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Full Metal Jacket


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#1 Dan Goulder

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 07:36 PM

Caught "Full Metal Jacket" last night on HD cable in the 1.85 theatrical ratio. Yeah, baby. That's more like it. It appears the movie was optimally framed for this format. The shots are much tighter and more effective, more immediate. I'm sure most of Kubrick's movies were originally released on video in full frame 4 x 3 as a concession to TV, done to avoid a pan and scan. The downside is that the extra space on top and bottom tends to make the performances a bit more 'distant'.
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#2 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 09:21 PM

I'm sure most of Kubrick's movies were originally released on video in full frame 4 x 3 as a concession to TV, done to avoid a pan and scan.


This has been an endless debate for years...

A few years ago I had the chance to see restored 35mm prints of his last three films framed at 1.85:1 and IMHO the films look much better that way. Kubrick composed with 1.85:1 ratio in mind, as seen in the book "The Stanley Kubrick Archives", which shows some prep material for "The Shining" handwritten by him where he tells his 2nd unit something like "the frame is 1.85:1. You obviously compose for that, and protect for TV 1.33:1".
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#3 Jon-Hebert Barto

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 12:49 AM

There is a thread in general discussion much like this. Kubrick made sure it looked good both ways. I agree about the emotion of those "tighter" shots becuase of the 1.85 aspect in some parts. Cowboys' death scene comes to mind..."I can hack it.., I can hack it...." However I like the slow-mo shots of the sniper blowing 'em away at the end more in the 4x3. If Kubrick wanted us to watch it in 1.85 then that is what we should do! :P I have a feeling we will never tire of these " Kubrick Discussions". No one in film history has been the source for so much artistic dialogue between professional and fan alike.
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#4 Max Jacoby

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 06:42 AM

When I watch his later 1.85 films on my 16x9 TV I simply have the image fill the whole screen, thereby lettboxing off the top and bottom to a 1.78 aspect ratio.
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#5 Mark Dunn

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 03:23 PM

When Kubrick first supervised the video transfer of 'Dr. Strangelove' he reportedly left some scenes in 1.33. IIRC the NFT showed it in 1.66 at its '99 retrospective.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 04:27 PM

When Kubrick first supervised the video transfer of 'Dr. Strangelove' he reportedly left some scenes in 1.33. IIRC the NFT showed it in 1.66 at its '99 retrospective.


Basically Kubrick did not want to mask any image in a 4x3 video transfer, so if you see hard mattes, it's because the camera had one, hence why "Clockwork Orange" and "Barry Lyndon" are letterboxed and "Dr. Strangelove" has mattes coming and going (even in "Clockwork Orange" at one point there is more matting than the rest of the movie.) Obviously the movie was not shot with the intention of a multi-aspect ratio screening since that was not possible in the theatrical release, and contrary to some people's opinion, Kubrick shot his movies for theatrical release primarily, not primarily for a 4x3 TV release.
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#7 Craig Knowles

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 11:42 PM

I've been thinking about "manipulating" the DVDs to make my own letterboxed versions. Do you think a straight matte would work, or would Kubrick have recomposed many the shots? That is, did Kubrick leave in equal amounts of space at the top and bottom of each shot, or would you have to do a lot of re-centering?

Edited by Craig Knowles, 14 March 2006 - 11:48 PM.

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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 11:57 PM

The transfers for "The Shining" and "Full Metal Jacket" could be just matted -- they have excess top & bottom space in the framing. However. "Eyes Wide Shut" (which Kubrick never got to supervise a video transfer of) looks like the headroom was adjusted for the 4x3 version.
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#9 Dan Goulder

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 01:05 AM

"Eyes Wide Shut" (which Kubrick never got to supervise a video transfer of) looks like the headroom was adjusted for the 4x3 version.

The HD transfer of "Eyes Wide Shut" definitely has a different topline than the 4x3 transfer.
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#10 Tim Carroll

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 04:53 PM

Just saw Full Metal Jacket last night on HBO, "fullscreen" on a 4:3 TV.

Was blown away by so many of the shots as far as framing. Throw away shots like a helicopter leaving after dropping soldiers off, the way it was framed as they follow the helicopter back into the air, any frame could have been taken out and made into a still that was breath taking.

