The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...is done forever.

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swo17
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#251 Post by swo17 » Wed May 07, 2014 4:03 pm

EddieLarkin wrote:I never even intended to start discussing Magnificent Obsession, heck it's all been done before (5 years ago now!) and obviously the more hardened on each side of the debate aren't going to change. I just wanted to defend the validity of Bob's article which I felt had been called into question.
And I never intended to question the validity of the information that he gathers, only the authoritativeness of it. Would it take so much for him to simply refer to his findings as "original exhibition ratios" as opposed to "correct aspect ratios"?

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EddieLarkin
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#252 Post by EddieLarkin » Wed May 07, 2014 5:01 pm

swo17 wrote:Would it take so much for him to simply refer to his findings as "original exhibition ratios" as opposed to "correct aspect ratios"?
"Original exhibition ratio" would not be a correct description, as these films will have actually played in many ratios ranging from the one recommended to a variety of other widescreen ratios depending on the screen size and aperture plate available, to even fully open matte in some cases. And don't forget about the genuine 1.37:1 films that were cropped to widescreen on original exhibition. And the 2.66:1 CinemaScope films that were only ever printed and seen at 2.55:1. Bob's listings are the aspect ratios the creators will have been instructed to compose at. Yes, there's room to suggest that some film makers may have ignored instruction and composed how they would have preferred, but there is no actual documentary evidence for this, only the opinion of how some see the film. When it comes to hard evidence, the list is authoritative.

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Gregory
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#253 Post by Gregory » Wed May 07, 2014 5:44 pm

One problem is that using studio policy as the only evidence that counts for what the "correct" aspect ratio is, and equating that with a "director-intended ratio" too uniformly skews the discussion so that dates the studios officially adopted widescreen and the announcements in the trades are the end-all and be-all. There's little room left to ask questions or state personal preferences without being repeatedly told essentially, "No, you're wrong."
And the hard evidence of studio policy doesn't even need to be there for many to insist that widescreen is Right and Academy is Wrong; how else to explain all the grumbling about Criterion's cameraman-supervised Lord of the Flies release?

Here's an example of a discussion with so much arrogance in various posts that no one except the widescreen side could ever have a valid point: this HTF thread about Summertime.Janus has distributed the film in Academy for many years, but the trade papers say it was meant to be widescreen. But there's "excess headroom," so for Bruce Kimmel just looking at the DVDBeaver caps shows that Criterion's 1.33:1 release is "WRONG." (All he really says is: Look at the caps! It's wrong, and what's wrong should be right! What a well-informed comment.) So then we just get all kinds of "I'm right, no room for disagreement" comments, with some general condescension anyone who disagrees as stubborn, misinformed, and used to watching open-matte transfers for too long. In other words anyone who ever states a preference for open matte with almost any film made after the date of the studio's official change to widescreen is just like Jeffrey Wells, apparently.
Then, when a member gave an example of a shot within the film proper that couldn't be masked to widescreen without ruining it, well that's problematic too because the sources ready to hand are Criterion's transfer and some YouTube clips, and those on the widescreen side of the issue seem sure that all such transfers in Academy are "zoomboxed" or otherwise manipulated (and some of which are, surely). But it doesn't just boil down to that, because I've seen a 35mm Janus print of Summertime properly framed for Academy, not zoomed way in, and there are numerous shots in which heads would be cut off if it were masked to 1.85 (unless it were zoomed way out to the right/left edges of the negative to avoid that—the manipulation can work both ways.)
Yet I wouldn't think of trying to use that example to try and show that a preference for Academy is reasonable, because I would just get a lot of veiled insults about my knowledge of the subject, quibbles about how the print probably was projected incorrectly in some way, more images from trade papers showing that it was meant to be widescreen, complaints about horrible it is to have to see "excess headroom," etc. And I don't recall anyone in that thread saying they've seen the film projected in 35mm in Academy. Again, all some people seem to need is clippings from trades and a general distaste for shots showing "excess headroom" and they can go to town.
Last edited by Gregory on Wed May 07, 2014 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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EddieLarkin
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#254 Post by EddieLarkin » Wed May 07, 2014 6:01 pm

Gregory wrote:And the hard evidence of studio policy doesn't even need to be there for many to insist that widescreen is Right and Academy is Wrong; how else to explain all the grumbling about Criterion's cameraman-supervised Lord of the Flies release?

