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35mm & anamorphic films


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#1 Koen Ooosthoek

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 06:23 AM

Hi guys,

 

As I understood, there are generally two types of films nowadays. The first one is the (super) 35mm films, in which the top and bottom of the frame will be cut, in order to achieve the 2:39:1 aspect ratio. 

 

The other option is to use an anamorphic camera which will stretch frame in order to 'squeeze' the frame later on, which will result in a true 2:39:1 aspect ratio, without wasting any parts of the frame. 

 

However, a friend told me that the 2:39:1 aspect ratio can also be achieved without an anamorphic camera, and also without cropping the frame. It has something to do with 'spherical negatives'. 

 

I tried to look this up on the internet, but I still don't quite understand the whole negative process around 35mm films.

 

Could anyone elaborate on this?

 


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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 07:48 AM

There are three ways in which 35mm negative is usually shot for theatrical features, each of which make different use of the negative area available. Ordinarily, film is pulled down four perforations per frame (4-perf). Before the advent of sound, the resulting film frames were 1.37:1, which is very square compared to modern formats. When sound began to be stored optically on the film, a 1/10" wide strip was reserved for it, making the picture 1.33:1. Some modern innovations (super35) use the soundtrack area to store more picture information, requiring that they are either optically printed or (more usually now) digitally scanned, as they cannot be printed directly to create a projectable print.

 

This being the case, there are three principal formats which are commonly shot on 35mm film:

 

- Spherically for widescreen, in which case standard non-anamorphic (spherical) lenses are used and the 1.33:1 image is cropped to 1.85:1, which is similar to 16:9 widescreen on TVs. It may not be cropped in camera; the whole frame may be exposed, and cropped later. The soundtrack area is not used for picture and the negative may be directly printed for projection. 3-perf pulldown may be used, to reduce by 25% the amount of film that's used (which would otherwise simply be wasted by cropping it off), though this cannot (usually) be contact printed and projected.

 

- Spherically for cinemascope, called Super35, in which case spherical lenses are used and the image is cropped to 2.35:1. The soundtrack area is used for picture, to improve resolution and reduce grain, and the lens must usually be mechanically re-centred in the camera to compensate for this. Sometimes, 3-perf pulldown is used with this technique. 2-perf may also be used, since the image is so wide, but does fractionally reduce the available picture area. May not (usually) be contact printed for projection.

 

- Anamorphically for cinemascope, with with a lens that compresses the image 2:1 horizontally. The soundtrack area is not used for picture. Always 4-perf. May be contact printed for projection.

 

Make sense?

 

P


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#3 Koen Ooosthoek

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 08:36 AM

There are three ways in which 35mm negative is usually shot for theatrical features, each of which make different use of the negative area available. Ordinarily, film is pulled down four perforations per frame (4-perf). Before the advent of sound, the resulting film frames were 1.37:1, which is very square compared to modern formats. When sound began to be stored optically on the film, a 1/10" wide strip was reserved for it, making the picture 1.33:1. Some modern innovations (super35) use the soundtrack area to store more picture information, requiring that they are either optically printed or (more usually now) digitally scanned, as they cannot be printed directly to create a projectable print.

 

This being the case, there are three principal formats which are commonly shot on 35mm film:

 

- Spherically for widescreen, in which case standard non-anamorphic (spherical) lenses are used and the 1.33:1 image is cropped to 1.85:1, which is similar to 16:9 widescreen on TVs. It may not be cropped in camera; the whole frame may be exposed, and cropped later. The soundtrack area is not used for picture and the negative may be directly printed for projection. 3-perf pulldown may be used, to reduce by 25% the amount of film that's used (which would otherwise simply be wasted by cropping it off), though this cannot (usually) be contact printed and projected.

 

- Spherically for cinemascope, called Super35, in which case spherical lenses are used and the image is cropped to 2.35:1. The soundtrack area is used for picture, to improve resolution and reduce grain, and the lens must usually be mechanically re-centred in the camera to compensate for this. Sometimes, 3-perf pulldown is used with this technique. 2-perf may also be used, since the image is so wide, but does fractionally reduce the available picture area. May not (usually) be contact printed for projection.

 

- Anamorphically for cinemascope, with with a lens that compresses the image 2:1 horizontally. The soundtrack area is not used for picture. Always 4-perf. May be contact printed for projection.

 

Make sense?

