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Framing for 2.35:1


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#1 Steve McBride

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 05:21 PM

I'm going to be shooting a short next week on a JVC GY-HD200 and while playing around it with yesterday, I found it's overlay's and it has an overlay for 2.35, and I was wondering if I was to shoot in 2.35 and just letterbox the 16x9 to fit that, would I need to really change how I would normally frame my 16x9?

The main reason why I want to shoot it 2.35 is that it is completely (almost) 100% dialogue based, and I think that with OTS's, the narrower ratio will give a bit more intimacy. But what I'm worried about is my wide/ establishing shots and how to set everything up.

This is a student project that I wrote and will be just about everything else in it except for AD and sound (I'll have the help of a grip and maybe an AC, but I doubt I'd need one). The locations are in a library with no one but two characters in it, and the other is a crowded cafe midday with another conversation between two characters.

I'll post more info probably in the In Production as I get stills and such from scouting as well as some test footage since I've never really shot on the GY-HD200 except for the small tests I did yesterday.

Thanks in advance!
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 05:33 PM

Are you asking if you can just frame for 16x9 full frame and letterbox it in post to 2.35 without considering that cropping while shooting? Or are you asking if you can frame for 2.35 using the viewfinder framing overlay but still use the 16x9 full-frame image in post without the 2.35 letterbox?
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#3 Steve McBride

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 05:51 PM

I guess I wasn't very clear. I'm asking what do I need to change about framing when shooting for the final 2.35 output from the recorded 16x9 footage that will be letterboxed to 2.35?
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#4 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 06:41 PM

Tape to the wall a printed 2.35 frame line, frame it up with your video camera using a medium lens, with the 16x9 setting on. Try to leave an equal amount of space above and under it, frame wise. Carefully mask your primary monitor with 1 inch camera tape using the 2.35 frame line as reference, you will have to mask what is outside of the lines of course. Shoot a camera test with the masked monitor and do the letterboxing test in post to see if it works for you.

Did I understand your question correctly?

Edited by Saul Rodgar, 30 December 2008 - 06:42 PM.

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#5 Steve McBride

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 06:45 PM

Not really, I guess I suck at phrasing my questions, haha.

I've never shot at a ratio greater than 1.85, so I've never done something as wide as 2.35, so I'm wondering what I'll have to change with my framing like head room, nose room, rule of thirds, etc.
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#6 Alfeo Dixon

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 07:03 PM

Your blocking will definitely be a lot looser. You will start running out of top and bottom of frame before you ever get close to getting too tight on the sides. Play your singles a bit more to the opposite of the eyeline, i.e. if they are speaking left to right, then play their right shoulder against the center of frame or cross hairs.

Try longer lens choices if you have them and use a greater distance from the subject if you can.

Don't rush your pans or movements in establishing shots, a lot more information to use as eye-candy and use the space with some great movement from the actors... hopefully your director will feel you on this.

Just a few tips I could think of.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 08:34 PM

Not really, I guess I suck at phrasing my questions, haha.

I've never shot at a ratio greater than 1.85, so I've never done something as wide as 2.35, so I'm wondering what I'll have to change with my framing like head room, nose room, rule of thirds, etc.


It's just a longer rectangle, so compose within it. Headroom issues are about the same, though with the shorter height, if you think of it that way, you are less likely to do shots with a lot of space above the heads. Rule of Thirds still works.

Just as when composing in any frame, try to think graphically, in shapes, in use of negative space, in diagonals and lines, etc.

Don't get stuck shooting mostly close-ups, though that can look interesting in 2.35, but it really is a format that involves horizontal space and relations between objects, so wider and medium shots can be more interesting to look at.

Try and create compositions that really work the width of the frame -- I remember Stephen Burum once telling me that he figured that the harder it was to make a pan & scan TV version of a scope movie he shot, the better he must have framed it.
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#8 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 10:21 PM

Is he talking about a 16:9 camera doing an "anamorphic squeeze" and unsqueezing to 2.35:1, or does the camera just put a 2.35:1 mask on a 16:9 image? Either way, if you don't put on an anamorphic adaptor, how does your frame get any wider?
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#9 John Lasher

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 12:13 AM

The frame doesn't actually get any wider. This is more like shooting 3-perf Super35 for 2.35. The frame isn't wider, just less tall. The camera doesn't really do anything out of the ordinary as far as committing images to tape. The 2.35 mask is applied in Final Cut (or AVID...or what I did which was tell DVFilm Maker to put a 16:9 mask over footage that was already 16:9, taking advantage of the fact that the math works out to approximately 2.35...and I didn't have the luxury of a framing guide built into the camera, I xeroxed my own onto an overhead transparency, sized to fit the flip-out screen)

I would say use the aspect ratio aggressively, frame a shot with characters at opposite ends of the frame, let us live in a master shot a little longer than you would in 1.33 or 1.78, your closeups will naturally be tighter, just remember to allow the extra headroom in 16:9 or you'll end up with peoples' eyebrows at top frame.

