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Multiple aspect ratio


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#1 Winter Leo

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 08:09 AM

Hey guys

I'm currently working on an article about aspect ratios. I need to do a research here, I'd like to know, if you are a cinematographer, would you like to shoot movies in multiple aspect ratio, like James Cameron did in Terminator 2 or Titanic, because nowadays there are different display formats (1.78:1, 2.35:1 or 1.44:1 for IMAX), or just shoot in one aspect only? Do you think it is cinematographer's job to choose it?

If you are not a filmmaker, would you prefer to see a film full screen, or letterboxed on a television?

Sorry for my English, i am not a native English speaker.

thanks
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#2 Claus Harding

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 10:36 AM

Leo,

You mention IMAX only, so I don't know if you want to include 35mm in this.

I think the director has to have final say in this.
It is one thing if the director takes the DPs advice on the best aspect ratio to shoot a given film in (depending on story, visuals, et. c.) However, to use variable masking, say, on a 35mm 1:2.35 image is a quite unusual approach that would have to come from the director.

At that point you are not just playing with a "very large" image getting "differently shaped" but still huge, as in IMAX; you are changing the dramatic focus of the scenes very noticeably, compared to the wide image that the viewer has gotten used to since the film started.

Max Ophuls did this in "Lola Montes" and it is a variant of the selective masking that was popular in silent films. Because you don't see it that often, it has a power all its own.
To me, esthetically, this is a separate discussion from the use of 'multiple images within the frame" as in "Woodstock" and such.

As a viewer, I have one main requirement: the film must be in the aspect ratio intended by its creators (or the closest thing thereto, vis a vis someone like Kubrick.)
I will not watch a film that has been chopped/modified or "adapted" just because the aspect ratio doesn't "fit" for the same reason I wouldn't go to a museum to watch great paintings having a 1/3 or more cut off compared to the original. It destroys the artwork, and the viewing thereof.

My two cents,
Claus.
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#3 Rob Vogt

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 07:05 PM

The whole concept of an "aspect ratio" is that it is a ratio.... 1.85:1 is 1.85:1 whether you shoot IMAX or R16... The issues with aspect ratios are display format IE 2.39:1 is widescreen, but TV is 4:3, and now with HDTV you get 16:9 aka 1.78:1. Would I prefer to frame for multiple aspect ratios??? Well it depends, if I'm shooting a high budget commercial on S35 my groundglass might have a large TV safe with a dashed 16:9 and a common top. If I'm shooting a low budget indie feature I might do 2:39 with 16:9 and a common center. I know some shows do a Big TV safe with a 16:9 and 1:33 common center which has to do with how long the show has been running. Short films I would just shoot with one aspect ratio being 1.85, 2.39, (or 2.35 if I'm shooting on an Arri). Really it has to do with whether its going to be aired at a theater, on tv or both. A Low budget feature being shot on 4 perf 35 with no money for a DI I'd shoot 1.85. Most often it has to do with a collaboration with what the director wants and what is comfortable for the operator.
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#4 John Sprung

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 01:29 AM

Aesthetically, nobody in their right mind really *wants* to try to compose for more than one aspect ratio at a time. There are enough compromises required as it is, without a big one like that.

Economics dictate that you often have to serve two or more rectangular masters. The more places you can sell a show, the more money it makes.




-- J.S.
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