In a message dated 6/14/00 4:57:08 PM, [log in to unmask] writes:

<< >Yes it is 1.33:1 and yes it is my Academy that it refers to.  AMPAS didn't
>have anything to do with setting the standard (that was Edison), but, as
>Katz writes about the Academy,  "... introduced the Academy mask in an
>effort to re-establish screen rectangularity at the then-standard aspect
>ratio of 1.33 : 1 (or 4 : 3).  The area delineated by the mask is known as
>the Academy Aperture." >>

Yes, he's right about 1.33:1 being Academy ratio, not exactly right about
Edison. After many different versions of film stock by competitors over the
first few decades, "traditional" silent aperture was more square (1.17:1) and
it was only at the advent of sound with the space needed for the optical
soundtrack that 1.33:1 was established in 1932.

Why so late after Don Juan and The Jazz Singer? First, remember that sound
discs came first so there was no need to change the aperture -- Fox was the
first to use optical sound (thus needing space on the side of the frame for
the soundtrack) and I believe that was the initial use of 1.33:1.

Also, late in the 1920s and early in the 1930s, there was several attempts to
make 65mm widescreen films -- The Big Trail and The Bat Whispers come
immediately to mind. I'm not sure it was just the Academy or in conjunction
with Will Hays, but in 1932 acting on the assumption (or by direct pleadings
by the theater owners) that the theaters had recently had the financial
stress of overhauling their theaters several times to sound and that further
(and constantly changing) technological changes would threaten their
stability, it was decided that no film should differ from Academy ratio.

There is a wonderful poster put out in Britain (by BAFTA, I believe)
detailing the history of screen apertures (other posters are of sound, color
and auditorium histories), which I will now send an assistant to find so we
can put it up in our new office.

Dennis Doros
Milestone Film & Video
PO Box 128
Harrington Park, NJ 07640-0128
Phone: (201) 767-3117 or (800) 603-1104
Fax: (201) 767-3035
Email: [log in to unmask]

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