A few words about…™ Aspect Ratios

Aspect ratios are basic shapes. Nothing more. 4 Stars

I recently received a message querying the concept of aspect ratios, and why I seldom make note of them.

While I’ve covered this in the past, here (once again) is the simple answer.

In the most general sense, aspect ratios don’t matter.

And by that, I mean that with specificity, while a film originally released in 2.55 or 2.1 or 1.66 should certainly follow the intent of the filmmakers, that it doesn’t matter precisely how closely.

Aspect ratios are basic shapes. Nothing more.

Does it matter, aside from possibly exposing something in the frame (an actor’s marks, a microphone) it makes no difference if a home video release fills out a projector display or flat panel at 1.78 or arrives in 1.85.

And that is because in original theatrical presentations, aspect ratios were a guide, and that was all.

Image a huge old theater, a beam of light projecting an image on a screen forty feet below the booth and one hundred fifty feet away.

It mattered not precisely what the aspect ratio was, as long as an image, in basically the desire shape hit the screen, as the aperture plate cut for the projectors, would never have been the exact aspect ratio anyway. In the case of those beautiful old movie houses, they would have been cut into the shape of an inverted trapezoid, in order to attain a rectangle on screen.

Anywhere from five to twenty percent of the image might be lost in creating that shape.

When it comes to home video, we’re usually seeing far more of the frame than was ever seen theatrically, and the shape that’s carved out of the available real estate can be far different than seen in theaters.

Perfection was the last thing on a projectionists’ mind. For no matter how hard he or she might try, they were still dealing with that same old trapezoid.

What this means is that attaining a 1.85 aspect ratio can mean cropping the top and bottom of a frame, or just as likely exposing a bit more of the sides to create a slightly wider image.

And the viewer is seeing the same shape, or aspect ratio, with different information.

While I’m not suggesting that aspect ratios don’t matter, for in the general sense, they do. I’m simply stating that within rational parameters, a few lines of information don’t matter.

RAH

Published by

Kevin Collins

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130 Comments

  1. What used to drive me crazy were the theaters that would use a fixed 2:1 screen, then matte the image to fill the screen. This meant that films shot flat were overly cropped top and bottom while scope movies were cropped left and right. This was standard practice at Edwards Cinemas that were built in the 1980s and 1990s, with the (possible) exception of the largest auditorium in the complex. This was more or less corrected as many of those theaters were closed as part of the chain's bankruptcy and eventual conversion to digital of those that survived.

  2. Todd Erwin

    What used to drive me crazy were the theaters that would use a fixed 2:1 screen, then matte the image to fill the screen. This meant that films shot flat were overly cropped top and bottom while scope movies were cropped left and right. This was standard practice at Edwards Cinemas that were built in the 1980s and 1990s, with the (possible) exception of the largest auditorium in the complex. This was more or less corrected as many of those theaters were closed as part of the chain's bankruptcy and eventual conversion to digital of those that survived.

    Many theatres of that era had those horrible 2:1 screens with one-size-fits-all projection. They were barely acceptable for "flat" contemporary films, but disastrous for 'scope or pre-1953 films. A Roth theatre in Tysons Corner Mall, Virginia had a showing of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, and I was thrilled to be able to see it in a theatre. Imagine my surprise to see Gene Kelly's thighs moving in and out and weird tapping noises coming from the speaker. Rumor has it he was dancing at the time.

  3. I'm always impressed when I go to a theater that's been refurnished (upgraded digital projection screen, stadium seating, etc.) and it has movable mattes and uses them to optimal effect for the main feature. Sometimes I've noticed theaters here take the path of least resistance and if a screen is say 1.85 and they project a 2.35 screen, they don't move the mattes, and just think we won't notice the extra screen surface reflecting light ever so slightly. It's not a make or break, but just a nice touch when they move the mattes to truly give a black border around the picture. Makes it feel more immersive to my eyes.

  4. It's one thing when a 1.37:1 film is shown at 1.78:1 or a 1.85:1 film shown at 1.33:1, but nitpicking is kind of obnoxious. It's great when a transfer or master uses 100% accurate STMPE framing and aspect ratio, but I roll my eyes every time a reviewer laments a 1.85:1 film being 1.78:1.

    At the nicer theaters in Atlanta, I've had good success. The Fox Theatre ran Citizen Kane in 35mm at proper 1.37:1, complete with mattes taken in. Midtown Art Cinema ran Safety Last! in 1.33:1 and Mr. Hulot's Holiday at 1.37:1 from 35mm.

    I went to a small theater in North Georgia that ran Casablanca and The Wizard of Oz from 35mm, but cropped to 1.85:1. Thankfully, the tickets were free (grand opening). Also saw The Avengers in DLP and it was cropped to 2.40:1 instead of shown at 1.85:1.

  5. You’re absolutely right about AR being an approximation when it comes to film content, kind of like bleeds in the printing industry. But with digital movie cameras AR should, for all intents and purposes be exact.

  6. Speaking of which – in 1955 when Disney made the major decision to switch Lady and the Tramp to a CinemaScope release, did they also switch to using an anamorphic lens in the multi-plane camera? Or did they trim the standard full-frame version down to a wide-screen ratio? My understanding is that there were release-prints in both formats, which leads to a bit of confusion.

  7. notmicro

    Speaking of which – in 1955 when Disney made the major decision to switch Lady and the Tramp to a CinemaScope release, did they also switch to using an anamorphic lens in the multi-plane camera? Or did they trim the standard full-frame version down to a wide-screen ratio? My understanding is that there were release-prints in both formats, which leads to a bit of confusion.

    Different SE negatives

  8. Robert Harris

    First time I saw Kane in 35.

    Film started.

    1.85.

    Went to booth. They only had scope and 1.85 optics and mattes.

    I suggested he run it scope without anamorphic.

    Saw Citizen Kane for the first time in a theater about 15 years ago and the same happened to me and told the manager. The sad thing about it was there were around five in the theater watching it.

  9. RichMurphy

    Many theatres of that era had those horrible 2:1 screens with one-size-fits-all projection. They were barely acceptable for "flat" contemporary films, but disastrous for 'scope or pre-1953 films. A Roth theatre in Tysons Corner Mall, Virginia had a showing of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, and I was thrilled to be able to see it in a theatre. Imagine my surprise to see Gene Kelly's thighs moving in and out and weird tapping noises coming from the speaker. Rumor has it he was dancing at the time.

    I found a somewhat similar experience in viewing The Three Stooges short, GOOF ON THE ROOF, which was filmed in 1952 (But not released until late 1953, after the Widescreen format had been adopted by most studios!), on their Sony DVD set. Unfortunately, Sony decided to release this as it was shown in Theaters at the (presumably, and approximately) 1.85:1 aspect ratio, rather than the 1.37:1 frame, which was the original intent when it was shot. For me, that the former was clearly the wrong AR was painfully obvious, especially during one scene involving a bucket.

    CHEERS! 🙂

  10. Tony Bensley

    I found a somewhat similar experience in viewing The Three Stooges short, GOOF ON THE ROOF, which was filmed in 1952 (But not released until late 1953, after the Widescreen format had been adopted by most studios!), on their Sony DVD set. Unfortunately, Sony decided to release this as it was shown in Theaters at the (presumably, and approximately) 1.85:1 aspect ratio, rather than the 1.37:1 frame, which was the original intent when it was shot. For me, that the former was clearly the wrong AR was painfully obvious, especially during one scene involving a bucket.

    CHEERS! 🙂

    I saw many films in the mid to late 1950s at my local suburban cinema in London. They would often show re-issues from the 1930s onwards as a support to the main feature. I remember CAMILLE (1936) being shown for example as well as one or two Marx Brothers films. These pre-1953 films would always be shown on the wide screen and they gave the projectionist a full-time job in ensuring that the picture was frequently adjusted top and bottom, to ensure no essential information was lost – Main Titles were especially problematic of course. It never dawned on me at that young age to wonder why the picture scrolled up and down like that on older films!

  11. >Many theatres of that era had those horrible 2:1 screens with one-size-fits-all projection.

    They're doing a modern version of that today. At the Regal 24 in Chamblee, GA, the smaller theaters stay masked at 1:85 even if they're projecting a 2:35:1 film, so you get bars at the top and bottom. At the Midtown Art Cinema (art cinema!) in Atlanta they have a brand new policy of no longer masking to fit the films. Their big room stays fixed at 2:35:1 (so when I saw The Shape of Water in that auditorium, it had huge bars on the side) and all the other theaters are masked at 1:85 — or should I say, something approximating that. Even the 1:85 movies in those rooms have slim bars on the sides.

    Anyone else experiencing this in their local theaters?

  12. Do not confuse the generally high standards of Golden Age cinema projection (curtains, masking, aperture plates, footlights, showmanship, etc) with the slow decline that began in the multiplex era, starting in the late 1960's/early 1970's.

    Fall 1953: La Vezzi aperture plates for the conscientious exhibitor.

    View attachment 44117

  13. Bob Furmanek

    Do not confuse the generally high standards of Golden Age cinema projection (curtains, masking, aperture plates, footlights, showmanship, etc) with the slow decline that began in the multiplex era, starting in the late 1960's/early 1970's.

    Fall 1953: La Vezzi aperture plates for the conscientious exhibitor.

    View attachment 44117

    Wonderful image.

    The point should be made, however, that the plates would have to be further tuned (filed) to fit the specific theater / throw / projector / angle.

  14. As we know, most theaters in the 1950's had a VERY severe pitch as the booth was usually above the first or second balconies, depending on the size of the house. Other than drive-ins, New York's immense Roxy was one of the select few theaters with the booth very close to screen level.

    Aperture filing (and judicious use of masking) were essential for minimizing keystone. The general rule of thumb in the 1953 conversion to widescreen was to install the biggest screen possible within the confines of the proscenium.

    Here's a typical circa 1950's projection angle in a medium-size house; the 1,824 State in Easton, PA.

    View attachment 44118

  15. Robert Harris

    Wonderful image.

    The point should be made, however, that the plates would have to be further tuned (filed) to fit the specific theater / throw / projector / angle.

    For that reason – as stated in the advertisement:

    "Also furnished in undersizes to allow filing for Keystone effect."

