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December 1994, Week 2


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Jeremy Butler <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 13 Dec 1994 09:07:06 CST
text/plain (42 lines)
Author:  Cal <[log in to unmask]>
Date:    12/12/94 7:54 PM
[Editor's note:  This message was submitted to SCREEN-L by the "Author" noted
above, and not by Jeremy Butler ([log in to unmask]).]
Anamorphic lenses are not the only way to achieve the effect of a
widescreen (typically 1:1.87 ratio in contrast to earlier 1:1.33).
Many camera viewfinders are inscribed with both ratios.  During the
shooting of film, directors can block a scene within the 1:1.87 border
but the actual film as shot will be the classic 1:1.33 ratio.
When the film is shipped for exhibition in a theater, projectionists
are instructed to project at 1:1.85.  Magically: "widescreen" images.
When the film is sold in the supplementary markets such as television
and videotape, just as magically the image is 1:1.33.  Occasionally
a camera operator fails to scan the outer edges of the image with the
result of a mic boom or light being shown when projected in 1:1.33.
If you want to see this effect look carefully at a 16mm print of BANG
THE DRUM SLOWLY.  The mic boom can be seen in several scenes. When
this was pointed out to John Hancock at a showing during a session at
the University Film and Video Association he was puzzled. He had
never seen it projected in any but the wider screen ratio.
I have no special knowledge of how TOOTSIE was shot but suspect that it
used the dual framings with the result that little is lost in the
"cropped version."
The other side of this story is the attempt by some exhibitors/projectionists
to achieve a wide screen effect with films originally shot with the earlier
1:1.33 ratio.  I've seen CITIZEN KANE, GONE WITH THE WIND, and ALEXANDER
NEVSKY shown this way.  When I spoke to the manager about the cropping of
images in NEVSKY he went to the auditorium door, peered at the screen
and said something like: "I don't see anything wrong.  That how we always
show it."
Cal Pryluck, Radio-Television-Film, Temple University, Philadelphia
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