What's the OAR of City Lights?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Rain, Jan 18, 2002.

  1. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    Ok, so I've had this DVD for a while, but never really took a close look at it until last night.
    According to www.imdb.com, the OAR is 1.37:1. However, it is definitely not 1.37:1 on my copy of the DVD.
    As you probably know, the Image Chaplins were windowboxed. Ok, fine. When I look at Modern Times, for example, I see a windowboxed frame on all the borders and the image appears to be about 1.37:1.
    But with City Lights, I get no borders on the top and bottom of the screen, only on the sides, rendering an image which is narrrower than 1.37:1 (and significantly so).
    Also looking at the frame on City Lights, I noticed that the corners are angular on the left side (top and bottom), but rounded on the right side (top and bottom). This makes it look a bit awkward as well.
    Anyone have any idea what the heck is going on here?
     
  2. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    No idea myself, but I just emailed your question to disc producer David Shepard. I'll post when I hear something.
     
  3. Steve Enemark

    Steve Enemark Second Unit

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    I remember reading once how early "talkies" were narrower than 1.37:1 because the soundtrack took up some of the room. Later, the film image was shrunk somewhat, to maintain the Academy ratio. I'd post a source, if I could only remember where I read it. [​IMG]
     
  4. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    Steve, your theory does seem logical and I have seen some early talkies with ARs listed as narrower than 1.37:1 on www.imdb.com.
    However, if that is the case, shouldn't Modern Times be the same...it also has a soundtrack?
     
  5. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Around the late 20s and early 30s there was fluctuation in the aspect ratio of films as they wrestled with how to incorporate the sound track. The windowboxed City Lights is probably correct.

    Regards,
     
  6. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    City Light's aspect ratio is roughly 1.28:1

    Because it was released in 1931 (and actually made between 1928 and 1930), it was filmed in the Fox MovieTone process.

    This resulted in a squarer frame. Modern Times, though, was filmed with standard mono optical sound in mind, so it has the normal 1.37:1 ratio.

    A neat piece of trivia: David Shepard, who produced the Image Chaplin DVD's actually invented windowboxing. (Someone at Columbia Home Video invented letterboxing, however.)
     
  7. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    I raised some similar issues a while back and was lambasted by the (supposedly) pro-OAR folks for worrying about losing such a small percentage of the picture, so I'm not touching this one with a ten-foot pole. [​IMG]
     
  8. Rain

    Rain Producer

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  9. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    But if it's pillar-boxed on the sides, then this is probably a lot closer to the squarer aspect ratio, no? AFAIK, "silent" aspect ratio was ~1.33, "sound" aspect ratio is ~1.37.
     
  10. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    Well, eye-balling it, it looks like about 1:1 on the DVD. But I have no way to make a precise measurement myself. In this regard, I have requested some assistance and I'll let you know if I'm able to find out anything.
     
  11. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I thought it looked like 1:1 at first, but then I measured it. It was roughly 1.25:1 after the measurment. 1.28:1 is more precise.
    www.widescreenmuseum.com has some diagrams showing a Movietone frame.
     
  12. Hendrik

    Hendrik Supporting Actor

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    FYI: ...the German BMG two-disc UFA Klassiker Edition of Der Blaue Engel and the concurrently filmed English language version The Blue Angel (1930) lists an AR of 1:1,19 - which, on my display, results in a very narrow vertical black bar to the right of the image...
    ...certainly in the very early days of sound-on-film ARs varied - from film to film, and possibly even from studio to studio, depending on what sound process was used... IIRC the DVD of the original All Quiet On The Western Front also features a narrower-than 1.33:1 image...
    . . . [​IMG] . . .
     
  13. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    It IS OAR. 1.2:1 was the A.R. that is was filmed in. It was filmed by using the full height of the 35mm frame with framelines that were about 1/32" thick. Standard 1.37:1 uses thicker frame lines (about 1/8") and does not actually use the full height of the 35mm frame. Anamorphic 35mm also uses these thin frame lines, and 2.40:1 divided by 2x expansion factor with area reserved for an optical sound track = ~1.20:1.

    Ted
     
  14. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    I'm a bit relieved, as it is beginning to sound more and more like the DVD is correctly framed. [​IMG]
    I received this input via email this morning from the very knowledgeable Mike Coate over at Widescreen Review. I'm posting this with his permission:
     
  15. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    As promised, here's the word from David Shepard himself (sorry for the delay, but a long weekend intervened):

     

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