    When the transition took place to widescreen in 1953/54, most exhibitors were dedicated to presenting the film as intended by the studio. That's the reason why important trade journals (Variety, Boxoffice, Exhibitor) were especially proactive with listing individual AR data for exhibitors.

  16. PaulaJ

    >

    …They're doing a modern version of that today. At the Regal 24 in Chamblee, GA, the smaller theaters stay masked at 1:85 even if they're projecting a 2:35:1 film, so you get bars at the top and bottom. At the Midtown Art Cinema (art cinema!) in Atlanta they have a brand new policy of no longer masking to fit the films. Their big room stays fixed at 2:35:1 (so when I saw The Shape of Water in that auditorium, it had huge bars on the side) and all the other theaters are masked at 1:85 — or should I say, something approximating that…

    The first Cinemark Theater in my area added one of their XD screens a few years ago. It's definitely big, but it's a 1.85:1 screen with no adjustable masking, and the blank screen during scope films just reminds me of old movie houses that were on their "last legs" back in the day.

    On a much more positive note, Cinemark has recently converted two auditorium (to XD) at another multiplex near me. Both theaters have VERY BIG constant image height screens with proper side masking. In fact, every auditorium I've been in at that theater has had CIH screens with side masking. It's now my first choice for where I see a movie.

  17. I remember going to a small, locally owned theater in the Adirondacks a few times that still had a 1.37:1 screen. They'd show spherical shot movies (1.85:1 or Super 35) open matte with the more or less full frame on the screen. Sometimes there'd be rough matting burned into the prints, that looked like tape or something. But usually you'd just see far more of the frame than you were supposed to. For whatever reason, Me, Myself & Irene stuck in my mind as being a more or less constant parade of boom mics and the like.

  18. Bob Furmanek

    As we know, most theaters in the 1950's had a VERY severe pitch as the booth was usually above the first or second balconies, depending on the size of the house. Other than drive-ins, New York's immense Roxy was one of the select few theaters with the booth very close to screen level.

    Aperture filing (and judicious use of masking) were essential for minimizing keystone. The general rule of thumb in the 1953 conversion to widescreen was to install the biggest screen possible within the confines of the proscenium.

    Here's a typical circa 1950's projection angle in a medium-size house; the 1,824 State in Easton, PA.

    Wow! I worked at the State in Easton for about 6 months back in 1993. Those same projectors with carbon arcs were still installed, but we had to get lenses, plates, rectifiers and amplifiers as those had been removed many years earlier. The venting up there was poor and you'd come out of the booth looking almost like a coal miner. Hated that down angle, made focusing a constant battle.

  19. I never notice really, just want to watch the movie or program as intended which is why I have always set my display to a 1:1 pixel mode when it was an option, some earlier HD sets just had some overscan. I also want the disc version to be as the original was if possible, I want to see it how the creator expected me to see it.

    What I can't stand is there has been a rash lately of people complaining at AVS because they can't zoom letterbox, and feel cheated because they can't use the whole 65" or 75" of their display. That is one of the DUMBEST things I have ever read on an AV forum.

    Then some constantly complain about going from letterbox to imax full screen and back. I couldn't care less, I'll take as much imax as I can get.

  20. As guidelines, aperture areas are supposed to be what you try to attain to, not a general guideline. In a full-height installation, the idea is to have the lenses fit the vertical guidelines as close as possible, and then fix the rest with aperture plate filing and masking. There are, in fact, a few standard formulae we adhere to in ordering lenses in order to maintain constant accuracy of height.

    However, to think that there's no reason to carefully present a film within guidelines that were set by the filmmakers to the best possible ability, particularly when the tools for doing so are there, is glib.

  21. Worth

    It's always been a pet peeve of mine when I see complaints about 1.78 transfers not being 1.85, as if you'd have seen anything that precise in the cinema.

    Yes, & those tiny slivers of black lines are going over picture info, so it's not like you're seeing more picture, not that it troubles me at all, but I don't know why they bother to do it.

  22. RAH,

    What are your thoughts for home projection owners and constant image height? There is a debate about this on some projection owner forums that movies should be watched (as intended by the filmmaker) at the same height with only width varying (as Bob's image clearly shows above) where as most commercial theaters today toss this notion out the window using ~1:85 screens. I'm wondering how modern filmmakers look view this today.

  23. gadgtfreek

    I never notice really, just want to watch the movie or program as intended which is why I have always set my display to a 1:1 pixel mode when it was an option, some earlier HD sets just had some overscan. I also want the disc version to be as the original was if possible, I want to see it how the creator expected me to see it.

    What I can't stand is there has been a rash lately of people complaining at AVS because they can't zoom letterbox, and feel cheated because they can't use the whole 65" or 75" of their display. That is one of the DUMBEST things I have ever read on an AV forum.

    Then some constantly complain about going from letterbox to imax full screen and back. I couldn't care less, I'll take as much imax as I can get.

    While I share your taste for presentation I think that it is very important to allow people to manage picture size as easily as possible. People who can fill their screen at the click of a button are less likely to demand that content gets cropped in order to conform to their preferred aspect ratio.

  24. haineshisway

    I would love to have a revival house with carbon arcs – then we could actually see films that were timed for carbon arcs the way they're supposed to look. And then people might understand about accurate color 🙂

    But then what would dumps like Original-trilogy.com have to endlessly whine about? 😛

  25. Mike Frezon

    It didn't happen to be The Carol in Chestertown, did it, Adam?

    It was indeed! IIRC, it was the transition to digital projection that finally killed it off. They simply didn't have a large enough loyal local base of customers to finance the hundreds of thousands it would have cost to upgrade to digital, since most of their ticket buyers were summer tourists.

  26. Dave H

    RAH,

    What are your thoughts for home projection owners and constant image height? There is a debate about this on some projection owner forums that movies should be watched (as intended by the filmmaker) at the same height with only width varying (as Bob's image clearly shows above) where as most commercial theaters today toss this notion out the window using ~1:85 screens. I'm wondering how modern filmmakers look view this today.

    I generally believe in constant height, outside of large format, for which image should be higher.

  27. PaulaJ

    >Many theatres of that era had those horrible 2:1 screens with one-size-fits-all projection.

    They're doing a modern version of that today. At the Regal 24 in Chamblee, GA, the smaller theaters stay masked at 1:85 even if they're projecting a 2:35:1 film, so you get bars at the top and bottom. At the Midtown Art Cinema (art cinema!) in Atlanta they have a brand new policy of no longer masking to fit the films. Their big room stays fixed at 2:35:1 (so when I saw The Shape of Water in that auditorium, it had huge bars on the side) and all the other theaters are masked at 1:85 — or should I say, something approximating that. Even the 1:85 movies in those rooms have slim bars on the sides.

    Anyone else experiencing this in their local theaters?

    Yes, and I hate it. I have discovered at my local Regal that they have two large auditoriums that are constant height with masking as needed, so I try to find out what times the movie is showing in those. All of their other auditoriums are 1.85 with no masking so it looks just like watching video at home. Awful.

  28. KPmusmag

    Yes, and I hate it. I have discovered at my local Regal that they have two large auditoriums that are constant height with masking as needed, so I try to find out what times the movie is showing in those. All of their other auditoriums are 1.85 with no masking so it looks just like watching video at home. Awful.

    Once upon a time there was such a thing as showmanship in theatrical presentations and one of the hard and fast rules was that no area of the screen be visable that wasn’t illuminated. That’s precisely how my home theater works with side curtains. But now that letterboxing and pillarboxing are finally accepted in the home environment, theater owners figure that people are used to black bars now so why bother.

  29. Has anyone heard of the plan , some years ago, to standardize Theatrical Aspect Ratios by filming everything with a 5 Sprocket hole pulldown, and release Prints in 70mm, with a 2.20:1 Aspect Ratio, as is now standard, and 35mm release Prints with a 2 to 1 Anamorphic Squeeze, with also a Projected Aspect Ratio of 2.20:1. Both 70mm and 35mm prints would have had identical height frames. The main objection would have been all 35mm Projectors would have needed new Film Gates and all Sprockets replaced. Many hands would have been thrown in the air!
    It sounded like a good idea, but of course, it didn’t eventuate.

  30. Adam Lenhardt

    It was indeed! IIRC, it was the transition to digital projection that finally killed it off. They simply didn't have a large enough loyal local base of customers to finance the hundreds of thousands it would have cost to upgrade to digital, since most of their ticket buyers were summer tourists.

    That is nuts! I almost didn't ask figuring the odds were so heavy against it.

    It's crazy how many places we have both been in at different times of our lives! I spent all my summers on Brant Lake from 1968 up until about 5-10 years ago.

    I've posted THIS article on the impact of conversion to digital projection on The Carol a couple of times on th forum over the years.

    [​IMG]

  31. avroman

    Has anyone heard of the plan , some years ago, to standardize Theatrical Aspect Ratios by filming everything with a 5 Sprocket hole pulldown, and release Prints in 70mm, with a 2.20:1 Aspect Ratio, as is now standard, and 35mm release Prints with a 2 to 1 Anamorphic Squeeze, with also a Projected Aspect Ratio of 2.20:1. Both 70mm and 35mm prints would have had identical height frames. The main objection would have been all 35mm Projectors would have needed new Film Gates and all Sprockets replaced. Many hands would have been thrown in the air!
    It sounded like a good idea, but of course, it didn't eventuate.

    I think it is great that movies come in different shapes so I am not for it, but it sounds like an interesting piece of history and I like 2.2:1 more than the 2:1 of Univision. Do you have a link where this is described in more detail?

  32. Sorry, I don’t have a link. It was just something I recalled from my long career in Theatres. (1953-2012).
    The system would have had two big advantages. The substantial increase picture area on 35mm, would have given a widely improved picture resolution and quality over standard 35mm frames, and secondly, the combining of standard 35 and 70 frame height and ratios would have reduced film production costs.

  33. OliverK

    While I share your taste for presentation I think that it is very important to allow people to manage picture size as easily as possible. People who can fill their screen at the click of a button are less likely to demand that content gets cropped in order to conform to their preferred aspect ratio.

    True.

  34. I realize this conversation is primarily about theatrical and disc presentation, but one of my pet peeves is cable channel and pay-per-view practices. They routinely lop off the sides of 2.35:1 films to make them "fit the screen". It really takes me out of the viewing when I see actors crowded to the sides of the screen, or even missing entirely.