As far as framing differently, keep in mind that you plan to mask out the top and bottom, you'll have a little margin of error in FCP, but frame as though you didn't. I might even go so far as to recommend my trick with the overhead transparency (although that never lined up perfectly).

The one issue I had was remembering noseroom, but this was before I had any formal training in cinematography, so... just a rookie mistake, that.
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#10 Ram Shani

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 02:33 AM

i highly recommend you to watch "2046" by WKW

to me it is great shot film in the wide screen format

a lot of talking heads

it's a cinematography masterpiece
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#11 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 04:42 AM

I have always felt that 1.85 was great for a lot of dialogue and 2.35 was better suited for scenics, war stories...etc.

The huge horizontal frame makes it hard to compose OTS shots and singles, unless you add FG/BG. If you have the camera, try playing around with spatial orientation to see what I mean.

Jamie
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#12 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 04:55 PM

"The frame doesn't actually get any wider."

That's what I thought. So, when you're marking actors for a three shot - or whatever, you can't physically put them farther apart, or get more stuff in the frame. So we should tell our student, that he's not going to get compositions that are any more widescreen than if he keeps the 16:9 frame lines. So yes, watch widescreen movies like 2046, but don't think those methods will translate seamlessly to a narrower field of view. (He could try to fake it by staying wide, but video is at it weakest wide.) All that happens is he'll be chopping off info on the top and bottom, which is neither "good" or "bad." It's a creative decision. It will help you keep overhead equipment out of the shot, but at the festival, you'll be projecting from a smaller source. My advice is - if you can stand a little imprecision - to use the 16:9 frame lines, keep the headroom loose, then put on whatever kind of mask you want in post.

Edited by Jon Rosenbloom, 31 December 2008 - 04:57 PM.

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#13 Alfeo Dixon

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 06:07 PM

"The frame doesn't actually get any wider."

That's what I thought. So, when you're marking actors for a three shot - or whatever, you can't physically put them farther apart, or get more stuff in the frame. So we should tell our student, that he's not going to get compositions that are any more widescreen than if he keeps the 16:9 frame lines. So yes, watch widescreen movies like 2046, but don't think those methods will translate seamlessly to a narrower field of view. (He could try to fake it by staying wide, but video is at it weakest wide.) All that happens is he'll be chopping off info on the top and bottom, which is neither "good" or "bad." It's a creative decision. It will help you keep overhead equipment out of the shot, but at the festival, you'll be projecting from a smaller source. My advice is - if you can stand a little imprecision - to use the 16:9 frame lines, keep the headroom loose, then put on whatever kind of mask you want in post.

This is relative...

Now it's not wider, but the aspect ratio is longer, there for allowing for wider compositions maintaining the same vertical framing height. Those changing to wider lenses or moving the camera further away from the subject than one would for the same vertical frame as a 1.78:1 frame.

I've always hated the term crop since I first started photography, because it implies that the framing was not exact.
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#14 Ram Shani

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 01:49 AM

here you will find how great dp do it

http://www.leavemeth.../caps/index.php

highly recommend link to everyone
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#15 David Cronin

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 04:51 AM

http://www.leavemeth.../caps/index.php

Wow,
Good site Ram, I have not seen this one.

As for the aspect ratio. It's clearly artistic choice. I've seen films that break the the conventions of framing often the key is to be aware of why you are doing something.
I find just because a film is heavy in dialogue doesn't necessarily mean that should dictate your aspect ratio. As far as taping the screens of a digital camera, I have done this before... it works fine.
Personal in smaller budget work, I find wider aspect ratios to be difficult especially with dialogue. Often times 2.35 is used for pictures with heavier moods and lots of exterior work. Think about the perception of the camera and what its roll is in the film. How do your characters see the world?

P.s. I really love framing 4x3
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#16 Paul Bruening

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 11:26 AM

I enjoy the staging opportunities available with 2.35:1. From medium body shots to wider, there's room to move people around in the frame. If you're staging statically or you're just composing and cutting TV style, you're not getting the delight and value out of a wide frame.

Another movie that you can get some really excellent compositional and staging ideas out of is Hanzo. I caught it recently on IFC. It's my new favorite, widescreen, composition example. The content might put you off. But, the direction is awesome:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068650/
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#17 Steve McBride

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 06:33 PM

Thanks a lot for all of the input. I've gone though it a couple times and I'm really excited for Wednesday when the shoot is.
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