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BRAINSTORM's Multi-Format Photography


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#1 Michael Coate

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 07:57 PM

I'm working on a "Brainstorm" retrospective article and am interested in
correctly addressing the film's multi-format photography. While doing
some research, I came across the Wikipedia page on the film,
which includes the following passage:

The "Brainstorm" virtual reality sequences were photographed in Super
Panavision 70 at 60 fps with a wide aspect ratio of 2.2:1, but the rest
of the film, was shot in 5 perf 70 MM at 24 fps and cropped for
standard 35 mm Scope print down with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1.


Now, that cannot be correct, can it?

And since we're on the subject, anyone care to share any memories of
working on or seeing "Brainstorm" during its (brief) theatrical
release? Anyone see it in 70mm? Where? What did you think of the
film?
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#2 Paul Bruening

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 11:00 PM

I saw it at a theater. It was amazing. I didn't know enough to know what was what... other than how fine Natalie Wood looked even at that age.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 03:29 AM

No, they didn't shoot at 60 fps, though some 60 fps Showscan footage was probably cut in as 24 fps footage. It was shot at 24 fps, the Brainstorm scenes on 2.20 : 1 5-perf 65mm and the rest in standard 35mm, I seem to recall 1.66 : 1, with a mono soundtrack for the non-Brainstorm sequences and 6-track sound for the 65mm Brainstorm sequences.

They had to make two master negatives, one where the 35mm stuff was blown-up to 65mm and another where the 65mm stuff was reduced to 35mm.

I saw it in 70mm at the Mann National in Westwood - the Brainstorm sequences were amazing, lots of fish-eye and super wide-angle stuff, ala Cinerama.
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#4 Mitch Gross

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 09:10 AM

Everything 24fps. Brainstorm sequences in 65mm 2.2:1, body of the movie in 35mm 1.85:1. All in stereo although the Brainstorm sequences made great utilization of the 5 channel surround sound available in the 70mm prints (yes, a slightly different mix for the 70mm prints, which was the norm those days as different handles were needed for the printing of the soundtracks). David is correct that they did two masters, one bringing the 35mm up to 65mm and the other reducing the 65mm to 35mm. I believe almost all of the 65mm footage was done with a wide angle, perhaps the Todd AO bug eye?

I saw the film in 70mm on it's initial release in Baltimore, MD. Can't recall which theater (25 years dulls certain details). It looked great but there were some story problems. Some related to shooting around Natalie Woods' death but others were basic storytelling choices I just didn't take to (angels floating to heaven, etc.). Tons of great ideas in the movie from someone who really knew what it meant to deal with imaging and experiential interactive systems, plus the corporate world and military contractors. I loved touches like the crazy huge Steenbeck to edit the Brainstorm tape on, plus the "portable" workstations that connected to telephone handsets and passcodes that had to be written down on a pad of paper next to the computer. After dealing with the subject matter of this film it's no wonder Trumbull moved into ride films.
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#5 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 04:17 PM

Everything 24fps. Brainstorm sequences in 65mm 2.2:1, body of the movie in 35mm 1.85:1. All in stereo although the Brainstorm sequences made great utilization of the 5 channel surround sound available in the 70mm prints (yes, a slightly different mix for the 70mm prints, which was the norm those days as different handles were needed for the printing of the soundtracks). David is correct that they did two masters, one bringing the 35mm up to 65mm and the other reducing the 65mm to 35mm. I believe almost all of the 65mm footage was done with a wide angle, perhaps the Todd AO bug eye?


I believe David is right about 1.66:1. I saw it in 70mm at a theatre that had a 2:1 screen, so 1.85:1 would have been too close to the 2:1 screen image.
Pittsburgh's old theatres usually projected 1.66:1 instead of 1.85:1.

In some magazine article Trumbull said he had a copy made, maybe by Fairchild, of the '2001' fisheye which was a Todd-AO bugeye Kubrick had bought.
For the Panaglide shots, Trumbull used a 19mm Kowa 6x6 fisheye.
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