  35. Billy Batson

    The big aspect ratio problem now is TV channels showing 'scope films zoomed in to 16:9, I don't know about America, but it happens a lot in the UK.

    Yes it happens here also. I was watching a bit of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter On Demand and it was 1.78 instead of 2.35. Funny that the commercials were letterboxed at 2.66. OK for large black bars in a commercial but not for the movie?

  36. RichMurphy

    …A Roth theatre in Tysons Corner Mall, Virginia had a showing of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, and I was thrilled to be able to see it in a theatre. Imagine my surprise to see Gene Kelly's thighs moving in and out and weird tapping noises coming from the speaker. Rumor has it he was dancing at the time.

    That sir, is a hilarious turn of phrase and I doff my cap to you! 😆

  37. "Perfection was the last thing on a projectionists’ mind. For no matter how hard he or she might try, they were still dealing with that same old trapezoid."

    That's a terrible thing to say. I was a projectionist for about six years and always did my best with the equipment provided. I tried as hard a possible for "perfection". Proper focus, good sound, adjusting the screen if was a flat or scope presentation. Some of us did care.

    Even worked with 70mm films for a while, always shown perfectly.

  38. Stan

    "Perfection was the last thing on a projectionists’ mind. For no matter how hard he or she might try, they were still dealing with that same old trapezoid."

    That's a terrible thing to say. I was a projectionist for about six years and always did my best with the equipment provided. I tried as hard a possible for "perfection". Proper focus, good sound, adjusting the screen if was a flat or scope presentation. Some of us did care.

    Even worked with 70mm films for a while, always shown perfectly.

    When dealing with major projection angles, perfection is impossible.

    This has Nothing to do with the desires of projectionists, who fight the good fight.

  39. Robert Harris

    When dealing with major projection angles, perfection is impossible.

    This has Nothing to do with the desires of projectionists, who fight the good fight.

    Very true, perfection is impossible. Kind of why I don't go to theatres any longer, nobody seems to care. Lights will be on, film out of focus, equipment isn't maintained, people with cell phones. I gave up and enjoy movies at home now.

    Maybe just getting older and grumpier, but not worth the hassle or expense to go out to see something. I can wait six months until it's on DVD, Pay per View, etc. Or a little longer when it shows up on HBO or Showtime.

    Not the right thread, but "people" really annoy me. Manners don't seem to exist any longer.

  40. Billy Batson

    Yes, how many 1:66, 1:75, 1;77 films were in fact projected at 1:85 (or thereabouts), a great many I'd think, & did anyone notice? No.

    Whether the audience notices or not is not the issue. Audiences usually just accept what they're given. I was in a theater the other day in which the left channel was missing. I've seen 2D presentations when they leave the 3D filter on the Sony 4K projectors and the image is ridiculously dim. Back around the time that "Hugo" was released, I was in two different theaters in which the left and center channels were reversed. But I'm always told that I'm the only one who complained. Back in the film days and before everyone used platters, I even remember a reel being projected in the wrong order, although it took me a while to realize it and I didn't sense that anyone else did.

    The issue, is that projecting at the wrong aspect ratio (or any other major projection error) does not represent the original intent which is a violation of the art. I'm not talking about projection errors resulting from parallax distortion from the booth, although that's far less of an issue today since few theaters have balconies today. And I'm not talking about cropping of the frame due to the distance of the booth from the screen and the width of the image not exactly matching an even lens focal length. I'm referring to what you stated: projecting films at the wrong AR or the theaters that back in the film days, projected everything at 2:1, as others have stated.

    And in the case of a 1.66 film projected at 1.85? That would sometimes result in heads being cut off or since many of those were foreign films, subtitles being cut off.

    There are many novels in which you might not notice if a chapter was missing. But would you accept reading the book that way? When you watch films on TV, they might be edited for time and scenes might be missing and you might not notice, but do you find that acceptable?

    Proper presentation means everything. Before 2005, I worked for a company that evaluated the quality of prints and presentation in theaters. If a film was playing in a multiplex, we'd have to watch it on every screen. What I found as I moved from screen-to-screen was that each audience reacted completely differently to the film, seemingly dependent upon the quality of presentation and the ambiance and/or size and seating capacity of the theater. This may be one of the reasons why people have such diverse reactions to a film. People may not realize it, but they react to the quality of presentation. And it seems to me that because of improper presentation, if we're seeing a heavily cropped image, something is going to feel "off", even if it's on a subconscious level.

    Luckily, on Blu, most films today are presented properly in their original ARs. And in the theatre, with few exceptions, films today are 1.85 or 2.4 and presented if not properly (since most digitally projected films are projected common width instead of common height) at least at the proper AR. Where I do agree with RAH is that a few pixels in either direction doesn't make much difference.

  41. Robert Harris

    I generally believe in constant height, outside of large format, for which image should be higher.

    Large format being something like IMAX where the composition is intended to be engulfing?

  42. PaulaJ

    >Many theatres of that era had those horrible 2:1 screens with one-size-fits-all projection.

    They're doing a modern version of that today. At the Regal 24 in Chamblee, GA, the smaller theaters stay masked at 1:85 even if they're projecting a 2:35:1 film, so you get bars at the top and bottom. At the Midtown Art Cinema (art cinema!) in Atlanta they have a brand new policy of no longer masking to fit the films. Their big room stays fixed at 2:35:1 (so when I saw The Shape of Water in that auditorium, it had huge bars on the side) and all the other theaters are masked at 1:85 — or should I say, something approximating that. Even the 1:85 movies in those rooms have slim bars on the sides.

    Anyone else experiencing this in their local theaters?

    Most theaters today are common width. 1.85 is projected full screen and 2.4 is projected with reduced height, whether masked or not. That's a function of the digital standard in which a 1.85 film uses 1998 x 1080 pixels (or 3996 x 2160 if 4K) and a widescreen film uses 2048 x 858 (or 4096 x 1716 if 4K). This results in a 1.85 image using 19% more pixels than a widescreen film. IMO, it was unfortunate that in digital projection, widescreen films became "smaller" than 1.85 films.

    However at my local Dolby Cinema, 2.4:1 fills the screen and 1.85 films have bars left and right (common height). Although there's still no masking, I find that far better. Of course, it would have been even better with masking which would have been easy to do: they could have just had some automated masking come down from the ceiling or the top of the screen. The reality is that far more films are made at 2.4 than 1.85, so 2.4 filling the screen makes more sense.

    However, neither of those violates the original AR, but projecting everything at 2:1 did. It cropped height for 1.85 films and it cropped width for 2.35 films. Film done wrong!

    Now there is an option in the Sony 4K projectors to expand the 1716 height in the projector to 2160 and then using a 1.25x anamorphic lens, resulting in a 2.37:1 AR and a larger widescreen image as compared to the 1.85 image, but almost no one does this because that lens costs a fortune and it take about an hour to switch lenses on the projector.

  43. zoetmb

    When you watch films on TV, they might be edited for time and scenes might be missing and you might not notice, but do you find that acceptable?

    One my major pet peeves. When the film starts out with the "Edited for time, content, formatted to fit your screen, etc." Instantly press the "delete" button. I'm paying to receive these shows, how dare they cut and modify them. TCM and IFC (even with commercials) are decent, but some of the others are terrible.

    HBO is doing a pretty good job of showing some films in OAR, some of the other pay channels, not at all.

  44. zoetmb

    Whether the audience notices or not is not the issue. Audiences usually just accept what they're given. I was in a theater the other day in which the left channel was missing. I've seen 2D presentations when they leave the 3D filter on the Sony 4K projectors and the image is ridiculously dim. Back around the time that "Hugo" was released, I was in two different theaters in which the left and center channels were reversed. But I'm always told that I'm the only one who complained.

    My experience, sadly, is that complaining at the time when the issue occurs does nothing to get the issue fixed, but does cause me to miss a portion of the movie, which just leaves me more upset than if I hadn't bothered.

    I think the major chains decided a long time ago that it was cheaper for them to keep less people on staff, and specifically fewer people worrying about presentation standards, than it was to give a refund or free pass to the person who complains.

    Regarding 3D specifically, several times a year, I'll go to a film that's advertised as being in 3D, where the theater charged the higher 3D ticket price, and handed out 3D glasses, only to play the 2D DCP instead. Only one, way back in 2012, did the theater actually go "Oops" and restart in 3D. Every other time, they've apologized and offered a free pass, but consistently refuse to stop the movie and play it in 3D. I've never been followed by other people to complain, which leads me to believe that they either didn't notice or didn't care. I wonder how many people who say that the 3D didn't look impressive or very 3D-y to them or just looked the same as 2D but dimmer actually have been watching 2D movies while wearing glasses.

    Certainly no one at a multiplex seems to care about films matted incorrectly or not at all, projectors missing their marks, etc.

    I really have become convinced that they made a business decision that it was cheaper to offer me (and others who complain) a readmit pass (which costs them nothing) than it would be to hire a guy to spot check presentations every day. That guy, you have to pay $20 an hour or more, each and every hour you're open. Me, I can be made to go away with a free pass.

  45. zoetmb

    Now there is an option in the Sony 4K projectors to expand the 1716 height in the projector to 2160 and then using a 1.25x anamorphic lens, resulting in a 2.37:1 AR and a larger widescreen image as compared to the 1.85 image, but almost no one does this because that lens costs a fortune and it take about an hour to switch lenses on the projector.

    It takes an hour to switch a lens? Maybe I worked in a simpler time, we had flat and scope lenses. Took maybe three minutes to swap them out. The scope lenses were enormous, but you put them in, lined things up, changed aperture plates and adjusted the focus. Then of course opened the curtains on the screen for widescreen.

  46. After a lifetime working in Theatres and Projection Rooms, I have just completely given up patronizing Multiplexes.
    I just can’t cope with the aggravation and annoyance of the sloppy presentation, and remembering how all the good presentation values of my job have been tossed out the window.

