My all-time favorite movie process

3 Stars

I have been a devoted fan of Cinerama ever since my neighborhood theater (the Syosset theater, in Syosset, Long Island) spent an unheard-of $259,000 in 1959 to install the process. I quickly memorized the specific row and seat number I always used when seeing a Cinerama film (9th row, dead center) and until several years back when David and his crew restored “This is Cinerama,” and “Windjammer,” I thought the process had been long forgotten. What a delight to see it come alive again!

Now that both “This is Cinerama” and “Windjammer” have been restored with original elements, the results are borderline miraculous, especially “Windjammer,” since, for most of the film, the seams (or “join lines”) are completely gone, the color has been restored and the image is razor-sharp. It’s like watching a movie that was just made yesterday. Bravo and kudos to the entire team of restorers for having done such a fabulous job!

And, no matter what Criterion says, their recent restoration of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” definitely should have been done in the Smilebox format, “fake” Cinerama or not. Aside from being a landmark film in terms of its cast of so many comic stars, it was the first of the “Single-lens” Cinerama films, and should be remembered for that.

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63 Comments

  1. Well my favourite shape is CinemaScope. I remember when I was young thinking I was getting a bargain when the curtains kept going back, revealing that wide screen, & I was getting it for the same price as a normal b/w film.

  2. Sorry folks it has to be VistaVision for its resolution and depth, and for:

    North by Northwest – my favourite film.
    Gunfight at the O.K. Corral – favourite western.
    White Christmas – favourite Christmas film.
    Vertigo – Hitch's second best film.
    High Society – Frank and Bing
    + special effects work in some of the other greatest films ever made.

  3. Ed Maidel

    I have been a devoted fan of Cinerama ever since my neighborhood theater (the Syosset theater, in Syosset, Long Island) spent an unheard-of $259,000 in 1959 to install the process. I quickly memorized the specific row and seat number I always used when seeing a Cinerama film (9th row, dead center) and until several years back when David and his crew restored "This is Cinerama," and "Windjammer," I thought the process had been long forgotten. What a delight to see it come alive again!

    Now that both "This is Cinerama" and "Windjammer" have been restored with original elements, the results are borderline miraculous, especially "Windjammer," since, for most of the film, the seams (or "join lines") are completely gone, the color has been restored and the image is razor-sharp. It's like watching a movie that was just made yesterday. Bravo and kudos to the entire team of restorers for having done such a fabulous job!

    And, no matter what Criterion says, their recent restoration of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" definitely should have been done in the Smilebox format, "fake" Cinerama or not. Aside from being a landmark film in terms of its cast of so many comic stars, it was the first of the "Single-lens" Cinerama films, and should be remembered for that.

    Never saw a Cinerama film at The Syosset. But it was a wonderful theater for stereo and widescreen films. That said I preferred the UA 150 Theatre down the block. In fact the last time I saw 2001 was in 70mm at the UA 150. What wonderful theaters..now long gone.

  4. I was lucky enough to see a demonstration of Douglas Trumbull's Showscan process, in a theatre built in a pizza parlor in Fairfax, VA. (seriously!) The film was called "New Magic." In the most astounding visual effect I have ever seen in a film, a technician supposed goes behind the screen and cuts a work light on to resolve a "technical problem" with the movie. He presses his face against the screen material to peek into the auditorium, which seems to bulge the screen material into the audience This was accomplished without any need of 3D glasses. I and the rest of the audience gasped in astonishment.

    While the process proved too expensive (70mm film at 60fps) for mainstream use, I was also impressed with the auditorium design, which I have seen in modified form in other theaters, and copied in a limited way in my home theater.

  5. I saw all the various film processes in a different order than their creations. Cinemascope was always around when I first started going to the movies, and I thought it was OK, but nowhere near what ads claimed it to be. I saw Todd-AO at the Syosset Theater in 1958 when my folks took me to see "Around the World in 80 Days." It blew me away!

    Then, at least my own personal history, came Cinerama. I still think it's tops, despite the flaws, particularly the seams ("join lines") and the jiggling panels. At one point, the awful movie, "Can-Can," filmed in Todd-AO came to the Syosset theater and was projected onto the Cinerama screen. While it filled the screen top to bottom, it was at least 10 to 15 feet short at each end, but still looked pretty good.

    "Single-Lens" Cinerama came to the Syosset in 1964 with "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," but after that, the Cinerama screen was permanently removed. I think it was about this time that the Cinema 150 down the street opened. It had a 120 degree screen (not Cinerama's 146 degree screen) for the presentation of "Patton" filmed in Dimension 150. That screen too was ultimately removed.

