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post #1 of 14 Old 08-28-2017, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
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All About Aspect Ratios

Personal-cinema architect John Bishop talks about movie aspect ratios and how to accurately reproduce them. Topics include the aspect ratios of different movies through history, how some movies (such as Dunkirk and The Dark Knight) use more than one aspect ratio, his experience seeing Dunkirk in several venues with different projection setups, optical-anamorphic versus electronic aspect-ratio control, how electronic scaling affects resolution and contrast, the constant image-height approach to multi-aspect-ratio setups, answers to chat-room questions, and more.

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post #2 of 14 Old 08-28-2017, 01:28 PM
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It's unfortunate that John's images were shown from a printable document in a vertical format. Quite a mismatch to the HTG video format.

It was my understanding that most current 70mm showings used five sprockets of film per frame, not eight.
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post #3 of 14 Old 08-28-2017, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R Johnson View Post
It was my understanding that most current 70mm showings used five sprockets of film per frame, not eight.
Correct! I had hoped that someone in the chat room would have pointed this out to Scott, but the "conventional 8-perf 70mm projection" error was mentioned several more times.

Scott, I'm also going to nitpick a bit after hearing the "70mm film in the camera" statement. As geeks such as yourself, John, and I know, it's 65mm film in the camera and 70mm film in the projector.
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post #4 of 14 Old 08-29-2017, 12:11 PM
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Not shure why directors use aspect ratio switching. To me it is a lights on, lights out, lights on gimmick. I honestly believe that Nolan ruined the second Batman film with way to much aspect ratio switching (aspect ratio zapping i would call that like folks watching TV switching channels a lot). My guess is that movies tend to be boring after a while, aspect ratio switching keeps people awake, makes it interesting again..and that is the main use of aspect ratio switching afaik. btw i actually like the second Tron movie, a fantastic looking movie, as well as the second Batman movie..not happy about the aspect ratio switching though
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post #5 of 14 Old 08-29-2017, 01:02 PM
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Scott, I was really interested to hear about this documentary where they had the "movie player" player piano. What was this film?

Growing up, Portland had a restaurant called "The Organ Grinder" that served pizza. The restaurant was basically an excuse to house a 3-story theater pipe organ with an amazing Wurlitzer console that played music as you ate. The massive organ had a complete piano section, percussion, and everything else one could imagine. And a few times a night, the screen would come down, and the organist would extemporaneously provide music and sound effects to a silent film short such as Charlie Chaplin. It was a magical experience.

When I got into high school, I was able to work at the restaurant for a few years before it closed, sadly. It inspired my love of high-fidelity audio, as well as infrasonic bass. The owner happens to be an avs forum member, which I discovered by chance. In any case, this experience positively affected my life, and I look back fondly on those times. Here's a link to an old recording of the Organ Grinder, along with photos of the restaurant in its heyday:

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Last edited by Utopianemo; 08-29-2017 at 10:35 PM. Reason: Elaboration
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post #6 of 14 Old 08-30-2017, 12:02 AM
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Based on John Bishop's recommendation I bought "The Dying of The Light" from Amazon. If you love cinema it's a must see. I was a Manager/Projectionist and this film really brought it all back. I love modern digital video as much as the next person but...there is something missing, call it nostalgia if you want similar to vinyl but when the projector cranks up and the arc light ignites that was movie magic that sadly may be gone forever.
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post #7 of 14 Old 08-30-2017, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeinmilwaukee View Post
Correct! I had hoped that someone in the chat room would have pointed this out to Scott, but the "conventional 8-perf 70mm projection" error was mentioned several more times.

Scott, I'm also going to nitpick a bit after hearing the "70mm film in the camera" statement. As geeks such as yourself, John, and I know, it's 65mm film in the camera and 70mm film in the projector.
Also none of "Dunkirk" was 'Scope, which traditionally refers to anamorphic 35mm with an aspect ratio of 2.35 - 2.30:1. The non-IMAX Dunkirk footage was 5/70 with an aspect ratio of 2.2:1.
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post #8 of 14 Old 08-31-2017, 07:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dschulz View Post
Also none of "Dunkirk" was 'Scope, which traditionally refers to anamorphic 35mm with an aspect ratio of 2.35 - 2.30:1. The non-IMAX Dunkirk footage was 5/70 with an aspect ratio of 2.2:1.
There is a good infographic from @anto volk below:

This shows the different aspect ratios used for the different projection formats for Dunkirk.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Dunkirk Aspect Ratios.jpg (708.7 KB, 49 views)
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post #9 of 14 Old 08-31-2017, 08:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simon2160p View Post
There is a good infographic from @anto volk below:

This shows the different aspect ratios used for the different projection formats for Dunkirk.
Thanks, Simon. It's graphics such as these that should have been used in the HTG episode.
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post #10 of 14 Old 08-31-2017, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 8mile13 View Post
Not shure why directors use aspect ratio switching. To me it is a lights on, lights out, lights on gimmick. I honestly believe that Nolan ruined the second Batman film with way to much aspect ratio switching (aspect ratio zapping i would call that like folks watching TV switching channels a lot). My guess is that movies tend to be boring after a while, aspect ratio switching keeps people awake, makes it interesting again..and that is the main use of aspect ratio switching afaik. btw i actually like the second Tron movie, a fantastic looking movie, as well as the second Batman movie..not happy about the aspect ratio switching though
IMO Nolan's use of aspect ratio switching is the only good use. He's filming mostly with IMAX 15/70 cameras, and switching to 35mm (in the Batman films and in Interstellar) or 5/70 (in Dunkirk) only when forced to because the IMAX cameras are either too loud or too large to capture the scene.

The IMAX footage is 1.43:1, and the anamorphic 35mm is 2.40 (the 5/70 is 2.2). The aspect ratio switching is due to a literal switch in the native aspect ratio of the camera system used to capture the image.

Contrast with most other IMAX releases, which are filmed with a whole mishmash of digital and film cameras, and then being mastered in IMAX to fit the 1.43 or 1.9 IMAX screens with a little AR switching thrown in to make it seem officially IMAX.
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post #11 of 14 Old 08-31-2017, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeinmilwaukee View Post
Correct! I had hoped that someone in the chat room would have pointed this out to Scott, but the "conventional 8-perf 70mm projection" error was mentioned several more times.

Scott, I'm also going to nitpick a bit after hearing the "70mm film in the camera" statement. As geeks such as yourself, John, and I know, it's 65mm film in the camera and 70mm film in the projector.
Yeah, 8-perf 70mm was a weird, orphaned format, a sort of poor-man's IMAX. Conventional 70mm (Super Panavision, Todd AO and related) is 5/70 running vertically.
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post #12 of 14 Old 09-02-2017, 06:50 AM
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Thanks for the comments and especially the corrections. My bad on using 8 perf to describe the conventional 70mm Vertical showing I saw. And the Dunkirk doc on formats was very cool to see, I wish I had if for the cast. Now it makes sense because the AMC house masked the 70 5perf they showed to 2.35 quite evidently, at least to my eye. But the 6P Laser showing did look like 2.2, but it was on a 60 x 85 screen, and I wondered at the time if it wasn't 2.2.

I really was making a point about the range of current cinema exhibition, and the luxury of seeing a modern film production to 'calibrate' expectations.
I don't fancy myself a film or cinema expert, but a guy who listens and learns from folks like Mark Robinson at Stewart Filmscreen, and the tech and app folks at Barco that I work with these days. I listen to HTG religiously and love when Scott has folks from the industry on to discuss various topics.
We're lucky for the opportunity, and we're lucky to have the knowledgeable listeners that keep folks on track.
Thanks again for the comments.
Cheers,
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post #13 of 14 Old 09-24-2017, 10:39 AM
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You guys spoke about the 2.55:1 aspect ratio, mentioning that it was used a lot in the beginning of scope. A recent movie that is 2.55:1 is La La Land. Just thought I'd throw it out there.

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post #14 of 14 Old 04-30-2018, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 8mile13;54711450[B
]Not shure why directors use aspect ratio switching. To me it is a lights on, lights out, lights on gimmick. I honestly believe that Nolan ruined the second Batman film with way to much aspect ratio switching[/B] (aspect ratio zapping i would call that like folks watching TV switching channels a lot). My guess is that movies tend to be boring after a while, aspect ratio switching keeps people awake, makes it interesting again..and that is the main use of aspect ratio switching afaik. btw i actually like the second Tron movie, a fantastic looking movie, as well as the second Batman movie..not happy about the aspect ratio switching though
I hate it.

I blame IMAX. IMAX should have been designed for 2.20:1 or so, a much more comfortable shape. They still could have run 70 mm film on it's side. That would have given them a negative of about 2.072" (52.63 mm) HIGH by 4.56" (115.82 mm) WIDE The prints could have been projected on a deeply curving screen about 80 feet high by 176 feet wide, and still have been sharp as a tack.
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