 

P

First of all, thanks a lot for you reply.

The first option seems pretty plain for me, although I don't really know what you're referring to with 'soundtrack area' at the Super35 option. 

The whole 3 and 4 perf process is still quite difficult for me to understand, but I'm still a learner ha ha.


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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 09:00 AM

Soundtracks are traditionally exposed onto the film like this:

 

colorprint.jpg

 

The soundtrack only exists once the film has been edited and a combined print made with both the sound and picture. Therefore, in camera, it can be used to provide extra space for the picture, reducing grain and increasing sharpness.

 

Usually, the soundtrack area is left unused, so that the negative can be directly contact-printed to create a projectable print. Formats which use the soundtrack area for picture need the picture resizing so that the soundtrack areas is left clear, so they can't be contact printed - either they must go through an optical printer, or be scanned, and output back to film digitally. This is hardly a disadvantage, however, as practically everything is scanned now anyway.

 

P


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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 10:29 AM

The only format that is spherical and gives you the CinemaScope aspect ratio without cropping (more or less) is 2-perf 35mm, i.e. Techniscope.  

 

4-perf 35mm Full Aperture (the largest area side to side and top to bottom that can be used on the negative) is 1.33 : 1.  4-perf 35mm anamorphic is a sound aperture format so that left side of the negative is reserved for the optical soundtrack area.  4-perf 35mm anamorphic photography uses most of the full height though, just not the full width, so the shape of the area used is roughly 1.20 : 1 instead of 1.33 : 1.  With a 2X optical squeeze on the lens, the image is nearly 2.40 : 1 when unsqueezed.  That anamorphic image on the negative can be contact printed to a print with an optical soundtrack.

 

This drawing shows 4-perf 35mm Full Aperture, 1.37 Academy, 1.85 matted widescreen, and 2.40 anamorphic:

apertures3P.jpg

 

This drawing shows the anamorphic image area on the 4-perf 35mm negative and print:

anamorphic2.jpg

 

"Super-35" is a loose term to describe shooting the full aperture width of the negative (rather than the sound aperture width) to compose a widescreen image.  Generally it refers to 4-perf 35mm but it can also refer to 3-perf 35mm.  Since all release prints in movie theaters are 4-perf 35mm sound aperture formats, Super-35 requires a digital (D.I.) or optical printer conversion to 4-perf 35mm for 1.85 (matted widescreen) or 2.40 (scope) projection.

 

I did this drawing years ago before D.I.'s were used for the conversion:

anamorphic3.jpg

 

 

3-perf 35mm is one perf less tall than 4-perf so the native shape of the negative goes from 1.33 : 1 (4x3) to roughly the same as HD, 1.78 : 1 (16x9).  Generally all 3-perf 35mm photography is full aperture, uses the full width of the negative, so can be called "Super-35" as well.  Since 3-perf is not a release print format that can be projected in movie theaters, there is no real reason to not use the full width of the negative.

 

2-perf is half as tall as 4-perf so the native shape is 2.66 : 1 instead of 1.33 : 1.  In this case, the full width (Full Aperture) is not used since there is no 2.66 : 1 release format.  The original Techniscope cameras from the 1960's didn't expose the soundtrack area in order to shave the width slightly to 2.35 : 1 (the scope aspect ratio in the 1960's).  New 2-perf cameras can either be set-up like that with the optical center offset to the right because the left edge will be trimmed out, or optically centered like Super-35, just knowing that the right and left edge will be slightly trimmed to get 2.66 down to 2.40. See:

http://en.wikipedia....iki/Techniscope

 

 

4-perf Super-35, 3-perf, and 2-perf all require either a D.I. or an optical printer conversion to create a 4-perf 35mm sound aperture intermediate master for making release prints.

 

3-perf has become the most commonly-used 35mm format for both 1.85 and 2.40 movies since everyone goes through a D.I. anyway.


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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 10:38 AM

Just to be thorough, I should mention the more rare 1.3X anamorphic lenses made by Hawk, which allows a 2.40 scope image to be squeezed inside the 3-perf 35mm negative area (or a 16x9 digital sensor) without cropping needed.  They can even be used in 4-perf 35mm to squeeze a 1.85 image onto the full aperture.


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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 10:59 AM

If you want to see those hawks do a 1.85, Promise Land used them. Haven't seen it myself, though as an ex Pennsylvanian, I probably eventually should. 