Please see my post here. I am quite happy now with Lord of the Flies at 1.37:1, even though much of it was technically composed in widescreen.
Gregory wrote:Then, when a member gave an example of a shot in the film itself where the whole 1.37 frame couldn't be masked to widescreen without ruining it, well that's problematic too because the sources ready to hand are Criterion's transfer and some YouTube clips, and those on the widescreen side of the issue are sure that all such transfers in Academy are "zoomboxed" or otherwise manipulated (and some of which are, surely).

You should read the rest of the debate which continues here and onto the next page. As you can see, the image that was posted is in fact a publicity still and does not appear in the film. Since you've seen the film in Academy I would thought you'd have realised this.
Gregory wrote:But it doesn't just boil down to that, because I've seen a 35mm Janus print of Summertime properly framed for Academy, not zoomed way in, and there are numerous shots in which heads would be cut off if it were masked to 1.85 (unless it were zoomed way out to the right/left edges of the negative to avoid that—the manipulation can work both ways.)

I've seen the film in 1.78:1 and do not recall this being the case at all; quite the opposite in fact. I can only give you my assurance that the film was composed for and is correct in widescreen, since clearly documentation and frame grabs are not going to convince you. Though I would think a quote from the producer stating the film is being shot for widescreen is relevant:

Image

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swo17
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#255 Post by swo17 » Wed May 07, 2014 6:22 pm

EddieLarkin wrote:
swo17 wrote:Would it take so much for him to simply refer to his findings as "original exhibition ratios" as opposed to "correct aspect ratios"?
"Original exhibition ratio" would not be a correct description, as these films will have actually played in many ratios ranging from the one recommended to a variety of other widescreen ratios depending on the screen size and aperture plate available, to even fully open matte in some cases. And don't forget about the genuine 1.37:1 films that were cropped to widescreen on original exhibition. And the 2.66:1 CinemaScope films that were only ever printed and seen at 2.55:1. Bob's listings are the aspect ratios the creators will have been instructed to compose at.
OK then, how about "studio-dictated ratios"? Do you not see how using the word "correct" in this debate allows no room for differing thoughts on the matter?
When it comes to hard evidence, the list is authoritative.
OK, it's authoritative about what ratio the studio dictated for a given film, but not necessarily about what was intended or preferred by the film's maker. (In most cases there's no difference, but there are always exceptions!) The list is not definitive as to what is "correct"--with a subject like this, I don't know that any list could be.

Also, regarding Lord of the Flies, I'm glad you were able to find an article somewhere that allowed you to enjoy watching the film in 1.37:1!

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Gregory
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#256 Post by Gregory » Wed May 07, 2014 6:23 pm

You should read the rest of the debate which continues here and onto the next page. As you can see, the image that was posted is in fact a publicity still and does not appear in the film. Since you've seen the film in Academy I would thought you'd have realised this.
I don't see how that seemed "obvious" as you say in the linked discussion. There is a shot that's extremely close to that one, with Hepburn at the top of the frame, I wouldn't suggest that it matches the image exactly, but when I saw it in 35mm it didn't look like anything that would look appropriate at 1.85. I'll watch the scene again soon and get back to you. But I posted that image because it was part of the thread I was discussing; it's hardly the only shot which looks composed for Academy.
A number of the close-ups are that way. Let me pick another example: after Jane (Kate) confronts Renato about the red goblets, she is crying. He goes up to her and there is a closely framed two-shot with their heads near the top of the 1.37 frame. I cannot conceive how that shot could be masked to 1.85 without destroying it.

