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3:2 aspect ratio...vs. 4:3


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#1 Niall Conroy

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 12:11 PM

So I've been investigating various aspect ratios as of late for an up coming film i'll be shooting. (I dislike 16:9, and don't feel the film would suit any sort of anamorphic frame)

- one day while looking through some still 35mm photos I wondered why the 3:2 (1.5:1) aspect ratio seems to never be utilised in film making - seeing as photographers have used it to frame absolute beauty for almost the past century. With some saying its one of the closest aspect ratios to the much sought after 'golden ratio' or 'golden rectangle' (http://fotogenetic.d..._rectangle.html)

so am i missing some films here or does anyone know of any films being shot with the 3:2 aspect ratio?

If not, alternatively - would anyone recommend any unique/spectacularly shot 4:3 films that have come out post the jump over to wide-screen in the 50's? I saw Robbie Ryan shot some beautiful stuff in 4:3 for the recent 'Wuthering Heights' film

Thanks for your time!
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 01:43 PM

Trouble is that first run theaters only show 1.85 and 2.40. Any non-standard ratios would require black bars to reshape one of those formats on screen, any many distributors don't like non-standard ratios, so it's a risk.

The VistaVision format has a native 1.50 : 1 ratio because it's the same as the 8-perf Full Frame 35mm still format, but all VistaVision movies were framed for release in other aspect ratios.
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#3 Niall Conroy

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 04:05 PM

Granted that all the theatre's need a common aspect ratio in order to project them properly, especially with film - but with the onset of digital projection screens and such - if the film was shot in digital, surely the aspect ratio shouldn't make a difference
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 01:07 AM

Granted that all the theatre's need a common aspect ratio in order to project them properly, especially with film - but with the onset of digital projection screens and such - if the film was shot in digital, surely the aspect ratio shouldn't make a difference


You still have the physical reality of the focal length of the projector lens and the size of the screen and the masking and curtains, that and things are run by the same kids making popcorn, so changing basic parameters is not encouraged. And DCP files have standards. You're just going to have to live with some visible black borders if you want a non-standard format.
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#5 Simon Wyss

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 03:58 AM

Not by chance did 4:3 become cinema’s primary image aspect ratio. The triangle 3-4-5 is the most tension-loaded rectangular one defined by the smallest whole numbers. It sits withing the dynamic motion picture.

Still photography depends on our unconscious tendency to depict within a quiet frame. Naturally pictures with an aspect ratio around the golden section are more often in use here. That’s about how I’d explain the thing.
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 06:29 AM

Also if you wanted really close to the golden ratio, then S16mm's native 1.66:1 might be better to work with than 3:2.
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#7 Niall Conroy

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 01:22 PM

You still have the physical reality of the focal length of the projector lens and the size of the screen and the masking and curtains, that and things are run by the same kids making popcorn, so changing basic parameters is not encouraged. And DCP files have standards. You're just going to have to live with some visible black borders if you want a non-standard format.


This is true. And yes, i don't mind living with the black borders :)

Not by chance did 4:3 become cinema’s primary image aspect ratio. The triangle 3-4-5 is the most tension-loaded rectangular one defined by the smallest whole numbers. It sits withing the dynamic motion picture.


Could you elaborate on what you said/meant about "The triangle 3-4-5"?


Also if you wanted really close to the golden ratio, then S16mm's native 1.66:1 might be better to work with than 3:2.


This is true - however, I feel 1:66:1 is stepping too close to 16:9 and getting that small bit too wide for what i'm looking for. I'll keep it in mind tho :)

--

So overall, no one is aware of any films being shot in 3:2?
Or would anyone like to suggest any beautifully shot 4:3 films that might inspire my choice?
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 03:19 PM

Or would anyone like to suggest any beautifully shot 4:3 films that might inspire my choice?


Most movies until around 1953 or so, so take your pick, there are too many to list. Compositionally, most John Ford films, take a look at "How Green Was My Valley" for example:

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#9 Niall Conroy

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 05:01 PM

beautiful stuff, David. However, i was more interested in possibly looking at contemporary cinematographers dealing with the 4:3 aspect ratio and seeing it put to beautiful use, Post- 1950's.
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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 05:03 PM

That is a quick way to exclude a great many well photographed films. However, you could look @ Meek's Crossing, which springs to mind as a recent 4x3 film.
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#11 Niall Conroy

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 05:45 PM

That is a quick way to exclude a great many well photographed films. However, you could look @ Meek's Crossing, which springs to mind as a recent 4x3 film.


Yes, i've been meaning to watch Meek actualy!