  47. zoetmb

    Whether the audience notices or not is not the issue. Audiences usually just accept what they're given. I was in a theater the other day in which the left channel was missing. I've seen 2D presentations when they leave the 3D filter on the Sony 4K projectors and the image is ridiculously dim. Back around the time that "Hugo" was released, I was in two different theaters in which the left and center channels were reversed. But I'm always told that I'm the only one who complained. Back in the film days and before everyone used platters, I even remember a reel being projected in the wrong order, although it took me a while to realize it and I didn't sense that anyone else did.

    The issue, is that projecting at the wrong aspect ratio (or any other major projection error) does not represent the original intent which is a violation of the art. I'm not talking about projection errors resulting from parallax distortion from the booth, although that's far less of an issue today since few theaters have balconies today. And I'm not talking about cropping of the frame due to the distance of the booth from the screen and the width of the image not exactly matching an even lens focal length. I'm referring to what you stated: projecting films at the wrong AR or the theaters that back in the film days, projected everything at 2:1, as others have stated.

    And in the case of a 1.66 film projected at 1.85? That would sometimes result in heads being cut off or since many of those were foreign films, subtitles being cut off.

    There are many novels in which you might not notice if a chapter was missing. But would you accept reading the book that way? When you watch films on TV, they might be edited for time and scenes might be missing and you might not notice, but do you find that acceptable?

    Proper presentation means everything. Before 2005, I worked for a company that evaluated the quality of prints and presentation in theaters. If a film was playing in a multiplex, we'd have to watch it on every screen. What I found as I moved from screen-to-screen was that each audience reacted completely differently to the film, seemingly dependent upon the quality of presentation and the ambiance and/or size and seating capacity of the theater. This may be one of the reasons why people have such diverse reactions to a film. People may not realize it, but they react to the quality of presentation. And it seems to me that because of improper presentation, if we're seeing a heavily cropped image, something is going to feel "off", even if it's on a subconscious level.

    Luckily, on Blu, most films today are presented properly in their original ARs. And in the theatre, with few exceptions, films today are 1.85 or 2.4 and presented if not properly (since most digitally projected films are projected common width instead of common height) at least at the proper AR. Where I do agree with RAH is that a few pixels in either direction doesn't make much difference.

    Common width is the enemy.

    A CinemaScope epic should be larger, not smaller than Lassie Come Home.

    And a 70mm production should be both wider, as well as higher than standard issue flat.

    I’ve been helping a local 501(c)3 theater to get things right. Twinning removed. 4k. Properly masked from 1.19 to 2.76. Upper masking rises to accommodate 2.21.

    Screen is about 37 feet, which will only be used for 2.76, but students will be able to see the classics if not as they were meant to be seen, at least in the neighborhood of proper.

    For newer productions, Dolby Atmos, and 3D, with proper illumination.

    All in a modern digital environment.

  48. Robert Harris

    Common width is the enemy.

    Yes , back in the day when the masking moved after the trailers and the adverts it was an 'ooh' moment if the screen opened up wider, but always a disappointment if the masking only moved up from the bottom to make it a smaller, but widescreen shape…

  49. Doug Otte

    I realize this conversation is primarily about theatrical and disc presentation, but one of my pet peeves is cable channel and pay-per-view practices. They routinely lop off the sides of 2.35:1 films to make them "fit the screen". It really takes me out of the viewing when I see actors crowded to the sides of the screen, or even missing entirely.

    A few years back I ordered an HD film to watch from my cable company and they showed the 2.35:1 movie as 1.85:1. I called them on it the next day and this is what the supervisor advised, "Since it's a crap shoot on the size of the picture you're going to see, just buy the SD version…you'll always know what you're getting, a 4×3 picture." Oh, and they gave me back my money and I haven't ordered another movie from them since then.

  50. KeithDA

    Yes , back in the day when the masking moved after the trailers and the adverts it was an 'ooh' moment if the screen opened up wider, but always a disappointment if the masking only moved up from the bottom to make it a smaller, but widescreen shape…

    I only ever remember the screen opening wider (it was great to see those curtains carrying on opening up), I used to think I was getting a bargain, 'scope for the same price as normal. It's still my favourite sceen shape.

  51. zoetmb

    Most theaters today are common width. .

    “Most” Surely not? Certainly here in the U.K. it’s only very occasionally that I’ve see a 2.35:1 film shown within a 1.85:1 width. Nearly always the masks expand at the sides.

  52. Douglas R

    “Most” Surely not? Certainly here in the U.K. it’s only very occasionally that I’ve see a 2.35:1 film shown within a 1.85:1 width. Nearly always the masks expand at the sides.

    It's certainly most in Canada. They tore down all of the old cinemas about 15-20 years ago and replaced them with new multiplexes. In some respects, the new theatres a better, but the vast majority of screens are constant width. I'd imagine it's the same in most of the States.

  53. I know changing the aspect ratio from 1.85 to 1.78 can seem insignificant but it can wreck a scene. Case in point the Jerry Lewis film The Nutty Professor. When Warner Brothers released the Blu ray the aspect ratio changed from the original 1.85 to 1.78 which revealed Mr Lewis stand in during the title sequence before the laboratory explodes. The real Jerry Lewis is discovered in the next shot in the rubble of his chemistry class. If the film was masked properly you would not see the stand ins face at the top of the frame. The original Paramount Anamorphic DVD was masked correctly at 1.85 to 1. The stand ins face was not revealed. It’s not just the aspect ratio as Mr Harris has pointed out but the safety around the rectangle in the camera view finder that took into account projector gates and screen masking.

  54. At my neighborhood theater, which had a reasonable-sized screen, the masking widened for scope and the top masking would always come down a bit. It was, in fact, that way in most theaters I went to back then and I remember it vividly because I was always fascinated by it and watched for it specifically.

  55. Bob Furmanek

    The only time I'm aware of exhibitors running all films at 2:1 in the 1950's were at some drive-ins. There's no documented account of that happening in conventional movie theaters.

    I don't have any paperwork to prove it, but the movie theater in Roslyn, NY used to do this on their main screen. I worked there when I was 14 and noticed right away – the projectionist was impressed. And that's why I never actually watched a movie there when I was an employee, wasn't worth it to see a film presented improperly, even if it was free.

    They've long been under new ownership and that screen was divided into two, and I believe they now show films at the proper aspect ratio (albeit on tiny screens).

  56. Pirate films, like Torrent 720p or 1080p offered files, sometimes have a advantage over DVD and Blu rays. Many ones do not need to have black bars printed in image to fit in a 4:3 screen or 16:9 screen. Blu Ray don't even have a anamorphic like DVD players have.
    Some formats runs on PC without printed in black bars, no wasted image are.

    Why DVD players and Blu ray playesr are fixed to a ratio aspect ?
    In digital age.. such thing sounds quite silly.

  57. Bob Furmanek

    But Stan, haven't you heard, digital is better!

    Sad story but true. I haven't been to a theatre since 2000 when I saw "Gladiator" while in Chicago on business. It's just so much more comfortable to have decent equipment, invite a few friends over and watch films at home. Serve nice snacks, not $10 buckets of popcorn and $5 sodas.

    Have never seen a digital film in a commercial, chain theatre. Maybe I'll break down and give it a try one of these days. 😛

  58. I'm not sure of its exact screen ratio, but the Glebe Theatre in Arlington, Virginia (later the Dominion) showed every CinemaScope film with the sides lopped off. It only stood out during credit sequences and the rare subtitled sequence.

    I only remember that from my youth because the other theatres in my neighborhood were all about the same vintage as the Glebe, yet they handled the wider screens of CinemaScope with no problem.

    And yes, I was a precocious movie geek as a child, since I lived on the same block as the Buckingham Theatre (now a post office) and went at least once a week.

  59. Popcorn in USA theater come in huge buckets.

    [​IMG]

    On Brazil the popcorn sold in movie theater come in very small packs, sold by no less than 300% the price than anywhere else in the city.
    Worse, I heard they also reuse the popcorn left in machines, warming it to sell again the next day.

    [​IMG]
    Even worse, if you have some snacks, some ice cream or softdrink on hand, bought elsewhere, they do not allow you to get in the theater. There are some fun youtube videos of people arguing with the theater's security

    Maybe competition with home video cinema could make theaters get shame on face, and start offer better services.

    Stan

    . Serve nice snacks, not $10 buckets of popcorn and $5 sodas.

    Have never seen a digital film in a commercial, chain theatre. Maybe I'll break down and give it a try one of these days. 😛

  60. Robert Harris

    I recently received a message querying the concept of aspect ratios, and why I seldom make note of them.

    Robert Harris


    While I've covered this in the past, here (once again) is the simple answer.

    In the most general sense, aspect ratios don't matter.

    And by that, I mean that with specificity, while a film originally released in 2.55 or 2.1 or 1.66 should certainly follow the intent of the filmmakers, that it doesn't matter precisely how closely.

    Aspect ratios are basic shapes. Nothing more.

    Does it matter, aside from possibly exposing something in the frame (an actor's marks, a microphone) it makes no difference if a home video release fills out a projector display or flat panel at 1.78 or arrives in 1.85.

    And that is because in original theatrical presentations, aspect ratios were a guide, and that was all.

    Image a huge old theater, a beam of light projecting an image on a screen forty feet below the booth and one hundred fifty feet away.

    It mattered not precisely what the aspect ratio was, as long as an image, in basically the desire shape hit the screen, as the aperture plate cut for the projectors, would never have been the exact aspect ratio anyway. In the case of those beautiful old movie houses, they would have been cut into the shape of an inverted trapezoid, in order to attain a rectangle on screen.

    Anywhere from five to twenty percent of the image might be lost in creating that shape.

    When it comes to home video, we're usually seeing far more of the frame than was ever seen theatrically, and the shape that's carved out of the available real estate can be far different than seen in theaters.

    Perfection was the last thing on a projectionists' mind. For no matter how hard he or she might try, they were still dealing with that same old trapezoid.

    What this means is that attaining a 1.85 aspect ratio can mean cropping the top and bottom of a frame, or just as likely exposing a bit more of the sides to create a slightly wider image.

    And the viewer is seeing the same shape, or aspect ratio, with different information.

    While I'm not suggesting that aspect ratios don't matter, for in the general sense, they do. I'm simply stating that within rational parameters, a few lines of information don't matter.