I really don't want to discuss Lord of the Flies anymore, but based on the last I've read on the "debate" some are still implying that the ratio on the Criterion disc is suspect or simply wrong, so I believe my point stands. I don't want to search HTF etc. for examples from the past year or anything, so will just say that if there's been a big change of heart about the matter since last I read about it, great.
Last edited by Gregory on Sun May 11, 2014 4:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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zedz
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#257 Post by zedz » Wed May 07, 2014 6:25 pm

You know, the first couple of thousand times we had this argument we could never reach a definitive conclusion, but this time around I'm confident that we're only a couple more posts away from finding a solution that everybody will be satisfied with. :roll:

Let's just leave the rattler snoozing under a rock and walk away.

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Gregory
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#258 Post by Gregory » Wed May 07, 2014 6:31 pm

I kept telling myself I'd carry my opinions about Summertime to the grave, due to the sordid history of the aspect ratio debate, made even worse by Jeffrey Wells turning the topic into even more of a joke. The ratio Criterion and Janus have distributed the film in for ages has been called "wrong" out of hand several times on this forum, and I kept my opinions to myself, but I guess it started to eat at me a little and I needed to vent. A "definitive conclusion" isn't something I hold out any hope for.

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EddieLarkin
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#259 Post by EddieLarkin » Wed May 07, 2014 6:37 pm

Gregory wrote:I don't see how that seemed "obvious" as you say in the linked discussion. There is a shot that's extremely close to that one, with Hepburn at the top of the frame, I wouldn't suggest that it matches the image exactly, but when I saw it in 35mm it didn't look like anything that would look appropriate at 1.85. I'll watch the scene again soon and get back to you. But I posted that image because it was part of the thread I was discussing; it's hardly the only shot which looks composed for Academy.
Again, it's not a "shot". There is no shot during that scene were Hepburn's head approaches the top of the frame, as I describe in the HTF post.
Gregory wrote:A number of the close-ups are that way. Let me pick another example: after Jane (Kate) confronts Renato about the red goblets, she is crying. He goes up to her and there is a closely framed two-shot with their heads near the top of the 1.37 frame. I cannot conceive how that shot could be masked to 1.85 without destroying it.
I disagree:

Image

Note that his head is already cropped and so further cropping hardly destroys the scene. Hepburn's head is safe from even 1.85:1 cropping.
Gregory wrote: I really don't want to discuss Lord of the Flies anymore, but based on the last I've read on the "debate" some are still implying that the ratio on the Criterion disc is suspect or simply wrong, so I believe my point stands. I don't want to search HTF etc. for examples from the past year or anything, so will just say that if there's been a big change of heart about the matter since last I read about it, great.
There has been a change of my heart on the matter; I'm the only person I can speak for or really care about when it comes to how I watch a film.
swo17 wrote: OK then, how about "studio-dictated ratios"? Do you not see how using the word "correct" in this debate allows no room for differing thoughts on the matter?

OK, it's authoritative about what ratio the studio dictated for a given film, but not necessarily about what was intended or preferred by the film's maker. (In most cases there's no difference, but there are always exceptions!) The list is not definitive as to what is "correct"--with a subject like this, I don't know that any list could be.
Do we agree then that the "studio dictated" ratio, when there is no other hard documentary evidence to contradict it, should always be followed when mastering for home video, and that other ratios can then be added as alternatives where necessary? For instance, should Riot in Cell Block 11 have come with a 1.66:1 version, and then a 1.37:1 also (though I'm not aware of anyone particularly caring about this film being in 1.37:1 anyway!). If Criterion upgrade Summertime, should a widescreen version be included and then a 1.37:1 also to satisfy Greg?
swo17 wrote:Also, regarding Lord of the Flies, I'm glad you were able to find an article somewhere that allowed you to enjoy watching the film in 1.37:1!
That particular film presented a very unique case, as detailed in the interview linked to. It was literally composed in two ratios for different parts of the film. I hope never to come across such a confounding case again!

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Gregory
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#260 Post by Gregory » Wed May 07, 2014 7:00 pm

Eddie, it's as if we saw two different versions of the film (which we probably did, in a sense). That cap of the scene I mentioned does not look like the framing of the shot in the 35mm Janus print I saw several months ago, and of course I can't show what I noticed at the time, so it's probably best if I just let the subject drop. I even think the cap you've posted would look really bad in 1.85:1, but of course that matters to no one but myself. Cropping that scene looks more like 1970s cinematography to me than 1955 cinematography, and it doesn't look like what I associate with the way David Lean composed for widescreen later on.

