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History of 1.85:1


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#1 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 03:39 PM

Hi.

I've been doing considerable research on the history of widescreen, but I can't seem to find exactly when the 1.85:1 aspect ratio was adopted as the Academy standard. Any help (books, links, etc.) would be appeciated.

Thanks.
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#2 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 03:47 PM

I've been doing considerable research on the history of widescreen, but I can't seem to find exactly when the 1.85:1 aspect ratio was adopted as the Academy standard. Any help (books, links, etc.) would be appeciated.


It's not an Academy standard. SMPTE standards give dimensions for it along with 1.66:1 & 1.75:1.

Look in SmPe journals for 1930, the T was added in late 40s.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 03:56 PM

Hi.

I've been doing considerable research on the history of widescreen, but I can't seem to find exactly when the 1.85:1 aspect ratio was adopted as the Academy standard. Any help (books, links, etc.) would be appeciated.

Thanks.


Well, the Academy Aperture is 1.37 : 1, so 1.85 isn't an "Academy" standard. It's become an ANSI/SMPTE standard / recommendation over the years. The Academy Aperture of 1932 was sort of the first and last time the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) got to set an official projection standard. I'm curious about how that happened, seems like a political control issue (the Academy at the time being more or less run by the studios) between the studios and the engineers and cinematographers of SMPE and the ASC.

I recall articles from the 1953-54 period in "American Cinematographer" (I think it was that magazine) where there was a discussion of studio recommendations for widescreen masking & projection. Universal Studios backed 1.85, Paramount wanted 1.66, and Disney wanted 1.75. I think MGM eventually sided with Universal on 1.85. I don't recall what Fox or Columbia wanted to do. I don't own that issue so I can't look it up right now.

1.85 became the U.S. standard rather haphazardly over the decades, more or less out of default (i.e. theaters didn't want to deal with swapping out masks for 1.66, 1.75, and 1.85 projection no matter how the can of film was labelled.)
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 04:00 PM

It's not an Academy standard. SMPTE standards give dimensions for it along with 1.66:1 & 1.75:1.

Look in SmPe journals for 1930, the T was added in late 40s.


You'd look in issues after 1952 -- it was the intro of Cinerama (1952) and CinemaScope (1953) that led the studios to start masking Academy movies to widescreen during projection (supposedly "Shane" was one of the first movies to be released that way.)
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 04:03 PM

Look here for some info on widescreen masking history:

http://www.widescree...n/evolution.htm
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#6 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 04:57 PM

Look here for some info on widescreen masking history:

http://www.widescree...n/evolution.htm


Yup. That's the site I've been reading, but hadn't come across that particular link.

Thanks, David.
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#7 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 02:17 PM

You'd look in issues after 1952 -- it was the intro of Cinerama (1952) and CinemaScope (1953) that led the studios to start masking Academy movies to widescreen during projection (supposedly "Shane" was one of the first movies to be released that way.)


The 1930s issues had quite a number of articles on wide screen and wide film, including surveys of various paintings, where the aspect ratios were measured in a an attempt to discover the ideal wide aspect ratio.

One of the aspect ratios they came up with was 1.85:1. It's been ages since I read this material, so I can't recall specifics. But this seems to be where that odd number 1.85 came from.
So while it was over 20 years until 1.85:1 was actually used, this is where it originated.

'House of Wax' was definitely one of the first Academy movies masked to widescreen, 1.66:1.
3-d, widescreen, WarnerColor and WarnerPhonic Sound, the whole works.

'On the Waterfront' was another, some critics complained about that.
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#8 Jon Kukla

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 07:48 AM

Ahem, http://en.wikipedia....iki/Eidoloscope - the ratio goes back to the birth of cinema, although I'm certain that this is coincidence.
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#9 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 02:41 PM

Ahem, http://en.wikipedia....iki/Eidoloscope - the ratio goes back to the birth of cinema, although I'm certain that this is coincidence.


So you're claiming that the introduction of 1.85/1 has nothing todo with 185 being the address of "Kane's lovenest"?
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