    RAH

    Hi Robert, when you made those wonderful restorations of "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Vertigo," I bet you cared deeply about AR. The viewers may care less about AR, but the people responsible for creating prints, scans, discs for the movies have to. If the person who scans the negative thinks, meh, exact AR is not needed, and if the digital cleanup guy thinks, meh, let me crop a little here because who cares, and if the Blu-ray encoding technicians think, gee, why is one side cropped more than the other side, so let me crop the other side to balance it, because who cares! And on and on, and by the time the viewers see the final result, it will possibly be an unrecognizable mess. My point is SOMEBODY in this chain of operation has to care about AR, and it might as well be everybody caring about it in order to make everybody's job easier.

  61. kevin_y

    Hi Robert, when you made those wonderful restorations of "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Vertigo," I bet you cared deeply about AR. The viewers may care less about AR, but the people responsible for creating prints, scans, discs for the movies have to. If the person who scans the negative thinks, meh, exact AR is not needed, and if the digital cleanup guy thinks, meh, let me crop a little here because who cares, and if the Blu-ray encoding technicians think, gee, why is one side cropped more than the other side, so let me crop the other side to balance it, because who cares! And on and on, and by the time the viewers see the final result, it will possibly be an unrecognizable mess. My point is SOMEBODY in this chain of operation has to care about AR, and it might as well be everybody caring about it in order to make everybody's job easier.

    I think the point is that it's less about the exact shape being spot on and more about the correct picture information appearing within that window. You can have an image that's exactly 1.85 or 2.35 and still be terribly misframed.

  62. kevin_y

    Hi Robert, when you made those wonderful restorations of "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Vertigo," I bet you cared deeply about AR. The viewers may care less about AR, but the people responsible for creating prints, scans, discs for the movies have to. If the person who scans the negative thinks, meh, exact AR is not needed, and if the digital cleanup guy thinks, meh, let me crop a little here because who cares, and if the Blu-ray encoding technicians think, gee, why is one side cropped more than the other side, so let me crop the other side to balance it, because who cares! And on and on, and by the time the viewers see the final result, it will possibly be an unrecognizable mess. My point is SOMEBODY in this chain of operation has to care about AR, and it might as well be everybody caring about it in order to make everybody's job easier.

    My points were exclusively aimed at the exigencies of theatrical exhibition, and its problems, especially in older heavily angled venues,

    For film restoration, and mastering, whether for analogue or digital projection, everyone desires to give those projecting the tools with which to do the best job possible.

    When it comes to home theater, viewing at the closest aspect ratio to that intended, is always proper. However, especially when it comes to opening a frame ever so slightly at the top and bottom, I have no problem with 1.78 vs 1.85, as in the digital realm, if mastering, and selection of real estate is proper, the viewer is seeing Far more than they would theatrically, where imagery is protected for various reasons, and cropped, literally as necessary to create an image that, to the viewer, appears to be the correct shaped rectangle…

    When it’s anything but.

  63. kevin_y

    Hi Robert, when you made those wonderful restorations of "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Vertigo," I bet you cared deeply about AR. The viewers may care less about AR, but the people responsible for creating prints, scans, discs for the movies have to. If the person who scans the negative thinks, meh, exact AR is not needed, and if the digital cleanup guy thinks, meh, let me crop a little here because who cares, and if the Blu-ray encoding technicians think, gee, why is one side cropped more than the other side, so let me crop the other side to balance it, because who cares! And on and on, and by the time the viewers see the final result, it will possibly be an unrecognizable mess. My point is SOMEBODY in this chain of operation has to care about AR, and it might as well be everybody caring about it in order to make everybody's job easier.

    My points were exclusively aimed at the exigencies of theatrical exhibition, and its problems, especially in older heavily angled venues,

    For film restoration, and mastering, whether for analogue or digital projection, everyone desires to give those projecting the tools with which to do the best job possible.

    When it comes to home theater, viewing at the closest aspect ratio to that intended, is always proper. However, especially when it comes to opening a frame ever so slightly at the top and bottom, I have no problem with 1.78 vs 1.85, as in the digital realm, if mastering, and selection of real estate is proper, the viewer is seeing Far more than they would theatrically, where imagery is protected for various reasons, and cropped, literally as necessary to create an image that, to the viewer, appears to be the correct shaped rectangle…

    When it’s anything but.

  64. When we restore a 3-D film, getting the AR correct is essential.

    In our case, we're working with films that were in production during the mid-1953 transitional period and there are many variables. The most important aspect is to conduct thorough research in primary source documents (not online) and document the studios internal policy at the time of production. Most studios adopted an official house ratio which everyone would adhere to during principal photography.

    Personal preference does not enter the equation.

  65. Robert Harris

    My points were exclusively aimed at the exigencies of theatrical exhibition, and its problems, especially in older heavily angled venues,

    For film restoration, and mastering, whether for analogue or digital projection, everyone desires to give those projecting the tools with which to do the best job possible.

    When it comes to home theater, viewing at the closest aspect ratio to that intended, is always proper. However, especially when it comes to opening a frame ever so slightly at the top and bottom, I have no problem with 1.78 vs 1.85, as in the digital realm, if mastering, and selection of real estate is proper, the viewer is seeing Far more than they would theatrically, where imagery is protected for various reasons, and cropped, literally as necessary to create an image that, to the viewer, appears to be the correct shaped rectangle…

    When it’s anything but.

    I get what you are saying. You seem to be saying that while AR is important, the framing doesn't have to be pixel-perfectly exact. Even in home video releases, we see this often. For instance, a Criterion disc may have a sliver more or less picture on the side (or sides) of each frame than a Eureka disc that was made from the exact same print. We see that a lot in DVDBeaver's screencap comparisons. Some video release may retain the "round corner" of a frame, while another release of the same source print may not. So I'm guessing your view on cropping is that "it happens," but you don't necessarily condone careless cropping. Or that you condone cropping when there is extenuating circumstances.

  66. Last night I watched Forrest Gump. It was letter boxed, so I felt like I was at least seeing the full top and bottom of the frame. Today I am watching The Silence of the Lambs (Criterion Collection BD) and it coincidentally fits my 16×9 TV like it was shot for it.

    Why can't I shake the feeling that the image was either reshaped for my TV or cropped?

  67. Robert Harris

    I recently received a message querying the concept of aspect ratios, and why I seldom make note of them.

    While I've covered this in the past, here (once again) is the simple answer.

    In the most general sense, aspect ratios don't matter.

    And by that, I mean that with specificity, while a film originally released in 2.55 or 2.1 or 1.66 should certainly follow the intent of the filmmakers, that it doesn't matter precisely how closely.

    Aspect ratios are basic shapes. Nothing more.

    Does it matter, aside from possibly exposing something in the frame (an actor's marks, a microphone) it makes no difference if a home video release fills out a projector display or flat panel at 1.78 or arrives in 1.85.

    And that is because in original theatrical presentations, aspect ratios were a guide, and that was all.

    Image a huge old theater, a beam of light projecting an image on a screen forty feet below the booth and one hundred fifty feet away.

    It mattered not precisely what the aspect ratio was, as long as an image, in basically the desire shape hit the screen, as the aperture plate cut for the projectors, would never have been the exact aspect ratio anyway. In the case of those beautiful old movie houses, they would have been cut into the shape of an inverted trapezoid, in order to attain a rectangle on screen.

    Anywhere from five to twenty percent of the image might be lost in creating that shape.

    When it comes to home video, we're usually seeing far more of the frame than was ever seen theatrically, and the shape that's carved out of the available real estate can be far different than seen in theaters.

    Perfection was the last thing on a projectionists' mind. For no matter how hard he or she might try, they were still dealing with that same old trapezoid.

    What this means is that attaining a 1.85 aspect ratio can mean cropping the top and bottom of a frame, or just as likely exposing a bit more of the sides to create a slightly wider image.

    And the viewer is seeing the same shape, or aspect ratio, with different information.

    While I'm not suggesting that aspect ratios don't matter, for in the general sense, they do. I'm simply stating that within rational parameters, a few lines of information don't matter.

    RAH

  68. Bob Furmanek

    When we restore a 3-D film, getting the AR correct is essential.

    In our case, we're working with films that were in production during the mid-1953 transitional period and there are many variables. The most important aspect is to conduct thorough research in primary source documents (not online) and document the studios internal policy at the time of production. Most studios adopted an official house ratio which everyone would adhere to during principal photography.

    Personal preference does not enter the equation.

    Are the majority of 3D films not shot 1.37?

    That’s the image to be restored.

    Crop as designed.

  69. Mike Frezon

    Moderator's Note:

    I just deleted a post about …
    Aspect ratios…discuss.

    And I just deleted a post discussing the merits of how pirated films are … I don’t know … better having no black bars…?

    In any case, don’t do that.

  70. Carabimero

    Last night I watched Forrest Gump. It was letter boxed, so I felt like I was at least seeing the full top and bottom of the frame. Today I am watching The Silence of the Lambs (Criterion Collection BD) and it coincidentally fits my 16×9 TV like it was shot for it.

    Why can't I shake the feeling that the image was either reshaped for my TV or cropped?

    Silence of the Lamb was 1.85:1. That is very close to the shape of your tv.

  71. haineshisway

    Yes, what is the poster to whom you're responding thinking – that it's cropped from scope? Incorrectly matted? I'm baffled.

    When I play the DVD of the same movie on the same player on the same TV, it is letter boxed. Both can't be correct; that is what I am thinking.

  72. Carabimero

    When I play the DVD of the same movie on the same player on the same TV, it is letter boxed, yet the Criterion BD is not. Both can't be correct; that is what I am thinking. So yes, I am baffled, too.

    Are you talking about the non-anamorphic 1.85 ratio Criterion DVD?

  73. Carabimero

    When I play the DVD of the same movie on the same player on the same TV, it is letter boxed, yet the Criterion BD is not. Both can't be correct; that is what I am thinking. So yes, I am baffled, too.

    The Criterion Blu-ray has an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with small letterbox bars. Screencaps on the DVDBeaver review page confirm this:

    http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film6/blu-ray_reviews_80/the_silence_of_the_lambs_blu-ray.htm

    The older Criterion DVD was non-anamorphic letterbox, which means that it is probably appearing on your TV screen stretched sideways with oversized letterbox bars. When you look at the picture, does everything look stretched?

