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December 1997, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Leo Enticknap <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 26 Nov 1997 17:45:02 +0000
TEXT/PLAIN (69 lines)
On Tue, 25 Nov 1997 19:11:03 -0400 (EDT) [log in to unmask] wrote:
> is it naive to think that the frame on
> the film itself could or should contain a clean image so that no masking would
> be necessary?
A certain amount of masking is used in all projection.  Even 'scope, which has
the smallest blank frame area of any 35mm format, has to be projected through an
aperture plate or else you would see the frame line.  The question is of how
much masking to apply.  Unless you want to abandon the principle of 35mm,
vertical motion, 4-perf pulldown (as in Techniscope, in which the camera has
only a two-perf motion, resulting in a frame ratio of about 1:2.6), then the
wider the picture the greater the frame area which has to be masked off.
The nearest you could come to no masking at all is either 'scope or what the
National Film Theatre call the "early sound special" ratio.  This was in use
briefly from the introduction of the Fox Movietone sound-on-film system until
the Academy Ratio of 1:1.33 was declared the industry standard - I think - in
1933. Fox Movietone cameras were normal silent cameras (i.e. with a "full gate
aperture", occupying the area of film now taken up by the soundtrack, of
roughly 1:1.38) with an electric motor fixed at 24fps and modified to expose a
variable density track in the area where the sound is on a normal comopt print.
Basically, they're the same size as a 'scope frame only non-anamorphic - almost
a perfect square (any projectionist who comes across one of these should use a
'scope plate with a 1:1.33 lens, and, after tweaking the masking a little bit,
it should look fine).
> the real question, as i understand it--and if it wasn't david's it certainly
> mine--is:  why can't the director and/or d.p. frame the image so that the boom
> mike simply does not appear anywhere in the frame, thereby making it
> for the projectionist to screw up??
I have no experience in production apart from undergrad practical classes, so
this is purely a guess: I would have thought that if you are framing, say, for
1:1.85, then to have the boom mike outside even the 1:1.33 area in the camera's
focal range would, in practice, be so far above the action that it would fail
to pick up any sound, especially on MCU's and wider  We could be talking 10-15
feet in practice.
I'd be interested to know if anyone who has done studio or location work with
boom mikes would agree with this hypothesis.  I really can't think of anything
Incidentally, even if you managed to banish all boom mikes to the heavens, the
projectionist could still get it out of rack.  You'd just see an awful lot of
sky with the top of the actor's head being half way down the picture.  Or, if
(s)he mis-racked it clockwise, an Islamic execution.  But if it's that far out
(which would have to be at least a perf and a bit, even for 1:1.66) any astute
projectionist should realise that when (s)he saw the leader numbers running
down through the gate, and correct it before opening up.
Leo Enticknap
Postgraduate Common Room
School of English and American Studies
University of Exeter
Queen's Building, The Queen's Drive
Devon EX4 4QJ
United Kingdom
email: [log in to unmask]
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