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#8 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 11:46 AM

Just to be thorough, I should mention the more rare 1.3X anamorphic lenses made by Hawk, which allows a 2.40 scope image to be squeezed inside the 3-perf 35mm negative area (or a 16x9 digital sensor) without cropping needed.  They can even be used in 4-perf 35mm to squeeze a 1.85 image onto the full aperture.

David,

What is the purpose for shooting anamorphic into 1.85?  I've never understood this.

G


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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 12:19 PM

Probably because you'd not be cropping anything; so higher resolution?


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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 02:58 PM

David,
What is the purpose for shooting anamorphic into 1.85?  I've never understood this.
G


It's not done much other than "Promised Land" but does gain you maybe 25% more negative area and slightly less depth of field due to the slightly longer focal lengths. I saw some of "Promised Land" projected digitally and it looked pretty good.
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#11 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 03:11 PM

It's not done much other than "Promised Land" but does gain you maybe 25% more negative area and slightly less depth of field due to the slightly longer focal lengths. I saw some of "Promised Land" projected digitally and it looked pretty good.

 

I get it.  It seems like very little in return for the complications and challenges of anamorphic.  Especially when you're sacrificing scope in exchange for the 1.85 format.


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#12 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 03:21 PM

Well in truth, I don't see how it would be all that difficult, on the whole. Aside, there are often many aesthetic reasons to go with a certain lens/aspect ratio. Not having used the Hawks I can't speak for any inherent look; but on top of the slightly extra "resolution," it may have provided a certain look and feel they felt would enhance the project.


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#13 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 05:25 PM

I'd be very interested in 1.3x anamorphics to put (very nearly) scope pictures inside a 16:9 digital frame, but they're ferociously expensive and I wouldn't be surprised to find there wasn't a set in the UK.

 

There is a certain attraction to this because of the demand for things that are wider than whatever the current TV standard is. Back in the days of 4:3 broadcasting, everyone wanted ads shot in 1.85 because it looked more cinematic with the black bars. People still want that, so now we have to shoot scope...

 

And scope shot spherically into HDCAM, as a certain prominent sci fi movie might be construed to have demonstrated a few years ago, can look a bit...

 

P


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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 05:37 PM

"Promised Land" was going for a somewhat large format still photography look, similar to what "The Master" did with 65mm cropped to 1.85 (though I thought it was more successful in "The Master", partly because 65mm really is a larger format but also the period of the movie helped sell that feeling, back when people actually took large-format Kodachrome pictures.)  For a dialogue-driven movie like "Promised Land", mostly people in spaces talking, I don't think using 1.3X anamorphics probably made things much more difficult, no more than using Master Primes near wide-open.  But it's harder to get ahold of the lenses so there is less flexibility in assembling the camera package I guess, but this wasn't a big action film where you have multiple units that have to be outfitted.  "Promised Land" looked very nice to me, so I guess it worked.

 

I saw the movie "Emperor" shot in 3-perf with 1.3X Hawks for a 2.40 release -- it looked really good, though it had (as you might guess) sort of a hybrid Super-35/anamorphic look, some shots looked more like a spherical lens was used because the anamorphic bokeh was so subtle or sometimes non-existent.


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#15 Koen Ooosthoek

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 02:15 PM

Wow guys, I didn't know question developed in such a big topic, ha ha. David, thanks a lot for the explanations, after reading them thoroughly they enlightened me a lot. It's just that I'm pretty much a newbie concerning cinematography on the whole, which is why I sometimes have a hard time understanding such wonderful explanations.. Isn't there a very basic guide or anything out there which goes through all of these processes very slowly?

 

Again, thanks a lot for all of the replies, I appreciate it.


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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 05:09 PM

You could do worse than to pick up a copy of "Cinematography", by Kris Malkiewicz and... er, what's the other guy who writes that...

 

P


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#17 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 03:58 PM

You could do worse than to pick up a copy of "Cinematography", by Kris Malkiewicz and... er, what's the other guy who writes that...

 

P

That's my favorite cinematography book!  The best.

G


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#18 Francisco Martins

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 09:54 PM

They used Hawks for Star Wars Episode I. Suffice to say, its a great looking film.


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#19 Koen Ooosthoek

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 12:37 PM

That's my favorite cinematography book!  The best.

G

 

 

I'm getting my hands on that! 

 


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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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