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2.55:1 vs 2.39:1


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Pretty general, but I just want to keep this question intentionally vague. What are your opinions on 2.55:1 vs 2.39:1? Which do you think is "better"? When would you use each when? Which do you think should've been the Cinemascope standard format? And all around, just what are your general thoughts on the two?

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I mean S35mm creates around 2.55:1 with 2x anamorphic lenses. This is where the original format came from. For theatrical projection both formats would be presented as the same width, but have less height. 

Personally, due to home video dominating the majority of eyes these days, there really isn't a benefit to a bigger black bar at the top and bottom of the image. The more viewing is done at home and on devices like phones, iPads, computer screens, etc, the more I want to shoot in a format that "fills the screen" because black bars at the top and bottom, simply make the subject matter smaller within the given display device. 

This is why 1.85:1 and 2:1 are almost perfect aspect ratio's for modern shooting. No silly and soft anamorphic lenses to deal with and a much larger image with better field of view/less crop factor. 

But hey, you can shoot in any aspect ratio ya want with digital, just crop the top and bottom in post! hahah 😛

 

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58 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

I mean S35mm creates around 2.55:1 with 2x anamorphic lenses. This is where the original format came from. For theatrical projection both formats would be presented as the same width, but have less height.

It’s the other way around. Same height, almost full film advance, but different widths. CinemaScope 1:2.55 is full frame minus the width of the two inner (differently wide) magnetic stripes plus what’s gained by narrower perforation holes and a wider spacing of the hole rows. In most theaters the same lenses are used and the lateral cache adjusted.

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, Simon Wyss said:

It’s the other way around. Same height, almost full film advance, but different widths. CinemaScope 1:2.55 is full frame minus the width of the two inner (differently wide) magnetic stripes plus what’s gained by narrower perforation holes and a wider spacing of the hole rows. In most theaters the same lenses are used and the lateral cache adjusted.

The OP was referring to modern practices, not old practices that can't be achieved any longer. Sadly the Foxhole cinemascope 2.55:1 format is dead and can't be projected any longer the way it was in the past. Today, the only way to project a "wider" aspect ratio, is to use a standard 2.40:1 formatted system and simply have black bars on the top and bottom. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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Posted (edited)

Funny, as a small kid, before I understood anything about film formats, cameras and lenses, whenever I saw black bars on our wooden B&W TV, I immediately associated it with "high quality movie production". And years later, I saw Kubrick's "The Shining" on TV (after I've seen it in the cinema) and was befuddled, that after the intro with the helicopter shot of the car, the broadcasted version switched from widescreen to 4:3. I was angry that they butchered the film and wanted to write the TV station to please not do this again. Glad I didn't. Later I found out, Kubrick wanted it to be presented that way for TV.

Edited by David Sekanina
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10 minutes ago, David Sekanina said:

Glad I didn't. Later I found out, Kubrick wanted it to be presented that way for TV.

Yep, he was really a cinephile and the theaters in the UK were so bad, he didn't trust them to properly matte his films. So he shot them open gate and let them play that way. I do recall some BTS on the Shining where he had a CRT monitor that was taped off to 1.85:1 and if you play it that way, it does look "proper", similar to "Full Metal Jacket". However, I do think his older 35mm movies play better open gate. 

Sadly it's the reason why the bulk of his 35mm movies were mixed in mono. He was concerned about consistency between theaters. It's a real shame with how good his soundtracks are. Luckily, the 1999 restorations have full 5.1 mixes of his later movies, but the original theatrical experience must have kinda sucked. 

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32 minutes ago, Raymond Zrike said:

Eyes Wide Shut looks amazing open gate. If you rent it through Movies Anywhere, their version is open gate and uncensored. 

Oh cool, it's probably the same transfer they did in 1999 for the DVD, which is open gate. 

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It is at least visibly a higher definition than the DVD, but it’s probably the same source transfer. They’ll probably do 1.78 for the inevitable 4K release, though, considering that’s what they have done for previous 4K releases of The Shining, 2001, etc. Luckily his movies look pretty great with any aspect ratio.

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2 hours ago, Raymond Zrike said:

It is at least visibly a higher definition than the DVD, but it’s probably the same source transfer. They’ll probably do 1.78 for the inevitable 4K release, though, considering that’s what they have done for previous 4K releases of The Shining, 2001, etc. Luckily his movies look pretty great with any aspect ratio.