    In the mid 60's, the Twin South theater in Hicksville made a big deal about installing Cinerama, but at that time, it was all single-lens films, and as I recall, the theater was a good deal wider than the Syosset, and so the screen seemed a bit smaller. I still sat in the 9th row for a few "presented in " Cinerama films, the most memorable of which was "2001: A Space Odyssey."

    The most memorable film experience on the Cinerama screen in the Twin South theater was a Cinemascope film called, "Let the Good Times Roll," a fabulous documentary about the history of rock and roll. The image didn't fit the whole screen, either top to bottom or side to side, but the sound, played through Cinerama's expensive speakers and at near ear-splitting volume was fantastic!

    Memories, memories, memories….

  6. Ed Maidel

    I saw all the various film processes in a different order than their creations. Cinemascope was always around when I first started going to the movies, and I thought it was OK, but nowhere near what ads claimed it to be. I saw Todd-AO at the Syosset Theater in 1958 when my folks took me to see "Around the World in 80 Days." It blew me away!

    Then, at least my own personal history, came Cinerama. I still think it's tops, despite the flaws, particularly the seams ("join lines") and the jiggling panels. At one point, the awful movie, "Can-Can," filmed in Todd-AO came to the Syosset theater and was projected onto the Cinerama screen. While it filled the screen top to bottom, it was at least 10 to 15 feet short at each end, but still looked pretty good.

    "Single-Lens" Cinerama came to the Syosset in 1964 with "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," but after that, the Cinerama screen was permanently removed. I think it was about this time that the Cinema 150 down the street opened. It had a 120 degree screen (not Cinerama's 146 degree screen) for the presentation of "Patton" filmed in Dimension 150. That screen too was ultimately removed.

    In the mid 60's, the Twin South theater in Hicksville made a big deal about installing Cinerama, but at that time, it was all single-lens films, and as I recall, the theater was a good deal wider than the Syosset, and so the screen seemed a bit smaller. I still sat in the 9th row for a few "presented in " Cinerama films, the most memorable of which was "2001: A Space Odyssey."

    The most memorable film experience on the Cinerama screen in the Twin South theater was a Cinemascope film called, "Let the Good Times Roll," a fabulous documentary about the history of rock and roll. The image didn't fit the whole screen, either top to bottom or side to side, but the sound, played through Cinerama's expensive speakers and at near ear-splitting volume was fantastic!

    Memories, memories, memories….

    Nothing 'awful' about CAN-CAN. It was so popular in TODD-AO where I worked ,that it was re-issued several times

  7. SHOWSCAN was another favourite process of mine. We also had SUPERSCOPE films where I worked.That process never lasted long. I could never see the point of it. I have also seen a 70mm film projected onto a waterfall both in Sydney and also in Montreal back in 1967 Rather boring. For any film fan who was lucky enough to visit expo'67 you were in for a treat with almost every pavilion having films projected onto screens of numerous shapes and sizes and a lot of 70mm. I true film buff's paradise. I still cherish the memory.

  8. Keith Cobby

    Sorry folks it has to be VistaVision for its resolution and depth, and for:

    North by Northwest – my favourite film.
    Gunfight at the O.K. Corral – favourite western.
    White Christmas – favourite Christmas film.
    Vertigo – Hitch's second best film.
    High Society – Frank and Bing
    + special effects work in some of the other greatest films ever made.

    Did you ever see Vista -Vision? If so, in which city?

    A pity that true VISTA -VISION was only ever seen in the USA and even then it was limited to few cities. We used to advertise films as being in Vista -Vision where I worked. but they were never projected in that process. Vista-Vision was the most faked wide -screen process ever advertised in cinemas around the world. The films were always standard 35mm ( with the exception of a few USA cities) but some cinemas managed to project the films onto a larger screen but it was never Vista -Vision . The audiences were so gullible back in the fifties ,that they were none the wiser. Same for Cinemascope 55- never shown publicly but that didn't stop cinemas from advertising the process for a couple of films.

  9. cinemiracle

    Did you ever see Vista -Vision? If so, in which city?

    A pity that true VISTA -VISION was only ever seen in the USA and even then it was limited to few cities. We used to advertise films as being in Vista -Vision where I worked. but they were never projected in that process. Vista-Vision was the most faked wide -screen process ever advertised in cinemas around the world. The films were always standard 35mm ( with the exception of a few USA cities) but some cinemas managed to project the films onto a larger screen but it was never Vista -Vision . The audiences were so gullible back in the fifties ,that they were none the wiser. Same for Cinemascope 55- never shown publicly but that didn't stop cinemas from advertising the process for a couple of films.