So I was wondering how the film could look so good in 4:3, when I remember seeing it in theaters back in 1987 in "widescreen". Did some reading today and I keep finding folks who say he shot the film in 4:3 and just "letterboxed" it for the theatrical release. Is that true? Did he shoot it Full Frame 4:3 and then just crop off the top and bottom in the theatrical release? And does this mean the 4:3 or "fullscreen" version of the DVD is what was actually shot, i.e. the "fullscreen" version is not a pan and scan of a 1:85 original negative?

Thanks,
-Tim
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#11 Dan Goulder

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 05:11 PM

Just saw Full Metal Jacket last night on HBO, "fullscreen" on a 4:3 TV.

Was blown away by so many of the shots as far as framing. Throw away shots like a helicopter leaving after dropping soldiers off, the way it was framed as they follow the helicopter back into the air, any frame could have been taken out and made into a still that was breath taking.

So I was wondering how the film could look so good in 4:3, when I remember seeing it in theaters back in 1987 in "widescreen". Did some reading today and I keep finding folks who say he shot the film in 4:3 and just "letterboxed" it for the theatrical release. Is that true? Did he shoot it Full Frame 4:3 and then just crop off the top and bottom in the theatrical release? And does this mean the 4:3 or "fullscreen" version of the DVD is what was actually shot, i.e. the "fullscreen" version is not a pan and scan of a 1:85 original negative?

Thanks,
-Tim

Ironically, the film was shown in its theatrical aspect ratio just the night before on HBO HD. If you watch it both ways, you can see that it was framed for 1.85/1, and protected for 4x3. Kubrick's later films were all shot this way. The theatrical framing does tend to bring the action more forward, and makes it feel like you're watching a different movie than the 4x3 version.
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#12 Tim Carroll

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 05:19 PM

Ironically, the film was shown in its theatrical aspect ratio just the night before on HBO HD. If you watch it both ways, you can see that it was framed for 1.85/1, and protected for 4x3. Kubrick's later films were all shot this way. The theatrical framing does tend to bring the action more forward, and makes it feel like you're watching a different movie than the 4x3 version.


Pardon my stupidity, but when you say it was framed "1.85/1 and protected for 4:3", do you mean they came up with the 1.85/1 version by cutting the top and bottom off the 4:3 version, or that they came up with the 4:3 version by panning and scanning or cutting off the right and left side of the 1.85/1 version?

Thanks,
-Tim
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#13 Dan Goulder

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 05:30 PM

Pardon my stupidity, but when you say it was framed "1.85/1 and protected for 4:3", do you mean they came up with the 1.85/1 version by cutting the top and bottom off the 4:3 version, or that they came up with the 4:3 version by panning and scanning or cutting off the right and left side of the 1.85/1 version?

Thanks,
-Tim

It's not pan and scan. This method of shooting is done by leaving "extra" room above and below the theatrical frame, thus utilizing the full frame for standard TV.
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#14 Craig Knowles

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 05:33 PM

Pardon my stupidity, but when you say it was framed "1.85/1 and protected for 4:3", do you mean they came up with the 1.85/1 version by cutting the top and bottom off the 4:3 version, or that they came up with the 4:3 version by panning and scanning or cutting off the right and left side of the 1.85/1 version?

Thanks,
-Tim


Each shot was composed with 1.85 in mind, but they made sure that the entire 4:3 frame of the negative was viable (e.g., "protected" from booms, etc.) so that it could be transferred straight to 4:3 for television.

Thus, if you were to take a 4:3 version of Full Metal Jacket for example, you could mask the top and bottom of your 4:3 television to "recreate" the 1.85 theatrical framing.
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#15 Tim Carroll

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 05:39 PM

Thus, if you were to take a 4:3 version of Full Metal Jacket for example, you could mask the top and bottom of your 4:3 television to "recreate" the 1.85 theatrical framing.


Thanks, that is what I was trying to understand. Is this the same with "Eyes Wide Shut"?

Thanks,
-Tim
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 01:45 AM

Tim, I'm not sure you understand, but 35mm print projection is always 4-perf, ever since the Silent Era, and the 4-perf 35mm Full Aperture is naturally 4x3 (1.33 : 1).

When sound on film was invented, the optical soundtrack shaved off part of the print area on the left side, so the projector masked that out so you wouldn't see the optical track as an image on screen. But that shaved the Silent Era 1.33 : 1 frame to something like 1.20 : 1, too vertical / square for some.

So in 1932, they changed the projector gate again to mask a little off the top & bottom, as well as the soundtrack area on the left, to make the image 1.37 : 1, which is called Academy.

