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Stretcho-vision in opening credits


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#1 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 10:14 AM

During the opening title sequences in some 1960s films like Cool Hand Luke, I like that sort of distortion that can be seen that makes characters and objects appear long and elongated. Though as soon as the opening credits are over, everything appears normal and there is no more distortion. How exactly is this achieved? I'm thinking that they may have used an anamorphic lens and didn't 'correct' that segment of the film during projection or transfer to video. However, in a cinema screening, I find it hard to believe that a projecionst could quickly swap lenses as soon as the opening credits end! Were two projectors set up, each with different lenses?
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 10:43 AM

I'm thinking that they may have used an anamorphic lens and didn't 'correct' that segment of the film during projection or transfer to video




It's because the cinemascope frame contained titles that were too wide to fit a TV screen. Only visible on (very bad) home video and broadcast transfers.


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#3 Steve Zimmerman

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 10:48 AM

I'm thinking that they may have used an anamorphic lens and didn't 'correct' that segment of the film during projection or transfer to video.


You are correct. This was commonly done on video trasfers for TV and video before widescreen became commonplace. They are contractually obligated to show the title credits so you could read the names. After the credits, they would switch to "pan and scan", zooming in on the image, sometime drastically disturbing the intended visual compositions, usually 2.35:1.
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#4 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 11:31 AM

Ah thankyou. Very informative. And all this time, I was assuming that audiences in the cinema were also seeing the disortion during the beginning of the film. Yea, my recollections were based on watching the films on broadcast TV and home video in the 80s etc. Though I mainly recall 1960s films whose opening sequences appeared in this way.

I was under the impression that it was one of those radical new stylistic choices that were part of 1960s film making. For example, in the documentary 'Visions of Light', they talk about the sun flaring into the lens in one scene in Cool Hand Luke and that if that had occurred in the 1950s, they would have reshot it.

Edited by Patrick Cooper, 03 June 2011 - 11:32 AM.

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#5 Keith Walters

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 08:36 PM

Ah thankyou. Very informative. And all this time, I was assuming that audiences in the cinema were also seeing the disortion during the beginning of the film. Yea, my recollections were based on watching the films on broadcast TV and home video in the 80s etc. Though I mainly recall 1960s films whose opening sequences appeared in this way.

I was under the impression that it was one of those radical new stylistic choices that were part of 1960s film making. For example, in the documentary 'Visions of Light', they talk about the sun flaring into the lens in one scene in Cool Hand Luke and that if that had occurred in the 1950s, they would have reshot it.

It does depend somewhat on the size of the characters used for the credits. If the letters are big enough, they can simply transmit the credits letterboxed to 2.35:1. However in most cases, particularly on NTSC TV broadcasts, the letters will be unreadable if they do that, so they transmit the uncorrected anamorphic images instead.

It is/was also an unfortunate fact of life about the average TV viewer: They seem to have this morbid fear of "Black Bars". You can overscan the picture 100% and they won't notice anything unusual, but the slightest hint of black at the edge of the picture seems to terrify them.

It used to be a particular problem with CRT TVs. If the manufacturer took care to get the scanning exactly right so that the entire picture just filled the screen and no more, small changes in scanning geometry caused by temperature changes or ageing parts, could lead to slight underscan, producing the dreaded and insisious "Black Bars".

As a result, manufacturers and service technicians alike would routinely over-scan the picture by about 20%, to make sure this never happened. This is why TV ground glasses for film cameras show two image areas, one a sharp rectangle that shows the actual image boundary of the film, the other a smaller, rounded-corner rectangle that represents the maximimum area that can be guaranteed to be visible on the average TV set, the so-called "TV Safe Area".
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