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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 9:17 pm 
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Bob Furmanek wrote:
My attempt was not to frustrate, but to educate.

Unfortunately it's comments like this that are causing the frustration. You're implying you are correct and we're mistaken, thus you take the educator role while we take the student role. You decry a good argument in favor of presenting "concrete" evidence, but as people here have said time and again, this isn't something that has a "right" or "wrong" answer, and a compelling argument doesn't need a works cited page at the end of the post to be convincing.

I am however thankful that you concede that the perfect solution for Criterion is to offer both aspect ratios, on this point (and possibly only this point) we can all agree.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 9:37 pm 

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GringoTex wrote:
What possible motivation could Sirk have had for composing Written on the Wind and All That Heaven Allows fo Academy ratio?

His motivation? The muse, I suppose? Of course we can't know "why," but I agree with Via_Chicago's view that
Quote:
Sirk, to our minds, composed this film with Academy in mind, but with the awareness that it could and would be shown in any number of other ARs.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:39 am 
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This post will be pretty much the last of it from me, at least for now. I had planned to post some screen captures, but the consensus here seems to be that we can conclude nothing about framing from still images from DVDs, even when a careful comparison between them has been made. If it's unlikely to convince anyone, I'd just as soon not bother, especially as we've already had several caps in the thread today and there are some from David on p.1. It gives at least some idea.
Bob Furmanek wrote:
Gregory did the same thing with a general statement I made about MO not being shown on TV for 20 years. Okay, maybe it was 15 but again, I was making a generalization which was not essential to the AR issue. It was simply to counter the rather ridiculous assumption that Sirk/Metty were composing for TV.

I don't know where you get 15 years, either, but I guess it's a little less of an exaggeration than 20. My point was that they were taking into account the likelihood of TV airings as part of their motivation for using the extra space afforded them by exposing the full frame. No one has given any reason why Sirk would waste this space throughout the film (granted not ALL the extra visual information is useful; I don’t think anyone would expect that). He was such an expert at using objects, special lighting, and other things that would be trivial to most viewers at the time but meaningful to us now.
The TV thing only makes sense as part of a larger speculation I was making; I never said they were "composing for TV."
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Gregory: posting a frame-grab from a tracking shot is not going to be very helpful in comparing the two ratios.

I tried to be clear about what I felt was lost in the shot. It wasn’t just a frame-grab but also a description of what happens in the shot – you know, documentation. The film itself is also evidence when discussing the mise-en-scene, which I still insist is the only way to discuss whether there are indeed valuable things about watching the film in academy. This was probably not the absolute best example I could have chosen, but I found the still online and wanted to mention something I could illustrate without having downloaded software for doing screen caps.
I agree with Via Chicago that seeing the film in motion is the best thing and that caps can only show so much. That's been the underlying purpose of my argument: if I had my way we would get to compare are no one is denied anything. Those disagreeing with this position are getting their way, thus it’ll remain somewhat difficult to make the comparison.
Anyway, I knew that a few captures wouldn't convince anyone already decided that widescreen was “correct.” My intent in addressing Bob’s posts wasn’t to try to convince him but to present a different point of view for those who are undecided, who see that the issue isn't as simple as looking at the studio’s recommended aspect ratio at the time. The example of Vera Cruz bears that out, and I’m glad we can seem to agree that there are some sticky wickets that date from this unusual era when widescreen was being heavily promoted. These things have repercussions in the DVD era, that come from misinformed or oversimplified views of ARs of the period, as we’ve seen with MGM’s decision to produce Vera Cruz with a flat 2:1 transfer.

The only other thing I want to say is that I hope no one’s enjoyment of the film will be hampered by this whole argument. I think some good things have come out of it, here and there, which might provoke thought or interest in the film and its compositions. But that’s only part of the film’s appeal, I think. I look forward to other discussions at a later date about more meaningful things, like what Sirk was trying to say to us with this film. There are a lot of interesting things to be said about that, and it’s a discussion I’d like to see go beyond the small, mostly academic area in which earlier reassessments of Sirk have taken place.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:46 am 
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mattkc wrote:
GringoTex wrote:
What possible motivation could Sirk have had for composing Written on the Wind and All That Heaven Allows fo Academy ratio?

