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Nate Opgenorth

Questions about anamorphic 35mm that have me wondering.

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Alright I think I've read the history of anamorphic about 9000x (half of which has been elegantly laid out by David Mullen thank you!) but there are still some ideas that are fuzzy to me that I'd like to get cleared up as well as questions about some older formats in history that fascinate me. Anamorphic is definitely making a come back, I thought it was small but then I saw 3 different commercials in 2.35:1 with oval bokeh and squeezed backgrounds…whether they were actually using anamorphic glass or a flare/bokeh adapter is up for debate but when you start seeing anamorphic looking TV commercials you know something is happening!

-1.33 went to 1.37:1 because of sound but what I don't understand is why when you shoot 35mm anamorphic you shoot a 1.18:1 space….why didn't they just make a 1.75x anamorphic lens instead of a 2x anamorphic lens if they intended 2.35:1 from the start? I know that the original intention was 2.55:1 and then 2.35:1 and then final 2.39:1 but it still is sort of fuzzy…

-I have some footage from an Arri Alexa 4:3 that was shot using a Zeiss Master Anamorphic, it stretches out to 2.39:1 but still looks squeezed, using some circular areas in the footage and the general shape of peoples faces I stretched it out to 2.66:1 and it seamed more proper looking. Are you supposed to crop 4:3 anamorphic footage to 1.19:1 before you unstretch or is it okay to crop to 2.39:1 after unstretching? I've heard mixed views on this…it seams like it wouldn't matter...

-What is an anamorphic film gate? I have an idea what a film gate is but I recently heard someone say that their "anamorphic film gate broke". Is this necessary for shooting on anamorphic? Is it like ground glass for framing or something?

-Has anyone shot anamorphic 35mm using the whole space to go from 1.33:1 to 2.66:1 or even 1.37:1 to 2.76:1 for a Ultra Panavision 70mm film out? I think it would be interesting to shoot full aperture using the whole area (if possible) using 2x anamorphics if Ultra Panavision 70 was still around…if so would the resolution be comparable to regular 35mm anamorphic 70mm blow ups or what? I'm guessing this is theoretical but maybe their is an example of an Ultra Panavision 70 film like this?

-There was a movie that was shot on VistaVision with anamorphic lenses, it had to be a 50s era movie since that was when VistaVision was actually used outside VFX work but they used a 1.5x squeeze lens. Is there any info on the type of anamorphic glass that could cover 8-perf 35mm? What about those anamorphics for Ultra Panavision that were used on a film or two that squeezed 2.76:1 onto 2.20:1? I checked the widescreen museum's website and Panavision History but couldn't find much…When shooting flat VistaVision I've heard they used Nikon stills glass…was this glass that was converted for the proper mount, distance markings, no breathing, etc. or was it basic stills glass? I like checking IMDB for what equipment is used but older films only list very small details at times.

Thank you for those that respond to any questions….I find anamorphic formats and large format photography very interesting and its sort of sad to see it die off since I'm not in a position to test some of this out before its gone forever so any answers are appreciated. I know I nag David Mullen and a few others allot so if you respond to this in advance just know its really appreciated!

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4:3 with x2 anamorphic=2.66:1. So,to get 2.39:1 with x2 lenses need a more tighten film gate,the film gate that allow sound track,isn´t?

Some thing like that:

http://www.ebay.es/itm/Anamorphic-film-gate-for-Kinor-35mm-movie-camera-/290768803627

http://thumbs2.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/m/mwpGT42zKDOT_TzkhXsULSw.jpg

 

I´ve shot 16mm (4:3) with 2x anamorphic and still getting 2.66:1.

 

I think Alexa 4:3 with PV lenses,need crop in post to get 2.39:1.

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They went with a 2X squeeze because the lens had already been invented back in the late 1920's by Henri Chretien. See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CinemaScope

 

Plus the intent was to project 2.66 : 1 from the 1.33 : 1 full aperture area of the 4-perf 35mm negative and print. That changed though to putting the sound on the print and shaving the width to 2.55 : 1, but at that point, they were committed to the 2X squeeze, they weren't going to redesign the lenses. I believe the first CinemaScope film, "The Robe", actually used Chretien's lens, a 50mm anamorphic.

