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Movie Formats: why are there so many?

37047 Views 48 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Richard W. Haines
After having upgraded my display to 106" 16:9 FP, I noticed most of my favorite movies are having black bars (well like my 29" SD TV). I couldn't imagine so many of the good movies are 2.35:1. Yet all pixar and some movies are 16:9 enhanced and will fit fine to the screen. But SD TV from the other side will have side bars.

When stretching to 16:9 with a 29" display was acceptable, it is not even thinkable with a 106" display:raped:!!

It is sad that with a 16:9 display we are still having bars, and Masking systems are not an option for me.

Why so many formats?:wits-end: How can people calculate the required screen size when the format is not fixed? Moreover the beautiful look of a flat pannel or "tableau" goes when there are bars.

Are some movies sold as differnent versions: anamorphic and 16:9 or 1.85:1? So that one can chose the most suitable format for his display?

Why doesn't the industry have a fixed standard format?
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I am waiting to see your next movie :T
Thanks. I'll let you know when we're ready for release. Almost finished with the fine cut. I'm shooting some extra footage this coming Wednesday in NYC to fill in some gaps and have some extra establishing shots. Then we'll fine cut it, screen it for some more college students to get their input and off to the negative matcher. I can't do the track work until it's matched and transferred to video.
For 2.35:1 movies, I found that setting the overscan of the projector to 92% is a good compromize between minimizing the black bars and not losing so much of the picture width.

Any thoughts?

Well my thoughts is if you're really bothered by the black bars, go ahead. In my case I have
the image fill the screen and keep the black borders off of it. I have side screen masking for
1.33 and 1.85 but otherwide 2.35 fills the 10 foot wide screen. The extra black is masked off
in my projection porthole window but as I mentioned I have a screening room that was designed
to show 35mm on a projector which is the format of my features. I adapted it to include the
DLP below the 35mm lens. So the projected image of both 35mm and DLP is shown through
a window that can be maske off to remove unwanted black borders.

The other concern for me is seeing exactly what the filmmaker intended. I wouldn't want
to crop any of the image.
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I have noticed in movies I recently watched that even 2.35:1 ratios do not appear much smaller than 16:9 movies. I am talking relatively here. I noted that zooming in of caracters' faces is aggressively used, propably more than 16:9 movies.
Indeed in "underworld" which appears to be wider than 2.35:1 uses many shots with the height of the screen showing only from right above the eyes down to the chin. While the screen itself is smaller than 1.78:1, I didn't feel the picture of this movie is smaller than say "monsters INC". Is this a general technique that is used with wider formats?

Moreover, I would like to extend our discussion not only to formats, but other aspects of movies (exposure, photography, direction...and so on). I may ask the mods to edit this thread title not to be off-topic.

I am quoting below what you said somewhere else:

Pls tell us more...:bigsmile:

You are correct, in that Underworld was shot in 2.40:1 aspect ratio resulting in a wider format than 2.35:1.

Joe D

Actually 2.40 is the same format as 2.35. The reason for the slight difference is because
technically 2.40 is the correct ratio in many cases for a film shot in 2.35 for theaters. For
Panavision and CinemaScope films, you would see the very thin cement splice on the bottom
of the frame of the negative on each cut if you actually played them in 2.35 so they crop
it slightly to 2.40. However, this extra cropping is not necessary in Technirama or Super
35 widescreen films. In the case of Technirama, the film is shot horizontally so the negative
splice is on the side of the film which is masked off by the optical track. Super 35 films are
shot full frame (1.33) and then cropped to 2.35 so you wouldn't see the negative splice and
you could play it 2.35. Some distributors just crop all scope films to 2.40 so they are consistent.
In general, people still refer to scope films as 2.35 which is the ratio they were composed for
from 1955 to the present even though they weren't projected that way in many theaters.
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Just read this thread for the first time, and wanted to say thank you to Richard. Lots of great info. And to all who asked questions.

One exception to your dislike of rear screen projection, I hope, is "Airplane!" I loved the effect in that movie, as it was so obviously intentional, just like showing the jet and having the prop sound.
You're welcome.

Naturally if they're spoofing rear screen projection I have no problem
with it. But it was certainly one of those techniques used in the past
that took you out of the 'illusion' of reality a movie is supposed to
generate and made it obvious it was artificial.
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