Why did James Cameron frame ALIENS at 1.85:1?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dick, Jan 18, 2003.

  1. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    I have no objections to the choice of aspect ratio, but it seems an interesting choice. Was he trying to personalize this sequel to the 2.35:1 ALIEN in any way possible - to make it as unique a sequel as he could? For ages I thought the 1.85:1 laser had got it wrong. Maybe it's because Cameron hadn't worked with a Scope ratio before and was uncomfortable with it or didn't feel it was necessary (and didn't use it himself until TERMINATOR 2)? Anyway, just a thought.
     
  2. Neil S. Bulk

    Neil S. Bulk Screenwriter

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    Cameron has never filmed a movie in "scope". Instead he has shot every film after Aliens in the Super 35 format, which allows him to extract a widescreen scope image.

    The reason Aliens is not a scope film is because at the time, Cameron was unhappy with scope lenses, preferring to shoot flat instead.

    Neil
     
  3. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  4. Declan

    Declan Second Unit

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    well whatever, the DVD of Aliens looks a damn sight better than my old PAL LD. The DVD may still have some grain, but i'm sure that the amount on the LD was not all intentional.
    At the minute I am editing a music video that I shot last June with a Hi-8 camera in 4:3 (all I had at the time). From the beginning i always wanted to have it in a scope 2.35:1 ratio. So because i've shot it in 4:3 i'm going "pseudo Super35" [​IMG] on this. I have to say that if I had the choice i would have shot it in scope using anamorphic lenses instead of the more open apature super35 lenses. It looks good and putting a scope mask over it really does enhance the look.
    For the record i still think Camerons best shot film was T2.
     
  5. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    The PAL LD was terrible (as was Alien). Grainy picture, awful, tinny, distorted sound. Ughh!
     
  6. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  7. Declan

    Declan Second Unit

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    it was the 1991 Special Edition cut of Aliens. But that PAL LD of it came out in and around 1996. Did'nt think the sound was that bad though. Althuogh compared to the DVD it's seriously flat sounding.
     
  8. Travis_W

    Travis_W Supporting Actor

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    I don't see Cameron's problem with Super 35. Personally I wish all super 35 films were shot with anamorphic lenses (Tim Burton did so with Mars Attacks)....just to smite full frame lovers.[​IMG]
    But seriously, if Cameron is unhappy with super 35 why does he (or should I say did) continue to use it? What's stopping him from shooting future films in flat and boring 1.85:1?
    Or I could just be talking without the facts:b
     
  9. Declan

    Declan Second Unit

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    Camewron does'nt have a problem with Super35, he's shot all his movies since the Abyss with it.
    He has a problem with anamorphic lenses, which need more lighting to expose the film.
    Super 35 is a film process. The image is shot 4:3 then the scope ratio is pulled out of the centre of that frame. Cameron also likens this process becasuse of the fact that when doing a 4:3 version he has more freedom. Although there is a lot more work involved doing a 4:3 version of a super35 movie. Check the super35 demo on the T2 Ue DVD or SpEd LD for a better explaination and demonstration of super35.
     
  10. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I think the main reason why Cameron uses Super-35 is for deep focus and camera mobility. Anamorphic lenses add a little bit of weight to a camera (which can be a lot to a stedicam operator) as well as change the entire way a film has to be shot.

    Also, CGI is easier to overlay on a non-anamorphic film.
     
  11. Seth_S

    Seth_S Second Unit

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    Stylistically, I think that 1.85:1 works quite well for Aliens. In Alien, Scott depicts the physical space that the film takes place in as vast. Not only is the ship absurdly large for 7 people plus a cat, but they are drifting in the endless sea of space, too far away from anyone else to be helped. In Aliens though, everything is contained. They're on a planet, in a town, stuck in a few rooms. The 1.85:1 frame helps make the space feel more cramped.

    As for Cameron's use of Super 35, I've read that he uses it for a variety of reasons, ranging from light levels and lenses, to not wanting his film butchered when converted to fullscreen for TV and Video.
     
  12. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  13. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  14. Esten

    Esten Supporting Actor

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  15. TerryW

    TerryW Stunt Coordinator

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    Actually it was a cargo ship so it contained a lot of large cargo. It wasn't just seven crew members and a cat out for a trip to McDonalds on Rigel 7. [​IMG]
     

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