Again, to be clear, my point in bringing up Summertime in the first place was not to argue for Academy but to make some points about the ways in which some on both sides of these debates apply limited facts and criteria to say, "I'm right" (Wells being one of the most obviously ridiculous. His reply to Becker about Hard Day's Night was especially great—paraphrase: The film doesn't belong to Criterion or the people who shot the film; it belongs to we the people, and we demand more frame height, because I say so.
Last edited by Gregory on Wed May 07, 2014 7:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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swo17
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#261 Post by swo17 » Wed May 07, 2014 7:06 pm

EddieLarkin wrote:Do we agree then that the "studio dictated" ratio, when there is no other hard documentary evidence to contradict it, should always be followed when mastering for home video, and that other ratios can then be added as alternatives where necessary?
I think it would be a sensible policy to generally accommodate those ratios for which there is hard evidence, but also to keep an ear to the ground about which films have sufficient demand for alternate presentations, and to bolster releases for such films with multiple aspect ratio options.

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EddieLarkin
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#262 Post by EddieLarkin » Wed May 07, 2014 7:17 pm

Gregory wrote:Eddie, it's as if we saw two different versions of the film (which we probably did, in a sense). That cap of the scene I mentioned does not look like the framing of the shot in the 35mm Janus print I saw several months ago, and of course I can't show what I noticed at the time, so it's probably best if I just let the subject drop. I even think the cap you've posted would look really bad in 1.85:1, but of course that matters to no one but myself.
Are you sure it maybe wasn't 1.66:1? Maybe the projectionist or whoever was responsible for the new print messed up. I sure hope Criterion aren't planning to release a 1.33:1 version that has less information than the already available 1.33:1 Japanese Blu-ray (Beaver caps here)!

Here is the whole shot in approx 1.63:1 (assuming 1.66:1 is the intended ratio* and making some allowance that side information is missing from the 1.33:1 Blu-ray), starting as the camera begins to move in, then when she turns around, and where the camera reaches its closest point:

Image
Image

*US documentation suggests 1.85:1, though this being a British production 1.75:1 may be more likely, though going by the dates 1.66:1 is also a possibility so I went with that it being the tallest
Last edited by EddieLarkin on Wed May 07, 2014 7:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#263 Post by EddieLarkin » Wed May 07, 2014 7:23 pm

swo17 wrote:I think it would be a sensible policy to generally accommodate those ratios for which there is hard evidence, but also to keep an ear to the ground about which films have sufficient demand for alternate presentations, and to bolster releases for such films with multiple aspect ratio options.
I agree of course. Understand where I'm coming from all the time in these debates; getting the documented ratio on the discs. Despite the prevalence of Blu-ray customers wanting to have their TVs filled, "incorrect" open matte presentations still prevail in some cases. Riot in Cell Block 11 isn't even a film I've seen, so what is anyone's opinion of how the film looks open matte worth to me? Absolutely zilch. I want to see the film presented how the documentation suggests first, and if I feel it's wrong I can sample the alternative version and then investigate why the documentation might be incorrect (not that that's ever happened yet!).

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Gregory
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#264 Post by Gregory » Wed May 07, 2014 9:26 pm

Yes, I'm positive I saw Summertime in 1.33 not 1.66, though the latter would certainly be better than 1.85. It might even work quite well!

