Why Widescreen??????

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Wil_J, Aug 13, 2001.

  1. Wil_J

    Wil_J Stunt Coordinator

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    Ok. With me being new to the HT scene I just want the answer to one simple question.
    Why is Widescreen better than fullscreen?
    What are the advantages of Widescreen?
    I don't know anything about the differences between the two formats. Someone please educate me as to why Widescreen is better.......Wil
    ------------------
    "The rose petal floats on water,
    the kingfisher flashes above the pond.
    Life and beauty swirl in the midst of death."

    al'Lan Mandragoran,
    *******The Wheel of Time
     
  2. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    OK, I'll save the technical answers for those for more 'in-the-know' than myself, but here's my take on it:
    Widescreen is often synonomous with OAR, which means that the viewer is watching the movie the way the filmmakers intended.
    Anything other than a widescreen presentation generally means that the movie has been augmented in some way to make it fit a square TV screen. Unnfortunately, most movies are made to be shown on a gigantic theater screen, which is a rectangle.
    I realize that this is a simplistic answer, but given the choice between Wide or Full, there's simply no contest. At least not in my house.
    ------------------
    Scott
    TheAngryJew's Movie Reviews at HBS.com
    AOL IM: TheAngryJew29
     
  3. Tom Landers

    Tom Landers Extra

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    The wider aspect Ratio was first introduced to increase popularity of seeing moives in the theater as oposed to watching TV at home.
    Our eyes are side by side, so a wider image is more visually pleasing to us physicaly.
    Also you avoid the whole "I hear someone talking but can't see them" thing you allways get with pan and Scan. (AKA Pan and Scam)
    Overall it preserves the original movie experence. that way if you loved the film in the theater you are more likely to love it at home.
    The black bars are beauty marks.
     
  4. Lane F.

    Lane F. Stunt Coordinator

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  5. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Why is widescreen better than full screen? For the same reason that your signature reads better like this:
     
  6. AaronJB

    AaronJB Second Unit

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    I'll give an example.
    I had the opportunity to watch a VHS screener of "Memento" this weekend. There was no DVD screener available and people I know wanted to see it - I'd already seen it, but wanted to check it out again.
    I can barely stand to watch VHS in the first place - the darker scenes looked undefined, the blue titles looked sorta smeary and what not. This is the first VHS tape I've watched in two years and the quality was barf-worthy, for use of a better phrase.
    Friends hadn't seen it previously though, so I brought it home.
    Unfortunately, it was not in widescreen, and this movie was filmed in the wide 2.35:1 aspect ratio - how it was meant to be seen and how you saw it in theaters.
    To fit this 2.35:1 picture in a full-frame, the picture needs to be cropped and panned around so that everything can be fitted into the frame.
    Well, this is a movie where there are some visual clues and images that need to be seen in widescreen - on the pan & scan version, parts of words that were important to the movie were completely cut out. Movie ruined, end of story.
    I could hardly stand to watch it and walked out - my friends complained, as well, but were glad to see the movie anyways.
    It just ruins not only the intent of the director, but the enjoyment of watching the movie suffers because you're missing a lot (in this case, a whole lot!) of vital information. There's an example in "Ghostbusters" where the four main characters are walking down the street and Harold Ramis ("Egon") was completely cut off the frame in the pan & scan edition.
    If you want a visual discussion of why everything should be in widescreen, please see the outstanding, beautiful, perfect, wonderful, phenomenal, awesome feature that DVD producer David Prior made on the "Die Hard" special edition, disc two. It's really the absolutely perfect example to show people who ask "why widescreen?".
    To conclude, pan and scan is a thing of the past. Present day should be movie-lovers enjoying movies how they were meant to be seen, in anamorphic widescreen only. (PS: and in DTS)
     
  7. Wil_J

    Wil_J Stunt Coordinator

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    WOW! [​IMG] Now that I have seen those examples, it really is not a contest. I never knew I was missing so much from a movie (of course I never compared before either)!
    Thanks for the quick response too. Definately no contest with me anymore. Widescreen only in my house from now on........Wil
    ------------------
    "The rose petal floats on water,
    the kingfisher flashes above the pond.
    Life and beauty swirl in the midst of death."

    al'Lan Mandragoran,
    *******The Wheel of Time
     
  8. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    Just adding a note that I've completely redesigned, as of this weekend, my "AtomBrain Guide to Letterboxing."
    I've decided to try to fill a niche with this piece. There are several excellent explanations of aspect ratios and such, and I'm linking to them, but I haven't seen a really quick, at-a-glance explanation for newbies.
    For instance, a very common misconception is that the black bars cover up part of the picture. Okay, in open matte movies they do, but I don't want to get into that in this "article." I just want to show people where the black bars come from and what they're missing with P&S.
    I'd much appreciate the HTF's comments on the new Guide. (One of the nice things about web-publishing is how easy it is to revise!)
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    http://www.mindspring.com/~atombrain/risenintro.html
    Jan Strnad
    author of Risen and
    "The AtomBrain Guide to Letterboxing"
     
  9. John Berggren

    John Berggren Producer

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  10. Eugene Hsieh

    Eugene Hsieh Supporting Actor

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  11. Micah Cohen

    Micah Cohen Screenwriter

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    Jan -- That's a great little guide to letterboxing, pretty cool. I've sent it to a couple of friends who need convincing.
    I'm surprised no one encouraged Wil-J to pick up the new DIE HARD release, which includes a GREAT extra called "Why Letterbox?" on the second "extras" disc. It's a hands on demo of what gets sacrificed for P&S.
    Once you go widescreen, you never go back.
    MC
    ------------------
    [email protected]
    Eliza Dushku, if you're reading this, please email me pronto.
     