    If by "true VistaVion" you mean horizontal "lazy eight" projection, both Rank's Odeon Leicester Square and Paramount's Plaza in London were so equipped. Not sure which films were presented this way as such technical details were not mentioned in advertising.

  10. Les Mangram

    If by "true VistaVion" you mean horizontal "lazy eight" projection, both Rank's Odeon Leicester Square and Paramount's Plaza in London were so equipped. Not sure which films were presented this way as such technical details were not mentioned in advertising.

    3 films at the Plaza and only 1 at the Odeon (with another unconfirmed)

  11. Several different answers:

    1. Cinerama (3-strip): overall, the most impressive thing I have ever seen, still holds up. Lots of problems.
    2. Ultra Panavision 70 (aka Camera 65): my favorite of the 70mm processes provided you see it in a really correctly setup theatre.
    3. 70mm 5 perf generally. The best practical solution to both capture and exhibition.
    4. vistaVision: for a purely 35mm-based process, can look terrific. I was fortunate to see the original dye-transfer prints of many of these.

    I do not care for Imax 70 or any of the digital versions of Imax.

    An excellent theatre is always a necessity. Most have been destroyed.

    The most impressive two presentations I have ever seen:
    1. HTWWW in the Capri Theatre in Dallas. An older house that had been converted to 3-strip Cinerama. What an experience. 4 times!
    2. Ben-hur in the Capri Theatre in Des Moines, IA. The finest 70mm house I have ever seen, I worked there for a time. This theatre was purpose-built for Ben-hur and Ultra Panavision 70. The Sound of Music played there for 2 years and 2 months, which we believe to be the longest record for any film in Iowa. [BTW Capri was a common name for roadshow houses in the 1960's.]

  12. cinemiracle

    The audiences were so gullible back in the fifties ,that they were none the wiser.

    They haven't gotten any wiser. How many people these days pay a premium to go to an "IMAX" screening that is simply two 2K projectors firing at once as opposed to the wonderful film-based system that gave the company its name?

  13. Brian Kidd

    They haven't gotten any wiser. How many people these days pay a premium to go to an "IMAX" screening that is simply two 2K projectors firing at once as opposed to the wonderful film-based system that gave the company its name?

    Not sure about that. I'll see something in an IMAX cinema knowing full well it's 2K because the screen is larger and more immersive, and the laser projection is superior.

  14. rsmithjr

    [BTW Capri was a common name for roadshow houses in the 1960's.]

    It sure was. The premiere attraction at Charlotte's brand new Capri Theater in 1964 was My Fair Lady which I saw there twice (paying $2.50 for reserved seats).

  15. Matt Hough

    It sure was. The premiere attraction at Charlotte's brand new Capri Theater in 1964 was My Fair Lady which I saw there twice (paying $2.50 for reserved seats).

    You paid a total of 5 bucks?
    Matt, for just an extra 15 USD you could have owned it outright;
    that is, if you were willing to wait another 30 years.
    I wonder if they had a Capri in Boston?
    At the now gone palace theaters of Beantown, I thrilled to the original 70mm showings of "The Sound of Music" and "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines". We had to travel a bit, but the Roadshows meant Road Trips. Reserved Seating, of course.

  16. Yes, $5 over the course of my two trips to the Capri weeks apart. I had seen the show on Broadway in 1958 and had worn out the cast albums (NY and later the stereo London one) afterwards, so to say that this film was important to me is a vast understatement. I'm also thinking it was early in 1965 when I saw it for the first time rather than 1964. I do have my hardback souvenir program I also bought on that first trip, but I stupidly didn't save my ticket stub inside it.

  17. Not a fan of IMAX – never have been right from the beginning. It's a shame Trumball never got his off the ground – kind of a game changer.

    I LOVED and love VistaVision – even the 35mm prints were extraordinary.

    Cinerama was thrilling in any of its proper venues. And I hate to say it, the Dome, which couldn't even show three-panel Cinerama until, I believe, the late 90s, is not a proper venue, as it has never had the proper louvered screen and the projection is always too dim because of it.

    Todd-AO, the original, was unbelievably great. I don't think many here actually remember it or even saw it. It was breathtaking. No other 70mm process has come close to the 30fps Todd-AO.

    Ben-Hur in Ultra-Panavision – again, if it was a proper theater it looked fantastic.

    But I was a sucker for any 70mm process.

  18. Vincent_P

    Super-8 cropped to 2.35:1.

