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The End of Scope?


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#1 Cameron Glendinning

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 02:07 AM

Over the past few months some cinema owners and techs have been discussing the future of the truly wide screen. Many now seem convinced that scope will eventually be phased out. Personally I took this as crazy talk until the D cinema release of Painted Veil in the UK, where a 16.9 pan and scan digital print played this 2.4 aspect shot film.

Here in Australia the E cinema standard (hd720p) is slowly being installed in cinemas to complement the 35mm. Many art house titles are becoming avaliable this way, unfortunatly scope in the majority of cases will end up be letterboxed within the 1.85 frame.

Australia has aprox 90% of screens are common hight, so the picture grows by 40% in scope. Over the last 10 or so years common width screens have been appearing, this is were the smaller 1.85 frame is blown up to be 40% bigger than scope and the screen shrinks for the higher quality scope frame. which seems totally backwards to me. however ideal for the current lower quality digital scope.

Does anyone know what is going on?
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#2 Fredrik Backar FSF

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 02:14 AM

I sincerely hope - as I my self have no hard facts - that this is something that will not be the decision of the screen size at the end of the line imaging.
Aspect i s the choice of director and DP in coherrence with what the script needs and not the screen in you local cinema...
Frightening thought if things move in the direction you speake of...
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 02:33 AM

Here in the U.S., 2K DCI cinema releases show scope in the same screen size as 35mm scope projection.

It's only at the film festivals using HD tapes where they tend to work within the 16x9 recording restrictions of HD. Now with the higher-end DLP projectors, you can enlarge the letterboxed image to put the letterboxing outside the screen borders and fill the scope screen, just that there's a 30% loss of screen brightness.

Australia cinema being so "scope friendly" historically, I'm surprised that audiences would put up with scope movies being projected smaller or letterboxed.
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#4 Cameron Glendinning

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 10:06 PM

just that there's a 30% loss of screen brightness.


Im under the impression that 2k D cinema does not use a 1.5 anamorphic lens that was used for the original 1.2 k version. I will enquire about sonys 4k projector ( which IMAX has anounced plans to use to replace 15 perf 70mm) but suspect at this stage it does not. So perhaps a 30% reduction in both brightness and resolution.

Aspect i s the choice of director and DP in coherrence with what the script needs and not the screen in you local cinema...


Historically why would you shoot in scope in the first place? It was 20th Century Foxs fight back to television, and to give people a reason to go to the cinema again in the 1950's. Now that we have come full circle, both TV and cinema have wide screens, the difference between quality of HD 1080p and 2k D cinema is slight. Is it fair to say that directors and DOP's now choose to shoot in 2.35 because it looks so cool on their plasma at home? or because of childhood memories of watching the screen grow as the feature started at their local cinema?

Ultimately these decisions are made by the distributors, not the cinemas, not the filmmakers. As with Painted Veil in the UK, it was the distributer who decided that the higher resolution pan and scan 16.9 version of a 2.4 framed movie was shown to the public.

I guess this askes the relevence of cinema today, when more money is often made by a films DVD release.
Personally my childhood enjoyment of films like Star Wars would not have been the same if the screen had shrunk by 30-40% when it started. Now that American cinemas, advertising before the feature is becoming wide spread (Australia and England have been this way for decades) is it a case that the Epic feature is dramatically smaller than the in house advertising?

Is there a way of finding out what the distributors think?

Edited by Cameron Glendinning, 09 June 2007 - 10:11 PM.

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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 10:11 PM

The place I occasionally work projects scope and widescreen common width for no reason better than intense management stupidity.

There's two doors at the back of the auditorium. So, they put in a screen narrow enough to fit between them, so the doors wouldn't be obstructed. Then they made the screen roll up vertically, so the doors wouldn't be obstructed.

Yes, they solved the same problem twice and effectively spent a ridiculous amount of money making a really bad job of the screen installation.

This is why there are problems.

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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 10:16 PM

Well, considering half the movies released by Hollywood are 2.35, there doesn't seem to be a slipping of interest in the format. Since D.I.'s have come along, it's getting more common since it is easier to do.

D-Cinema is not a significant factor yet anyway, but here in the U.S., the 2K DLP projectors show scope movies all the time -- in fact, most digital releases are scope because most blockbusters are scope and most digital releases are for blockbusters.
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#7 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 10:25 PM

in fact, most digital releases are scope because most blockbusters are scope and most digital releases are for blockbusters.


HAha... so true.
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#8 Cameron Glendinning

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 11:41 PM

Thanks David

With the numbers of both Hollywood (50%) and Bollywood (close to 100%) films being scope, one would think that Texas Instruments would be focusing on a 2.375 chip rather than one with a 1.77 aspect! Personally my paranoid feelings about this is more based on the IT industries that are calling the shots behind the scenes. Scope in D cinema represents aprox 800 lines of vertical resolution, a long way from the 3,000 plus lines of anamorphic scope (based on a film grain structure of 5 microns each)

Personally I dont know of one film maker or cinema owner/worker who would welcome this change. As I said before people with vested interest are talking about it. Momentum film distributers in the UK have acted along this line of logic with their UK release of "Painted Veil", Im under the impression that dispite the complaints from customers and cinema staff no digital 2.4 aspect digital prints were made, Those cinemas that asked for 35mm scope prints were reminded that
"We were told by them that due to being part of the UK Film Council's Digital Screen Network we were contractually obliged to show the movie in the digital format."

Personally this situation should never have happened or atleast rectified ASAP. Lets hope that it never happens again! If it does, demand your money back, complain to the distributers and the production company, It might be a case of being being vocal and the only reason they would act if it becomes unprofitable for them. Afterall the majority of people who do go to see a film in a cinema would not be able to judge its correct ratio.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 June 2007 - 09:32 AM

You're not getting 3000 lines of resolution in scope projection in a movie theater, just on the original negative. Truth is that 2K DLP projection (2048 x 815? don't have a calculator on me) of 2.39 is very similar in onscreen sharpness to good scope projection, especially compared to a release print made from an IP/IN.
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#10 Jon Kukla

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Posted 11 June 2007 - 12:26 AM

The most important thing to me amongst all of this is getting the proper artistic intention down. I'm more willing to pay for a 1.2K projection at the proper aspect ratio than a 6K projection that directly contradicts the intended ratio.

Speaking of which, I had my own bad run-in with improper aspect ratios today, when I borrowed a DVD of Ocean's Eleven (the remake). Turns out it was a 1.33 pan and scan extraction from the 2.39 image (not the full frame), using common top frameline. What makes this truly unforgivable, though, is that the disc was part of the "Limited Collector's Edition" from the "Classics Collection". I can understand one-off 4:3 releases, but to allow them to be part of deluxe boxsets is just a hair short of capital crime.
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#11 Nick Mulder

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Posted 11 June 2007 - 01:03 AM

with the advent of so many DI films nowadays I wonder why the arent (if not projected by DLP) all printed as scope to take advantage of the extra brightness you get from the format (xenon bulb output not simply burning up on a 1.85 mask instead) ...

I only thought of this after having watched Sunshine, which was done this way ...
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