Cinematography Mailing List - CML

1.85:1 // 2:1 // 2.35:1


Hello Cinematographers,

Accept my best wishes...

Please do help me to know as to what will be the final projection print will look when any of 1.85:1 2:1 and 2.35:1 aspect ratio anamorphic negs be printed without any kind of optical alteration in the printing stage.

Murthy S.N.B. DoP

There are only two common 35mm print projection formats: matted widescreen (usually matted by an aperture in the projector to 1.85 : 1) and anamorphic widescreen (a 2X anamorphic lens on the projector doubles the width of the image, usually to 2.39 : 1. ) Anamorphic prints are also called "scope" (short for CinemaScope.)

This is assuming that there are further trims to the image on the screen due to masking and spillover. And there usually is some.

If you only plan on only contact-printing from the neg, this means you have to shoot in spherical 35mm, camera lens cantered for a sound aperture (Academy / 1.85, etc.), and compose for the cropping to 1.85 -- or shoot with a 2X anamorphic camera lens, which squeezes a 2.39 image across the sound aperture width, to be unsqueezed by the anamorphic projector lens.

Any other shooting formats require an optical or digital step to transform it into one of these two projection formats.

Sometimes matted widescreen projection may only use a 1.66 : 1 matte, but this is less common. 2:1 is not a projection format -- Storaro has been optically printing his 2:1 Univisium images onto the centre of an anamorphic IN for making scope prints with black borders on the sides (which can be covered by curtains).

David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles

What about 1:33 as well? That would not need any type of masking nor optical right?

Tommy Upshaw
LA based cinematographer

>What about 1:33 as well? That would not need any type of masking nor >optical right?

If you shoot 1.33 : 1 Full Aperture (Silent) you'd need to optically convert it to a sound aperture. The 1.37 : 1 Academy Aperture actually does use a projection mask, just not much of one. You could shoot and project a sound print in 1.37 Academy EXCEPT that it's not used anymore by most first run theatres. You'd be limited to special venues that show classic 1.37 movies.

1.37 movies that have had any wide release have had to usually optically reduce the 1.37 image into a windowbox on the print, either inside a 1.66 masked area or inside a 1.85 masked area. There was even the unusual case of the last release of "Gone with the Wind" which decided to put the 1.37 image in the centre of a scope release print with black side borders.

Showing a movie with a 1.37 Academy mask instead of a 1.85 mask is not as simple as switching hard mattes in the projector gate because the 1.37 Academy image is much taller and will spill off the screen unless the focal length of the projector lens is changed. Most first run theatres do not carry such a lens.

David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles

David Mullen wrote :

>There was even the unusual case of the last release of "Gone with the >Wind" which decided to put the 1.37 image in the centre of a scope >release print with black side borders.

That's not as wacky as it sounds though is it. After all, Academy & anamorphic share the same image height on the neg; as opposed to 1:1.85/1:1.66. Plus anamorphic is something all theatres are equipped to cope with. It's a nifty solution really - you can bet your bottom dollar if they'd sent out a 'flat' 1:1.33 Academy print some bozo would have screened it through a 1:1.85 mask.

'From Here to There' is the title of a promotional film from the (?) 60's made by Saul Bass for United Airlines that mixed Academy framing with full 1:2.39 I seem to remember a film from the earlier 90's (about a man who travels from Hong Kong to Iceland if that rings any bells for people) where again the story began in 1:1.33 with black matted edges to the frame before opening out to full 'scope when the protagonist hits the wilderness. Coordinating the screens curtains to the correct scene cue was a gamble left to the projectionists discretion!

Tom Townend,

"More American Graffiti" was another film that was projected in the 2.39:1 "scope" ratio, but used varying aspect ratios within the frame to tell the various stories :

As David Mullen notes, the vast majority of US theatres only have lenses, aperture plates, and screen masking for the two primary formats of 2.39:1 "scope" and 1.85:1 "flat". Proper 1.66:1 and 1.37:1 facilities are available in only a small percentage of theatres.

Standard SMPTE 195 specifies the current "standard" 35mm aspect ratios.

Recently "Brother Bear" and "The Horse Whisperer" had an aspect ratio change within the movie. Both were projected with a "scope" lens.

John Pytlak
EI Customer Technical Services
Eastman Kodak Company

John P. Pytlak wrote :

>Recently "Brother Bear" and "The Horse Whisperer" had an aspect ratio >change within the movie. Both were projected with a "scope" lens.

I hated the aspect ratio change in Horse Whisperer, very distracting in the beginning of the movie, when I wondered why the film was being projected wrong.

Eventually I ignored it, until it shifted, and reminded me about it, of course I didn't understand the change.

Steven Gladstone
Cinematographer - Gladstone Films
Cinematography Mailing List - East Coast List Administrator
Better off Broadcast (B.O.B.)
New York, U.S.A.

More successful aspect ratio changes :

Opening of "Road Warrior" and "JFK" begin with 1.33 archive footage cut into a montage, then open up to 2.35 on a dramatic note (in "JFK", it's after the gunshot that kills Kennedy / in "The Road Warrior", the camera zooms out from the blackness of an intake scoop on a car engine and then cuts to a low angle car POV shot of the speed roadway.)

In "Brainstorm", the Brainstorm sequences are in 2.20 : 1 70mm while the normal sequences are squarer-framed.

The most famous though is the cut to the 3-panel roller coaster footage after the 1.33 B&W intro of "This Is Cinerama."

I noticed that "Kill Bill, Vol. 2" briefly goes to 1.33 in the middle of the movie.

David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles

Just shot a film in the eastern block of Europe.

Since this was to be primarily projected in 1.85, we used 1.85 ground glasses [full aperture gates]. Of course, the local lab in Zagreb, Croatia was very confused, since they are typically 1.66 we only had the money to strike film dailies for the first few days, terrible VHS telecine dailies thereafter [and I mean TERRIBLE with sooo many capital 'T's that I could not fit them in this post!!!].

Of course, VHS is always a mistake....but producers always know better...

Anyway, to get even a 1.85 mask at the projection booth was ridiculous...and then to get the telecine operator to hold a 1.85 mask in his machine was impossible.

What I learned to eventually do was to shoot a 1.85 chart every 3 days. This was the ONLY way to get correct cut-offs. The telecine [did I already mention how TERRIBLE the telecine dailies were!!?] could not hold any frame grab storage, so my initial frame & focus chart, shot during camera prep was totally lost [including the original 35mm negative, but that is another story].

Just cover your ass since no one will ever attempt to step up to the plate to cover yours. It's funny how fast English is forgotten when you really need to ask a hard question....

Jeff Barklage, s.o.c.
US based DP

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