    Vincent

    I actually did this when projecting a few filmed-in-2.35:1 Super 8mm films that were panned and scanned. Of course, a lot was lost on top and bottom, but it still looked pretty cool. I used masks attached to the projector just a bit in front of the lenses (dual projectors). Did this for ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (which, like a bunch of other Paramount films, was released full length by Mountain Films (their home entertainment subsidiary) back in the day and a few others.

    Incidentally, for anyone complaining about the price of Blu-rays, that 4×3 Super 8 print of OUATITW cost me about $300. Set me back for months. I probably sold it for no more than $25.00.

  19. haineshisway

    I LOVED and love VistaVision – even the 35mm prints were extraordinary.

    While I attended a private school, I was one of two in the A.V. Club who projected weekly movies, and we rented all of our 16mm prints from Films, Inc., which carried Paramount titles. I clearly recall at the time wondering why many of those Paramounts looked better than the MGM or Fox prints.

    haineshisway

    Todd-AO, the original, was unbelievably great. I don't think many here actually remember it or even saw it. It was breathtaking. No other 70mm process has come close to the 30fps Todd-AO.

    My parents took us kids to see OKLAHOMA! on B'way when it was first released. I was only five and not a fan of musicals then (it can be an acquired taste, as I love them now) but was struck by the curved screen and the amazingly sharp, you-are-there image quality. I'd love to see those wonderful 70mm processes make a comeback, but in this era of streaming and crap formats, it probably wouldn't have a chance.

  20. haineshisway

    Cinerama was thrilling in any of its proper venues. And I hate to say it, the Dome, which couldn't even show three-panel Cinerama until, I believe, the late 90s, is not a proper venue, as it has never had the proper louvered screen and the projection is always too dim because of it.

    The Dome did have a louvered screen when it opened in 63 till the mid 70's.

  21. haineshisway

    Well, Roland, you read the same quote from JSittig that everyone uses. Others I've talked to disagree.

    He is/was the Director of Sight and Sound for Pacific Theatres so, I thought he would know.

  22. Battle of the River Plate was shown I true V-V at the Plaza along with the short V-V visits Norway.
    Can- Can was a major disappointment for Fox after Todd-AO’s terrific run of megahits.
    For me ,although I will never forget Ben- Hur at the Empire in Camera 65, it was South Pacific in wonderful Todd-A0 at the Dominion which soon became a favourite haunt.
    South Pacific together with the Miracle of Todd-AO. What a combination!!

  23. john a hunter

    Battle of the River Plate was shown I true V-V at the Plaza along with the short V-V visits Norway.
    Can- Can was a major disappointment for Fox after Todd-AO's terrific run of megahits.
    For me ,although I will never forget Ben- Hur at the Empire in Camera 65, it was South Pacific in wonderful Todd-A0 at the Dominion which soon became a favourite haunt.
    South Pacific together with the Miracle of Todd-AO. What a combination!!

    The Battle of the River Plate played at the Odeon Leicester Square, not the Plaza.

  24. I have always loved Cinerama. We had a cinema in Sydney called the Plaza that had a magnificent screen and sound system. The thrill of a seven year old boy seeing How The West Was Won on that screen is a never to be forgotten joy.
    I also loved Super Panavision 70; these experiences took me to new places and experiences.

  25. haineshisway

    Not a fan of IMAX – never have been right from the beginning. It's a shame Trumball never got his off the ground – kind of a game changer.

    I LOVED and love VistaVision – even the 35mm prints were extraordinary.

    Cinerama was thrilling in any of its proper venues. And I hate to say it, the Dome, which couldn't even show three-panel Cinerama until, I believe, the late 90s, is not a proper venue, as it has never had the proper louvered screen and the projection is always too dim because of it.

    Todd-AO, the original, was unbelievably great. I don't think many here actually remember it or even saw it. It was breathtaking. No other 70mm process has come close to the 30fps Todd-AO.

    Ben-Hur in Ultra-Panavision – again, if it was a proper theater it looked fantastic.

    But I was a sucker for any 70mm process.

    I too was a sucker for seeing any film in 70mm .I saw 176 feature films projected in 70mm .Many were blow-ups. This did not include Imax . You are wrong -there are a lot of us who remember seeing films in TODD-AO.I worked in a 70mm cinema (60 ft wide, curved screen). Seeing SOUTH PACIFIC and SOUND OF MUSIC over 100 times each in TODD-AO were unforgettable memories. They were just 2 of the many Roadshow films that we screened in 70mm. Sadly those days are gone and 70mm films to-day are mostly projected onto cinemascope sized screens in multiplexes. That is not the way to see a 70mm. film. 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY is showing in 70mm on a 62ft wide screen but that is a 12 hour drive from where I live so I will have to give that a miss.

