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Eugene Lehnert

2.39 cropping?

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Do theaters still crop 2.35 files to 2.39? From my understanding the 2.39 crop was introduced to hide film splices. Is this still in practice with prints made fro digital sources? I was reading films after 1970 were cropped slightly. Is this correct?

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It's misleading to call it cropping from 2.35 to 2.39 -- the full-frame 35mm aperture is masked by the projector to 2.39, formerly to 2.35 -- they don't crop 2.35 to 2.39.


The silent (full) aperture is 1.33 : 1, so with a 2X anamorphic projector lens, you'd get a 2.66 : 1 image. This was the original intent with CinemaScope, to project 2.66 and put the sound on a separate interlocked mag roll, as did Cinerama. But at the last minute, they decided to fit magnetic stripes on the left and right side of the frame (with smaller "CS" perfs on the print stock to make room for the stripes), which trimmed the width down to 2.55 : 1. This was how early CinemaScope movies were shown.


Then it was decided to use the standard optical soundtrack on the left side only as other sound movies, which shifted the center of the frame to the right and reduced the width to 2.35.


Then in the early 1970's, it was decided to reduce the height of the projector gate to hide frame line spices better, creating the 2.39 shape.


Then in the early 1980's, it was decided to standardize the width of all 35mm sound projection formats to .825", so the dimension of the anamorphic aperture was altered slightly again, creating a different 2.39 area.


If you did a D.I. and recorded a 35mm negative from the digital master, it would be shown using standard 35mm anamorphic projection apertures and lenses. If you make a DCP for digital projection, it would be in the standard DCP file size for scope - for example, a 2K DCP scope file would be 2048 x 858 pixels, which is a 2.38694638 : 1 aspect ratio, using spherical lenses in the projector, not anamorphic.

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Thanks again Mr. Mullen. You always provide well worded and detailed answers. I have finished some trailers to 2.35 HD tape that were printed to film and in the theater I noticed that the top and bottom of the images were cut off slightly.



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