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Author Topic: History of Aspect Ratio in Cinema
Scott Mallory
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 146
From: Montreal, QC
Registered: Jan 2011


 - posted June 27, 2013 10:54 AM      Profile for Scott Mallory   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Mallory   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Great article out today about aspect ratio in cinema
http://www.slashfilm.com/watch-the-changing-shape-of-cinema-to-learn-the-history-of-aspect-ratios/

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Scott

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Akshay Nanjangud
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 637
From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Nov 2011


 - posted June 27, 2013 08:56 PM      Profile for Akshay Nanjangud   Email Akshay Nanjangud   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks. Definitely filled several gaps in my knowledge.

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Paul Spinks
Master Film Handler

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From: Barking, Essex, UK
Registered: Mar 2006


 - posted June 28, 2013 03:45 AM      Profile for Paul Spinks   Email Paul Spinks   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This is a really good, thanks for posting this. It's a fascinating subject. The film clips are great too.

Paul.

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Robert Crewdson
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1031
From: UK
Registered: Jun 2013


 - posted June 28, 2013 04:33 AM      Profile for Robert Crewdson     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Learned a lot from this, thanks for the link. I always understood Vistavision to be shot on 70mm, and reduced to 35mm; and was discontinued on the grounds of cost. Perhaps the turning of the 35mm film sideways meant it was equivalent to 70mm. Amazingly, all this investment in different formats was at a time when audiences were down due to television. Had a brief look at one of the other videos on offer; they always start the history lesson with Edison and Lumiere, poor old Friese Greene is forgotten, he projected a moving picture before either of them, but never took out a patent.

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Hugh Thompson Scott
Film God

Posts: 3063
From: Gt. Clifton,Cumbria,England
Registered: Jan 2012


 - posted June 29, 2013 03:58 PM      Profile for Hugh Thompson Scott   Email Hugh Thompson Scott       Edit/Delete Post 
Also the four perfs per frame are still used today,thanks to him.

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Robert Crewdson
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1031
From: UK
Registered: Jun 2013


 - posted June 29, 2013 04:36 PM      Profile for Robert Crewdson     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Who?

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Hugh Thompson Scott
Film God

Posts: 3063
From: Gt. Clifton,Cumbria,England
Registered: Jan 2012


 - posted June 29, 2013 04:46 PM      Profile for Hugh Thompson Scott   Email Hugh Thompson Scott       Edit/Delete Post 
Mr William Friese-Greene, Robert, the maker of the first practical
movie camera.

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Simon Wyss
Film Handler

Posts: 78
From: Äsch, Switzerland
Registered: Apr 2009


 - posted June 30, 2013 04:22 AM      Profile for Simon Wyss   Email Simon Wyss   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
William Green couldn’t bear the thought that there should be a dark pause between phases. He investigated the effect on the moving pictures caused by shifts in time of two shutters. The camera he built together with Frederick Varley has clear evidence for that by possessing two separate shutters controlled by two separate cams (on one shaft).

He projected flickerless motion-pictures making use of the duplex principle and this brought him to John Alfred Prestwich in 1895. The 1896 Prestwich duplex projector was the most advanced movie machine of the time.

Very much like Louis Le Prince he wanted to get hold of every single technical detail and arrange them in the best possible manner. Le Prince stole an important idea for completion of the invention like Newman who stole about the same from his mechanic. Green stayed clean and remained with still photography. And he stayed in Europe while Le Prince moved to America.

Green used perforated paper bands in 1885, the perforator for which he had had built by Annibal Légé & Co., 31-32 Kirby Street, Hatton-garden, London.

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Robert Crewdson
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1031
From: UK
Registered: Jun 2013


 - posted June 30, 2013 06:41 AM      Profile for Robert Crewdson     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for that information Simon and Hugh. I believe that some of Friese-Greene's film is in the Science Museum at Kensington, though now unviewable. Friese-Greene hasn't had the recognition he deserves. His son was quite a marvel as well, his Friese Green Colour films haven't deteriorated with age.

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Jamie Biggs
Junior
Posts: 16
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Jun 2013


 - posted June 30, 2013 04:28 PM      Profile for Jamie Biggs   Email Jamie Biggs   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for posting this link. Was really interesting to see exactly how the different ratios were created on the film!

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Jamie :D

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Mitchell Dvoskin
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 128
From: West Milford, NJ
Registered: Jun 2008


 - posted July 02, 2013 12:18 PM      Profile for Mitchell Dvoskin   Email Mitchell Dvoskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Interesting for what it is, but certainly not complete or entirely accurate.

CinemaScope was introduced in an aspect ratio of 2.55, mag stereo only, no optical track. It was not until several years later that Fox relented to the will of theatre owners and allowed mag/optical prints, reducing the width to 2.35 to allow room for the optical track. Since the mid 1990's, the SMTPE standard for 35mm scope is 2.39, slightly cropping the top/bottom to allow for sloppy splices.

The video does not mention 1.75, which was the MGM and and Disney widescreen ratio, and SuperScope which was 2:1 anamorphic with black bars on the left/right side of the picture for those theatres that did not have the proper aperture plates. There were also 2:1 flat prints from RKO.

VistaVision was natively 1.66, but was filmed with a "safe" area that allowed it to be projected anywhere from 1.37 to 2.35. Theatres that had horizontal VistaVision projectors could control the width via aperture plates reduced the frame width while maintaining the frame height. In the print downs to 4 perf vertical 35mm, a frame marker that looked like a superimposed "t" and "F" was printed at the top right beginning of every reel, as in indicate to the projectionist as to align the top of the frame for each aspect ratio.

An interesting article by film historian Bob Furmanek can be found here.

The following is from film histiorian Jack Theakston:

Those interested in reading about how any why SMPE passed this standard can read about it here.
Also, this video makes it seem like Paramount invented the 1.85-1 ratio with VistaVision, overlooking the fact that Universal debuted it a month after SHANE.

Another interesting article: Technicians Strive For Standard Aperture Size (1929)

Unrelated...

quote:
Also the four perfs per frame are still used today,thanks to him.
While Mr William Friese-Greene had a primitive working camera before Edison, that may have used 4 perf film (I say may because don't know), Edison patenting 35mm/4 perf film standardized it's use in the USA, and as a result, eventually the rest of the world.

[ July 02, 2013, 06:33 PM: Message edited by: Mitchell Dvoskin ]

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