Yea, sadly I agree. The UHD release will be 1.78:1 most likely :sigh: 

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6 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

The OP was referring to modern practices, not old practices that can't be achieved any longer. Sadly the Foxhole cinemascope 2.55:1 format is dead and can't be projected any longer the way it was in the past.

You guys kill things with a few words. CinemaScope is of course not dead, it can be revived like Todd-AO was revived by Quentin. It may take $6,000 for fresh perforator tools and the magnetic stripes might be replaced by four discrete optical tracks but it’s feasible. ORWO would AC punch sound stock and someone would manufacture four channel optical equipment. Why not?

I find it painful to read contemptuous lines about old. While the ones come dismissively over the basic film technology, others praise the “Bolex” to the skies. At the same time the “Bolex” has to be converted to Super-16 because it’s only old 3:4 and 3-perf movements are sought because 4-perf is regarded old, outdated, expensive, stupid.

Films can still be made the way they were made a hundred years ago. Just nitrate stock will not come back, which is good, but acetate-base stocks are available, unsensitised, orthochromatic, panchromatic, hyperpanchromatic. Printers can be refurbished. Projectors can be restaured and installed, everything is here. Projectionists can be trained in what cinema actually is.

Guess how a technician centers a lens in a camera’s mount. How does one center the exposure aperture to the lens mount? What guarantees that a projection lens is centered on the print image? That is all pure mechanics and good old-fashioned stuff. Go ask Jay Leno about old. Greetings from old Europe

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Simon Wyss said:

You guys kill things with a few words. CinemaScope is of course not dead, it can be revived like Todd-AO was revived by Quentin.

Wait what? Quentin didn’t do much. He got some anamorphic lenses rebuild and some new ones made for projection. The 5 perf 65mm and 70mm formats all existed. Projectors we’re everywhere, printers existed, the film stock is all standard. It was a simple change from spherical to anamorphic and it delivers an entirely different experience to 4 perf 35mm. 

There are no optical printers for the original fox cinemascope format anymore. So you’re making new gates, new sprockets, and as you said, specialized perforation film stock. You’ve gotta develop a new sound system as well, as the 4 stripe magnetic would require all new machines to manufacture and record. Nothing at all like a few anamorphic lens rebuilds. 

The original fox cinemascope format sadly only lives as a camera format and matted digital projection format. Nobody will ever bring it back to theatrical, it serves no benefits or purpose. Nothing like 65mm and 70mm, nothing like vistavision or imax. 

 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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There's a good article in the NYT on how Chapin Cutler of Boston Light & Sound went to great lengths to get all the 70mm projectors for Quentin up and running again. From what I read it was a rather herculean task.

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/12/movies/tarantinos-the-hateful-eight-resurrects-nearly-obsolete-technology.html

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1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

There are no optical printers for the original fox cinemascope format anymore.

I usually stay out of these categorical arguments, but I don't think you need an optical printer for 'Scope. Just contact.

23 minutes ago, David Sekanina said:

There's a good article in the NYT on how Chapin Cutler of Boston Light & Sound went to great lengths to get all the 70mm projectors for Quentin up and running again. From what I read it was a rather herculean task.

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/12/movies/tarantinos-the-hateful-eight-resurrects-nearly-obsolete-technology.html

Paywall. There's a less detailed write-up on here

https://www.wbur.org/news/2015/12/23/boston-light-sound

Unfortunately in London it was £25 a ticket so I had to pass. My 70mm. journey started with "Lawrence" on re-release in 1989 and probably ended with "2001" on January 1st, 2001.

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2 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

(70 mm) delivers an entirely different experience to 4 perf 35mm.

Agree entirely.

2 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

There are no optical printers for the original fox cinemascope format anymore.

Never have been, CinemaScope prints contact. It takes a special sprocket wheel and a lateral film guide, though.

My allusion to an optical four-track system was rather for entertainment. Much more apt is SEPMAG with 35 full coat.

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12 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

the theaters in the UK were so bad, he didn't trust them to properly matte his films.

What?

Not sure the reference to the UK is fair, his releases were usually wider (the releases, not the AR, haha)  in the US.

As I recall the 35mm. show prints usually had the widescreen matte C-roll burnt-in except for...........

12 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

his older 35mm movies play better open gate. 