  74. bobclampett

    I know changing the aspect ratio from 1.85 to 1.78 can seem insignificant but it can wreck a scene. Case in point the Jerry Lewis film The Nutty Professor. When Warner Brothers released the Blu ray the aspect ratio changed from the original 1.85 to 1.78 which revealed Mr Lewis stand in during the title sequence before the laboratory explodes. The real Jerry Lewis is discovered in the next shot in the rubble of his chemistry class. If the film was masked properly you would not see the stand ins face at the top of the frame. The original Paramount Anamorphic DVD was masked correctly at 1.85 to 1. The stand ins face was not revealed. It's not just the aspect ratio as Mr Harris has pointed out but the safety around the rectangle in the camera view finder that took into account projector gates and screen masking.

    The difference between 1.78:1 and 1.85:1 is so small that I can hardly imagine a person's whole face fitting in there, unless they were very far in the background, too far to make out features with any clarity. On a Blu-ray, we're talking about 21 pixels at the top of the frame (out of 1080).

  75. JoshZ

    The difference between 1.78:1 and 1.85:1 is so small that I can hardly imagine a person's whole face fitting in there, unless they were very far in the background, too far to make out features with any clarity. On a Blu-ray, we're talking about 21 pixels at the top of the frame (out of 1080).

    Yeah this sounds like a simple production gaffe, not a case like A Fish Called Wanda where the 1.33:1 open matte ruins a joke.

  76. Fun story – when I saw Black Panther the other night everything seemed fine, but during the closing credits I could finally tell that the right side of the frame was not making it onto the screen, with credits on the far right being cut off (Daniel "Kaluuy" instead of Daniel Kaluuya, for example). Most modern films are shot with enough safety in framing to prevent such things from occurring.

  77. JoshZ

    The Criterion Blu-ray has an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with small letterbox bars. Screencaps on the DVDBeaver review page confirm this:

    http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film6/blu-ray_reviews_80/the_silence_of_the_lambs_blu-ray.htm

    The older Criterion DVD was non-anamorphic letterbox, which means that it is probably appearing on your TV screen stretched sideways with oversized letterbox bars. When you look at the picture, does everything look stretched?

    Yes. I can change it with my DVD remote, squeeze it, etc., but whatever setting I use, it doesn't look "right" to me.

  78. Carabimero

    Yes. I can change it with my DVD remote, squeeze it, etc., but whatever setting I use, it doesn't look "right" to me.

    You should be changing the screen format at the TV, not in the DVD player. The TV should have a setting called "Zoom" or similar, which is usually the right one for non-anamorphic letterbox content.

  79. bobclampett

    I know changing the aspect ratio from 1.85 to 1.78 can seem insignificant but it can wreck a scene. Case in point the Jerry Lewis film The Nutty Professor. When Warner Brothers released the Blu ray the aspect ratio changed from the original 1.85 to 1.78 which revealed Mr Lewis stand in during the title sequence before the laboratory explodes. The real Jerry Lewis is discovered in the next shot in the rubble of his chemistry class. If the film was masked properly you would not see the stand ins face at the top of the frame. The original Paramount Anamorphic DVD was masked correctly at 1.85 to 1. The stand ins face was not revealed. It's not just the aspect ratio as Mr Harris has pointed out but the safety around the rectangle in the camera view finder that took into account projector gates and screen masking.

    Lord Dalek

    Yeah this sounds like a simple production gaffe, not a case like A Fish Called Wanda where the 1.33:1 open matte ruins a joke.

    I know that this isn't the scene mentioned in the example, but I've taken a couple of screenshots from the Nutty Professor Blu-ray (lifted from here) and added 1.85:1 letterbox bars to them. I made it a point to pick shots with people's faces near the extreme top edge. There's simply no way that this smidge of letterboxing could be enough to hide a production flub as big as the wrong actor's face appearing on screen.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    1. Thanks for everyone’s input on the Nutty Professor aspect ratio. And you are right! both the 50th Anniversary Blu Ray and Paramounts “Enhanced for Wide Screen TV” DVD from 2000 are in fact the incorrect 1.78 to 1 ratio. But here’s where it gets interesting, the change in aspect ratios is not the reason Mr Lewis stand-in is briefly revealed and goes back to Mr. Harris original post on aspect ratio vs framing choices. It appears that the opticals for the title sequence have been redone prior to or specifically for the 50th Anniversary Blu-Ray. Unfortuneltly my IPad does not seem to allow me include photos of the screen shots I took so I will do my best to explain the differences. When you compare the location of the students in relation to the titles they are different. Look at all 4 edges of the frame. Very different. Much more information on the top and right on the Blu Ray. Compare the size of the title opticals, larger on the Blu Ray, smaller on the DVD. Optical of titles are also shifted up and to the left on the Blu Ray. Note Mr. Lewis stand-in has a black shirt, no bow tie, no glasses. Clearly not professor Julius Kelp (AKA Jerry Lewis). On the Paramount DVD the framing never goes higher than chest height on the stand-in. The other major difference on the title sequence is Warner’s penchant for Picture-Boxing title sequences. The wonderful title sequence is much more dynamic on the 2000 DVD when those bold technicolor hues fill the entire frame. The DVD of the film, included in the Warner deluxe box set has different label graphics but it is exactly the same transfer used on the 2000 Paramount DVD. The title sequence mistakes on the Warner Blu Ray aside, they did a superb job on the packaging of the deluxe set. I own the deluxe set and the 2000 DVD. I saw the movie in the theatre in 63 and 64 and again in the late 70’s at a repertory theatre where to my displeasure it was shown open matt.

  80. bobclampett

    I know changing the aspect ratio from 1.85 to 1.78 can seem insignificant but it can wreck a scene. Case in point the Jerry Lewis film The Nutty Professor. When Warner Brothers released the Blu ray the aspect ratio changed from the original 1.85 to 1.78 which revealed Mr Lewis stand in during the title sequence before the laboratory explodes. The real Jerry Lewis is discovered in the next shot in the rubble of his chemistry class. If the film was masked properly you would not see the stand ins face at the top of the frame. The original Paramount Anamorphic DVD was masked correctly at 1.85 to 1. The stand ins face was not revealed. It's not just the aspect ratio as Mr Harris has pointed out but the safety around the rectangle in the camera view finder that took into account projector gates and screen masking.

    I just checked out the entire opening credit sequence of The Nutty Professor and the professor's face is nowhere in the frame at all. You are obviously confusing this with a 1.33:1 open matte version of the film as the 1.78:1 version reveals nothing that wasn't meant to be seen.

  81. Mark-P

    I just checked out the entire opening credit sequence of The Nutty Professor and the professor's face is nowhere in the frame at all. You are obviously confusing this with a 1.33:1 open matte version of the film as the 1.78:1 version reveals nothing that wasn't meant to be seen.

    Yeah. I just checked the Blu-Ray credit sequence as well. There is one long shot where the professor looks possibly a bit taller than Jerry Lewis, but you can only see his mouth and chin, and it's only on the screen for maybe 15 seconds.

    1. The stand-in reveal shot is when he throws a match to light a Bunsen Burner. Note his shirt is black, no tie, no glasses. Professor is wearing a white shirt and polka dot bow tie and black reading glasses when discovered in the aftermath of of lab explosion. See above for analyses of what t think went wrong.

  82. Robert Harris

    I recently received a message querying the concept of aspect ratios, and why I seldom make note of them.

    While I've covered this in the past, here (once again) is the simple answer.

    In the most general sense, aspect ratios don't matter.

    And by that, I mean that with specificity, while a film originally released in 2.55 or 2.1 or 1.66 should certainly follow the intent of the filmmakers, that it doesn't matter precisely how closely.

    Aspect ratios are basic shapes. Nothing more.

    Does it matter, aside from possibly exposing something in the frame (an actor's marks, a microphone) it makes no difference if a home video release fills out a projector display or flat panel at 1.78 or arrives in 1.85.

    And that is because in original theatrical presentations, aspect ratios were a guide, and that was all.

    Image a huge old theater, a beam of light projecting an image on a screen forty feet below the booth and one hundred fifty feet away.

    It mattered not precisely what the aspect ratio was, as long as an image, in basically the desire shape hit the screen, as the aperture plate cut for the projectors, would never have been the exact aspect ratio anyway. In the case of those beautiful old movie houses, they would have been cut into the shape of an inverted trapezoid, in order to attain a rectangle on screen.

    Anywhere from five to twenty percent of the image might be lost in creating that shape.

    When it comes to home video, we're usually seeing far more of the frame than was ever seen theatrically, and the shape that's carved out of the available real estate can be far different than seen in theaters.

    Perfection was the last thing on a projectionists' mind. For no matter how hard he or she might try, they were still dealing with that same old trapezoid.

    What this means is that attaining a 1.85 aspect ratio can mean cropping the top and bottom of a frame, or just as likely exposing a bit more of the sides to create a slightly wider image.

    And the viewer is seeing the same shape, or aspect ratio, with different information.

    While I'm not suggesting that aspect ratios don't matter, for in the general sense, they do. I'm simply stating that within rational parameters, a few lines of information don't matter.

    RAH

  83. A few words about RH’s few words. What a blessing to have in our midst someone so passionate, so connected to the process, and so expert in the art and science of movies.

    Our mutual friend, Kevin Miller first told me about RH many years ago, and I’ve followed here ever since. Today I was struck by 3 of RH’s recent posts.

