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Filming Two Different Ratios With Two Different Cameras - Why?


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#1 grant mcphee

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 01:09 PM

Hello,

I do work at a local film festival every year as a print viewer (check to see if the print is suitable for public showing/for insurance purposes etc).

Jason and the Argonauts was being shown as part of a Ray Harryhausen special.

The print we were given (original) was academy though we were told it was to be 1.85:1. There was a lot of confusion as everywhere stated that the original print was 1.85:1. Though whoever sent the print insisted that it was academy and should not be masked. Eventually someone asked Ray Harryhausen who said that the film was shot twice with two cameras - one academy and one 1.85:1 so that two different prints could be made.

This seems really bizarre. Why would this be done and was it a common practice at the time (1963)?

It would kind of make sense if only the 1.85:1 version was used as a print and they were very forward thinking and used the other for tv (a bit like some more recent dvd age super 35 shoots).
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 01:27 PM

Doesn't make much sense when they could have just shot Academy framed for 1.85 and protected for Academy... seems rather indulgent to make a separate version actually composed for Academy in 1963.
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#3 K Borowski

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 03:13 PM

Doesn't make much sense when they could have just shot Academy framed for 1.85 and protected for Academy... seems rather indulgent to make a separate version actually composed for Academy in 1963.


I agree that this doesn't make much sense when the two formats, using four perf, can coexist.

This was only a couple of years after they were shooting movies like Brigadoon in both widescreen (Was it Vistavision or 65mm for the widescreen version? I forget.) and academy.

Of course, when you shoot and protect for two totally different aspect ratios, it compromises the cinematography and the ability to give deliberateness to composition, so maybe this was one of the rare cases where cinematographic integrity took precedent over convenience.
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#4 grant mcphee

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 03:54 PM

I agree that this doesn't make much sense when the two formats, using four perf, can coexist.

This was only a couple of years after they were shooting movies like Brigadoon in both widescreen (Was it Vistavision or 65mm for the widescreen version? I forget.) and academy.

Of course, when you shoot and protect for two totally different aspect ratios, it compromises the cinematography and the ability to give deliberateness to composition, so maybe this was one of the rare cases where cinematographic integrity took precedent over convenience.


What I find odd is that both versions were for cinema release. Vistavision or 65mm would require specialised equipment which may not have been available in more provincial cities, so it may be feasable, like Karl says that two prints were made where cinematographic integrity would take precidence. Though, as far as I'm aware 1.85:1 dosnt really require any specialised equipment, and although the animation in Jason is fantastic it is not really known for it's outstanding cinematography.

The academy print was British as it had the BBFC certificate card at the start of the first reel.
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#5 John Holland

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 04:09 PM

There has to some crossed wires here . there is no way that film was shot twice with different cameras , the Skeleton stop frame fight took 6-8 months to shoot not going to that twice are you , it must have been shot academy but as David said shown 1.85 as was the common projection then and still is.
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#6 grant mcphee

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 04:41 PM

well the guy who shot that sequence said it took 4 months and he used two cameras - one academy and one 1.85:1. It's probably not going to take much longer to take two frames on one camera then two frames on another if they are right next to you and framed on the same action. I saw him with my own eyes 3 days ago state that that sequence took 4 months (the live action parts took 2 weeks) and he told a colleague that he used two cameras while doing it specifically so they could have an academy print and a 1.85:1 print. I did not get an opportunity to ask why.
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#7 Deepak Bajracharya

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 06:06 PM

Namaste,

Recently shot a short movie in super 16mm format, composed for 1.85:1 ratio and made the prints in both 1.85:1 and 2.40:1 scope, direct optical blowups.

Likewise, an ad shot with SI-2K mini, composed for 2.40:1 and made prints in widescreen and scope.

For the super 16mm format, the widescreen print for the festivals and scope print for the exploration of the local film market.

The composition will definately be compromised, with the widescreen, the scope print will look tight specially in close shots, with the scope, the frame will look loosely composed for the widescreen.

With best regards,
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#8 John Sprung

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 07:22 PM

Doesn't make much sense when they could have just shot Academy framed for 1.85 and protected for Academy... seems rather indulgent to make a separate version actually composed for Academy in 1963.

Or shoot the Academy and do an optical repo from it to tweak the 1.85 better.


