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Dylan Gill

Now that TV's are widescreen will 1.85 turn into the 4:3 of yesteryear?

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Now that TV's are just a hair away from 1.85:1, do you think in the future it'll turn into the out-dated, squarish ratio, or do you think it's compositional perks, and the lack of mass market interest in scope tv's, will give it longevity?

 

 

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I think the opposite is happening with so many theaters just showing 2.40 letterboxed, 1.85 is the bigger format unfortunately.

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I think the opposite is happening with so many theaters just showing 2.40 letterboxed, 1.85 is the bigger format unfortunately.

 

I'm extremely green, having only made two short films. The first was 2.40 spherical, and the newest one which is still being edited was in 1.85 for that very reason. However, I found myself falling in love with the compositional elements of 1.85 on set. I am a big anamorphic fan however.

 

I have noticed even at the Arclight in Sherman Oaks (my go-to theater) the biggest auditoriums are constant width. Disappointing.

 

Let's just hope iPhone aspect ratio doesn't take over in 50 years.

 

I have a friend who works for a famous director, they were testing cameras for the iphone ratio for a media company. Luckily, the director told them it wouldn't work, and to just aim for 16:9, people will tilt their phones. Made me sad to hear about the tests, but happy about the conclusion.

Edited by Dylan Gill

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35mm anamorphic versus 35mm 1.85 used to mean wider, sharper, finer grained -- the curtains rolled open and you had this big screen experience. Now a few people shoot 4x3 IMAX for that effect and the image opens up vertically on an IMAX screen when those shots come up. Well, at least it's still sharper...

 

Maybe Netlix will finally cause Storaro's dream of 2:1 to happen.

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As a teenager I adored 35mm anamorphic. If I went to a picture and the feature turned out to be 1.85 I was always a little bit disappointed. 'Scope resulted in a small technical ritual out of which came a heightened theatrical effect - at least for me. One sat in the theatre munching whatever treat - if affordable on one's pocket money. Then the house lights dimmed, and on came ads, then an old cartoon possibly, and then a short movie, usually 1.85. Then the curtains rapidly closed, a moment of hush and expectation, then opened again whilst simultaneously you could hear the side black screen borders mechanically moving outwards, to widen the screen into cinemascope ratio. And on came the anamorphic main feature. Which, if it was 20th Century Fox, had of course the stirring fanfare which begins with the unforgettable drum intro. Later, the curtain closing ritual was done away with, and just the black borders moved into place whilst the screen went black. Believe me, all of this sort of thing added to the occasion. For my own filmmaking I've always aspired toward 2.20:1 and 2.39:1.

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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35mm anamorphic versus 35mm 1.85 used to mean wider, sharper, finer grained -- the curtains rolled open and you had this big screen experience. Now a few people shoot 4x3 IMAX for that effect and the image opens up vertically on an IMAX screen when those shots come up. Well, at least it's still sharper...

 

Maybe Netlix will finally cause Storaro's dream of 2:1 to happen.

 

 

As a teenager I adored 35mm anamorphic. If I went to a picture and the feature turned out to be 1.85 I was always a little bit disappointed. 'Scope resulted in a small technical ritual out of which came a heightened theatrical effect - at least for me. One sat in the theatre munching whatever treat - if affordable on one's pocket money. Then the house lights dimmed, and on came ads, then an old cartoon possibly, and then a short movie, usually 1.85. Then the curtains rapidly closed, a moment of hush and expectation, then opened again whilst simultaneously you could hear the side black screen borders mechanically moving outwards, to widen the screen into cinemascope ratio. And on came the anamorphic main feature. Which, if it was 20th Century Fox, had of course the stirring fanfare which begins with the unforgettable drum intro. Later, the curtain closing ritual was done away with, and just the black borders moved into place whilst the screen went black. Believe me, all of this sort of thing added to the occasion. For my own filmmaking I've always aspired toward 2.20:1 and 2.39:1.

