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Why is There No Widescreen Film


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#1 Peter Ellner

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 04:45 PM

Why is it that films are matted from their actual 4:3 aspect ratio to 1.85:1, or shot in their native 4:3 aspect ratio but done so using expensive specialty anamorphic lenses? Wouldn't it make much more sense and be simpler and easier to just create and use widescreen film to shoot widescreen movies, rather than using anamorphic lenses or resorting to matting?

Thanks for the insight!
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#2 Chris Millar

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 05:18 PM

http://en.wikipedia....iki/Techniscope
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#3 Chris Millar

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 05:26 PM

http://en.wikipedia....iki/VistaVision

Although I'm not sure if it was a projection format ?

Edited by Chris Millar, 28 May 2011 - 05:27 PM.

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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 06:24 PM

Super-16 is 1.66 : 1 or so.

2-perf 35mm is 2.66 : 1 full aperture.
3-perf 35mm is 1.78 : 1 full aperture.
8-perf 35mm is 1.50 : 1 full aperture.
5-perf 65mm is 2.20 : 1 full aperture.

5-perf 70mm is (or was) a widescreen print format.

You can ask why 35mm print projection has been 4-perf for over 100 years... well, the main problem is that studios don't own movie theaters and it's always been hard to get private theater owners worldwide to pay for new technology. Sound, color, widescreen, stereo, digital sound, etc. all had to be easy modifications to existing 35mm projection equipment for theater owners to become interested in conversion. Probably the hardest thing was installing wides screens themselves because many old Academy theaters weren't architecturally designed for very large and wide screens.

In the 1950's, we first had 3-camera Cinerama (2.66 : 1), then CinemaScope (4-perf 35mm anamorphic), then matted widescreen (4-perf 35mm masked), then 8-perf 35mm VistaVision, then 5-perf 65mm, etc. but in the long run, only the two easiest formats to shoot and project remained: 4-perf 35mm matted and anamorphic. The larger negatives were considered too expensive to shoot and 2-perf or 3-perf would require new movements in projectors and/or optical printer conversions from negatives to 4-perf prints. Wasn't until D.I.'s became commonplace that 3-perf photography took off.

Now it's all becoming moot anyway with digital projection.
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#5 Keith Walters

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Posted 29 May 2011 - 02:09 AM

Wouldn't it make much more sense and be simpler and easier to just create and use widescreen film to shoot widescreen movies, rather than using anamorphic lenses or resorting to matting?

Thanks for the insight!

Well, 3-perf and 2-perf ARE widescreen film formats.
The problem has always been

A. Getting reliable cameras that can shoot in those formats
B. Finding a lab that can do the necessary post-production.

One of the hardest realities that some people have getting their heads around, is that, just because a particular person or outfit has invested in some whizz-bang new technology, that doesn't automatically make them competent to trust with your precious footage.
3-Perf isn't such a problem these days, but 2-perf still is something of a cottage industry.

Basically if you do decide to go out on a limb with some new format, you can be severely restricting not only the choice of equipment available, but also the range of competent personnel needed to operate and post it.

I mean, making a feature film is not like going to a restaurant: very few people get to make a film more than few times in their lifetimes, which means they typically tend to be ultra-conservative.

As with a lot of things in life, the tendency to embrace radical notions seems to be inversely proportional to the level of one's achievements :rolleyes:
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#6 John Sprung

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 04:32 PM

http://en.wikipedia....iki/VistaVision

Although I'm not sure if it was a projection format ?


There's a VV projector in the Fields Bldg. screening room on the Paramount lot -- or at least there was 5 years ago. They have VV release prints.




-- J.S.
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#7 Tom Jensen

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 05:15 PM

Well they already have two perf cameras and vistavision which runs the film through sideways like imax. Anamorphic works fine. Considering the vast amounts of film that go through a camera, a widescreen format would use more film. Plus projectors are already set up for 35mm film. There would be a vast amount of retooling. You would need new cameras as well as new projectors. It works fine the way it is.
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#8 Chris Millar

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 05:53 PM

Considering the vast amounts of film that go through a camera, a widescreen format would use more film.


It would use more film ... if it used more film - if it didn't.. It wouldn't

Not quite sure what you mean there Tom ?
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 12:28 AM

It would use more film ... if it used more film - if it didn't.. It wouldn't

Not quite sure what you mean there Tom ?


Widescreen doesn't necessarily mean a larger negative is used -- after all 2-perf is a wider aspect ratio format than 3-perf, which is a wider aspect ratio format than 4-perf, yet they use less film as they get more widescreen, not more. And IMAX is nearly 4x3 and is thus less widescreen than 2-perf, yet obviously IMAX uses more film.
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#10 Chris Millar

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 12:59 AM

Widescreen doesn't necessarily mean a larger negative is used



Yup.

I sure need to work on my communication skills in that I thought I was saying that ... (recent lens speed thread another example)


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#11 Tom Jensen

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 02:41 AM

It certainly sounded like Peter was implying that we should use widescreen film which to me said, wider film. If you use a wider film then the height would increase. It didn't sound like he was talking about using existing film.
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