  26. Can-Can had also garnered all of that infamous publicity when Nikita Khrushchev and his wife visited the set and were (or pretended to be) scandalized by the sexy title dance sequence which was being filmed. (He also raised a ruckus when he wasn't allowed to go to Disneyland due to security concerns.)

  27. Bernard McNair

    I have always loved Cinerama. We had a cinema in Sydney called the Plaza that had a magnificent screen and sound system. The thrill of a seven year old boy seeing How The West Was Won on that screen is a never to be forgotten joy.
    I also loved Super Panavision 70; these experiences took me to new places and experiences.

    I too saw HTWWW at the plaza. I saw two much bigger Cinerama screens in New York (90 feet wide).The Sydney Plaza had a 76 ft wide screen-later slightly reduced in 1966 for 70mm films. The cinema was originally built for Grandeur70 but that process by-passed Australia. Now the cinema is a MacDonald's outlet. Melbourne had 5 cinemas equipped for Cinerama but 4 were for 70mm. only and never advertised the Cinerama name when showing films on their screens.

  28. john a hunter

    Battle of the River Plate was shown I true V-V at the Plaza along with the short V-V visits Norway.
    Can- Can was a major disappointment for Fox after Todd-AO's terrific run of megahits.
    For me ,although I will never forget Ben- Hur at the Empire in Camera 65, it was South Pacific in wonderful Todd-A0 at the Dominion which soon became a favourite haunt.
    South Pacific together with the Miracle of Todd-AO. What a combination!!

    THE MIRACLE OF TODD-AO was originally made for screening with OKLAHOMA in the USA. It was released with SOUTH PACIFIC several years later and slightly shorter in it'srunning time.

  29. Somebody forgot to mention Technirama, with its superb clarity and gorgeous Technicolor hues beating the pants off of Cinemascope's Color by DeLuxe; also, Todd A-O, and later, Panavision. Other favs already mentioned, Dimension 150 and VistaVision. I think each process brought something new and fresh to movies; also, Camera 65, only utilized for 2 features (Raintree County and Ben-Hur), but wow! – what a presentation!

  30. Somebody forgot to mention Technirama, with its superb clarity and gorgeous Technicolor hues beating the pants off of Cinemascope's Color by DeLuxe; also, Todd A-O, and later, Panavision. Other favs already mentioned, Dimension 150 and VistaVision. I think each process brought something new and fresh to movies; also, Camera 65, only utilized for 2 features (Raintree County and Ben-Hur), but wow! – what a presentation!

  31. I remember seeing Oklahoma at our largest movie theatre and not being impressed at all! The print had a huge scratch right in the middle of the image through out the film.
    We were barely teenagers, and our theory at the time was that because it was 70mm, they must have had to glue reels of 35 mm film together! 😛

  32. I remember seeing Oklahoma at our largest movie theatre and not being impressed at all! The print had a huge scratch right in the middle of the image through out the film.
    We were barely teenagers, and our theory at the time was that because it was 70mm, they must have had to glue reels of 35 mm film together! 😛

  33. haineshisway

    Not a fan of IMAX – never have been right from the beginning. It's a shame Trumball never got his off the ground – kind of a game changer.

    I LOVED and love VistaVision – even the 35mm prints were extraordinary.

    Cinerama was thrilling in any of its proper venues. And I hate to say it, the Dome, which couldn't even show three-panel Cinerama until, I believe, the late 90s, is not a proper venue, as it has never had the proper louvered screen and the projection is always too dim because of it.

    Todd-AO, the original, was unbelievably great. I don't think many here actually remember it or even saw it. It was breathtaking. No other 70mm process has come close to the 30fps Todd-AO.

    Ben-Hur in Ultra-Panavision – again, if it was a proper theater it looked fantastic.

    But I was a sucker for any 70mm process.

    I saw SOUND OF MUSIC and STAR! at the Madison Theater in Detroit In 65 and 68. Also saw DOCTOR DOLITTLE at the United Artists theater in 67. AGONY AND THE ECSTASY at the Music Hall and MAGNIFICENT MEN IN FLYING MACHINES at Adams theater in 60's.also–HELLO DOLLY at the Americana theater in Detroit and AIRPORT at radio city music hall.

  34. 2. Ben-hur in the Capri Theatre in Des Moines, IA. The finest 70mm house I have ever seen, I worked there for a time. This theatre was purpose-built for Ben-hur and Ultra Panavision 70. The Sound of Music played there for 2 years and 2 months, which we believe to be the longest record for any film in Iowa. [BTW Capri was a common name for roadshow houses in the 1960's.]