 

I too love anamorphic 35mm, and I grew up in the 90's with the end of the film presentation era, I remember the side curtains moving and being very excited as well, though to be honest it wasn't until I got very into film that I knew the difference between widescreen ratios.

 

I kind of like the look of anamorphic on film more than digital, but I like it when it's well done either way.

 

I was wondering (pardon my ignorance, like I said, green) do you get more height and width with anamorphic lenses, than you would doing a 2.40 crop? Seems like you can get an entire face and the environment in the shot with anamorphic, while cropped spherical feels much more cramped. Or am I just imagining things?

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You can match field of view between 35mm anamorphic and Super-35 cropped to 2.40 by using the equivalent focal length (basically the spherical version uses almost half the focal length as the anamorphic.)

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I think the opposite is happening with so many theaters just showing 2.40 letterboxed, 1.85 is the bigger format unfortunately.

 

The screen curtains opening out to 2.40 used to be a big feature of watching scope films., My local multiplex letterboxes the scope films, so they don't have that really big screen look that made them different, fortunately the local art house cinema still has this feature.

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You can match field of view between 35mm anamorphic and Super-35 cropped to 2.40 by using the equivalent focal length (basically the spherical version uses almost half the focal length as the anamorphic.)

 

Good to know, thank you. This site is really a wealth of knowledge.

 

The screen curtains opening out to 2.40 used to be a big feature of watching scope films., My local multiplex letterboxes the scope films, so they don't have that really big screen look that made them different, fortunately the local art house cinema still has this feature.

I had moviepass for a little while last year and saw a scope movie at a cinemark on 1.85 screen with no masking. This is seemingly getting more common. Seems incredibly lazy to me to not at least mask it if you are going to do a constant width screen.

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Let's just hope iPhone aspect ratio doesn't take over in 50 years.

Eh? My iphone creates standard 1080p and UHD files.

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Eh? My iphone creates standard 1080p and UHD files.

I think he's referring to the vertical video people often take

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I went to see 'Green Book' recently. Great movie!! I really enjoyed it. Shot on an Alexa mini btw, for us camera nerds ... even though I wrote recently that it doesn't matter what something's shot on! :) The white screen was 1.85 ratio. The imagery of the movie and the photography was beautiful but sadly the exhibition of the 'print' was not!! Milky 'black' borders all around, thick bars on the ends and thin black bars top and bottom. Then around all of that, the inky, true blackness of the rest of the cinema wall. I couldn't really get a clear artistic visual appraisal of the frame. Too much visual junk interfering around the edges with the presentation. Yeah, okay, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. But shouldn't we be? When will cinemas return to having solid black all around the projection frame? It can be done. And why not pay extra and install a nice curtain? Might save on having to clean food/drink thrown at the screen which occasionally happens - presumably not during the showing of the actual show as there would normally be too many witnesses. Easier to clean a curtain. Come on cinemas!

Edited by Jon O'Brien

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Yeah, okay, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. But shouldn't we be?

 

I think so, yes. You should care about craft and exhibition. I haven't seen Green Book yet (though I plan too) but I saw Beale Street this week which is also 2:1 at the Arclight, tiny letterbox on a 1.85 screen. Didn't bother me. When I saw Hereditary, they lowered the frame to get rid of the bottom bar, but kept the top letterbox bar, which I thought was interesting. Either way, perfectly viewable

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I think he's referring to the vertical video people often take

Sure, but all ya gotta do is turn the phone on its side to create "normal" video. So it's kind of a loaded question because of course the industry isn't going to go vertical, that's silly. If anything, the app makers are going to be eventually forced to go horizontal. When you click on the video, it would expand it to go horizontal and playback like a normal video. At least instagram and twitter have figured this one out and only support "correct" aspect ratio content.

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Vertical video is a burgeoning format, with companies like Snapchat producing native vertical video content. It makes sense, since that's how we hold our phones the vast majority of the time.