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35mm film projectors have an anamorphic or "scope" matte / mask for the gate, just like the 1.85 matte, except that the anamorphic matte is taller than 1.85, it still covers over the soundtrack stripe and nearly touches the next frame at the top & bottom, roughly 1.20 : 1 in shape.

 

When 1.37 Academy came out in 1932, lenses on cameras had to be shifted over (or the movement was shifted over) so that the optical center of the lens matched the offset area on the negative, shifted over to make room for an optical soundtrack on the print contact-printed off of the negative. Some people also, at that time, made smaller gates for the cameras that exposed only the Academy area, but other cameras were left with the larger silent (full) aperture gates -- you didn't really need to mask the negative in camera since the projector would mask the image later to 1.37, or you could print a 1.37 Academy hard matte into the image.

 

Today, since most 4-perf 35mm cameras have to be converted at the rental houses back and forth between standard 35mm and Super-35, most of them use a full aperture gate in the camera and just shift the optical center of the lens between standard (sound) and Super (silent). So if you shoot standard 35mm anamorphic or 1.85, you are actually exposing some image in the soundtrack area on the left, but often that area isn't usable, either because the image is obviously framed to the right or because part of the matte box or a flag is encroaching on that area. But some people, now that D.I.'s have become the norm, will shoot anamorphic with the lens centered for Super-35 and just crop both sides to get 2.40 from 2.66. I think maybe "Wolf of Wall Street" did this since they were switching from Super-35 to anamorphic. "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" might have done this too, since they were switching between Super-35, 2X anamorphic and 1.3X anamorphic. But using the Super-35 center does make a straight contact print for release in anamorphic out of the question, you then have to go through a D.I.

 

As for releasing a 2.66 image in UltraPanavision 70, that projection format doesn't exist anymore. Straight 5-perf 70mm spherical is 2.20 : 1 -- hardly anyone can project anamorphic 70mm. So if you shot 2.66, you'd have to letterbox that on a standard 70mm print or 35mm scope print, or a 2K or 4K DCP.

 

8-perf 35mm 1.5X anamorphic was called Technirama and was used for movies like "Spartacus" and "El Cid". Here's a frame from "El Cid" and you can see the 1.5X anamorphic bokeh:

 

elcid1.jpg

 

If you want to learn more about the lenses used, google "Delrama anamorphic"

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35mm film projectors have an anamorphic or "scope" matte / mask for the gate, just like the 1.85 matte, except that the anamorphic matte is taller than 1.85, it still covers over the soundtrack stripe and nearly touches the next frame at the top & bottom, roughly 1.20 : 1 in shape.

 

When 1.37 Academy came out in 1932, lenses on cameras had to be shifted over (or the movement was shifted over) so that the optical center of the lens matched the offset area on the negative, shifted over to make room for an optical soundtrack on the print contact-printed off of the negative. Some people also, at that time, made smaller gates for the cameras that exposed only the Academy area, but other cameras were left with the larger silent (full) aperture gates -- you didn't really need to mask the negative in camera since the projector would mask the image later to 1.37, or you could print a 1.37 Academy hard matte into the image.

 

Today, since most 4-perf 35mm cameras have to be converted at the rental houses back and forth between standard 35mm and Super-35, most of them use a full aperture gate in the camera and just shift the optical center of the lens between standard (sound) and Super (silent). So if you shoot standard 35mm anamorphic or 1.85, you are actually exposing some image in the soundtrack area on the left, but often that area isn't usable, either because the image is obviously framed to the right or because part of the matte box or a flag is encroaching on that area. But some people, now that D.I.'s have become the norm, will shoot anamorphic with the lens centered for Super-35 and just crop both sides to get 2.40 from 2.66. I think maybe "Wolf of Wall Street" did this since they were switching from Super-35 to anamorphic. "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" might have done this too, since they were switching between Super-35, 2X anamorphic and 1.3X anamorphic. But using the Super-35 center does make a straight contact print for release in anamorphic out of the question, you then have to go through a D.I.