Another choice quote from Bruce Kimmel from a thread Eddie linked above. Not trying to shit-stir, but this is probably a better example of the kind of thing I was discussing than the example I gave: I know how films should be composed, I have eyes in my head, and if you don't see it the same way I do, then you don't know anything about moviemaking.
This is where you err. I do something radical, Steve - I WATCH THE MOVIE. If there's too much headroom in the movie I'm WATCHING and that movie is full-frame when it shouldn't be, why, yes, it's very obvious to me it's an open matte transfer that is incorrect. When I watch the MOVIE of Plan Nine from Outer Space it is very obvious it should not be full frame - it should be matted down to its original aspect ratio. Anyone who knows anything about moviemaking could tell you that in an instant. If I watch Summertime, the actual film, I see a film composed for widescreen. Eddie just watched it. Same thing. I don't need to look at screen caps to know anything - I have eyes, I watch, and I know. So, what exactly do you want me to say beyond I don't like screen caps and base nothing on them? You want to have a discussion with me, discuss a film you've seen, not a screen cap. Give me time codes where to look and I will explain, as Eddie has, why a shot is framed a certain way - with none of this malarky about heads cut off that would be cut off in Academy or scope had the cameraman been shooting in those ratios. I can show you any Academy film where heads are cut off at the top in certain shots, whether close-ups or over the shoulder shots. I can show you any scope film with the same kind of framing, so that argument is absolutely meaningless.
This notion of an a priori understanding of the correct ratio possessed by someone who understands and WATCHES films intertwines oddly with the Furmanek-driven reliance on facts reported in trade publications to figure out the "correct one."

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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#265 Post by EddieLarkin » Thu May 08, 2014 2:40 am

Gregory wrote:Another choice quote from Bruce Kimmel from a thread Eddie linked above. Not trying to shit-stir, but this is probably a better example of the kind of thing I was discussing than the example I gave: I know how films should be composed, I have eyes in my head, and if you don't see it the same way I do, then you don't know anything about moviemaking.
How is his attitude different from a number of users here who will simply state that a film is obviously Academy, and that one lacks intelligence if they can't see the obvious?

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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#266 Post by MichaelB » Thu May 08, 2014 3:53 am

EddieLarkin wrote:That particular film presented a very unique case, as detailed in the interview linked to. It was literally composed in two ratios for different parts of the film. I hope never to come across such a confounding case again!
Don't whatever you do watch Herostratus!

This film had a gestation period of several years, and at some unspecified point writer-director Don Levy decided that it should be projected in widescreen, even though many of the (presumably extant) shots were clearly composed for 1.37:1.

When creating the master for the BFI Flipside edition, poor James White had a nightmare trying to respect Levy's wishes - but the simple fact was that running the film straight through in widescreen looked unambiguously terrible, so he ended up having to adjust the framing shot by shot in order to get the film to "work" in Levy's preferred ratio (Levy, sadly, was no longer around to advise him), even though this wouldn't have been replicated in theatrical screenings.

Very wisely, the BFI also threw in a 1.37:1 version, and in the current dual-format edition that's the favoured framing (since it's the ratio of the BD transfer, with the widescreen version relegated to DVD).

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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#267 Post by Jonathan S » Thu May 08, 2014 6:08 am

As probably noted elsewhere, there are a couple of aspect ratio changes in The Life of Pi. They are very brief, and no doubt deliberate, but distracting and to my mind unnecessary. I thought my player or projector had malfunctioned!

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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#268 Post by MichaelB » Thu May 08, 2014 6:34 am

swo17 wrote:I think it would be a sensible policy to generally accommodate those ratios for which there is hard evidence, but also to keep an ear to the ground about which films have sufficient demand for alternate presentations, and to bolster releases for such films with multiple aspect ratio options.
This is absolutely my policy on the titles I produce for Arrow.

With both The Night of the Hunter and The Killers, I did a lot of research into the aspect ratios, not least because this would be an excellent opportunity to get them "right". With NOTH, we debated doing a dual-ratio edition, but the more we looked into this the more obvious it became that the film was natively composed for 1.66:1, and while it might have been screened at wider ratios, this was at the clear expense of compositional integrity. Restorer Robert Gitt (who knows the footage better than anyone alive) also said that he strongly favoured 1.66:1, and while it might withstand cropping to 1.75:1, 1.85:1 was clearly too tight. My own tests bore this out, and so we went for 1.66:1 on its own. (Criterion did the same thing).