    1. Aspect ratios; yes projectionists have long been challenged by poor projector locations that required tilt and then cropping with an aperture mask to hide the keystone distortion. Even well positioned projectors were usually masked down from 2.35:1 to 2.39:1 for scope presentation to get rid of interframe ‘noise’, which SMPTE recognized a few years in as everyone was doing it. But today, HT content is often provided at precisely the AR chosen by the DP and Director. So we can present and mask content perfectly, better than most cinemas today, and when you do, the viewing experience is enhanced. The Big Trail was offered at 2.1:1 decades before Cinerama or CinemaScope, and Vittorio Storaro is still shooting in his own ‘Universium’ AR of 2.0:1 (Café Society, and Wonder Wheel most recently). When Sleeping Beauty hit theaters in the late 50’s, it was shown at 2.35:1 in 35mm or 2.20:1 in 70mm houses. But the plates and film production was in 2.55:1, the original AR for CinemaScope’s first decade. The brd is in 2.55:1. (RH can probably tell us more about the production process). Anamorphic 70mm was perhaps the most dramatic AR ever, and we have many examples of that 2.76:1 high resolution format on brd, including QT’s homage to UltraPanavision in The Hateful Eight. My favorite projectionist is David Kornfeld (see Dying of the Light, a documentary on the art of projection); he runs the Somerville theater outside of Boston. They present film regularly in their 800 seat main room, with balcony and projection tilt issues, but for TH8, he used twin 70’s to give us a masked UPV presentation few have ever experienced. The Sommerville now does a 70mm annual festival and is one of a few theaters film studios still trust with some of those historic prints, many struck directly from the film camera negative. To me, the relationship between viewer and screen is what defines the genuine cinema experience most distinctly, and that means a screen height based on cinema standards, not TV; i.e. your theater seating is located between 1.5H and 3.5H front to back. That equates approximately to rows 6 to 18 at the Samuel Goldwyn Academy Theater (a 1,000 seat, slope design with 22 rows). Once screen height is defined, then the AR should be allowed to expand in width to whatever it actually is, and be fully masked for a best case cinema experience. My screen is native 2.55:1, so I never see black bars even for that first decade of classic cinemascope movies which are on brd at 2.55:1. I have a reference ‘2k’ projector, a Runco 3 chip, and a new Barco native scope 5K projector (2160 x 5120 pixel). Neither show pixel structure at 1.5H. So don’t short change the classic movie era, make Casablanca the right height, and everything else comes out right as well. Widescreen content is massive, as it should be.

    2. RH on ‘My Cousin Rachel’. When we learn a nominee for best cinematography is available at a reference transfer quality….it should be on our list of art to be seen and experienced in our private theaters. How fortunate we are to get the technical and artistic detail from RH. A northern star for us to navigate the fine art of movies.

    3. RH on ‘Hell or High Water’. A stunning movie to me as well, and another on the long list of Jeff Bridges’ brilliant work in OTBL titles. And I too see some of this 4K UHD content going off the rails in color levels and loose HDR standards. I felt the same way about Dunkirk. My Barco hits P3 and in UHD HDR plays as closely by the rules as it can, and yet, Dunkirk looks more like what I saw in theater in Rec709 than in UHD HDR. I love Nolan’s film work as it gives us a chance to see modern SOTA film production in exhibition. I saw it in IMAX 15perf and conventional 70mm as well as DLP, SXRD, and IMAX twin Barco 6P laser on a 60×83’ screen. I wanted to compare all the formats, and I can say the 6P laser was best. Over 30fL had something to do with it, but dynamic range and detail was clearly superior as well. Look, 4K has its benefits, but the fake news of what is and isn’t really 4K in its origins is a fog over the entire, and small UHD library of titles to date. On the other hand, Joe Kane showed us long ago (on his HD Basics disc) the benefit of 4K scanned film vs 2K; and the most recent version of Criterion’s Monterey Pop shows the same thing.

    So, that’s my more that a few words on RH’s posts, a treasure we have as enthusiasts, designers or salesmen in the high end residential cinema space. I represent and design using Barco, Stewwart Filmscreen, James Loudspeaker, Trinnov, ACURUS, AcousticSmart and others, so I have my biases; one of which is towards RH, and a few others I find speaking truth with passion and expertise. Thanks for doing so on aspect ratios or anything else that strikes you! Thanks for the AR conversation, its old, but also new in todays new tech projectors and screens.

    Cheers,

    ps fyi links to 3 episodes I did on Scott Wilkinsons HTGeeks podcast on Aspect Ratios, Masking and Dunkirk cinema formats and general residential cinema design from my Barco, Stewart, James lab theater;

    The cinema experience at home defined; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ko_BKS36aBs&t=240s

    All Aspect Ratios; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p39OfLhix3E&t=29s

    Architectural Cinema Design: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GmpzqSI2J0

  84. PCineArchitect

    A few words about RH’s few words. What a blessing to have in our midst someone so passionate, so connected to the process, and so expert in the art and science of movies.

    Our mutual friend, Kevin Miller first told me about RH many years ago, and I’ve followed here ever since. Today I was struck by 3 of RH’s recent posts.

    1. Aspect ratios; yes projectionists have long been challenged by poor projector locations that required tilt and then cropping with an aperture mask to hide the keystone distortion. Even well positioned projectors were usually masked down from 2.35:1 to 2.39:1 for scope presentation to get rid of interframe ‘noise’, which SMPTE recognized a few years in as everyone was doing it. But today, HT content is often provided at precisely the AR chosen by the DP and Director. So we can present and mask content perfectly, better than most cinemas today, and when you do, the viewing experience is enhanced. The Big Trail was offered at 2.1:1 decades before Cinerama or CinemaScope, and Vittorio Storaro is still shooting in his own ‘Universium’ AR of 2.0:1 (Café Society, and Wonder Wheel most recently). When Sleeping Beauty hit theaters in the late 50’s, it was shown at 2.35:1 in 35mm or 2.20:1 in 70mm houses. But the plates and film production was in 2.55:1, the original AR for CinemaScope’s first decade. The brd is in 2.55:1. (RH can probably tell us more about the production process). Anamorphic 70mm was perhaps the most dramatic AR ever, and we have many examples of that 2.76:1 high resolution format on brd, including QT’s homage to UltraPanavision in The Hateful Eight. My favorite projectionist is David Kornfeld (see Dying of the Light, a documentary on the art of projection); he runs the Somerville theater outside of Boston. They present film regularly in their 800 seat main room, with balcony and projection tilt issues, but for TH8, he used twin 70’s to give us a masked UPV presentation few have ever experienced. The Sommerville now does a 70mm annual festival and is one of a few theaters film studios still trust with some of those historic prints, many struck directly from the film camera negative. To me, the relationship between viewer and screen is what defines the genuine cinema experience most distinctly, and that means a screen height based on cinema standards, not TV; i.e. your theater seating is located between 1.5H and 3.5H front to back. That equates approximately to rows 6 to 18 at the Samuel Goldwyn Academy Theater (a 1,000 seat, slope design with 22 rows). Once screen height is defined, then the AR should be allowed to expand in width to whatever it actually is, and be fully masked for a best case cinema experience. My screen is native 2.55:1, so I never see black bars even for that first decade of classic cinemascope movies which are on brd at 2.55:1. I have a reference ‘2k’ projector, a Runco 3 chip, and a new Barco native scope 5K projector (2160 x 5120 pixel). Neither show pixel structure at 1.5H. So don’t short change the classic movie era, make Casablanca the right height, and everything else comes out right as well. Widescreen content is massive, as it should be.

    2. RH on ‘My Cousin Rachel’. When we learn a nominee for best cinematography is available at a reference transfer quality….it should be on our list of art to be seen and experienced in our private theaters. How fortunate we are to get the technical and artistic detail from RH. A northern star for us to navigate the fine art of movies.

    3. RH on ‘Hell or High Water’. A stunning movie to me as well, and another on the long list of Jeff Bridges’ brilliant work in OTBL titles. And I too see some of this 4K UHD content going off the rails in color levels and loose HDR standards. I felt the same way about Dunkirk. My Barco hits P3 and in UHD HDR plays as closely by the rules as it can, and yet, Dunkirk looks more like what I saw in theater in Rec709 than in UHD HDR. I love Nolan’s film work as it gives us a chance to see modern SOTA film production in exhibition. I saw it in IMAX 15perf and conventional 70mm as well as DLP, SXRD, and IMAX twin Barco 6P laser on a 60×83’ screen. I wanted to compare all the formats, and I can say the 6P laser was best. Over 30fL had something to do with it, but dynamic range and detail was clearly superior as well. Look, 4K has its benefits, but the fake news of what is and isn’t really 4K in its origins is a fog over the entire, and small UHD library of titles to date. On the other hand, Joe Kane showed us long ago (on his HD Basics disc) the benefit of 4K scanned film vs 2K; and the most recent version of Criterion’s Monterey Pop shows the same thing.

    So, that’s my more that a few words on RH’s posts, a treasure we have as enthusiasts, designers or salesmen in the high end residential cinema space. I represent and design using Barco, Stewwart Filmscreen, James Loudspeaker, Trinnov, ACURUS, AcousticSmart and others, so I have my biases; one of which is towards RH, and a few others I find speaking truth with passion and expertise. Thanks for doing so on aspect ratios or anything else that strikes you! Thanks for the AR conversation, its old, but also new in todays new tech projectors and screens.

    Cheers,

    ps fyi links to 3 episodes I did on Scott Wilkinsons HTGeeks podcast on Aspect Ratios, Masking and Dunkirk cinema formats and general residential cinema design from my Barco, Stewart, James lab theater;

    The cinema experience at home defined; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ko_BKS36aBs&t=240s

    All Aspect Ratios; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p39OfLhix3E&t=29s

    Architectural Cinema Design: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GmpzqSI2J0

    Welcome to HTF.

    Agree re David Kornfeld, who is running my old AAIIs, as installed for me by BL & S.

    RAH

  85. Robert Harris

    Welcome to HTF.

    Agree re David Kornfeld, who is running my old AAIIs, as installed for me by BL & S.

    RAH

    How cool. I knew he required the theater to buy those 70mm's as a pre-requisite to taking over that facility. I've had a few interesting conversations with him and can say his passion for quality and getting the details right is palpable, and it makes seeing movies there a real luxury. He screened Amadeus in 35mm one evening where the quality of the print and his projection onto a white, masked, scope format screen was a real treat, especially at the scale of his big room.

  86. PCineArchitect

    How cool. I knew he required the theater to buy those 70mm's as a pre-requisite to taking over that facility. I've had a few interesting conversations with him and can say his passion for quality and getting the details right is palpable, and it makes seeing movies there a real luxury. He screened Amadeus in 35mm one evening where the quality of the print and his projection onto a white, masked, scope format screen was a real treat, especially at the scale of his big room.

    I owe him a visit.

  87. PCineArchitect

    But today, HT content is often provided at precisely the AR chosen by the DP and Director. So we can present and mask content perfectly, better than most cinemas today,

    Not necessarily. Remember, the cinema DCP formats for "2k" and "4k" are different resolutions than their home video counterparts.