 

As for releasing a 2.66 image in UltraPanavision 70, that projection format doesn't exist anymore. Straight 5-perf 70mm spherical is 2.20 : 1 -- hardly anyone can project anamorphic 70mm. So if you shot 2.66, you'd have to letterbox that on a standard 70mm print or 35mm scope print, or a 2K or 4K DCP.

 

8-perf 35mm 1.5X anamorphic was called Technirama and was used for movies like "Spartacus" and "El Cid". Here's a frame from "El Cid" and you can see the 1.5X anamorphic bokeh:

 

elcid1.jpg

 

If you want to learn more about the lenses used, google "Delrama anamorphic"

Thanks a bunch David! I find it interesting when production's mix formats, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty looks like it will be interesting to see how the image looks. Does anyone make straight contact prints anymore? I always thought today with exceptions like Chris Nolan/Wally Pfister movies the preference was to do a DI and then do a film out...

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Shooting in a 4-perf 35mm sound format like 1.85 or anamorphic and doing contact-printing after that is pretty rare today, especially considering that you need to scan the film anyway for a 2K or 4K DCP and an HD master.

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Interesting discussion. Let's say, as just a pipe dream (sitting perhaps on the porch, staring quietly into a peaceful sunset), the old cinemascope roadshow system was re-introduced (is that what it was called?). You know, the circa 1960's/70's/80's business of 35mm prints being delivered to cinemas everywhere, where they were projected on vertical-orientation 35mm projectors with cinemascope lenses and making use of an optical soundtrack to the side of the actual film print image. What would be the best way to film these productions? I know it has to be 4-perf and that anamorphic lenses are required. But would you use cameras with academy film gates or Super 35? Or wouldn't it matter, since you would just print both onto 35mm prints with the optical track on it, blowing up or reducing the image optically during printing, as needed? The in-camera negative doesn't need to leave room for an optical soundtrack does it?

Edited by Jon O'Brien

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There's no real reason to shoot Super-35 for an anamorphic movie using standard 2X anamorphic lenses -- if the final scope image is 2.40 : 1 and has a 2X optical squeeze to it, that means that the image area used on the negative has a 1.20 : 1 aspect ratio. 4-perf Super-35 is 1.33 : 1, so with a 2X anamorphic lens, the unsqueezed image would be 2.66 : 1, so you have to trim the sides down anyway.

 

The standard 4-perf 35mm anamorphic area is roughly the width of Academy and 1.85, offset to the right for a soundtrack on the left, but using almost the full height of the negative and print, so almost Full Aperture / Super-35 tall but not in width.

 

It's actually similar to the first sound-on-film format, Fox Movietone -- the first time they put an optical track on the print, it shaved the width of the projected image from 1.33 : 1 to 1.20 : 1. People found this to be a bit too square-ish, so in 1932, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences proposed shortening the projector gate height to trim the top & bottom of the print area so with the soundtrack, the aspect ratio became 1.37 : 1.

 

Now today, a few people do shoot standard 2X anamorphic with a 4-perf Super-35 camera gate because they can recenter the image and trim it in the D.I., and they might have some shots done with spherical lenses and need to use the full width of Super-35 without switching cameras, just lenses and maybe the groundglass.

 

But for an all-anamorphic shoot, you'd probably still use the standard anamorphic camera aperture which is offset to the right to leave room for an optical track on the print. That way, if you really wanted to, you could cut the negative and make contact prints with a soundtrack.

 

Another alternative, if you are doing a D.I., is to shoot 3-perf 35mm with 1.3X anamorphic lenses by Hawk, then digitally make a 2X squeeze version for recording out to 4-perf 35mm negative for making scope prints.

 

Or just shoot Super-35 spherical, do a D.I., crop & squeeze & record out a 4-perf 35mm anamorphic negative for making scope prints, which is how Super-35 was done through the 2000's when D.I.'s came along and still is done that way today, other than the fact that most people will see the 2.40 DCP and not a 35mm scope film-out.

 

You didn't really specify whether your 35mm scope roadshow print idea could go through a digital intermediate or if you were talking about an entirely photochemical post workflow.

