Why did James Cameron frame ALIENS at 1.85:1?

Dick

Lead Actor
Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 22, 1999
Messages
8,481
Real Name
Rick
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.
 

Neil S. Bulk

Screenwriter
Joined
Sep 13, 1999
Messages
1,742
Real Name
Neil S. Bulk
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
 
  • Like
Reactions: KPmusmag

Declan

Second Unit
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
410
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"
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.
 

Rob Gillespie

Cinematographer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Aug 17, 1998
Messages
3,632
The PAL LD was terrible (as was Alien). Grainy picture, awful, tinny, distorted sound. Ughh!
 

Michael Reuben

Director
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 12, 1998
Messages
21,763
Real Name
Michael Reuben
but i'm sure that the amount on the LD was not all intentional
It depends on which LD you're talking about. If it's the same transfer that was done for the CAV box set of the special edition, first released in 1991, there's a long and complicated story about what went wrong with that one (for starters, it was transferred on an analog Rank). The mid-90s LD of the theatrical cut eliminated the extraneous grain and measures up very nicely against the DVD, although obviously it can't take advantage of 16:9 enhancement.

M.
 

Declan

Second Unit
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
410
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.
 

Travis_W

Supporting Actor
Joined
Aug 8, 2000
Messages
531
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.

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
 

Declan

Second Unit
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
410
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.
 

Patrick McCart

Lead Actor
Premium
Joined
May 16, 2001
Messages
7,908
Location
Georgia (the state)
Real Name
Patrick McCart
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.
 

Seth_S

Second Unit
Joined
Oct 12, 2001
Messages
335
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.
 

Michael Reuben

Director
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 12, 1998
Messages
21,763
Real Name
Michael Reuben
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.
I'm sorry, but this statement demonstrates that you don't know what Super35 is. You're not alone. It's a subject on which misinformation begins to flow the moment anyone brings it up.
You are correct, BTW, that Mars Attacks! was shot with anamorphic lenses. It was not, however, shot in Super35.
M.
 

Damin J Toell

Cinematographer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2001
Messages
3,762
Location
Brooklyn, NY
Real Name
Damin J. Toell
Personally I wish all super 35 films were shot with anamorphic lenses (Tim Burton did so with Mars Attacks)
He did? According to whom? And why did he bother? Whatever extra exposed film was gotten by doing so would've been cropped off on the release prints, anyway.

DJ
 

TerryW

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jul 25, 2000
Messages
216
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.
 

Douglas Boswell

Auditioning
Joined
Apr 29, 2020
Messages
1
Real Name
Douglas Boswell
I have already bought 3 different boxes of aliens, each time the box says 1.85:1 but actually it's only 16/9 (= 1.7:1)
Pls someone help me find this awesome movie in the original format 1.85:1
preferably on blu-ray
 

Forum Sponsors

Forum statistics

Threads
344,363
Messages
4,708,273
Members
141,248
Latest member
Nathan Bush