I agree, it is a bad way to exclude loads of amazingly shot films - but I'm just more interested with DOP's who have picked 4:3 and shot it for a reason and utilised all the old masters techniques, rather than those who just shot 4:3 because it was the norm and the industry standard at the time.
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 06:23 PM

Yes, i've been meaning to watch Meek actualy!

I agree, it is a bad way to exclude loads of amazingly shot films - but I'm just more interested with DOP's who have picked 4:3 and shot it for a reason and utilised all the old masters techniques, rather than those who just shot 4:3 because it was the norm and the industry standard at the time.


If you want to study great composition, it shouldn't matter when it was made.
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#13 Jake Kerber

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 12:09 AM

Elephant - Harris Savides and Gus Van Sant
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#14 Simon Wyss

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 02:27 AM

3-4-5.jpg
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#15 Chris Millar

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 04:42 AM

52=32+42 Posted Image
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#16 Chris Burke

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 09:20 AM

I haven't seen it yet, but wasn't the Artist shot or at least release in 4:3? (black and white) for that matter.
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#17 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 12:01 AM

I haven't seen it yet, but wasn't the Artist shot or at least release in 4:3? (black and white) for that matter.


French comedies, particularly ones filmed out side of france are things to be avoided.

You're better offwatching a franco and ciccio movie (italy).

The french worship Jerry Lewis as the god of comedy because their comedies are so inferior to his.
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#18 Jock Blakley

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 08:07 PM

Non-standard ratios can be done in digital projection just as they can be in film projection, but it's still not a perfect and super-easy thing. The DCP standards aren't too hard to get around - they simply demand that at least one dimension of the image meets standards, so for a 2K image it just has to be 1080 px high OR 2048 px wide. Your 1.37:1 image comes in at 1480 x 1080, so no trouble.

You just then have to find a theatre that'll show it properly. Most places will just show it using the 1.85:1 set-up and so it'll be in focus and the right height on screen, but with grey screen on each side unless the auditorium is fitted with manually-controlled screen maskings. If the auditorium is raked then the edges of the picture will show keystone.

Of course if you find a theatre with caring and knowledgeable projectionists (such as myself :P ) it'll look just fine. We're set-up to show more ratios than you could possibly want to show in film and in digital (1.15:1 Movietone, 1.33:1 full, 1.37:1 Academy standard, 1.66:1, 1.85:1, 1.85:1 70mm, 2.20:1 70mm, 2.39:1 Panavision, and 2.55:1 mag-only Cinemascope).

Naturally for the rest of the "industry" though there are some workarounds to get 1.37:1 into first-run theatres - the 1999 re-release of GONE WITH THE WIND was anamorphically compressed into the Panavision frame, and the recent prints of THE ARTIST had the Academy frame printed within the 1.85:1 area (ie a tiny frame and impossible to mask nicely).

As to why 1.50:1 didn't catch on? Not a clue, although personally I prefer 1.66:1. As David points out though the full-frame aspect for Vistavision was 1.50, just that it was always then cropped to 1.85 for 35mm or 70mm release.
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#19 Simon Wyss

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 03:25 AM

1.33:1 full, 1.37:1 Academy standard

Why do you establish a difference between full frame and Academy? The 1929 AMPAS standard with sound is only the continuation of the aspect ratio without sound track. One kept the screens in 4-to-3 format. The minor camera aperture offset is not to be dealt with.

I screen Academy or normal sound films with 15,75 × 21,1 mm projector gates (.620" × .831"), 16mm with 7,2 × 9,6 mm (.284" × .378"). Exact cutout defined by screen mask

Stories like GWTW and The Artist (and more) not as big on the print as possible are far more detrimental to film cinema than any video attack. Sure, the way movies are photographed is also a factor, the way movies are edited, too, but according to Marshall McLuhan is the medium the message. Xenon discharge lamp light and HiFi sound are not cinematic. A wavy picture due to continuous printing procedure kills more about the film than most of us would admit. I know, I tend to run off topic, but today’s cinema does not have the means to regain its lost territory. It’s been so easy for video with an absolute steadiness, with a most precise frame rate, with one clear aspect ratio for a long time (funnily 1.33), with no splices. Polyester base film became available in 1950. Eastman-Kodak got licensed to it in 1955. It took the industry about 40, forty, years to pass from acetate to polyester, and still one cuts and splices and loses content!

I congratulate all the people who show a Technicolor imbibition print with high-intensity carbon arc light together with Petzval design lenses, who adapt the light output to a black-and-white print, I mean a silver print, who do not offer popcorn in their house but toffees and salty peanuts. Those who produce prints having a 4:3 image within the 1.85 frame should be shot with hot cheese.
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#20 Chris Millar

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 05:06 AM

...who do not offer popcorn in their house but toffees and salty peanuts. Those who produce prints having a 4:3 image within the 1.85 frame should be shot with hot cheese.


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