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Thanks David. I've done a fair bit of research on this but it can be difficult reading through reams of old posts, with anecdotes, jokes, asides, etc, and it takes a lot of reading to get the facts. Let me cease beating around the bush and just ask: is an old beat up Arri 2C with the usual factory film gate on it (is it called simply standard 35mm?) the way to go if one wanted to get as close as possible (on a budget) to circa 70's era cinemascope and get a film that in general principle looks as close as humanly possible to features that Lucas, Spielberg (and in Australia, Beresford) made? Of course not talking artistry here at this stage just brushes, easels and paints if you know what I mean. A man needs heart, story and inspiration but he also needs to know what is possible. Yes, I was speaking purely of a photochemical process. Would that 'old beat up 2C' need a different kind of film gate put in it to emulate/be a fair copy of the cinemascope cameras of the period I mention above? Any advice much appreciated.

Edited by Jon O'Brien

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Sure, you can shoot an anamorphic movie on a 4-perf 35mm Arri-2C as long as it doesn't have an Academy gate installed (some did.) The Arri-2C doesn't have to "emulate" a camera from the day, it dates back to the period and was used on many scope movies for MOS shots (which will be your main problem, it's not a quiet camera.)

 

Ideally it would have a full aperture (silent) gate but the lens would be centered for sound (Academy/1.85/anamorphic) and then you'd want an anamorphic groundglass though a 1.37 Academy groundglass might be close enough to judge framing with, you'd just have to take into account that anamorphic uses a bit more picture above and below Academy.

 

An Arri-2C isn't pin-registered so hopefully you weren't planning on doing visual effects that involve compositing. And I guess your movie would be silent unless you found a big blimp designed for that camera.

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No special effects compositing planned at this stage, and was talking about B camera - I should have specified. There's no getting around hiring silent cameras. But the guy walking out the door the first day to the office needs a pair of shoes, a haircut, a briefcase or just a cut lunch in a paper bag ... you get the picture maybe.

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Do the 'average' 2C camera bodies sometimes seen on ebay, 4 perf with hard front PL mount conversions (done quite some time ago by the look of them) already have a correct lens alignment and gate suitable for shooting Panavision-style 2:1 anamorphic (yes, I know it's a PL mount, not a PV mount)? I understand about groundglass, MOS, non-pin registered .... I 'get' all of that but not about film gate and lens alignment. Would the camera itself need to be modified to bring it exactly into line with the gate type and lens alignment of anamorphic Panavision cameras if both were used on the same production?

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Okay, I've re-read all David's posts on this thread and I think I now understand what he means. Yes, a 2C most likely has a full aperture gate ('silent') with lens centred for sound. So it really does come down to working out how to work with the groundglass you have fitted, or fit a new one. Sorry, took me a while to understand all this.

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1.33 went to 1.37:1 because of sound

 

Sorry, Nate, please forgive me for that late intrusion but I must, for everybody reading this, I must oppose and declare that old misconception wrong, wrong, wrong.

 

The cinema screens remained the same when sound wiring came. The standard motion-picture film technique as agreed upon in 1909, you know, film width, perforation, frame rate, and image aspect ratio three to four, has not changed. It in fact is still en vigueur, one can make a silent movie today as if nothing had happened. Silent full-frame films are being hand-crank shown at the Filmarchiv of Austria this month, for example.

 

The talkies came with an inward technical change, nothing would be different for the audience. The figure 1:1.37 derives from the standard on the camera image aperture. We have ISO 2906 today, whose specifications read 0.630" by 0.864" for regular pictures, 1:1.371. The AMPAS aperture of 1932 was 0.631" by 0.868", 1:1.376. In the metric realm technicians speak of 16 by 22 mm, 1:1,375.

 

The maximum projectable image area on 35-mm. motion-picture film as described by ISO 2907 says 0.602" by 0.831", 1:1.38. This value does not define the actually visible screen ratio. The three-to-four format arises on the screen where an image of little oversize becomes defined either by fall-off or by swallow in black velvet. Intending a 1:1.37(5) screen image is nothing but ignorance. Regular images from 35-mm. film, 9.5-mm. film, 16-mm. film, Double-8, Straight-Eight, Super-8, and Single-8 film are to be seen 3:4.

