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Best aspect ratio for physical comedy


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#1 3ldfilms

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Posted 06 May 2006 - 05:31 PM

Hey All,

I'm shooting a music video on 35mm and while I really wanted to shoot anamorphic I started wondering whether that would be the best choice since the video features a lot of Buster Keaton/Charlie Chaplin style physical comedy. It is a music video so it will be watched on TV and online, and not in a theatre.

Do you think 2:35 is too wide for a good pratfalls etc? Naturally the original Keaton and Chaplin films were 1.33 and I wonder if I will lose the comedy by the need to be too wide so that you can see the character from head to toe (or rather the screen will be too short).

Any thoughts? I've never directed physical comedy on film before. Does anyone know of any great comedies shot on 2.35 (namely comedy with physical gags and pratfalls)?

While I know it will look beautiful, I just wonder if 2.35 will ultimately emotionally distance the viewer the hero and the humour will only exist on a purely physical level (rather than being connected to the characters expereince of the events).

Thoughts?
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#2 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 06 May 2006 - 09:28 PM

All formats have been used for physical comedy. Here are some classic ones filmed in 8-perf Technirama:

http://www.imdb.com/...57413/technical

And "scope":

http://www.imdb.com/...59243/technical

And even 65mm 2.20:1:

http://www.imdb.com/...59797/technical

And 2.76:1 Ultra Panavision 70

http://www.imdb.com/...57193/technical

It's a matter of what "style" you are trying to emulate, but all film formats can work for comedy.
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 07 May 2006 - 12:21 AM

Since your final product will be on TV any widescreen project will have to be letterboxed, making wider shots just that much smaller on screen. Physical comedy often utilizes head-to-toe or at least "cowboy" framing, so try to picture that within a 2.35:1 letterbox on a standard TV. I'm not suggesting it won't work, but take a good look at what you want your shots to look like.

One nice thing about a wider frame is that it allows room for two scenarios to take place at the same time, such as one action upstaging another in the same shot. But if I wasn't planning on staging gags this way very much, I'd be inclined to shoot 16:9 or 4:3 for comedy.
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#4 John King

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Posted 07 May 2006 - 03:05 AM

3ldfilms,

I hope what you're asking for is opinions here cause that's all I have to offer! Personally I feel that there is room for concern esthetic wise. I do think that the wider aspect ratios distance audiences from the action. To me comedy (much like the horror genre really) works best up close and intimate. If you're going to go for a Keaton or Chaplinesque feel then maybe you should consider going all the way and shoot and print in the tighter ratio (1.33:1) For that matter you might also consider b&w and speeded-up motion too-- again it depends on the mood and 'feel' you want to establish (also is this in any wise an homage to the early masters?)

To be honest with you I do not have much use for widescreen personally, well mainly I don't like the so-called 'scope' ratios. For my money (both as a filmmaker and ticket buyer) 1.85:1 is about as wide as I think things need to get for most dramas, comedies, or thrillers. At least that all important intimacy with the screen is not lost as it usually is with the wider 'scope' ratios (ie. 2.35:1 and beyond). If you were shooting a western, or perhaps a space opera where part of the experience relied on impressing the audience with wide broadening vistas of natural breath taking beauty, then a scope ratio ought to be considered. Again this is all my own humble opinion of course.

Best of luck with your video!

Regards,

J.M. King
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