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post #11 of 49 Old 03-04-08, 07:23 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Movies Formats: why are there so many?

I have checked my collection of DVDs lately and I noticed most of the (good??) movies are 2.35:1. Propably only 25% of them is 16:9 or 1.85:1.

Is really the majority of movies 1.85 as people say? Or is it something else? What about future of movies? Are we going to see more and more 2.35:1 movies? What about 1.85:1

I noticed that Pixar changed after monsters and finding nemo to 2.35:1, even the incredibles is also 2.35:1 although on the cover I can see 1.85:1.
I had received a version of the return of the king movie from the us which was "remastered to fit your TV" if memory serves. I played it on my 4:3 CRT and it was fullscreen, but I can't remember if it was only a Pan and scan, but there was no distrotion or so.

Any thoughts?

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post #12 of 49 Old 03-04-08, 05:28 PM
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Re: Movies Formats: why are there so many?

blaser,

I can't really comment on the first statement since 'good' is very subjective. I guess it
means you're not that fond of pre-1950 movies which were all 1.33.

I don't know what the future will bring in terms of ratios. Probably many producers will
opt for the Super 35 format since the camera negative is full frame and from that they can
derive all three ratios (1.33, 16:9, 2.35). It's not the best quality format but it's the most
adaptable. So readers don't get confused, the Super 35 format is different
than standard 1.33 filming. They expose the entire silent frame ratio including
the area that would contain the optical track. The photographed image is
smaller in a 1.33 film since the left side is used for the optical soundtrack area. So even
if they want a full frame version of a Super 35 feature, they have to reduction
print the image to fit into a 35mm frame with the soundtrack.


In terms of the cropped versions of movies, (pan/scan; full frame), there wouldn't be
any distortion. Just a large percentage of the image will be missing. You won't lose
continuity but you lose whatever artistry there was in the composition. Now admitedly,
not all contemporary directors utilize widescreen as dramatically as they did in the fifties
and sixties. Very few films spread out characters across the entire width of the screen
as they did in classics like "Ben Hur", "Lawrence of Arbia" and "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World".
In general, they tend to keep the key actors and action centered so it plays better in the
various formats. I'm not fond of this compromise but that's the way many directors frame
their films. I've seen a number of films recently which were technically widescreen 2.35 x 1
but the wide frame wasn't utilized. "Fracture" would be an example of this. In a cropped
full frame presentation, you probably wouldn't notice anything missing whereas in a movie
like "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", the loss of information would undermine the
visual impact of the cinematography.


It will be obvious to anyone who reads my comments and reviews that I'm rather
biased towards features made prior to the seventies. I felt there was a decline in
the overall quality of movies after that decade, at least in terms of color, cinematography and composition. Sound is better now but in general I'm not impressed with the
way most movies look. I don't believe there are any DPs on the level of Freddie Young
(David Lean films), Ted Moore (Connery Bond films) or Robert Burks (Hitchock films).
There are occasional exceptions but we're certainly not in a "Golden Age" of moviemaking.
We're more along the lines of a transition period where video and cinema merge into one
medium...and not necessarily a better one.

Last edited by Richard W. Haines; 03-07-08 at 12:08 PM.
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post #13 of 49 Old 03-04-08, 10:01 PM
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Re: Movies Formats: why are there so many?

Richard,

Would you kindly provide some examples of the occasional exception. And which modern directors and cinematographers strive to produce films that contain more than just whiz bang golly gee wasn't that neat. Don't get me wrong, I love a good leave your brain at the door action romp (Transformers, Aliens, Resident Evil, The Mummy, etc.) I just get really dis-appointed that so many newer filmmakers/producers/studios take the easy way out, all action, special effects, poorly written scripts and below par made for TV cinematography/composition.

Finding Neverland, Snow Falling on Cedars, Serenity and Amadeus are a few recent films that I thought were pretty good. In general, I feel most newer films leave a lot to be desired,... then again, I prefer the '31 version of The Maltese Falcon over the '41, so maybe I'm just

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post #14 of 49 Old 03-05-08, 05:35 AM
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Re: Movie Formats: why are there so many?