-- J.S.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 08:14 PM

well the guy who shot that sequence said it took 4 months and he used two cameras - one academy and one 1.85:1. It's probably not going to take much longer to take two frames on one camera then two frames on another if they are right next to you and framed on the same action. I saw him with my own eyes 3 days ago state that that sequence took 4 months (the live action parts took 2 weeks) and he told a colleague that he used two cameras while doing it specifically so they could have an academy print and a 1.85:1 print. I did not get an opportunity to ask why.


It may have been that they wanted the non-efx movie to be shot with a 1.85 matte (not uncommon then) but wanted any scenes to be used in Harryhausen's Dynamation set-up to be shot unmatted.
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#10 Nate Downes

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 10:57 PM

I heard that they shot all live-action sequences with two cameras simultaneously, never knew why.
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#11 K Borowski

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 10:42 AM

There has to some crossed wires here . there is no way that film was shot twice with different cameras , the Skeleton stop frame fight took 6-8 months to shoot not going to that twice are you , it must have been shot academy but as David said shown 1.85 as was the common projection then and still is.


Here's another thing that I find confusing: I could have sworn I saw a documentary with Ray Harryhausen where he said that he shot all of his stuff in Vistavision 8-perf. I'm pretty sure he mentioned Jason and the Argonauts specifically. I also remember seeing this film on TV, and seeing a couple of brief scratches. . . travelling horizontally across the frame.
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#12 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 01:49 PM

Here's another thing that I find confusing: I could have sworn I saw a documentary with Ray Harryhausen where he said that he shot all of his stuff in Vistavision 8-perf. I'm pretty sure he mentioned Jason and the Argonauts specifically. I also remember seeing this film on TV, and seeing a couple of brief scratches. . . travelling horizontally across the frame.


I've never come across any mention of Harryhausen using Vistavision. For one thing his budgets were too small. He used two rear projectors, one of which had belonged to Willis O'Brian; which would predate VistaVision.
He would use the projectors simultaneously, one with the background plate, the other with effects elements like splashes and flames.

Jim Danforth used VistaVision for the background plates in 'Caveman'.
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#13 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 02:00 PM

well the guy who shot that sequence said it took 4 months and he used two cameras - one academy and one 1.85:1. It's probably not going to take much longer to take two frames on one camera then two frames on another if they are right next to you and framed on the same action.


Except that the animation was done in front of a rear projection screen.
& Harryhausen used split screens to make the animated characters appear to be behind items in the plate and make the supports disappear. e.g: Talos walking out from behind the rocks.

That set up precludes the use of two cameras.
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#14 Tim Partridge

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 02:23 PM

Leo-

I read an interview with Harryhausen stating that one of the reasons he ended up working in England was because Rank had the travelling matte process for stop motion. In Hollywood it was still process work. Roy Field was blue screen supervisor on a few of those.

The two camera thing is a baffler, especially considering the budgets on those Schneer/Harryhausen movies were unrealisitic enough as it was. Doesn't seem plausible in the slightest.
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#15 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 02:47 PM

I read an interview with Harryhausen stating that one of the reasons he ended up working in England was because Rank had the travelling matte process for stop motion. In Hollywood it was still process work. Roy Field was blue screen supervisor on a few of those.


The travelling mattes were mostly used for layering live action in front of the stopmotion.
'Mysterious Island' has some of that in the crab scene and most of the balloon flight.

'First Men IN the Moon' didn't use any process screen because it was in Panavision. So all of the stop-motion there used blue screen.

Pegasus in 'Clash of the Titans' was blue screen, while most of the other creatures used process screen.
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#16 John Holland

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 11:28 AM

As Leo has said about the blue screen work on a couple of Harryhausens films ,he just used the same technique used by Willis Obrien on the original King Kong mostly a back projected live action and a stop frame foreground creature with split screens to give the image a bit of depth . So if you know anything about back projection there is no way that you can use two cameras at same time . Axis is very important .
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#17 Mike Panczenko

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 11:54 AM

Axis is very important .
[/quote]

I know axis is important with front projection, but why with rear projection? Will exposure be less shooting from an off angle to the projection, than shooting the screen directly in front of the projector? It would make sense, but I've never thought about that until now!
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#18 John Holland

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 12:22 PM

Mike yes it is . if you are off axis apart from exposure you also can see the "hot spot ".
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