 

The Lumière films have the aspect ratio of 4:5 and they flicker. Eidoloscope pictures are 3:7, flickerfree down to 12 frames per second. There were more systems.

 

Do not confuse CINERAMA, CinemaScope, VistaVision, and Todd-AO.

 

CINERAMA was a system employing a deeply curved screen and the spectators gathered within an almost square area. CinemaScope is a lightly curved screen affair together with VV and Todd-AO. In the electronic or TV-computer complex screens are basically flat. The small differences between 1:2.39 and 1:2.40 and such have nothing to do with the cinemas. Anamorphosis was chosen as by the factor 2 in sight of simplicity. Elongate the 3:4 image by 2, you have 3:8. That is close to CINERAMA’s 1:2.6. CinemaScope wanted to be a cheaper and simpler process than CINERAMA for every theatre. After deduction of the space occupied by the magnetic stripes on the print 1:2.55 was the initial CS ratio. When the industry fell back to prints with the regular optical sound track on type P perforated stock, 1:2.35 came into being.

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I don't think it is incorrect to say that the Academy Aperture is 1.37 : 1 and the silent aperture is 1.33 : 1. It's true that the end result is a 4x3 (1.33 : 1) image more or less on most screens due to variations in screen masking, etc. but either way, the spec for an Academy Aperture projection matte is 1.37 : 1.

 

And if a screen has been masked with black curtains, etc. for Academy then showing a silent movie -- i.e. pulling the Academy matte out of the projector -- often ends up creating a slightly bigger image than the screen can hold, and it looks off-center...

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Okay, I've re-read all David's posts on this thread and I think I now understand what he means. Yes, a 2C most likely has a full aperture gate ('silent') with lens centred for sound. So it really does come down to working out how to work with the groundglass you have fitted, or fit a new one. Sorry, took me a while to understand all this.

Honestly, I think they mostly have academy apertures. Remember, that camera came out AFTER the industry had switched over to academy. All of the 2C's I've seen are all Academy, which is totally fine for 2x anamorphic. You'd have to go back to WWII vintage model 2B's to find full gate cameras.

 

If you wish to shoot anamorphic, the problems you'll have really come down to the lenses. Good one's without fungus and any decent quality, are very expensive to buy 2x that of a 2C camera body. Rental houses also don't discount anamorphic lenses like they do spherical.

 

Plus, it's really rare to find a solid PL mount 2C for sale at any decent price. Most of the modded 2C's go for twice the price of an original un-modded one. This is because your lensing options increase dramatically with PL mount. Far better to find an Arri III or 435, which are kind of the work horses for the B unit. Both have hard PL mounts of course and can be found at similar pricing as updated 2C's, if you wait long enough.

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An Academy camera gate is not fine for anamorphic, you'd end up with visible black borders at the top and bottom of your 2.40 image. A gate centered for Academy (sound) is fine, and you can work with an Academy groundglass, but the gate has to be taller than Academy. An Academy projection aperture is .602" tall and an anamorphic projection aperture is .690" tall.

 

Think of it this way -- Academy shares the same width as anamorphic and Academy is 1.37 : 1, so with a 2X squeeze on an Academy Aperture, that's a 2.74 : 1 image once unsqueezed.

 

The anamorphic aperture is more or less Academy width but Full / Silent aperture height to get a 1.20 : 1 area which unsqueezed becomes 2.40 : 1.

 

So if your Arri-2C has an Academy camera gate installed, you'd have to get it filed out vertically or replaced. Or do a D.I. and live with zooming into the negative to get rid of the Academy gate intruding into the top & bottom of the frame.

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Thanks for this information. It would be cool to originate on anamorphic 35mm film. It looks so great. Will 35mm projection be big again? Do we have the film processing capability here? No. Is it all fairly impossible at the moment? Yes. But I know the interest is out there. And there's always digital. Anyone want a learner cameraman :)

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All of the 2C's I've seen are all Academy, which is totally fine for 2x anamorphic. You'd have to go back to WWII vintage model 2B's to find full gate cameras.

 

2Bs are post-war cameras, and as far as I'm aware none had a full (silent) gate. Also, as David has mentioned, an Academy gate is not "totally fine for 2x anamorphic".

