Cinematography Mailing List - CML


3rd September 2003

I recently saw for the first time, "How the West was Won" in Cinerama. What tremendous fun! I was caught off guard by some surprisingly spectacular NIGHT EXTERIORS -- beautifully lighted and photographed, and the restored print helped. Plus, the best darned buffalo stampede I've ever seen. Okay, maybe the only buffalo stampede I've ever seen, but it was pretty impressive.

I'm wondering how the Cinerama camera was operated and how frames were composed? Three lenses,3 gates, one common shutter.Did this camera use a rack-over viewfinder/ rangefinder combination? Was there a TTL method for viewing the entire image? Or just a rangefinder? Who knows?

Chris (can't wait for HDerama) Mosio

>I'm wondering how the Cinerama camera was operated and how frames >were composed?

WIDE! However the early cameras had amazing depth of field and could focus right up close.

>Three lenses, 3 gates, one common shutter.

Nice pictures showing all.

Anyone familiar with Mitchell or Newell magazines will feel right at home.

As for rack-over or TTl, the DPs back in those days (and right up to when I started in film) had no time for such "amateur" frills as TTL. "Real" cameramen didn't NEED that stuff. Pshaw!

John Hollands
ex-Mitchell Loader

So what was "It's a Mad Mad Mad World" filmed with? I thought it was Cinerama too...

John "bring back the screwball comedy "Babl

John Babl wrote

> So what was "It's a Mad Mad Mad World" filmed with?

It was Ultra Panavision 70, or more specifically, 65mm anamorphic. As was 2001, another Cinerama film. But most folks now only use Cinerama to refer to the "three holers".

Steven Bradford
"Typing this Just 8 blocks from the Cinerama theatre..."

I erred on saying 2001 was shot in Ultra Panavision. It was shot in Super Panavision, that is, not anamorphically. It was however released as a "Super Cinerama" film, as was Mad Mad Mad World.

Steven Bradford

Jeffry L. Johnson
Cleveland, Ohio
Projectionist, Great Lakes Science Center OMNIMAX Theatre
Part-time projectionist, Madstone Centrum
Officer IATSE Local 160

What is the difference between SUPER PANAVISION & ULTRA PANAVISION?

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

Super Panavision: spherical lens
Ultra Panavision: anamorphic lens with squeeze ratio of 1.25:1

Jeffry L. Johnson
Cleveland, Ohio

Super Panavision (more or less a copy of Todd-AO but at 24 fps, not 30 fps as Todd-AO originally was) is a 5-perf 65mm spherical negative with an aspect ratio of 2.20 : 1.

Ultra Panavision is also 5-perf 65mm but with a 1.25X anamorphic lens to achieve an aspect ratio of around 2.75 : 1 un-squeezed. It was developed by Panavision for MGM, who originally called it MGM Camera-65. The idea was to create a single-film format with a similar aspect ratio to 3-camera Cinerama (approx. 2.66 : 1) so that 3-panel prints could be made for Cinerama release, or anamorphic 70mm prints, plus reductions to 35mm Cinemascope.

"How the West Was Won", shot in 3-camera Cinerama, has a few Ultra Panavision process shots cut in, which don't match in quality due to the larger negative area of 3-camera Cinerama plus the fact that the Ultra Panavision shots were process shots that also were duped to create the separate 6-perf 35mm Cinerama panels.

"Ben Hur" was the second film shot in MGM Camera-65 / Ultra Panavision and is probably the most famous one in that format. "The Greatest Story Ever Told" apparently shot for three days in 3-camera Cinerama before switching to Ultra Panavision, never using any of the 3-camera Cinerama footage.

David Mullen
Cinematographer / L.A.

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