His motivation? The muse, I suppose? Of course we can't know "why," but I agree with Via_Chicago's view that
Quote:
Sirk, to our minds, composed this film with Academy in mind, but with the awareness that it could and would be shown in any number of other ARs.


But Written on the Wind especially would not have been shown in any number of other ARs. It would have been shown exclusively widescreen. So why would Sirk have chosen to frame it Academy? For Fred Camper's enjoyment?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:14 am 
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domino harvey wrote:
Bob Furmanek wrote:
My attempt was not to frustrate, but to educate.

Unfortunately it's comments like this that are causing the frustration. You're implying you are correct and we're mistaken, thus you take the educator role while we take the student role. You decry a good argument in favor of presenting "concrete" evidence, but as people here have said time and again, this isn't something that has a "right" or "wrong" answer, and a compelling argument doesn't need a works cited page at the end of the post to be convincing.

I am however thankful that you concede that the perfect solution for Criterion is to offer both aspect ratios, on this point (and possibly only this point) we can all agree.

Domino's quote is very similar to a post I was going to make yesterday, which highlighted a similarly revealing statement from Bob:

Quote:
As a new poster attempting to set the record straight on this matter

These reveal what may be the crux of the biscuit here-- you are coming in believing that you have "the answer", and I think the lack of effect viz your thesis is frustrating you.

I think it's safe to say, after all that's been said and done, given the fact that we're still getting contributions like

Quote:
why would Sirk have chosen to frame it Academy? For Fred Camper's enjoyment?

that all hope of a reasonable conversation without personal angst is lost. I'm astounded that after all attempts to highlight common ground, concede well-made points, and virtually engage in step by step flagging of good-will and civility, that this thread is still hopeless. Frankly I've never seen a group so enraged by a point of view as the 2.0 Crowd are vis a vis a couple of Sirk's Universal titles in academy.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:36 am 
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My statements highlighted above were in response to certain negative reactions and the general dismissal of the primary source materials which I was providing. That can be very frustrating when you've done actual research! However, my intent was not to be pompous, and I did edit the one statement about 40 minutes after I had posted it.

Gregory: I don't have time to do the research, but I'm pretty sure MO did not have its TV debut until the late 60's. I seem to recall it was on NBC.

I do find a certain irony in the fact that all of this examination of Sirk's mise en scene (post "Taza-Son of Cochise") appears to be based on full frame transfers of his non-anamorphic films which were all intended for widescreen.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:40 am 
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HerrSchreck wrote:
I think it's safe to say, after all that's been said and done, given the fact that we're still getting contributions like

Quote:
why would Sirk have chosen to frame it Academy? For Fred Camper's enjoyment?

that all hope of a reasonable conversation without personal angst is lost. I'm astounded that after all attempts to highlight common ground, concede well-made points, and virtually engage in step by step flagging of good-will and civility, that this thread is still hopeless. Frankly I've never seen a group so enraged by a point of view as the 2.0 Crowd are vis a vis a couple of Sirk's Universal titles in academy.

Will you quit trying to attribute "personal angst" to every post in this thread that you disagree with? You're projecting. Angst and rage is your well-known calling card. That's what makes you such an amusing poster.

You, mattkc and apparently Fred Camper think Written on the Wind was composed for academy ratio. I asked a sincere question: given that widescreen was near universal when Sirk shot Written on the Wind, why in the world would he compose it for Academy? mattkc answered that his muse motivated Sirk to do so. Which is probably as good an answer as anybody has.

As for Bob educating the forum- check out the incorrect information on widescreen history in the first half of this thread. Bob was not repeating info already covered, as you erroneously claimed. He has relatively calmly and politely laid out historical evidence to set the record straight on this history. It's forum regulars who got all jizzed up and threatened and threw their mise-ene-scene out of the pram.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:56 am 
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I'm not going to do any more research on this one, but "Written on the Wind" went into production in November 1955, a full 2 1/2 years after UI went all widescreen.

