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The physical possibility of a vertical image field.


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#1 James Wilkins

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 12:41 PM

Hello:

I am curious about modifying lenses to achieve a vertical image field instead of the normal aspect ratio that emphasizes width over height.

For some context, the film artist Rodney Graham presented a piece in the 2006 Whitney Biennial that took advantage of a vertical frame, or "portrait" frame:

http://www.whitney.o...t=Graham_Rodney

He achieved this by turning a 35mm camera on its side, and I believe the looped projector was modified to project on its side.

I'd like to know if this effect can be achieved in camera, so the final projection is a 4:3 or whatever ratio, but the image has been cropped within it, perhaps through a DI. I'm particularly interested in the possibility of modifying an anamorphic lens for this purpose. I understand there is a myriad of technical difficulties, including mounting, focal plane, and so forth...I am interested in the theoretical possibility. Thanks.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 01:24 PM

"jnkw" you need to go to My Controls and edit your Display Name into a real first and last name as per the forum rules.

I'm not sure what you're asking because you mention vertical masking in one sentence and anamorphic in another, so which is it? And for what purpose -- a museum installation? A special venue ride film?

Most people would just turn a camera and a projector on its side. For example, the Luxor ride film made by Trumbull had one section that is VistaVision (8-perf 35mm) shot & projected vertically.
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#3 James Wilkins

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 01:59 PM

I'm not sure what you're asking because you mention vertical masking in one sentence and anamorphic in another, so which is it? And for what purpose -- a museum installation? A special venue ride film?

Most people would just turn a camera and a projector on its side. For example, the Luxor ride film made by Trumbull had one section that is VistaVision (8-perf 35mm) shot & projected vertically.


The purpose would be a film that is watchable as most films are, except with a vertical emphasis. I am interested in achieving the effect prior to projection, so special accommodations are not required. I figured some sort of masking and scaling would be required to fit a vertical image into a horizontally-inclined piece of film.

The type of lens is somewhat immaterial, but I mention anamorphic lenses out of curiosity. For instance, they provide the most dramatic emphasis on the horizontal field. Can this be reversed or hijacked? Also, anamorphic lenses might provide more resolution to work with--presuming the camera lens has been swiveled and there's a certain amount of inherent, in-camera cropping occurring. I think about an anamorphic lens when I think about shooting on 16mm and blowing up to 35mm, opening more space for the vertical image once its been un-squeezed.

What I am not interested in is shooting an entire picture with a camera on its side and then just flipping it in post. I am not interested in a special effect; rather, I'd like to consider a different way of thinking about movies. So to summarize my question, I am interested in the physical feasibility of a camera that films vertically.
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#4 Michael Nash

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 03:47 PM

Anamorphic photography requires an anamorphic lens on the projector to view an unsqueezed image, so If you were to modify or create an anamorphic lens that squeezed the image vertically in camera, you'd have to mount a vertical-squeeze lens on the projector.

If you want to make use of existing "flat" projection systems, then you'd have to create a masked image of the desired aspect ratio on the print. How you get there is up to you -- Shoot a "normal" image and side-crop it; shoot a larger image and shrink & crop that; or shoot a sideways image and turn it. No matter what you do, you're not gaining any more resolution in projection than you can get out of the print's 35mm Academy area, although the higher the resolution of the original, the sharper it will tend to look down the line.

When you get right down to it, 35mm cameras don't film horizontally or vertically -- they actually film closer to "square," and the image is cropped to fit the aspect ratio of the display. 35mm motion picture film runs through the camera vertically, but we usually extract an image that's oriented horizontally. Vistavision runs 35mm film through the camera sideways, and IMAX runs 65mm film through the camera sideways to create a nearly-square image. So the whole notion of aspect ratio being "inclined" by the film is pretty irrelevant. It's what you do with this nearly-square "raw" image afterwards (i.e. projection) that makes it have a horizontal aspect ratio. The only time it matters is with anamorphic lenses that squeeze (and subsequently unsqueeze) the image horizontally.

How about turning the projector or monitor sideways? You see plasma displays in shopping mall like this all the time. If turning the camera on its side is not practical, there are dovetail prism lenses that will optically re-orient an image.
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#5 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 04:23 PM

The first film made with Chretien's Hypergonar, later CinemaScope, was C. Aurant-Lara's' 'To Build a Fire'
was made with the reels alternating between horizontal and vertical squeeze/shape.

An anamorphic attachment can be mounted in any direction.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 04:34 PM

35mm theatrical projection is all 1.85 matted widescreen or 2.40 anamorphic widescreen these days. Academy 1.37 projection is only an option at art house cinemas that routinely show old movie prints.

