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Aspect Ratios


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#1 JaredSmith

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 12:08 AM

Alright there's a good chance this has already been covered, but I every time I read a forum discussion on the topic of aspect ratios I am completely oblivious to what is being said.

Can someone(s) explain to me what all I need to know about aspect ratios (as a director or anyone else involved in filmmaking)... or do I really have to read a 10 page online guide to Understanding Aspect Ratios?

Thanks, Jared S.
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#2 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 01:24 AM

I doubt you need to know more than this: If you want to compose your film to fully fill out a modern TV or movie screen, then shoot 16:9, which all HD cameras do natively, which is very close to a ratio of 1.85:1 which is the full theater screen ratio. If you want the super widescreen look, then you compose it in 2.4:1. This is what you see when you see the black bars on the top and bottom on an HD TV. In a theater, the curtains will form a more rectangle or wider looking ratio for movies shot in 2.4:1.

There's little to worry about other than that; 2.4:1 or 1.85:1... your choice. Tell your DP which you like, he might have an opinion too, then pick it. Let him worry about dealing with it technically.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 08:59 AM

Aspect ratio is simply the ratio between width and height. In cinema, the height is always "1" so the width is not always a whole number, whereas in video, width and height are whole numbers.

Hence 1.33 : 1 (cinema) is the same ratio mathematically as 4x3 (video)... And 1.78 : 1 is the same as 16x9.
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#4 Jock Blakley

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 09:31 AM

Vincent pretty much has it down: 2.39:1 or 1.85:1 are the two choices for mainstream theatrical exhibition, and 16:9 / 1.78:1 for television.

If you shoot in 1:85 it's very easy to crop down to 1.78 for television - only a little trim from each side.

Oh course you can get arty and use all the other various "standard" ratios out there - Silent or Full Aperture at 1.33:1, Academy Aperture at 1.37:1, "widescreen" 1.66:1, Superscope at 2:1, TODD-AO and Panavision Super 70 at 2.2:1, original CinemaScope at 2.55:1, and the grand poohbah of wide, Ultra Panavision 70 at 2.76:1.

Of course the way you acquire your footage may introduce technical limitations.
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Glidecam

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Wooden Camera

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Broadcast Solutions Inc

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