By the way, while going through Film Daily, I found an article in May 1953 about UI adapting their newsreel cameras for widescreen. Yes, even shorts and newsreels were switched to WS cinematography.

Here's a frame from the Columbia short "Spooks" which was filmed in May 1953. You'll note how the titles are carefully composed for the 1.85 frame, which was Columbia's intended ratio.
Image[/img]


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:06 am 
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Good heavens, gringo. Aren't you aware how many times this thread has melted down, stopped and restarted and given warnings?

For the record: I very specifically said I don't have an opinion on Written on the Wind. What I said was:

Quote:
A genuine question to all involved here (because I don't have any history on this whatsoever)-- what do you guys, particularly Bob and Gregory, prefer for Written On The Wind?

I watched it last night with this discussion in mind, and caught a lot of chopped heads in particular.. and felt the ratio could benefit from opening up. But that could just be my tastes talking, as this was a '57 film..

And Bob, nobody is dismissing your source materials-- if anything I've (as has everyone else, that I can see) have affirmed them as absolute, undeniable, positively ironbound truth. MO was absolutely composed for 2.0, we all agree on that.

Gringo, you and I have had some clashes in the past, I understand that. But this is not the thread to dredge them up in.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:13 am 
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Quote:
As for Bob educating the forum- check out the incorrect information on widescreen history in the first half of this thread. Bob was not repeating info already covered, as you erroneously claimed. He has relatively calmly and politely laid out historical evidence to set the record straight on this history. It's forum regulars who got all jizzed up and threatened and threw their mise-ene-scene out of the pram.

Thank you for noticing GringoTex. Somebody said that everything I posted was old news and already known by members of this forum!

To tell you the truth, one of my primary reasons for registering here was another thread I saw about aspect ratios which was absolutely riddled with errors. One of the posts even claimed that nothing in the industry trades, such as Variety, should be believed. How absurd!

"Don't confuse me with the facts."


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:20 am 
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HerrSchreck wrote:
For the record: I very specifically said I don't have an opinion on Written on the Wind. What I said was:

I stand corrected.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:45 am 

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GringoTex wrote:
mattkc answered that his muse motivated Sirk to do so.

That comment was meant mostly as a joke, but really, is it so ridiculous? Probably a lot of directors had trouble adjusting to widescreen. Ford, of course, hated it. Do you really think Sirk was making his films for the enjoyment of the audiences? Is it so hard to believe that he and Metty decided to shoot one of more of these films we're discussing in an AR that audiences weren't at the time going to see it in, but that could also make the transition into widescreen and retain most of what was important? To shoot in another AR requires, in some ways, a whole new aesthetic for the filmmaker to employ. It's not some frivolous thing. It changes the film. Just because they didn't have a choice as to how it was shown, doesn't mean they couldn't have shot it with another AR in mind.

And it may seem trivial Fred Camper's opinion that these films were composed in Academy, but I can't imagine another person who knows Sirk's work better from an aesthetic/visual point of view.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:56 am 
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I've documented that Universal's screening room for rushes was changed to widescreen one month before the start of principal photography, and that executives would screen rushes in 2:1 each afternoon.

If Sirk was secretly composing for 1:37, don't you think somebody would have noticed how bad the compositions were in widescreen?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 12:45 pm 

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I've stayed out of the fray so far as I don't (so to speak) have a dog in this fight due to having seen MO only via cablecasts (WTBS-Superstation 17) many years ago. I also don't wish to further exacerbate the rancor quotient which is off the meter. This may sound hypocritical after my throwing a small "Grandi nephew" vial of vitriol on the TOUCH OF EVIL thread but I have refrained (as promised, more or less) from commenting further there. I believe anyone familiar with that thread can probably guess how I think with regard to the general issues this discussion raises.