Nova,

Your question goes back to a subject I covered in my last book which is audience
demographics. Prior to 1968, movies were made for 'general audiences'. Contrary to
myth that did not mean children. It meant they wanted to encompass the largest
group of people which included educated adults and seniors. As a result
the scripts tended to be more intelligent and assumed the viewer had some basic
knowlege of history. For example, in "Lawrence of Arabia" and "The Longest Day" the
producer, diredtor and writers assumed you were familiar enough with those wars that
you could follow the narrative without a lot of explanation.


Beginning in 1968, two events happened that permanently changed the moviegoing
demographic. The first one was to completely abandon the Production Code and replace
it with the ratings system. The Production Code had been reformed by
1966 to allow virtually any subject matter providing it wasn't so graphic that any age
group was restricted from seeing it. The reason the Code was in place to begin with was to allow
general attendence. If you restricted attendence, then you couldn't fill up the seats
in the movie palaces and indeed attendence dropped in half once the Code was abandoned
and replaced with the ratings system. Because so many movies were restricted by 1970,
theaters began folding like dominoes except for those that twinned them to stay in business.
The figures are 41 million weekly in the mid sixties down to 25 million weekly from 1968-1970.


Aside from the reduction in attendence and lack of 'general audience', New Hollywood
dominated the business from 1968-1975 which coincided with the counter culture movement.
They specifically geared their movies for the youth demographic of 16-26. The content of
films like "Woodstock" alienated most older viewers. This demographic has remained the targeted
audience ever since with an occasional adult oriented film.


The trouble with targeting films for the youth audience is that Hollywood screenwriters
seem to have a low opinion of their level of intelligence. Many screenplays are very dumbed
down now to the point where I have trouble sitting through the movies with the shabby
characterization, bad dialogue, rediculous plot twists and incidents that haven't been set
up and seem to come out of no where. And...films with no endings. They just fizzle out.
I don't think young people are as stupid as these screenwriters assume or at least the ones
I come into contact with through my nieces complain about how idiotic so many current films
are. In any event, you're not getting the quality of craftsmanship that you had in the days
when films were made for a larger demographic. It's interesting to note that
some cable shows are geared for a more adult audience which is why series
like "The Sopranos" has better writing.


Another impact that New Hollywood had on the industry was a change in the look of
film. In the late sixties and early seventies, many of the young cinematographers (some
right out of film school) rejected the classic studio look of DPs like Freddie Young who liked
to say he 'painted with light'. They shot with very limited lighting on high speed stock.
I thought their films looked awful but that style eventually became the new standard.
They don't use the type of high key lighting as the past where the frame was artistically
lit like a portrait with composition, shadow and color all important ingrediants. In many
cases, there isn't enough light on the actor's face or the backgrounds look murky because
you don't get a good depth of field with low lighting. The compositions aren't as dramatic.
Of course you only see the difference when you watch pre-1970 films which tended to look
quite spectacular. Even a cheap Roger Corman film like "Pit and the Pendulum" has better
lighting, composition and color than many current features.


One trick that contemporary DPs use is to send out a second unit to film a few decent
looking sunsets and establishing shots to fool people into thinking the movie is well photographed.
The rest of the movie will have poor lighting and compositions but the establishing shots will
look so good it will stick in your mind longer and in some cases people will think the overall
feature looked good.


Another trend is to add backgrounds and sets digitally rather than actually build and
photograph them. This gives the movie a very artificial look (i.e. "Gladiator") but so many
movies do that now that it's become the 'new look' for many genres. As I mentioned in
a different post, I look forward to the new Indiana Jones movie with real stuntmen and
an avoidance of digital fakery which ruins most action films for me. I'm not impressed when
I see animated stuntmen or car crashes. It's like watching a live action cartoon.


I guess my problem is my frame of reference. I consider pictures like "2001: A Space
Odyssey" and "Lawrence of Arabia" as the zenith of the motion picture art form. Most
contemporary films do not compare favorably to them on any level from craftsmanship
to screenwriting. That's because I'm a historian as well as a film buff so I observe the
trends and changes in the medium over the decades. If you just watch current films
you get used to the way they look and the writing and I guess on some level, don't expect
as much or at least don't know what's missing.


