's a good compromise.

vlcsnap-2020-08-21-11h52m44s118.png
 

Dick

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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.

I also puzzle about its overuse. 2.35:1 (or 2.20:1 or 2.55:1) used to serve as a major aspect (sometimes along with stereophonic sound) of an "event" movie -- yes, to draw people away from t.v., but also to wow and awe us with its panoramic landscapes, carefully framed by directors and DOP's to include useful information from edge to edge. Now, the widest ratio is just meh, used for the most insipid comedies and silly horror films, mostly filmed indoors. What a waste, to my mind. And still, I imagine, there are those nincompoops who complain about the black bars on top and bottom even on their 16x9 screens.

I'd like to see that shape saved for special films that would actually benefit from the expanded screen.
 
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jayembee

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And still, I imagine, there are those nincompoops who complain about the black bars on top and bottom even on their 16x9 screens.

And yet, there's an increase in TV shows using 2.00 or 2.35. Granted, they tend to be (a) streaming, rather than broadcast, series, and (b) more action/adventure-oriented fare, which is the kind of thing you expect to see in 2.35 for theatrical films, rather than sitcoms or standard dramas.

But still...
 

KMR

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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.

Aspect ratio is a SHAPE, not a size. Whether any given picture is "wider" or "shorter" or whatever is entirely dependent on the screen on which it is viewed, in comparison to another picture of a different aspect ratio ON THAT SAME SCREEN and whether or not lens focal length is changed (if it's being projected). To say a 2.35:1 film is wider and/or shorter than a 1.85:1 film is nonsense if you understand that the pictures are going to be seen on an unlimited size of screens around the world. If I see a 2.35 film on a very large screen, it will be much taller than a 1.85 film on a significantly smaller screen. The differences in screen sizes in theaters is sometimes a big factor in my decision on which theater to view a film at. If it's scope, I want to see it on the largest screen it's showing on.

What I most care about is seeing the film as close to the most optimum conditions for which it was made. That includes seeing the intended picture compositions. It sometimes makes a huge difference. For instance, Robert Wise's THE HAUNTING (1963): I enjoyed it as a kid when I first saw it on TV, then saw it decades later on VHS and was quite underwhelmed and couldn't understand why. But when I later saw it on DVD, I saw the entire widescreen image for the first time ever, and was again wowed by the film. Wise and his DP filled every last bit of the frame with meaningful picture information. When cut down to 1.33, SO MUCH was lost that the overall effect was drastically reduced. The 1.33 version was enough to excite me as a kid, but not later when I was more mature and more experienced in absorbing, unconsciously, the visual language of cinema by watching movies in theaters over the years.
 

AnthonyClarke

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And what you say is why Todd-AO was such an overwhelming experience. Seeing a Todd-AO print on a domestic television isn't quite the real thing.
But while still a compromise, the sight of the Todd-AO version of 'Oklahoma' on a 150-inch projector screen is still pretty wonderful.
 

murrayThompson

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And what you say is why Todd-AO was such an overwhelming experience. Seeing a Todd-AO print on a domestic television isn't quite the real thing.
But while still a compromise, the sight of the Todd-AO version of 'Oklahoma' on a 150-inch projector screen is still pretty wonderful.
It sure is wonderful on a 150" curved scope screen like I use, just magic!
 

Worth

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Aspect ratio is a SHAPE, not a size. Whether any given picture is "wider" or "shorter" or whatever is entirely dependent on the screen on which it is viewed, in comparison to another picture of a different aspect ratio ON THAT SAME SCREEN...
I think it's both. Does anyone shoot in IMAX because they have a preference for the shape of the 1.4:1 aspect ratio?
What I most care about is seeing the film as close to the most optimum conditions for which it was made. That includes seeing the intended picture compositions. It sometimes makes a huge difference.
And I agree. I'm not saying films should be cropped or reformatted to fit a specific screen. Luckily, screen sizes are large enough and resolutions high enough now that it's possible to enjoy films made in any ratio. But I still find it just a little unsatisfying, a little distancing, that 'scope films - which until recently were made with the knowledge that they'd be occupying the most screen real estate - are smaller than 1.85.
 

Thomas T

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But I still find it just a little unsatisfying, a little distancing, that 'scope films - which until recently were made with the knowledge that they'd be occupying the most screen real estate - are smaller than 1.85.

I'm not a size queen myself but all one needs to do is compare the barn raising dance in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers in its CinemaScope ratio and in its 1.85 to see which is more aesthetically pleasing.
 

KMR

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But I still find it just a little unsatisfying, a little distancing, that 'scope films - which until recently were made with the knowledge that they'd be occupying the most screen real estate - are smaller than 1.85.

Scope films WILL be larger than 1.85 films, WHEN THEY ARE SHOWN ON LARGER SCREENS. It's all relative. Totally.
 

JoshZ

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Scope films WILL be larger than 1.85 films, WHEN THEY ARE SHOWN ON LARGER SCREENS. It's all relative. Totally.

The larger a 16:9 screen you install, the larger 16:9 and 1.85:1 content will be than 2.35:1 content. You are correct that it's all relative. And relatively, 2.35:1 material will always be the smallest thing you watch on a 16:9 screen.

No matter how large a 16:9 screen you install, Wheel of Fortune will always be larger, more immersive, and more enveloping than Lawrence of Arabia. If that's how you prefer to watch content in your home, by all means enjoy. But it will never be my preference.
 

jayembee

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I think the real point isn't how large the image is, but what the content of the image is. The Mona Lisa's "aspect ratio" is roughly 1.50:1. The Last Supper's aspect ratio is roughly 1.90:1. Both paintings are masterpieces, but neither one would look right if the former was 1.90:1 and the latter 1.50:1.
 

Josh Steinberg

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My TV is nothing hugely special - a TCL Series 6, the top quality line that the budget manufacturer offers. The black levels on it blow me away, and with the bezel around it being practically non-existent, if I have the lights in the room off I can’t tell where the TV frame ends and where the black bars begin. With so much of the television I watch now produced in a variety of aspect ratios other than 16x9, I can barely tell what is what if I’m watching in a darkened room - I just see the picture. I never thought that I’d own a TV where you couldn’t see black bars but amazingly it’s possible now. That’s making up for the TV itself not being a constant height thing.
 

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