"Barry Lyndon" was shot hard matted at 1.78. Odd that he only did it once. No problem racking a print with burnt-in mattes, I don't think, never done it though.

Edited by Mark Dunn
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10 hours ago, David Sekanina said:

There's a good article in the NYT on how Chapin Cutler of Boston Light & Sound went to great lengths to get all the 70mm projectors for Quentin up and running again. From what I read it was a rather herculean task.

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/12/movies/tarantinos-the-hateful-eight-resurrects-nearly-obsolete-technology.html

Only because Quentin wanted it to be shown not just in theaters pre-equipped (which was around 50 world wide) but also theaters that have never shown 70mm in their entire existence. They were "expanding" theaters, not re-inventing the wheel. 

5 perf 70mm is a standard format, here in LA we had 7 screens equipped to show it before the Hateful Eight roll out. 

I know all about what the hoops the guys at BLM had to go through, it was mostly because they had to manufacture several components like the platter brains in order to INCREASE the number of theaters. It was an incredible effort, but has nothing to do with bringing back a dead format. 5 perf 70mm could be argued as being the #1 film projection format globally right now. 

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9 hours ago, Mark Dunn said:

I usually stay out of these categorical arguments, but I don't think you need an optical printer for 'Scope. Just contact.

Doesn't matter, printers are all sprocket driven. 

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9 hours ago, Simon Wyss said:

My allusion to an optical four-track system was rather for entertainment. Much more apt is SEPMAG with 35 full coat.

Who will even record the multitrack sepmag, let alone play it back?

Actually, where are you even gonna get the full coat 35mm from? They stopped making it a long time ago. So you're looking at recording onto stock that isn't even manufactured anymore and having MAYBE 4 35mm theaters globally that have sepmag capability.  

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Mark Dunn said:

Not sure the reference to the UK is fair, his releases were usually wider (the releases, not the AR, haha)  in the US.

Pulling that information from Jan Harlan's book about Kubrick. 

According to Jan's accounts, Kubrick stated that theaters in the UK in the 60/70's had horrible issues with improper matting. Kubrick was notorious for randomly showing up to screenings and complaining to the theater companies about how his movies looked and sounded. 

This information maybe completely wrong, as it was not written by Stanley, but by one of his best friends and producer. However, having shot nearly all of his 35mm movies in some sort of "open matte",  it does give some evidence to Jan's claims. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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8 hours ago, Mark Dunn said:

"Barry Lyndon" was shot hard matted at 1.78. Odd that he only did it once. No problem racking a print with burnt-in mattes, I don't think, never done it though.

According to Kubrick own letter sent to the theaters, Barry Lyndon like Clockwork Orange, was shot with the 1.66:1 aspect ratio in mind. Historians who have actually viewed the original negative have confirmed that the film is shot with variable mattes, which sometimes are and sometimes aren't present, depending on which camera is used. This is why a hard matte in projection is required. 

Kubrick preferred the film to be shown in 1.66:1 tho it was "acceptable" to screen it in 1.75:1 as the maximum reduction in frame size. 

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11 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Actually, where are you even gonna get the full coat 35mm from? They stopped making it a long time ago. So you're looking at recording onto stock that isn't even manufactured anymore and having MAYBE 4 35mm theaters globally that have sepmag capability.  

Another killer sentence of a non-informed. https://www.recordingthemasters.com/perforated-audio-tape/?v=1ee0bf89c5d1

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Personally I think 2.39:1 is about as wide as you can go before it becomes too wide. It already limits the choice of compositions, and requires a good eye to frame an entire story interestingly without wasted space at the edges. It favours landscapes and groups over individual shots or tall objects for instance. A good composition in 2.39 is pretty exciting though.

2020967277_2.39image2.thumb.jpeg.eb835651fe095ef3b873419aa785ef30.jpeg

2.39:1

These days, in modern viewing environments where the width is fixed, 2.55:1 would just seem less tall rather than wider.

1038534864_2.55image3.thumb.jpeg.52d1795e53ce8135fe1368a6269475c3.jpeg

2.55:1

The Widescreen Museum site is a great resource for info on all things widescreen. Here's a good page on the evolution of widescreen aspect ratios and why they chose those ratios:

http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/cinemascope_oar.htm

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In view of wide images we should perhaps ban vertical videos.

Superscope was 1:2 out of the regular full frame under the squeeze factor of 1.5. Often copied for home wide screen images from 16mm and 8mm film.

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