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June 2000, Week 3


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Leo Enticknap <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 13 Jun 2000 01:36:02 +0100
text/plain (52 lines)
Dennis Doros writes:

>Unfortunately, we've tried labeling the leaders, the reel bands and the ICC
>cases, but then after a year of release with the theaters and nontheatrical
>venues (I won't blame projectionists since it's not always them) changing and
>replacing these elements at whim, it becomes more problematical to do this
>than not. (I have phone calls from projectionists asking why the leader of
>TABU says its cinemascope.) It would be nice if the DGA, MPAA or NATO or
>someone else would have a database that projectionists could click on to.

I find it hard to believe that all the head leaders and all the tails on a
consisting of 5 or more reels could end up being chopped off during the course
of a print's lifetime.  If the ratio were marked on the negative of both (and
if the SMPTE made it a technical requirement that the ratio is so marked, in
the same way that they make it a requirement that the 'Start' frame is printed
exactly 16 feet from the first picture frame), I feel sure that this would put
an end to the problem.  The crucial problem it wouldn't end is that of the
multiplex operators who  have no choice but to show CASABLANCA cropped to
1:1.85 because they haven't got the plates and lenses to do anything else.

As for your projectionist thinking that TABU must be in 'scope, I'd hazard a
guess that (s)he had not previously encountered the early sound ratio (I call
it 1:1.15, but a very pedantic ex-girlfriend once pointed out that, allowing
for the SMPE's 1927-standard soundtrack matte, the exact projection aperture
has a ratio of 1:1.1469).  Here's a frame that is full height, full-width, with
a frame line that looks like the ones on 'scope prints, but is not anamorphic.
Scott Eyman in his book on the conversion to sound suggests that the 'shoot and
protect' technique was being used even in the late 20s, because projectionists
were cropping the top and bottom and magnifying the middle of the full-height
frames in order to make the picture fit their existing screens (remember that
adjustable masking curtains didn't exist in the silent period).  Basically,
when Hollywood studio cameramen framed their shots, they didn't bank on the top
or bottom 5% making it onto the screen.  This is in stark contrast to European
film-makers, who tended to use all of the full-height aperture.  Try watching M
or DIE DREIGROSCHENOPER in 1:1.33 and you'll notice a lot of cropping - the
opening titles won't all fit on the screen, for one thing!

Leo Enticknap
Technical Manager
City Screen Cinemas (York) Ltd..
13-17 Coney St., York YO1 9QL.
United Kingdom
Telephone: 01904 612940 (work); 01904 625823 (home); 07710 417383 (mobile)
e-mail: [log in to unmask]

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