    Sorry–wasn't sure how to quote.

    I met the owner of the Capri around 1970, as he booked films for my family's small town theater. He showed me his list of films that he rotated with other collectors and showed in his private viewing room–with the best lenses and theater seats from the Capri! Since then I always wanted my own screening room and library, and now I have one–on blu ray!!

  35. Les Mangram

    The Battle of the River Plate played at the Odeon Leicester Square, not the Plaza.

    Good to hear.The report I was referring to was probably a preview as it was specifically about the Plaza.
    I was told that at the premiere with the Queen, the projectionist mixed up the reels.
    Any truth to that?

  36. cinemiracle

    THE MIRACLE OF TODD-AO was originally made for screening with OKLAHOMA in the USA. It was released with SOUTH PACIFIC several years later and slightly shorter in it's running time.

    Only a very short shot of the outside of the Rivoli at night towards the end I think was removed .
    Never saw the March of Todd-AO theatrically though.

  37. Probably the most widely seen showing of VistaVision in its original horizontally projected format was STORY OF A PATRIOT in Williamsburg, Va. This short orientation film was shown starting in 1956 in two purpose built auditoriums with curved ceiling to floor, wall to wall screens. This presentation also featured six track Todd-Ao sound. The VistaVision prints had magnetic stripes for the sound… rare that any VistaVision films were shown with stereo sound, most used the pseudo-stereo Perspecta sound. It was shown in this format for decades. About 15 years ago the film was restored by our Robert Harris and the restoration was shown in 70mm. Not sure if they have gone with digital projection since then. A projectionist acquaintance gave me a piece of one of the VistaVision prints for STORY OF A PATRIOT. I am going to try to upload it here. Jack Lord, long before HAWAII FIVE O, was the star and you may be able to recognize him if you look carefully. You can see the magnetic sound tracks on either side of the mage and outside of the perfs. The film also had a nice score by Bernard Herrmann.View attachment 46491

  38. john a hunter

    Only a very short shot of the outside of the Rivoli at night towards the end I think was removed .
    Never saw the March of Todd-AO theatrically though.

    I saw THE MIRACLE OF TODD-AO numerous times during it's run of 25 weeks ,where I worked. We also screened THE MARCH OF TODD-AO much later so I also saw that numerous times. Both looked great on our 60 ft curved TODD-AO screen. Those were the days!

  39. Wow that 8 perf VV sample looks incredible! Interesting to see it with the mag striping as it does seem virtually all regular VV releases were mono only or Perspecta.

    Once, just once I would like to at least see each of the grand processes that so far I’ve only been able to ever read about. Todd-AO, 70mm mag, Cinemascope with 4 track mag, Ultra Panavision 70 (not the Hateful 8 variety), Cinerama, VistaVision and all the other wondrous sound and picture processes that have existed over the years. The closest I’ve ever come is probably seeing standard prints of VV features which looked quite amazing. Maybe one day I can get to one of the big 70mm festivals.

    But I’d even settle for a proper standard presentation these days as the level of quality presentation has decreased so much that I cannot even think of a decent theater anywhere within driving distance. Seeing 15/70 IMAX was a huge disappointment for me as I’ve always felt the format and theater design was more suited for non-narrative programs and the sound was horrible. (I have seen several IMAX presentations in a true IMAX theater and even in an Omnimax dome-and TDKR was pretty bad. Surprisingly the old Attack of the Clones IMAX version wasn’t half bad when I saw it and I would have thought it would be being from the low res digital shoot.)

    I have to say that artistically I do adore what Techniscope produced by being the cheap alternative to 4 perf scope. Due to being 2 perf and not requiring anamorphic lenses, the usage of the scope ratio with sharper lenses results in a wondrous looking mix of sharp photography with a very grainy almost low budget/documentary feeling because each frame was essentially 16mm in quality by being cut in half. Many of my favorite films have this distinct look to them that even despite the limitations look incredible on the big screen and have some truly legendary photography-films like the Leone Westerns, The IPCRESS File and THX-1138.

    But my favorite actual process? IB dye transfer. The very small handful of Tech prints I’ve seen have all been incredible experiences.Yes each print can vary from the source, yes they’re not perfect-but they can be played in any proper theater without extra equipment and properly preserved are works of art themselves.

  40. Spencer Draper

    But my favorite actual process? IB dye transfer. The very small handful of Tech prints I've seen have all been incredible experiences.Yes each print can vary from the source, yes they're not perfect-but they can be played in any proper theater without extra equipment and properly preserved are works of art themselves.

    Which films have you seen in this way?

