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Why don't more directors use open matte?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
The whole TDKR shifting AR kerfuffle got me to thinking about AR and brought to my mind a question: why don't more directors use open matte? That way, you can use 2.4:1 for theatrical release and have an OPTION of 16:9 for bluray. Of course if a director insists his movie needs to be seen in widescreen everywhere, that's fine, but why don't more directors think of how the movie will be most often seen -- on a HDTV or mobile device, which increasingly means 16:9. My guess is if you give viewers an option, most will choose the 16:9 one, because most people have a non giant TV and don't give a rat ass about directorial vision. With open matte, you are not cropping and pan and scanning. If it was good enough for Kubrick, I think it's good enough for Michael Bay.

Now, if you're doing a lot of cgi, obviously you will be cropping a good chunk of your money off the screen for your theatrical release, but your audience will get it back on bluray. The other problem is distribution. Probably too much expense to do separate releases. You don't want to bit squeeze two versions on same disc. I think you can come up with some clever encoding scheme around this, or just have the 16:9 version and let the player mask off the top and bottom for the cinephiles.

Ps: I think skyfall was shot open matte for (pseudo) IMAX and cropped to 2.39:1 for regular theaters. Will it be cropped to 16:9 or 2.39:1 for the bluray?
post #2 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by barth2k View Post

My guess is if you give viewers an option, most will choose the 16:9 one, because most people have a non giant TV and don't give a rat ass about directorial vision.
Most filmmakers probably don't feel that's a good thing.
post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by barth2k View Post

The whole TDKR shifting AR kerfuffle got me to thinking about AR and brought to my mind a question: why don't more directors use open matte? That way, you can use 2.4:1 for theatrical release and have an OPTION of 16:9 for bluray. Of course if a director insists his movie needs to be seen in widescreen everywhere, that's fine, but why don't more directors think of how the movie will be most often seen -- on a HDTV or mobile device, which increasingly means 16:9. My guess is if you give viewers an option, most will choose the 16:9 one, because most people have a non giant TV and don't give a rat ass about directorial vision. With open matte, you are not cropping and pan and scanning. If it was good enough for Kubrick, I think it's good enough for Michael Bay.
Now, if you're doing a lot of cgi, obviously you will be cropping a good chunk of your money off the screen for your theatrical release, but your audience will get it back on bluray. The other problem is distribution. Probably too much expense to do separate releases. You don't want to bit squeeze two versions on same disc. I think you can come up with some clever encoding scheme around this, or just have the 16:9 version and let the player mask off the top and bottom for the cinephiles.
Ps: I think skyfall was shot open matte for (pseudo) IMAX and cropped to 2.39:1 for regular theaters. Will it be cropped to 16:9 or 2.39:1 for the bluray?


As in non anamorphic super 35? A ton of reasons increased grain and lower resolution being two.
Or are you taking 65/70mm? Cost in that case.
post #4 of 11
Aren't most films filmed digitally in 4K these days? Grain and resolution would be non-issues in that case.

Personally I prefer 2.35:1. It is much more cinematic. Of course I watch movies on a huge screen, not a smart phone.
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by thorr View Post

Aren't most films filmed digitally in 4K these days? Grain and resolution would be non-issues in that case.
Personally I prefer 2.35:1. It is much more cinematic. Of course I watch movies on a huge screen, not a smart phone.
Not really. Many big-budget movies still shoot film, others use 2K or 1080p cameras like the Alexa, occasionally they use higher-resolution cameras but that usually ends as a 2K master.
There's nothing stopping the digitally-shot films being shown taller than 2.35:1 since every digital camera has more image... unless they're shot with anamorphic lenses or something, not sure how it works out in that case. With the 2x anamorphic squeeze I believe they'll have extra horizontal area, since most of the sensors are much wider (in AR terms, not physical size) than an anamorphic 35mm frame.
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by barth2k View Post

Ps: I think skyfall was shot open matte for (pseudo) IMAX and cropped to 2.39:1 for regular theaters. Will it be cropped to 16:9 or 2.39:1 for the bluray?
It wasn't cropped to 2,39:1, it was open to 1,9:1 for IMAX. 2,39:1 is original ratio, intended by Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thorr View Post

Personally I prefer 2.35:1. It is much more cinematic.
This. Also if the movie was shot in 2,35:1 in mind, what's the point of open matte in that case?

I have nothing against "IMAX" scenes in TRON: Legacy, but I've seen entire movie in open matte on HBO and it was just bleh. Perfectly composed shots were gone.
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Vertigo View Post

I have nothing against "IMAX" scenes in TRON: Legacy, but I've seen entire movie in open matte on HBO and it was just bleh. Perfectly composed shots were gone.

That's something people forget...composition is important, even in how some scenes are comminocated to the viewer. I can remember watching that Tom Cruise thing "Knight & Day"...there was so much empty space in the opened Super35 image that it actually became distracting! If the preferred mode of watching movies for some is on a 2" - 3" screen, that's their problem!
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by 42041 View Post

Not really. Many big-budget movies still shoot film, others use 2K or 1080p cameras like the Alexa, occasionally they use higher-resolution cameras but that usually ends as a 2K master.
There's nothing stopping the digitally-shot films being shown taller than 2.35:1 since every digital camera has more image... unless they're shot with anamorphic lenses or something, not sure how it works out in that case. With the 2x anamorphic squeeze I believe they'll have extra horizontal area, since most of the sensors are much wider (in AR terms, not physical size) than an anamorphic 35mm frame.

There's anamorphic glass out there now which is designed for digital sensors, using a 1.33x or 1.5x squeeze, so you can get the traditional 2.35 aspect instead of something that's wider than freakin' Ben Hur! Soderbergh shot Haywire that way.
post #9 of 11
Back in the '70s and 80's, I got the impression that part of reason was because directors could then including cutting rights for any reformatted cut in their contract and thus get an extra paycheck when the film was cut to air on TV. I don't know if contract clauses like that are still common or not.
post #10 of 11
A lot of directors prefer the 2:35:1 of scope. It's a nice canvas to paint on. Shooting in open matte was for convenience and some commercial considerations that is if the studios wanted a version they could use for 4:3 video. Cropped 2:35:1 for cable (HBO does this) looks claustrophobic. By now people should be used to "them black bars" and want to the whole movie (a joke I used to make to people watching sports cropped for SD, "where's the rest of the game?")

I've also looked at films of the 1930's and 40's shoot in Academy Ratio and noticed that even then there was dead space in the composition. The cinematographers were probably used to still photography with a wider aspect ratio and some were painters who painted on wide canvases for panoramic scenes. In the 1950s the studios asked for films shot for Academy Ratio to take into consideration that they might be shown in theaters as widescreen and cropped. Of course there were a variety of widescreen formats developed (anamorphic goes back to the late 1920s) and some were an "open matte" technique.

American Widescreen Museum has a lot of information about widescreen technologies over the years.
post #11 of 11
In the SD days how come directors/cinematographers did not film for pan&scan? 16:9 is not quite as limiting but is still is more limiting then 'ultra wide'.

Most movies are still shot on film because it is a superior format, all stereovision flicks are shot on digital cameras however.
Edited by wuther - 11/20/12 at 4:54pm
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