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Jurassic Park Shot in Full Screen, Why?


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#1 Ernie Zahn

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 11:09 AM

I try and google this subject and all I can find is that it was shot w/o a scope lens or any other widescreen implementation. What I can't find is why they shot it in full screen? I know many Spielberg films were shot anamorphic so who's call was this? Was it Dean Cundey? Spielberg? Outside influence? 


Edited by Ernie Zahn, 16 August 2013 - 11:10 AM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 11:38 AM

A number of Spielberg's movies starting with "E.T." were shot in standard 35mm 1.85 -- "E.T.", "The Color Purple", "Empire of the Sun", "Always", "Jurassic Park", "Schindler's List", "A.I.", "The Terminal", "Amistad", "Lost World", "Saving Private Ryan", "Catch Me If You Can", "War of the Worlds".

 

Since "E.T.", he's only shot the Indiana Jones films and "Hook" in anamorphic.

 

He's made a few Super-35 movies composed for 2.40 since "E.T." -- "Minority Report", "Munich", "War Horse", and "Lincoln".

 

I think the first influence was Allen Daviau, to shoot "E.T.", "The Color Purple", and "Empire of the Sun" in spherical 1.85 (in Daviau's case, usually with a 1.66 hard matte in the camera), and not with anamorphic lenses, as were Spielberg's four features before "E.T.".  

 

I think Spielberg likes both 1.85 and 2.40 about the same, though "War of the Worlds" was his last 1.85 movie and his last four were composed for 2.40.

 

Probably the reason particularly to shoot "Jurassic Park" in 1.85 is just that the dinosaurs are a vertical subject matter, they would often be taller than the actors in the frame.  And most 4-perf 35mm standard 1.85 movies shoot open-matted, particularly for an efx-heavy movie where the post people want some ability to reframe the shot.


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#3 Ernie Zahn

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 12:06 PM

Interesting. Thanks I didn't realize how much he preferred 1.85. Though they were Zemeckis films, were the Back to the Future films shot 1.85 too? 


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 12:41 PM

Yes.  Keep in mind that the 1980's were a low point for shooting in anamorphic due to the rise of the VHS home video release and the issues of panning & scanning 35mm anamorphic material for 4x3 TV, and Super-35 2.40 was just beginning in use and had an optical printer blow-up step to deal with before D.I.'s arrived in the early to mid 2000's.

 

A lot of people cite "Dances with Wolves" (1990) with the return in popularity of shooting in anamorphic.  Then once D.I.'s made converting anything to 2.40 easy, including 3-perf 35mm, shooting spherical and framing for 2.40 became very popular.  But before D.I.'s, only standard 1.85 and anamorphic allowed contact-printing through all generations to release print.  In the 1990's you also saw the rise of home video cinephiles who wanted movies letterboxed to their theatrical aspect ratio, and the use of formats like laserdiscs followed by DVD's, I think this allowed directors to return to shooting in 2.40 knowing that some segment of the home video audience was going to see it in the theatrical aspect ratio.

 

Not that this corresponds with Spielberg's thinking regarding 2.40 versus 1.85 -- his move to 1.85 in the 1980's may have been more due to the less wide aspect ratio being associated with older movies and European art house cinema, i.e. that the less wide frame was more classical.  But it also may have been due to the technical challenges with shooting with anamorphic lenses and the perception that they slowed things down or made focusing harder.


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#5 Christoph Helms

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 01:22 PM

excellent explanation there, thanks! 


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#6 Ernie Zahn

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 10:53 AM

Thanks! Very good explanation indeed! 


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#7 Jean-Louis Seguin

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 11:02 AM

I always thought it was because of the difficulty of properly framing the dinosaurs in a widescreen aspect ratio.

 

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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 11:30 AM

Yes, that's another reason.
 
Though with 2.40 you'd just have to pull back farther.  I recall an article on "Waterworld" where the DP and director said they were shooting 1.85 because a sailing boat is a vertical subject, but around the same time, Ridley Scott shot "White Squall" in 2.40.

The Transformers movies deal with vertical subjects towering over people in 2.40.
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#9 Reuel Gomez

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 11:49 AM

The Transformers movies deal with vertical subjects towering over people in 2.40.

Those were shot w/anamorphic lenses though. Although then again, the third one was shot on the F35, which has a 3-Perf sized sensor.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 01:05 PM

I'm talking about composing vertical subjects in 1.85 versus 2.40, the camera format is less of an issue, this is an aspect ratio issue.
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#11 Gabriel de Bourg

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 06:16 AM

As Dave mentioned slightly, I think compositing and visual effects definitely had some input there as well. Anamorphics were a lot harder to work with for visual effects, with all their "flaws" and distortion. For that James Cameron picked 1.85:1 because of his many issues with shooting the effects sequences anamorphically on Escape From New York, but said in an interview he would have preferred to shoot in 2.39:1 Super 35 if it had been available. CGI at the time had not been done on any anamorphic movie (The Abyss was shot in Super 35). Home video would of course also have been a contributor (Jurassic Park was open matte on all the non VFX shot on VHS). A pattern is Spielberg often using anamorphics for his less visual effects heavy movies of the time (the Indiana Jones trilogy being more heavy on stunts). Cundey was of course used to working with both formats (and has admitted he prefers 2.39:1 aspect ratio), shooting anamorphics on his work with John Carpenter and Romancing the Stone with Zemeckis, again not a VFX heavy movie. He and Zemeckis would after that switch to 1.85:1 on the Back to the Future trilogy and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, both of them heavy on VFX work (albeit optical).