As a TV movie, you'd expect The Killers to be pretty straightforwardly 1.37:1, but since the film had been intended for European cinema release from the outset, I wondered whether it had been protected for widescreen - certainly, the compositions bore this out (tons of headroom!). Sadly, Don Siegel's otherwise commendably detailed memoirs didn't touch on the issue, but an experimental cropping to 1.85:1 looked surprisingly decent - and when Bob Furmanek came up with two pieces of hard evidence that the film was exhibited at 1.85:1 in cinemas, we decided to go for it. Of course, there was never any question of only presenting the film in widescreen, which is why I laughed out loud when Jeffrey Wells called me a "fascist" for offering it in 1.85:1.

But you do have to bear in mind various factors when considering going down the dual-ratio route, not least production costs. To do it on The Night of the Hunter, which also contained nearly three hours of extras, would have necessitated going to a second disc, thus upping the production budget - and we wanted to keep the RRP down because we knew that we couldn't compete with the two-disc Criterion on features, and so it made sense to offer the Arrow as a cheaper one-disc alternative. In other words, the case for an alternative framing would have had to be exceptionally compelling - and in this case it just wasn't. By contrast, The Killers was much more straightforward, because with only an hour of video extras there was ample space on the main disc.

With the other titles I've produced for Arrow - The Long Goodbye, Sullivan's Travels, the Borowczyks - there was no controversy at all, although we did briefly consider going down the dual-ratio route for Borowczyk's Theatre of Mr and Mrs Kabal. The situation there was that the film's producer was adamant that it was screened at 1.66:1, and we were equally adamant on the basis of compelling visual evidence that it was framed for 1.37:1 - with an animated film, there's rarely much doubt about this because for obvious reasons one doesn't normally animate outside the frame! But after lengthy discussion, the producer recalled that 1.66:1 was a compromise forced on them by cinemas that couldn't screen 1.37:1, and that the latter was indeed the intended ratio. So that's how we're framing it, with her blessing.

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Gregory
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#269 Post by Gregory » Thu May 08, 2014 2:14 pm

EddieLarkin wrote:
Gregory wrote:Another choice quote from Bruce Kimmel from a thread Eddie linked above. Not trying to shit-stir, but this is probably a better example of the kind of thing I was discussing than the example I gave: I know how films should be composed, I have eyes in my head, and if you don't see it the same way I do, then you don't know anything about moviemaking.
How is his attitude different from a number of users here who will simply state that a film is obviously Academy, and that one lacks intelligence if they can't see the obvious?
I don't know how to answer this, not knowing the posts you have in mind, but there's probably a difference between feeling extremely sure about the ratio of "a film" vs. saying, I can watch any film and know the correct aspect ratio because I have eyes and I'm not an idiot. It's counterproductive to any discussion to go into it with a preconceived notion of "anyone who disagrees with me must be either an ignorant fool or someone who doesn't WATCH THE MOVIE because my brain tells me that I'm right." I'll readily admit that the same kind of arrogance happens on every forum I've ever read, including this one, and it's just as bad on principle regardless of where it takes place, so it's not a matter of my having any double standard.

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EddieLarkin
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#270 Post by EddieLarkin » Thu May 08, 2014 2:21 pm

MichaelB wrote:Don't whatever you do watch Herostratus!

This film had a gestation period of several years, and at some unspecified point writer-director Don Levy decided that it should be projected in widescreen, even though many of the (presumably extant) shots were clearly composed for 1.37:1.

When creating the master for the BFI Flipside edition, poor James White had a nightmare trying to respect Levy's wishes - but the simple fact was that running the film straight through in widescreen looked unambiguously terrible, so he ended up having to adjust the framing shot by shot in order to get the film to "work" in Levy's preferred ratio (Levy, sadly, was no longer around to advise him), even though this wouldn't have been replicated in theatrical screenings.