  12. Graeme Clark

    Graeme Clark Cinematographer

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    Orrr, once you try small, you'll never want tall.
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  13. soop.spoon

    soop.spoon Supporting Actor

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    Just remember... don't write off a film just because it's not in widescreen. Almost all films before 1954 were 4:3.
    (you probably already know this, but I just wanna be sure [​IMG])
     
  14. Wil_J

    Wil_J Stunt Coordinator

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    Jack,
    Actually I didn't know that, I'm only 21. Thanks for the tip though........Wil
    ------------------
    "The rose petal floats on water,
    the kingfisher flashes above the pond.
    Life and beauty swirl in the midst of death."

    al'Lan Mandragoran,
    *******The Wheel of Time
    [Edited last by Wil_J on August 13, 2001 at 04:01 PM]
     
  15. David Tallen

    David Tallen Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm surprised that everyone seems to be answering a question that you did not ask: "Why is widescreen better than pan and scan?" The short answer to that question is that you lose a lot of picture with pan and scan.
    Your question, however, dealt with widescreen versus "fullscreen". With a fullscreen presentation, you do not lose part of the picture; you actually see more than the movie-makers intended. That is because film makers often photograph more (put more on the film) than they intend to be shown in theaters. Then, when making copies for theatrical presentation, they crop off the parts that they do not want the audience to see. There are many reasons why they do this, but for purposes of this discussion, all we need to know is that they do it.
    Fullscreen DVDs are made by transferring the entire photographic image from the original film stock (or most of it) to the DVD. This is usually done so that people who don't know any better won't complain about black bars.
    So, you may ask, if the fullscreen DVD gives us more than the widescreen, why complain? The reason is that the resulting image is not what appeared in theaters. It was not the director's first choice of how the movie should look. People who know and understand about film would rather see a movie the way it was intended to look, even if part of the TV screen has no image on it, than see more (or less) than was intended merely to have the entire TV screen lit up.
    ------------------
    "If you set aside Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the safety record of nuclear is really very good." Paul O'Neill, Treasury Secretary.
     
  16. James King

    James King Auditioning

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  17. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

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    Here is an example I like to use. Take a twenty dollar bill, cut off the left and right side. Now take out another twenty. Put them side by side, which one would you rather have?
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    [Edited last by JohnS on August 13, 2001 at 04:30 PM]
     
  18. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    An interesting example of open-matte (fullframe) causing problems can be seen in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. When shown open-matte, you can see the chain coming in through the bottom of the bike's saddle bag when Pee-Wee is securing it to the clown. When shown in its proper aspect ratio, this is not seen. In the director's commentary Tim Burton mentions this as a mistake he made when editing it for TV. They probably should have P&Sed that scene (ok, it should have been OAR, but since they were going 4:3 they should've P&Sed it), but it still was funny.
     
  19. Tom Ryan

    Tom Ryan Screenwriter

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    Wil: welcome to the widescreen revolution, assuming you're not a troll [​IMG]. BTW, love the quote from Lan in your sig. I just started reading the Wheel Of Time series, I'm on The Great Hunt.
    -Tom
     
  20. Bob_L

    Bob_L Supporting Actor

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    David Tallen correctly characterizes most open matte imges as showing more than the filmakers intended. Let me add a little bit more detail that David purposely chose to omit.
    Several years ago, the Super 35 open matte format was developed to avoid the optical squeeze distortion that anamorphic/widescreen lens create to achieve their wide images (and must be "fixed" for home video). Super 35 shoots a normal image on the negative; then, only the part of the image intended to be seen by the director and DP is printed on the theatrical release print. In the camera viewfinder, they're looking at lines that indicate where both the widescreen and the 4:3 images might be framed.
    Overall, Super 35 provides a bit more flexibility in creating theatrical and home video versions of a film. Some directors use this flexibility to compose shots, more or less, for both theatrical and home video formats. They can at least minimize how 4:3 (1.33:1)ratio image -- the same as most TV screens -- might misrepresent their widescreen shot composition.
    However, before the advent of home video, widescreen movies weren't shot open matte. They were composed for the aspect ratio intended for theatrical release and that's what was shot using the lens appropriate to that format. So, for example, the widescreen version of Ben Hur is the only Ben Hur there is, or Lawrence of Arabia, or High and Low (one of the most remarkable uses of widescreen composition I know of, by the way).
    The idea that widescreen aspect ratios somehow "hide" part of the image and that the "full" image is the open matte version is, bluntly, crap.
    I can't think of an instance where a director or DP was forced to shoot and exhibit a film in widescreen that they were really composing for 4:3. These days the 4:3 ratio is usually just the fallback format for home video.
    [Edited last by Bob_L on August 13, 2001 at 06:31 PM]
     

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