In 1953, anamorphic was introduced as CinemaScope. The image has a 2X squeeze built-in, so if the whole 4-perf Full Aperture (Silent) area is projected, the unstretched image would be 2.66 : 1 (1.33 doubled in width.) But since part of the width is used by the soundtrack stripe, the projector gate is similar to the early sound films, almost 1.20 : 1, which doubled becomes almost 2.40 : 1.

So now you had two 35mm projection formats in 1953, 1.37 Academy and CinemaScope (which has varied over the years from 2.55 to 2.35 to 2.40 depending on the exact shape of the projector gate.) In comparison to CinemaScope, 1.37 Academy looked too square, so a "poor man's" widescreen was invented which involved using a projector mask that cropped the top & bottom of the Academy area even more. This was called "matted widescreen" and is how we ended up with 1.66 and 1.85.

So almost all theatrical projection today is either 35mm 4-perf "matted widescreen" or "anamorphic widescreen."

"Full Metal Jacket" was shot with standard spherical lenses for standard matted widescreen projection, which means that the 4-perf 35mm negative had to be composed for cropping by the projector to 1.85. Kubrick "protected" the larger negative area above and below the 1.85 framelines from unwanted film equipment, mic booms, etc. so that he could transfer the full frame to 4x3 video. This is nothing new -- in fact MOST 1.85 movies are shot that way, composed for cropping to 1.85 but protected for 4x3 full-frame TV transfer. The end result though tends to be a 4x3 TV version with somewhat excessive headroom, which you can see here:

Posted Image

Here is it cropped to 1.85 more or less, with more normal headroom:

Posted Image
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#17 Tim Carroll

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 08:25 AM

Thanks David. I've never worked in 35mm, only 16, and I keep trying to relate 35 back to 16 and Super 16. I guess there really isn't an equivalent to the Super 16's negative aspect ratio in the 35mm negative.

-Tim
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#18 Oscar Godfrey

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 08:44 AM

I prefer the 4:3 ratio version. Not just for this film but generally. More recently Van Sant's Elephant was shot and projected in the cinema at 4:3 and i think it looks amazing. When you see something in 4:3 at the cinema i think it makes a nice change.
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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 10:15 AM

Thanks David. I've never worked in 35mm, only 16, and I keep trying to relate 35 back to 16 and Super 16. I guess there really isn't an equivalent to the Super 16's negative aspect ratio in the 35mm negative.

-Tim


Super-16 Full Aperture is around 1.68 : 1. The closest would be 3-perf Super-35, which is around 1.78 : 1.

I prefer the 4:3 ratio version. Not just for this film but generally. More recently Van Sant's Elephant was shot and projected in the cinema at 4:3 and i think it looks amazing. When you see something in 4:3 at the cinema i think it makes a nice change.


I like seeing movies composed for 4x3 to be projected that way, like old Academy movies or Silent Era movies. Trouble is that "Full Metal Jacket" wasn't composed that way; it looks interesting shown that way, but it's a compromise.

Even when Kubrick had an opportunity to have it and some of his other flat movies projected in 4x3 at some film festivals, he requested that they be shown with a 1.66 projector mask, so even he felt that a little matting was necessary. He just didn't like electronic letterboxing on TV, so we don't know how he would have felt if TV went over to 16x9 -- the last time he supervised a transfer of all his movies was in the early 1990's for the laserdisc market. Would he now want only 16x9 full-frame transfers for these flat titles? Would he want them side-matted to 4x3? It's not clear. The few flat titles that he shot with camera mattes, like "Barry Lyndon", he preferred that the 4x3 transfer show the camera mattes, even when the mattes were inconsistent (like "Dr. Strangelove" or even "Clockwork Orange", which has a hard-matted negative but a few shots were matted even more.)
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#20 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 10:25 AM

Standard SMPTE 195-2000 actually recommends shooting full frame, and introducing any "hard matte" for theatrical release prints in post:

A.5 Image area on original negative
Use of camera aperture dimensions other than those stated
in SMPTE 59 is discouraged. Film users are reminded that
many features composed for wide-screen aspect ratio will
be shown later on television. Use of a hard matte in the
camera will require substantial cropping of the film horizontally
when the film is transferred to television, and severely
limits the use of a print made from the negative.
Good practice dictates using the 1.37:1 style A camera
aperture of SMPTE 59, while composing for the desired
theatrical projection aspect ratio. Care should be taken to
exclude extraneous items or action from the photographed
image area which may show in the television scanned area.


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