 

There were other gates available, but the standard one was an Academy gate that measured 22mm wide by 16mm high. Most of the Arri 35s I've seen, including a very early WWII era one that is in our museum, has this size gate.

 

The 2C introduced a larger groundglass and new door optics in order to better accomodate the scope gate, which had an expanded (full silent) height but Academy width, measuring 23mm wide by 19mm high, a 1.2:1 ratio which was perfect for anamorphic shooting. They will all be centred for Academy unless someone has tried to convert the camera to Super including shifting the optical axis, but due to the complications involved I suspect even PL hard-front 2Cs are generally still centred for Academy.

 

While buying anamorphic lenses has become quite a rich man's game, there are cheaper anamorphic options from rental houses in this country, including Kowas, Xtal Express, and Lomos. The rental house I work for has a few sets of Lomos (which are basically C series Hawks) and some very vintage Zeiss Ultrascopes which are probably as cheap as proper anamorphic gets and can be converted back to their original Arri standard mounts for use with a 2C.

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There are plenty of places in the world that have huge film support, one of them is in the US.

 

35mm projection won't come back for mass distribution. It's a dead format for the masses unfortunately. 15/70 IMAX is right behind it, dying an agonizing death as it's somehow beaten by 4k digital cinema technology, that's 1/10th the quality. Nobody cares anymore because the studios make so much money with digital, they will never make a change.

 

With that said, there are still plenty of films being shot on 16, 35 and 65, it's just a matter of living places where you can see prints of them projected. It happens, but kinda rarely.

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2Bs are post-war cameras,

Yes, I apologize for my grievous error. I was referencing the II itself, rather then 1950's model that came later. I got the years mixed up, I was going off memory and was off by 10 years.

 

I also thought the Academy camera gates (full height) were taller then the Academy projection gates. This way cameras COULD use 2X anamorphic lenses without a problem. I thought that was just common knowledge as all the gates I've seen are full height, but protect the side for the soundtrack area.

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I've seen many older cameras with actual Academy gates. And I've seen plenty with Full Aperture gates but the lens is centered for Academy and the groundglass is Academy.

 

I've never run into a physical gate that was cut to Full Aperture height but Academy width other than ones that can take an anamorphic aperture hard matte, but if you've run into some, I believe you... it's just odd that they would be labeled as "Academy" gates since that's not what defines what "Academy" is. (Maybe in this case "Academy" just means a sound format.)

 

Either way, the lesson here is that you should never assume that the labelling for the camera gate and lens mount centering is accurate without checking it yourself because there are definitely older cameras out there with Academy Aperture gates that hard matte the exposed image to 1.37 : 1, not 1.20 : 1. If you slip in an Academy hard matte into the gate of a Panaflex, for example, you'd get a 1.37 image. I used to use one in the movies I shot on a Panaflex just to make it clear to the telecine operator doing dailies that the movie was not Super-35... this was because I was too chicken to do what Allen Daviau did, which was use a 1.66 hard matte in his Panaflex movies.

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This old discussion covers some of these topics:

http://www.cinematography.com/index.php?showtopic=44954

 

Since someone describes a viewfinder that could see Full Aperture height but not width, you are probably correct that their gates covered Full Aperture height but Academy Aperture width -- so could be used for anamorphic. But it's not clear that the camera gate itself is actually cut in those dimensions or just the reflex viewfinding system is limited that area.

 

As I said, one of my operators owned an Arri-2C that I used for a few shots in "The Astronaut Farmer", which was a Panavision anamorphic show, but since I never saw a workprint of that footage, I can't tell you if the soundtrack area was masked off by the camera gate.

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I just noticed the ground glass was more square then normal. So I pulled the gate out and marked a piece of film and was shocked to see it had full height, but still protected the soundtrack area. I didn't notice any markings that mentioned academy however. I probably should have measured it.

 

Does that make any sense?

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Yes, it makes sense... I've only used a rented Arri-2C a couple of times in my career, all for standard 1.85 or anamorphic movies, not Super-35, and I never really got a good look at the shape of the gate in terms of whether it masked off the soundtrack area.

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