  41. No much mention here, but my favorite process is still 3D. I don’t care if it is a classic movie or brand new, I still find the process immeserably I enhances every movie. I am a died in the wool advocate and still wonder why every movie and every TV show is not 3D. Consequently I am only seeing the 3D showings if they exist (I find regular movies flat!) and seeking out 3D Blu rays from Timbucktu!

  42. TJPC

    No much mention here, but my favorite process is still 3D. I don’t care if it is a classic movie or brand new, I still find the process immeserably I enhances every movie. I am a died in the wool advocate and still wonder why every movie and every TV show is not 3D. Consequently I am only seeing the 3D showings if they exist (I find regular movies flat!) and seeking out 3D Blu rays from Timbucktu!

    Not a 3-D fan at all. The most positive 3-D experiences I've had have been KISS ME KATE (1953) at the Film Forum in Manhattan around 1992 and TRANSFORMERS 3: DARK OF THE MOON in 3-D IMAX at the Lincoln Square in 2011. I used to enjoy the novelty of seeing the 1950s films in 3-D, but it's not something I feel any attachment to, nor am I eager to see any more. As for recent 3-D films (21st century), I haven't enjoyed the experience at all, except for the aforementioned TRANSFORMERS film where the projection was up to par and I was in the perfect seat for it. I remember the highly touted AVATAR being particularly annoying. I even got up from my seat and walked around the packed house to see if the 3-D improved from other angles. It didn't. Turned out the projection bulb was too dim for the 3-D, but I didn't learn this till later.

    If every new movie and TV show were in 3-D, I'd just not watch any of it and stick to DVDs in my collection. I have enough to last me the rest of my life. I suspect that if 3-D hasn't taken hold by now, it's not going to. That could be why it hasn't been mentioned much in this thread.

  43. Vic Pardo

    Not a 3-D fan at all. The most positive 3-D experiences I've had have been KISS ME KATE (1953) at the Film Forum in Manhattan around 1992 and TRANSFORMERS 3: DARK OF THE MOON in 3-D IMAX at the Lincoln Square in 2011. I used to enjoy the novelty of seeing the 1950s films in 3-D, but it's not something I feel any attachment to, nor am I eager to see any more. As for recent 3-D films (21st century), I haven't enjoyed the experience at all, except for the aforementioned TRANSFORMERS film where the projection was up to par and I was in the perfect seat for it. I remember the highly touted AVATAR being particularly annoying. I even got up from my seat and walked around the packed house to see if the 3-D improved from other angles. It didn't. Turned out the projection bulb was too dim for the 3-D, but I didn't learn this till later.

    If every new movie and TV show were in 3-D, I'd just not watch any of it and stick to DVDs in my collection. I have enough to last me the rest of my life. I suspect that if 3-D hasn't taken hold by now, it's not going to. That could be why it hasn't been mentioned much in this thread.

    I hope you saw it projected properly eventually! The 3D is astonishing.

  44. TJPC

    I hope you saw it projected properly eventually! The 3D is astonishing.

    If you're referring to AVATAR, no. I didn't like the film at all, regardless of the 3-D, so I had no interest in trying again.

  45. Vic Pardo

    My post in this thread (#3) inspired my latest blog entry, a celebration of Academy Ratio black-and-white movies:

    https://briandanacamp.wordpress.com/2018/07/14/in-glorious-black-and-white/

    As usual – a well thought out and insightful article. Thanks for the link.

    Added: The more I think about it the more I realize, that for me, the process is best that amplifies the story and director's vision. The Maltese Falcon must be b/w academy but Lawrence of Arabia must be in its wide screen color brilliance.

  46. TJPC

    No much mention here, but my favorite process is still 3D. I don’t care if it is a classic movie or brand new, I still find the process immeserably I enhances every movie. I am a died in the wool advocate and still wonder why every movie and every TV show is not 3D. Consequently I am only seeing the 3D showings if they exist (I find regular movies flat!) and seeking out 3D Blu rays from Timbucktu!

    I also find to-day's movies 'flat' even when they are not in 3-D (of which I am not a fan). A common problem with to-day's movies is that they are digital rather than actual film. That is the reason that they really have NO depth and appear flat. 3-D digital is even worse (i.e – woeful).You are in the minority TJPT if you are a massive 3-D fan..For me 3-D only really works on my 3-D television. In the cinema it is a dead loss. Two cinema projectionist friends of mine also say the same. I cringe every time that a friend makes me see a digital film in a cinema.

  47. Except for all the scratches missing frames and noisy projectors in analogy presentations, I can’t tell the difference. We even went to a “Nitrate” festival and totally failed to see any difference.