In terms of current films, the only relatively recent one I saw that had decent photography was
"The Astronaut Farmer". However, I haven't seen every current film and usually watch them at
a later point projected on my DLP when I have the time. I usually research what the subject matter
is and read the reviews first so I don't waste my time on pictures that I know I won't be able
to sit through and will turn off after twenty minutes of bad writing, acting and camerawork (i.e.
remakes of old TV shows or anything starring Will Farrell) I did slog
through "Disturbia" the other day but I was doing some tax paperwork at the same time it was
basically background noise. It looked
horrible and was so dark I couldn't make out what was going on in the climax. It's a very mediocre
remake of "Rear Window" with some obnoxious actors playing teenagers except for the female
lead who was attractive. Otherwise a completely predictable, dumbed down screenplay...
especially if you've seen the Hitchcock classic. No motivation for the villain at all. I guess
they didn't think that was important. These screenwriters will be getting a bigger piece
of the pie since their strike has been settled.


There are no current Hollywood cinematographers that I would hire to shoot one of my
features...assuming I could afford them. If you screen some of my movies you'll notice
that they are shot in the classic studio style even though I work on very limited budgets.
Brendan Flynt shot my 3-D movie "Run for Cover" and the noir "Unsavory Characters".
We were able to simulate the film noir look in both black and white and color. Tom Agnello
shot my current horror feature, "What Really Frightens You" and we tried to similate the
look of a Hammer horror film in the fantasy sequences and I think we came pretty close.
We even rented a real castle in Milbrook for the climax (Wings Castle). In these cases,
I screen my collection of 35mm Technicolor prints (and some DVDs) for the cameramen
and then analyze how they obtained their look and dramatic compositions and try
to copy them. I specifically tell my DPs that I do not want to shoot in the contemporary
style with limited lighting. I always use a lot of light on my locations and try not to shoot
below f. 5.6 indoors because you lose your resolution and depth of field if you film at a lower
f stop. Also, grain will become more noticeable in the digital domain when it's transferred.
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post #15 of 49 Old 03-05-08, 09:28 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Movie Formats: why are there so many?

Richard,

We can't thank you enough for sharing your knowledge through your exceptional posts.
It is really great you are posting here.

ASME AI
Yamaha RX-V2500, Wharfedale Diamond 9.6 Fronts, Wharfedale Diamond CM Center, Diamond DFS Surround and rear, Behringer FBQ 2496, Dual RL-P18s 625L LLTs, Dual TA-2400 Pro (2 * 2000 W Amp), Samsung HD870 DVD player, Carada BW 16:9 106" screen, Epson TW-2000, 60 Gb PS3
Important HT proverbs:
- "You can never have too much headroom" (talking about bass)
- "you can never have too big a screen" (talking about still pictures)


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post #16 of 49 Old 03-05-08, 10:30 AM
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Re: Movie Formats: why are there so many?

Blaser,

My pleasure. I've been thrown off or forced off of most other film related sites because
I'm so opinionated. At least I try to qualify my positions and never resort to name calling
another forum member who disagrees with me. I've been called every imaginable
name on other sites for daring to go against conventional wisdom in some areas. For example,
some people will claim that New Hollywood "saved" cinema. I have to question...saved it from
what? It certainly changed cinema and not for better in terms of exhibition. New Hollywood
freed cinema from any restraints but there were trade offs. I tend to look at everything in
terms of trade offs. Few, if any, subjects are clear cut. Every change that occurs involved
trade offs and you have consider whether the trade offs were worth it. And is often the case,
it isn't obvious what the trade offs will be until after the fact. Many exhibitors championed
the demise of the production code. What they didn't count on was the drop in attendence and
loss of general audience. In hindsight they probably would've advocated keeping some form of
a production code but allowing a small percentage of movies each year to be released without it.
That would've kept R and X rated type of content to a minimum of about 15 % and the rest of
the films mainstream within the PG and PG-13 content. That's actually the way it is now but
it's too late to get back the crowds since the quality of exhibition is so poor compared to what
you can get at home. There are still superior processes that can 'wow' people back into theaters
like curved screen projection, 70mm and dye transfer Technicolor but they've all been abandoned.
There's really no reason to go to a megaplex and put up with all the distractions (commercials,
scratchy print, trailers too loud, people talking etc.) if you have a home theater...especially if
you project high definition DVDs. They will look better than any high speed junk print shown
today.
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post #17 of 49 Old 03-05-08, 10:51 AM
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Re: Movie Formats: why are there so many?

