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1.85 vs 2.39 for vertical subject matter


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#1 Reuel Gomez

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 01:04 PM

One thing that has always intrigued me are aspect ratios. But one thing I've wondered is between 1.85 and 2.39, which is better for vertical subject matter? How do you frame vertical subject matter in either of these formats and does using anamorphic lenses (1.3x for 1.85, 2x for 2.39) make things easier or more difficult and how does it compare to having to crop from S35?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 12:33 AM

Cropped Super-35 versus anamorphic makes no difference in composing vertical subjects within 2.40 frame lines, other than with Super-35, you have some post vertical reframing ability if you need it.

 

Obviously it is easier to compose a vertical subject in a more vertical frame, but people have managed to shoot tall objects in 2.40 for decades, mainly by backing up the camera more, or going more wide-angle.

 

The director of "Waterworld" shot in 1.85 because he said a sailing ship on the ocean is a vertical subject, but a year later I think, Ridley Scott shot "White Squall" on the ocean in anamorphic, maybe feeling that the ocean is a horizontal subject. Either way, they both managed to compose for a boat on the ocean!

 

If very straight verticals and horizontals are important to you, that is easier to achieve with spherical lenses rather than anamorphic lenses, which often suffer from some barrel distortion.


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#3 joshua gallegos

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 06:00 PM

Why aren't more films framed in 1.50 (Vistavision) like 'Vertigo', I haven't seen a film that can equal the brilliant composition of Vertigo, the headroom on some of the shots is pretty breathtaking. I remember watching the 70mm version at the Alamo Drafthouse, and watching the 'nightmare' sequence was such an unforgettable moment. I've been pretty obsessed with it recently, and saw it twice last night, I think the 2.40 ratio is being overdone, especially since tv has adapted the widescreen format, you even see it in reality tv shows. I think films would benefit if they became longer instead of wider, I know there's probably not much of a difference between IMAX and Vistavision, but the quality in the 70mm film print of Vertigo is unlike anything that's been done in some time. I think PT Anderson's The Master came pretty close, you can even see the quality of the print matches the work of Robert Burks (Vertigo and North By Northwest), not all films benefit from widescreen, some films don't play very well outside of the cinema. Just a thought.


Edited by joshua gallegos, 12 December 2013 - 06:01 PM.

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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 06:47 PM

"Vertigo" was shot in 1.50 VistaVision but was composed for some cropping on the top like most VistaVision movies, either to 1.66 or 1.85. 1.50 was not a 35mm release format and "Vertigo" was originally released in a reduction print to standard 35mm like most VistaVision movies.
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#5 joshua gallegos

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 08:16 PM

So, what was the format in the 70mm print I saw? it seemed to be less than 1.85 because of the height of the image.


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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 12:17 AM

It was hard-matted to 1.85 on the 70mm print.

 

You can read more about VistaVision here:

http://www.widescree...een/wingvv1.htm

 

You can see a picture of a 70mm strip from the movie here:

http://www.film-tech...f1/t005148.html


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#7 joshua gallegos

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 01:39 AM

Wow, the Mitchell camera was gargantuan, I wonder how they pulled off the lower angle shots in Vertigo, primarily the cemetery scene after Kim Novak dies the first time. It's hard to imagine the film would've been lost forever had it not been restored, All About Eve would've suffered the same fate had it not been for a dying film preservationist who was granted the opportunity to restore any film he wanted.


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#8 joshua gallegos

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 01:48 AM

Also, would it be safe to say that 70mm film is practically the modern day Vistavision (8perf 35mm), from the Kodak website it seems 4-perf is the largest format available for 35mm. 

 

Also, on Wikipedia I noticed that different film formats have been used in the past, many which range from 90mm to 24mm, etc. http://en.wikipedia....of_film_formats , how was it decided to settle on 70, 65, 35, and 16mm as the standard?


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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 02:06 AM

The size of the film is 35mm, and 8-perf (VistaVision) is the largest area used in 35mm, though a prototype 12-perf 35mm camera was built.  You can still rent VistaVision cameras.

 

35mm has really been the standard from the beginning of motion pictures.  Other sizes followed, some more popular than others. 17.5mm was popular as an amateur format, just 35mm cut down the middle, but Kodak thought that nitrate base film was unsafe for amateurs so they created the 16mm format around 1926 using safety film (acetate base) only so that you couldn't just use 35mm slit in half in the cameras.  They didn't stop making 35mm nitrate base film until the 1950's.

 

When sound movies came out in 1927, there was an interest in coming up with an improved film format as well for movies so around 1930 you saw experimental cameras using larger negatives, 65mm being one of them.  But the first widescreen revolution didn't catch on, partly due to the Great Depression, but after the success of Cinerama in 1952 (three 6-perf 35mm frames shown side-by-side to create a 2.66 : 1 image on a large curved screen), there followed CInemaScope in 1953 (4-perf 35mm anamorphic) and then VistaVision in 1954, all 35mm formats… until Michael Todd and American Optical worked on a rival to Cinerama that used a single large negative instead of three 35mm negatives.  They decided to adapt one of the 5-perf 65mm cameras from 1930 as a basis for what became Todd-AO and then Super Panavision.  But in order to put a soundtrack on the print without using up any of the image area of the 65mm negative, they made the print stock 2.5mm wider on each of the outer edges, creating the 70mm print format, but the image area is contact-printed from a 65mm negative.

 

You should spend some time in the American Widescreen Museum -- there's even a section on the early 1930's widescreen experiments:

http://www.widescree...reen/mullen.htm


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