Edited by Ravi Kiran

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Vertical video is a burgeoning format, with companies like Snapchat producing native vertical video content. It makes sense, since that's how we hold our phones the vast majority of the time.

 

 

Yes but the shame is it looks like shite.. it is the best way to hold a phone.. but thats where it ends ..

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I tell people all the time that if I were to shoot a movie now, it would likely be something the majority of people would see on their TVs, laptops, or phones. So as much as I love compositions in the widescreen scope format, I would have to take into account the image real estate, and shoot 16 x 9 for the largest image possible for home viewing.

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In the commercial world, it's actually going the other way. Today every job I shoot, they want to be able to extract a square cut for Instagram. Even worse, they now also want to be able to use a vertical image (as if filming by phone) of 9x16. It's becoming a huge, huge pain. Films and TV are probably spared by this for a bit longer, but I wouldn't be surprised if becomes more of a request down the line.

 

The way we're consuming media is completely changing. I see people watch entire seasons on their phone on the plane/bus/commute. It wouldn't take much for them to watch a whole season in the vertical format. Easier to hold the phone that way.

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In the commercial world, it's actually going the other way. Today every job I shoot, they want to be able to extract a square cut for Instagram.

A friend of mine shot a commercial with anamorphic lenses on the Alexa mini framing for 2:40 of a six person family spread out across a big couch watching TV, but he had to shoot 1x1 safe. So the entire family was crunched into the center of the 2:40 aspect ratio And everything outside of the 1x1 was just set dressing. He sent me a screenshot of the monitor. It was hilarious.

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Yes but the shame is it looks like shite.. it is the best way to hold a phone.. but thats where it ends ..

 

I'm currently working (on the post side) on vertical video for mobile consumption, and while the 9x16 frame is not my favorite compositionally, it works fine for the kind of content we produce and for it's intended destination. The cameras are turned 90 degrees, so everything's shot natively for the format, rather than extracting it from 16x9. I'm against cropping wide footage to vertical dimensions, but I see nothing wrong with native vertical content. Where things get dicey is repurposing wider footage for a vertical frame, or trying to compose for both at the same time during production.

Edited by Ravi Kiran

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Watching commercials on tv I see that the aspect ratio changes in a free way that I actually like. First an ad in 16:9, then letterbox 2.40:1, then something like 2.20:1, no logic to it. At first I think the programmers might have tried to put all widescreen ads together but now it seems to be a free mix. Wouldn't bother me if they started to chuck in 1:1 or whatever though 9:16 wouldn't really suit tv. Variety is the spice of life. I think 2:1, 2.40:1 etc for movies will remain, along with other varieties of aspect ratio. Music survived the rock revolution.

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I'm currently working (on the post side) on vertical video for mobile consumption, and while the 9x16 frame is not my favorite compositionally, it works fine for the kind of content we produce and for it's intended destination. The cameras are turned 90 degrees, so everything's shot natively for the format, rather than extracting it from 16x9. I'm against cropping wide footage to vertical dimensions, but I see nothing wrong with native vertical content. Where things get dicey is repurposing wider footage for a vertical frame, or trying to compose for both at the same time during production.

 

 

Well each to their own.. Ive also had to "frame safe' for 9-16 a very few times and hate it .. I was amazed to find my new small HD monitors had it in the frame line menu !! that was a first for me.. maybe my age.. but as a cameraman .. I really dislike this ratio.. and it would be very hard to continue doing the job if all my work went this way.. its a blight on the industry ..I mean really how can this look good compared to 16-9 .. or even square.. from a post point of view maybe its ok.. we all have to pay the bills.. but I don't think you would ever find a professional camera person would like this ratio..

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9:16 is used a lot at live concerts, especially if it's one person performing. The video cameras have the frame lines in the viewfinder, I guess they can also use the full 16:9 recording for DVD and streaming services..

 

9:16 is OK for portraits, but a weak aspect ratio for anything involving action.

 

Best use is in bus shelter adverts, phones you can turn horizontal, but it's a bit more difficult with a bus shelter.

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