    2048×1080 vs 1920×1080
    4096×2160 vs. 3840×2160

    If the camera negative is scanned by the DCP standard, the image will have to be conformed to fit the smaller home video container. Sometimes it's scaled down to preserve image on all the sides, but other times it's just cropped.

    Comparing the Blu-ray edition of Alien to older DVD transfers, it's clearly missing picture on all four sides of the frame. First the sides were cropped to fit the lower horizontal resolution. Then, because that left the image with a too-narrow aspect ratio, the top and bottom were additionally matted down to maintain a 2.40:1 shape. As a result, the entire image looks cramped.

    The video may have the exact mathematical ratio it's supposed to, but that doesn't mean all of the original photographed picture that the DP saw within the framelines of his viewfinder or monitor is there.

    In most cases, you'll never notice this. As RAH has argued, most movies are photographed with enough wiggle room around the edges to allow for cropping or masking by theater projectionists, or (in the analog TV days) television overscan. Even in the case of Alien, the loss of picture is really only an issue when you have a different source for direct comparison. (The revisionist teal-and-orange color grade is more harmful to that movie, in my opinion.)

  88. JoshZ

    Not necessarily. Remember, the cinema DCP formats for "2k" and "4k" are different resolutions than their home video counterparts.

    2048×1080 vs 1920×1080
    4096×2160 vs. 3840×2160

    If the camera negative is scanned by the DCP standard, the image will have to be conformed to fit the smaller home video container. Sometimes it's scaled down to preserve image on all the sides, but other times it's just cropped.

    Comparing the Blu-ray edition of Alien to older DVD transfers, it's clearly missing picture on all four sides of the frame. First the sides were cropped to fit the lower horizontal resolution. Then, because that left the image with a too-narrow aspect ratio, the top and bottom were additionally matted down to maintain a 2.40:1 shape. As a result, the entire image looks cramped.

    The video may have the exact mathematical ratio it's supposed to, but that doesn't mean all of the original photographed picture that the DP saw within the framelines of his viewfinder or monitor is there.

    In most cases, you'll never notice this. As RAH has argued, most movies are photographed with enough wiggle room around the edges to allow for cropping or masking by theater projectionists, or (in the analog TV days) television overscan. Even in the case of Alien, the loss of picture is really only an issue when you have a different source for direct comparison. (The revisionist teal-and-orange color grade is more harmful to that movie, in my opinion.)

    Much of this actually comes down today, as to how something is shot.

    Yes, a 4k scan of an Oneg will be at 4096, but that includes the track area. So, guess what?

  89. Indeed, I couldn't agree more, we are still at the mercy of what someone doing the transfer work thought we should get, but at least they have the option of providing the image frame as intended. I see more 1.85 (and yes, it's 1.89:1 on the chip) content these days than we used to, and on a 75" TV those tiny black bars aren't a big deal, barely noticeable. But when your screen is 5, 6, or even 8' high instead of 3', pulling the image up to full height and seeing a proper flat AR, well it just looks artistically superior. Less like TV. I believe Storaro was thinking about that, and trying to put even more distance between the TV format and Universium, which he found suitable for interior shooting and story telling without the cost and composition challenges of scope perhaps.
    The bottom line to me is we have the art of movies in a more accurate container on brd (both AR and the Rec 709 standard) than ever before, and having a system that can show 6 or more AR's properly is like a curated exhibition, it's just right. I did one theater with 11 unique cinema ARs total, all pixel mapped with an SFC Vistascope set up to mask every one, from 1.19:1 to 2.55:1. The owner is an art collector, and appreciated having his cinema art as well considered as the oils and marble art found throughout his home. It might be a rare thing to do, but 6 are available as presets in the native scope Barco's for example. So it's never been easier.
    Its a pleasure chatting with such a knowledgeable and passionate group.
    Cheers,

  90. I only times I really remember actually noticing aspect ratios – sort of; details follow – add up to a grand total of two, in about 60 years of viewing. When I was a kid, I saw The Flame and The Arrow. This was in a local theatre in the UK, about 1960, and it was in something like 1.75. Looked fine to my young eyes; I recall some hats were cut off. Tried the experiment of doing the same to the DVD last year, and found some hats were cut off. Looked mostly fine. Years later, went to see Saving Private Ryan for the second time and while it was in the correct AR, 1.85, the projectionist was off sick, so the assistant manager was projecting and he didn't know how to frame things up properly. So no bottom to the shots, and all kinds of mike booms etc., in the top. They gave me a free ticket to another show.

  91. It's not Universium, it's Univisium. My mistake above on the 2.0:1 aspect ratio proposed and used by cinematographer Storaro; it is called Univisium. and he argued for some optical and film process benefits that it would provide. Wikipedia has the story.
    He and others continue to use it post the digital transition and again, I feel AR's are part of the artistic presentation of every movie and worth doing well, and masking properly.

    AR's are easily confused though; my Kaleidescape system identifies the AR of 3 'Univisium' movies and none are correct; two are listed as 1.85:1, and the other as 2.35:1 (Café Society, Jurasic World, Corazon). Mask accordingly and you'll lose image size, or cutoff actual image area. It's always best to confirm the AR in the 16×9 mode to ID the wider than 1.78:1 modes yourself; 1.85, 2.0, 2.20, 2.35, 2.40 or beyond. Then put your projector and screen into the exact mode, or best compromise mode available in your system.

  92. It's not Universium, it's Univisium. My mistake above on the 2.0:1 aspect ratio proposed and used by cinematographer Storaro; it is called Univisium. and he argued for some optical and film process benefits that it would provide. Wikipedia has the story.
    He and others continue to use it post the digital transition and again, I feel AR's are part of the artistic presentation of every movie and worth doing well, and masking properly.

    AR's are easily confused though; my Kaleidescape system identifies the AR of 3 'Univisium' movies and none are correct; two are listed as 1.85:1, and the other as 2.35:1 (Café Society, Jurasic World, Corazon). Mask accordingly and you'll lose image size, or cutoff actual image area. It's always best to confirm the AR in the 16×9 mode to ID the wider than 1.78:1 modes yourself; 1.85, 2.0, 2.20, 2.35, 2.40 or beyond. Then put your projector and screen into the exact mode, or best compromise mode available in your system.

  93. Robert Harris

    Destroyed Last Emperor

    A fair amount of this discussion is above my paygrade (especially some of the acronyms 😀 )

    But I know some things…and this is one of them (what Robert said).

    I usually don't let a lot of things like this bother me. But the cropped Criterion of The Last Emperor is one of those few things that really irks my sensibilities…because it was such a beautiful widescreen image. I fell in love with it the first time I saw it.

    I don't want to re-open that conversation here, but I've been beating that well-worn drum for years on this forum.

  94. Sadly, I don't exactly live in an area where we even still have projectionists. In most cases, it becomes obvious that the projectors are not calibrated nor even aimed correctly at the screen. Things are usually off-center and so dark that my aging eyes have trouble making out details, even in scenes that ostensibly don't take place in a darkened room.

    The most egregious example of throwing AR out the window and having it ruin a film was when I went to see Lang's METROPOLIS during it's 2002 release. I had expected more of the theater that was screening it, as it was the local Art House in Cincinnati, the Esquire. Nope. They screened it matted. Not only did it cut off vital image information, at times it cut off portions of the intertitles. Apparently, the theater didn't have the capability to project it in the correct AR. The worst was that I was seeing the film with a buddy of mine who works in film preservation and had made the trip down from Dayton just for the screening. We were both incredibly excited to be able to see METROPOLIS in a theater. When it started and I saw that it was matted, there may have been some colorful language that escaped my lips.

  95. Sadly, I don't exactly live in an area where we even still have projectionists. In most cases, it becomes obvious that the projectors are not calibrated nor even aimed correctly at the screen. Things are usually off-center and so dark that my aging eyes have trouble making out details, even in scenes that ostensibly don't take place in a darkened room.

    The most egregious example of throwing AR out the window and having it ruin a film was when I went to see Lang's METROPOLIS during it's 2002 release. I had expected more of the theater that was screening it, as it was the local Art House in Cincinnati, the Esquire. Nope. They screened it matted. Not only did it cut off vital image information, at times it cut off portions of the intertitles. Apparently, the theater didn't have the capability to project it in the correct AR. The worst was that I was seeing the film with a buddy of mine who works in film preservation and had made the trip down from Dayton just for the screening. We were both incredibly excited to be able to see METROPOLIS in a theater. When it started and I saw that it was matted, there may have been some colorful language that escaped my lips.

  96. Carabimero

    Last night I watched Forrest Gump. It was letter boxed, so I felt like I was at least seeing the full top and bottom of the frame. Today I am watching The Silence of the Lambs (Criterion Collection BD) and it coincidentally fits my 16×9 TV like it was shot for it.

    Why can't I shake the feeling that the image was either reshaped for my TV or cropped?

    Criterion's THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS has small black bars top and bottom maintaining the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, so if you're not seeing them, then your TV is overscanning the image.

    EDIT: I see that Josh beat me to this up above 🙂

    Vincent

  97. Jasper,

    Yes.
    Your post contained an unpleasant attack on the person of a member of this forum.

    Read our rules again.

    ……
    Conduct
    10. No personal attacks. We expect all members to treat each other with consideration and respect. While we encourage lively debate, we do not allow personal attacks. This includes direct attacks, such as name-calling, as well as indirect attacks, such as repeated baiting of a member in a provocative or belittling manner. If you believe that you have been subjected to a personal attack, or have witnessed one on another member, please see the section on Dealing with Problems for instructions on how to proceed.
    ….

    We won't accept another instance of such an attack.

    Cees

  98. I rarely read the follow-on conversation. Didn’t read this one, however I do enjoy reading Mr Harris’ posts. Sometimes I understand some of the words – yet every time I agree.

  99. Opticals are often redone for HD transfers so that the title sequence can match the quality of the rest of the scan. They often match it perfectly with only the sight difference being modern versions of the fonts being used. Some times the font is so approximative it looks totally fake.

    When they do this, they also in some instances, miss any reframing that could have been done for the sequence hence the Nutty Professor gaffe.

    I myself prefer when they locate the transparent title sequences elements, scan them and use the titles only onscreen, layered over the negative of the credit sequence image.

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