So you'd have to further mask the 1.85 area to get a vertical image, which would be a tremendous waste of print area. The simplest thing would be to just make a special hard matte for a 35mm camera gate that puts black borders on the sides of the negative.

You turn the camera sideways and print the 1.85 or 2.40 anamorphic image with side mattes into the 1.85 projection area, using a D.I. or an optical printer. Considering what a small window that would be on the 35mm print (bordered top & bottom for 1.85 and bordered left & right to create a vertical image) you could practically shoot in Super-16 and turn the camera sideways and use that negative for creating this windowboxed frame on 35mm using a D.I. or optical printer.

Even if you mounted an anamorphic lens rotated 90 degrees to squeeze by 2X vertically rather than horizontally, what's the point if it has to be shown using standard 35mm release print formats? You're not going to get a theater to let you rotate the anamorphic projector lens by 90 degrees, and even if you could, you'd have a vertical image that wouldn't fit onto the horizontal theater screen.

All this is why vertical formats are generally just for art gallery works, museums, or special venues.
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#7 Nick Mulder

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 05:36 PM

rotate the viewer...
Posted Image
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#8 James Wilkins

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 06:37 PM

Thanks for the responses.

David Mullen - you could practically shoot in Super-16 and turn the camera sideways and use that negative for creating this windowboxed frame on 35mm using a D.I. or optical printer.

So, David, you're saying the super16mm image would be printed direct and not blown-up, retaining its resolution because it retains its size?

What is the ceiling of perceived sharpness on a 35mm print? If a vertical anamorphic 16mm image is scaled and masked via DI, would it be perceived as sharper than a super16mm image that is simply flipped on its side and printed straight? I completely agree that the anamorphic approach would be a tremendous waste of film, but if it is sharper, an unusually fine and narrow image--like a sliver of light from a doorway--might be created.

Anyways, to Leo Anthony Vale - is that film based on a Jack London story? I just looked it up on Wikipedia and it says, "It is widely considered as a prime example of a Man vs. Nature conflict." That's what we're talking about here!
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#9 Michael Nash

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 07:25 PM

David Mullen - you could practically shoot in Super-16 and turn the camera sideways and use that negative for creating this windowboxed frame on 35mm using a D.I. or optical printer.

So, David, you're saying the super16mm image would be printed direct and not blown-up, retaining its resolution because it retains its size?


You can't directly contact-print a super 16 image sideways onto 35mm film, because contact printers are set up to lay one strand of film in line with another, making physical "contact." That's why David said it would have to go through an optical printer or a DI. Any optical step usually degrades the quality of the original somewhat, and the image quality of a DI would be determined by the scan resolution, post format, and output.

I would think that either a super 16 or vertical-anamorphic standard 16 image DI'd at 2K resolution would look pretty sharp when turned sideways within the 1.85/Academy frame.
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#10 Hal Smith

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Posted 29 November 2007 - 12:28 AM

Even if you mounted an anamorphic lens rotated 90 degrees to squeeze by 2X vertically rather than horizontally, what's the point if it has to be shown using standard 35mm release print formats? You're not going to get a theater to let you rotate the anamorphic projector lens by 90 degrees, and even if you could, you'd have a vertical image that wouldn't fit onto the horizontal theater screen.

Actually it wouldn't be too hard to talk a boutique theater in to doing this - I would be certain one theater I know of here in OKC could be talked into screening such a film if the film itself were of some value artistically. Most anamorphic projection lenses are adapters that screw onto the front of a standard spherical projection lens. All they'd have to do is put a longer focal length standard lens behind the anamorphic adapter and rotate the entire combination in the lens holder 90 degrees (as you noted). Calculating the correct lens would be pretty easy, there's a lot of commercial 35mm projection information out on the web.

To up the ante one could use a pair of interlocked projectors running two images side by side - literally putting the Cinerama idea on its ear! I wouldn't have the images touch each other, I've seen real three projector Cinerama in action and the misregistration jiggle at the image joints bothered me quite a bit.
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 November 2007 - 01:31 AM

A vertical scope image on a standard 1.85 screen would be pretty small.
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#12 James Wilkins

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Posted 02 December 2007 - 08:44 AM

Thanks for all the thoughts.
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#13 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 03:10 PM

Anyways, to Leo Anthony Vale - is that film based on a Jack London story? I just looked it up on Wikipedia and it says, "It is widely considered as a prime example of a Man vs. Nature conflict." That's what we're talking about here!


Yes. The french title is 'Construire un feu'. 1929 and silent.

http://caliber.ucpre....56?cookieSet=1

Multi format films pretty much require a special screen and theatre. Like a worlds fair pavilion instead of a multiplex.
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#14 Domi

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 07:15 AM

We all agree, buying an ISCO is now insane. What about the HYPERGONAR?

Any Cons and Pros from experts in the house?

/Do
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