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The Academy ratio was established to compensate for the changed aspect
ratio that resulted from the addition of the sound track. It rendered
what had been the 1.33:1 full aperture image to something a shape closer
to square. (The Vitaphone sound on disc system kept the silent era full
frame aperture and did not have this problem.) The Academy was given the
job of deciding whether the industry should switch to wider guage films
in order to increase the available image area. In the event, probably
because of the cost of converting to sound and the economic restraints
of the Great Depression, the Academy opted for making the frame lines on
35mm film wider in order to restore to the image area the same
proportions that had been present in the full aperature image. The
1.33:1 aspect ratio was the same, but the overall image area had to be
reduced in order to restore it.

Marshall Deutelbaum

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Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama: http://www.tcf.ua.edu