I would just like to state briefly that, if at all possible, any titles from the Aspect Ratio Hell Years of '53 - '60 (roughly) should be made available on disc in at least TWO opposing/alternate screen sizes. Practically speaking this would be Academy (1.33) and "widescreen" (1:66, 1:78, 1:85, 2:0, whichever applies). After all, for the first ten years of DVD the major studios provided totally inaccurate, patently inauthentic, 100% WRONG, pan'n'scan TV transfers (invariably and insultingly on the "A" side!) for very nearly each and every genuine, true anamorphic widescreen film they released. If such visual atrocities can be perpetrated in the name of commerce then they can certainly be tolerated in the name of scholarly opinion. Let the consumer decide. After all the arguments have been made he or she can believe the record or just trust their lying eyes.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 7:05 pm 

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Bob Furmanek wrote:
I've documented that Universal's screening room for rushes was changed to widescreen

Do you know whether Universal had more than one screening room (I can't imagine they didn't) and whether all were changed, or just one?

Quote:
If Sirk was secretly composing for 1:37, don't you think somebody would have noticed how bad the compositions were in widescreen?

We've already established that these films are functional in both ARs.

One wonders how often Sirk even looked through the viewfinder, and what Metty's viewfinder would have shown if he did. Things that probably can't be known today...


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 7:18 pm 
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Criterion have updated the specs:

Quote:
Film Info
1954
108 minutes
Color
2.00:1
Dolby Digital Mono 1.0
Not Anamorphic
English

I guess there's always the Madman for those who want a pristine new transfer in 1.37, plus the Stahl..


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 8:28 pm 
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Schreck, every Australian site I've checked (madman, devoted.com.au, and exydvd.com.au) says that release is anamorphic widescreen even though they display screencaps in academy. I tend to believe the specs over the caps, but wonder what's going on.
We also have the French set from Carlotta, fortunately, which also includes A Time to Love and a Time to Die.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 9:01 pm 
Dot Com Dom
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Doesn't Madman have a forum? Might be worth asking there.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 9:33 pm 
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The Madman is widescreen anamorphic. I haven't seen it myself but I've heard this from someone who has.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 11:36 am 
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Jack Theakston recently posted these frame grabs from an original 35mm print of THE DEADLY MANTIS on the HTF. The black and white is the image on the film, and the green section is the image on the DVD transfer.

This will give you a good idea of how much manipulation/zooming can occur in a sloppy video transfer!

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htf/imgcache/35635.imgcache

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htf/imgcache/35636.imgcache

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htf/imgcache/35637.imgcache


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 11:41 am 
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Bob Furmanek wrote:
... telecine operators see a full frame image and assume that it's all meant to be seen.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 11:51 am 
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By the way, the Deadly Mantis DVD is 1.37.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 12:17 pm 
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Herrschreck: what is your reason for taking a quote of mine out of context? My initial post - where you lifted that comment - was discussing the telecine operators that receive a film like MO and transfer it in the academy ratio. In the case of the "Deadly Mantis" issue, I was illustrating the amount of manipulation which can occur with a bad transfer. Here was a film composed for 1.85 though protected for 1.37, and some transfer engineer zooms in on the full frame to create another 1.37 image!

I wonder how many Sirk widescreen films have suffered the same fate in their video transfers, leading people to assume they were composed for (and look best) in the academy ratio?


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 1:07 pm 
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Briefly (because I really don't want to get sucked back into this but I'll fulfill my 'obligation' here):

I don't see where anything was taken out of context. I'm simply showing how the the responses slide around from moment to moment.

This all extrapolates back to MO, obviously, so it's all in-context. Someone says "I think MO looks untenable in 2.0:1", and the response is How do you know the image has not been zoomed in? Telecine operators always zoom in and misframe transfers.... i e Don't trust the transfer.

Someone says "I think MO looks stronger in 1.37, and clearly so do the dvd producers who present the film in 1.37" and your response is the opposite of above, saying telecine operators see a full frame image and assume that it's all meant to be seen... i e Don't trust the transfer!

Which is it? Are they lazy or are they over-eager viz the image frame?


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 3:31 pm 
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It's really quite simple Shreck. In those two different scenarios, both answers are correct.

1. Some video transfers (ie Deadly Mantis) are zoomed, panned, etc.

2. Some video transfers are done incorrectly in full frame because the telecine operators assume the full image of a widescreen film (ie Magnificent Obsession) is meant to be seen.


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