 

 

I would guess it was therefore partially picked for techincal reasons and the other being to accommodate the height of the dinosaurs (as David said). This was the reason Joss Whedon and Seamus McGarvey picked 1.85:1 on the The Avengers, to better frame The Hulk in shot.


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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 09:04 AM

Then again if you put a tall object in a wide frame, doesn't all the dead space around it just emphasise its tallness?

 

Contrary I know, but there's an almost limitless number of ways to interpret this.


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#13 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 01:47 PM

Super 35 was already available as a shooting format when James Cameron shot "Aliens". "Greystoke" and "Silverado" came out first in 1983 and 1985, and "Absolute Beginners" and "Top Gun" around the same time as the "Alien" sequel. It has been stated somewhere that Cameron refused to shoot "Aliens" in Super 35 because the lab people told him horror stories about how grainy and dupey the picture would look if he had used the new or "revived" format. In fact, "Aliens" is still remembered as one of the grainest looking 70mm blow-ups ever, and has looked very grainy until the recent digital restoration for the Blu-ray, which included lots of "creative" noise reduction. Cameron claimed on the DVD audiocommentary that now he would shoot the picture in 2.40:1 if only to match the aspect ratio of the previous film, but he didn't make clear it that meant he regrets having avoided Super 35 2.40:1 or if he would have shot it with anamorphic lenses. He only switched to Super 35 when he figured out the trick was to overexpose his negatives, plus by the late 80's, when he made "The Abyss", Kodak had already released their T-Grain stocks. 


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#14 Guy Bodart

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 04:01 PM

They shot full screen because in the EU, projectors crop the picture to 1.66 and in the US , projectors crop to 1.85.It's one of the reasons too

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#15 Gabriel de Bourg

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 10:43 AM

Super 35 was already available as a shooting format when James Cameron shot "Aliens". "Greystoke" and "Silverado" came out first in 1983 and 1985, and "Absolute Beginners" and "Top Gun" around the same time as the "Alien" sequel. It has been stated somewhere that Cameron refused to shoot "Aliens" in Super 35 because the lab people told him horror stories about how grainy and dupey the picture would look if he had used the new or "revived" format. In fact, "Aliens" is still remembered as one of the grainest looking 70mm blow-ups ever, and has looked very grainy until the recent digital restoration for the Blu-ray, which included lots of "creative" noise reduction. Cameron claimed on the DVD audiocommentary that now he would shoot the picture in 2.40:1 if only to match the aspect ratio of the previous film, but he didn't make clear it that meant he regrets having avoided Super 35 2.40:1 or if he would have shot it with anamorphic lenses. He only switched to Super 35 when he figured out the trick was to overexpose his negatives, plus by the late 80's, when he made "The Abyss", Kodak had already released their T-Grain stocks. 

 

You are absolutely right, I should have clarified that better. Super 35 were however not as common at the time. And Aliens is a very grainy film (I've seen it projected in 70mm and the grain was very apparent) and on home video the movie didn't really look "good" until the Blu-Ray (which I really enjoy, I love Adrian Biddle's cinematography in that film, so it was nice to get a good upgrade and I preferred it to the 70mm print I saw).


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#16 Vasu Dev

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 06:26 PM

A number of Spielberg's movies starting with "E.T." were shot in standard 35mm 1.85 -- "E.T.", "The Color Purple", "Empire of the Sun", "Always", "Jurassic Park", "Schindler's List", "A.I.", "The Terminal", "Amistad", "Lost World", "Saving Private Ryan", "Catch Me If You Can", "War of the Worlds".

 

Since "E.T.", he's only shot the Indiana Jones films and "Hook" in anamorphic.

 

He's made a few Super-35 movies composed for 2.40 since "E.T." -- "Minority Report", "Munich", "War Horse", and "Lincoln".

 

I think the first influence was Allen Daviau, to shoot "E.T.", "The Color Purple", and "Empire of the Sun" in spherical 1.85 (in Daviau's case, usually with a 1.66 hard matte in the camera), and not with anamorphic lenses, as were Spielberg's four features before "E.T.".  

 

I think Spielberg likes both 1.85 and 2.40 about the same, though "War of the Worlds" was his last 1.85 movie and his last four were composed for 2.40.

 

Probably the reason particularly to shoot "Jurassic Park" in 1.85 is just that the dinosaurs are a vertical subject matter, they would often be taller than the actors in the frame.  And most 4-perf 35mm standard 1.85 movies shoot open-matted, particularly for an efx-heavy movie where the post people want some ability to reframe the shot.

I have seen movies like Spider-Man, Hulk, 127 Hours which have been shot in 1.85:1 shown pillar boxed in theater, (satisfied with the subject matter being vertical). 
 
But how and why many movies in spite of shot on 1.85:1 (like 'war of the worlds'), Hell boy (being vertical subject matter), The Avengers, MIB 3, Hugo, projected on entire screen. Can you please explain?

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