Very wisely, the BFI also threw in a 1.37:1 version, and in the current dual-format edition that's the favoured framing (since it's the ratio of the BD transfer, with the widescreen version relegated to DVD).
Funny you should mention it Michael; it's at the very top of my kevyip! I was initially quite annoyed to find that the HD 1.78:1 version had been scrapped from the newer dual format release (which I had picked up), since I figured that was the version I would have gone for. But then I read that it wasn't a "true" 1.78:1 version but, as you say, a "digital" attempt that involved re-framing shot by shot. After taking a mere cursory glance at the 1.33:1 version I realised quickly that it was preferable (how this scene would work with a straight widescreen matte I have no idea!). Is it possible that Levy did compose 1.33:1 and then realised later that it would be an untenable ratio for most projectionists, and so he did a bit of a volte-face? Are you aware of the details of the documentation that led to a 1.78:1 version being done in the first place? A statement by the director (context?), a projectionist instruction, etc?
Gregory wrote:It's counterproductive to any discussion to go into it with a preconceived notion of "anyone who disagrees with me must be either an ignorant fool or someone who doesn't WATCH THE MOVIE because my brain tells me that I'm right." I'll readily admit that the same kind of arrogance happens on every forum I've ever read, including this one, and it's just as bad on principle regardless of where it takes place, so it's not a matter of my having any double standard.
Of course, we are in agreement on this point.

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zedz
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#271 Post by zedz » Thu May 08, 2014 8:30 pm

Gregory wrote:I don't know how to answer this, not knowing the posts you have in mind, but there's probably a difference between feeling extremely sure about the ratio of "a film" vs. saying, I can watch any film and know the correct aspect ratio because I have eyes and I'm not an idiot. It's counterproductive to any discussion to go into it with a preconceived notion of "anyone who disagrees with me must be either an ignorant fool or someone who doesn't WATCH THE MOVIE because my brain tells me that I'm right." I'll readily admit that the same kind of arrogance happens on every forum I've ever read, including this one, and it's just as bad on principle regardless of where it takes place, so it's not a matter of my having any double standard.
One problem with total reliance on one's own eyes and brain is that it defaults to conventional framing, so the aspect ratio that delivers a film that most looks like lots of other films (or 'looks right', in other parlance) will be deemed correct, and the possibility that a director was deliberately aiming for unusually tight or unusually open framing for artistic reasons gets tidied away. And when you get to a director like Yoshida, whose framing is spectacularly eccentric (and just plain spectacular), virtually every shot can look obviously 'wrong', with actors' heads cut off at the nostrils (and that could be by the top or the bottom of the frame!) Projectionists must have dreaded screening his films.

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NABOB OF NOWHERE
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#272 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Fri May 09, 2014 2:24 pm


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movielocke
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#273 Post by movielocke » Sat May 10, 2014 2:08 pm

Would Summertime have been framed with a constant top? If so, then only 1.66:1 would have the correct projection top line and a centered 1.85:1 crop would be quite incorrect and look rather bad.

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EddieLarkin
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#274 Post by EddieLarkin » Sat May 10, 2014 2:37 pm

Unknown. The BSI proposed a 1.75:1 British AR standard in July '55 (adopted in October), that did call for a common top approach (i.e. a 1.75:1 centre matte, with only the bottom line changing when projecting 1.66:1 or 1.85:1), but Summertime was completed before May '55 so this doesn't really help us.

The film appears to have been primarily a US production, and US projectionists were instructed to go 1.85:1, but 1.66:1 may be a safer option for Blu-ray since we do not know how it was recommended for projection in Britain.

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Gregory
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Re: The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#275 Post by Gregory » Sun May 11, 2014 4:43 pm

Gregory wrote:There is a shot that's extremely close to that one, with Hepburn at the top of the frame, I wouldn't suggest that it matches the image exactly, but when I saw it in 35mm it didn't look like anything that would look appropriate at 1.85. I'll watch the scene again soon and get back to you.
While it humbles me, I feel like I ought to follow up on this and say that I misremembered the very brief shop-window shot, conflating my memory of it with what I've since learned was a publicity still. And again, when I saw the Janus print last year, several shots had me incredulous at the idea that the film could have been composed for 1.85:1 (which I still think is too tight for some shots; overall, 1.66 seems about right), and I thought that the shop-window one was among them. After comparing my memories of that viewing to the Criterion DVD again today, I can only conlclude that the projectionist may have masked off more of the image than I'd realized. This wasn't an issue I had ever noticed before at that venue, where I've seen numerous films I was already familiar with.
In summary: :oops:

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