    It is one thing to see a classic movie projected from a beautifully restored print in a big city, but do you remember seeing a movie that had been out for a while before it came to your town? When I first saw Oklahoma in first run, the print our theatre received had a huge scratch in the middle of the picture through the entire thing.

  48. TJPC

    Except for all the scratches missing frames and noisy projectors in analogy presentations, I can’t tell the difference. We even went to a “Nitrate” festival and totally failed to see any difference.

    It is one thing to see a classic movie projected from a beautifully restored print in a big city, but do you remember seeing a movie that had been out for a while before it came to your town? When I first saw Oklahoma in first run, the print our theatre received had a huge scratch in the middle of the picture through the entire thing.

    I'm really don't know if digital vs. film is real or not. I do know that some of our (my) dislikes/likes are based on nostalgia and memories. Example – the new Disney animated releases have been lambasted for the lack of film grain – they should look like what we remember from the movies. (me too). But the truth is the original art from which they came had no grain. The current digital copies probably look closer to what they really looked like before film got in the way.
    IMO preferences are personal and are based on a lot of factors.

  49. For sure! I think we all feel we should have the opportunity to watch what we like. Those who want to should be able to darken their rooms and show magic lantern slides. 3D enthusiasts should be able to enjoy their hobby at home too.

    That is why we 3D enthusiasts are so bumbed out by the lack of support now from the electronics industry.

  50. cinemiracle

    I also find to-day's movies 'flat' even when they are not in 3-D (of which I am not a fan). A common problem with to-day's movies is that they are digital rather than actual film. That is the reason that they really have NO depth and appear flat. 3-D digital is even worse (i.e – woeful).You are in the minority TJPT if you are a massive 3-D fan..For me 3-D only really works on my 3-D television. In the cinema it is a dead loss. Two cinema projectionist friends of mine also say the same. I cringe every time that a friend makes me see a digital film in a cinema.

    I do find that puzzling. Generally most experts agree that the bigger the picture the better the 3D. It's because when your eyes see the frame/border your mind tries to shove the image back inside. I know, for me, my 47" LG 3D is no where near my 140" projection 3D image.

  51. TJPC

    For sure! I think we all feel we should have the opportunity to watch what we like. Those who want to should be able to darken their rooms and show magic lantern slides. 3D enthusiasts should be able to enjoy their hobby at home too.

    That is why we 3D enthusiasts are so bumbed out by the lack of support now from the electronics industry.

    I agree – but I really don't know what to do about it. It seems the only support we now have is projection 1080p or VR. Most BR titles are now only available in Europe.

  52. TJPC

    Except for all the scratches missing frames and noisy projectors in analogy presentations, I can’t tell the difference. We even went to a “Nitrate” festival and totally failed to see any difference.

    It is one thing to see a classic movie projected from a beautifully restored print in a big city, but do you remember seeing a movie that had been out for a while before it came to your town? When I first saw Oklahoma in first run, the print our theatre received had a huge scratch in the middle of the picture through the entire thing.

    We screened SOUTH PACIFIC for 25 weeks and THE SOUND OF MUSIC for 41 weeks. The prints were in the same perfect condition when they were first screened as they were when their seasons concluded. It's all about how the projectionists treated the prints. S.P. already had a lengthy season (8 months) at another cinema before we screened it. Properly cared for, a 70mm pint will last for several years without getting so much as a single scratch. Both S.P. and SOM ran for several years each in 70mm in London and Sydney and all with the same print for each film.

  53. cinemiracle

    I also find to-day's movies 'flat' even when they are not in 3-D (of which I am not a fan). A common problem with to-day's movies is that they are digital rather than actual film. That is the reason that they really have NO depth and appear flat. 3-D digital is even worse (i.e – woeful).You are in the minority TJPT if you are a massive 3-D fan..For me 3-D only really works on my 3-D television. In the cinema it is a dead loss. Two cinema projectionist friends of mine also say the same. I cringe every time that a friend makes me see a digital film in a cinema.

    Also, 3-D is rarely projected properly in theaters. Usually the bulb is too dim. I've never understood the lack of quality control for 3-D projection in multiplexes. As I may have said in an earlier post this thread, I've only had two positive 3-D experiences in theaters in the 21st century: CORALINE at a preview screening in a small screening room, and TRANSFORMERS 3: DARK OF THE MOON in 3-D IMAX on a vary large screen. That's it! The last 3-D screening I went to was MOANA, and only because it was the only convenient screening and if I passed on it, I probably wouldn't have seen the film at all. But I've avoided 3-D ever since.

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