Quote:
blaser wrote: View Post
Richard,

We can't thank you enough for sharing your knowledge through your exceptional posts.
It is really great you are posting here.
I have to agree, The information you have given us on this topic is great.

@Richard, I think you have really hit the nail on the head with your last post. Going to a movie theater is sadly becoming a thing of the past. I was looking at a theater just this past week thats a few blocks from my place in a mall and as I waited 20min for my wife to pick me up not one person went into it to buy a ticket and the shows were just about to start. At $11 a ticket its no wonder why. The sound alone in my home theater is far better than I have heard recently in even the best multiplexes we have here (and they are very good) there simply is no reason to go.

There seems to be some variance between movie formats even on SD and HD DVD. my screen is the standard 16x9 but some movies still do not fit perfectly there are still thin black bars on the top of bottom.

Home theater:
Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
Panasonic PT-AE8000 on a 120" 2,35:1 fixed screen

Living room system:
Sherwood/Newcastle R972, Mission 765's, SVS SBS02's, A/D/S MS3u sub, Yamaha YDG2030EQ
Yamaha KX-393 Tape deck, CDC 805 CD changer, Panasonic BD60, Sony turntable PS-T20
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post #18 of 49 Old 03-05-08, 11:09 AM
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Re: Movie Formats: why are there so many?

tonyvdb,

Thank you.

I have a 10 foot wide pull down glass beaded screen in my set up. I just zoom up the image
so the extra black is not on screen and whatever the ratio is fills up the screen. I do have black
curtains I have to pull in for 1.33 movies for the sides. For 16:9 (1.85) films I just pull the screen
down lower. For 2.35 type of films I pull the screen up. In my projection booth porthole window,
I use black cardboard to keep the stray light from the black borders from being seen above and
below the screen. Screen masking is very important in a presentation and I'm of the opinion that
you should never see any white or silver screen extra out side of the actual image being projected.
It's too distracting. If you already have a 16:9 screen then get some black cloth to mask off
whatever area you need to so there is no black borders on the actual screen nor extra screen
that isn't being used for the image.
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post #19 of 49 Old 03-05-08, 11:28 AM
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Re: Movie Formats: why are there so many?

Quote:
Richard W. Haines wrote: View Post
In my projection booth porthole window,
I use black cardboard to keep the stray light from the black borders from being seen above and below the screen. Screen masking is very important in a presentation and I'm of the opinion that you should never see any white or silver screen extra out side of the actual image being projected. It's too distracting.
Thats a great idea, For me that wont work as I have the projector ceiling mounted, this is my setup.
http://www.hometheatershack.com/foru...r-project.html

NOTE: for some reason none of the buttons at the top of the reply box or smilies are working. so I cant use the "link" button.

Home theater:
Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
Panasonic PT-AE8000 on a 120" 2,35:1 fixed screen

Living room system:
Sherwood/Newcastle R972, Mission 765's, SVS SBS02's, A/D/S MS3u sub, Yamaha YDG2030EQ
Yamaha KX-393 Tape deck, CDC 805 CD changer, Panasonic BD60, Sony turntable PS-T20
Panasonic TC-P50ST60, HD-PVR & WDTV Live, Harmony 900

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post #20 of 49 Old 03-05-08, 01:43 PM
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Re: Movie Formats: why are there so many?

Looks like a nice set up. I would suggest get some black masking for the top or bottom of the
screen then. You can use the position function of your projector to move the image up or
down to put all of the extra black on top or bottom accordingly, then mask it off with black
curtain material. Use similar curtain material (matte black) for the sides for 1.33 films. You'll
see it makes a big difference in the presentation. Extra screen that viewers see without any
picture on it undermines the 'moviegoing experience'.
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