Q: how do I make my pictures look epic?

Wondering how to accomplish a certain animation task? Ask here.

Moderators: Fahim, Distinct Sun, Víctor Paredes, erey, Belgarath, slowtiger

User avatar
andrewjs
Posts: 43
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 11:01 am
Contact:

Post by andrewjs » Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:17 am

Touched wrote:I saw a movie which was presented in that extremely wide aspect ratio, one of the Alien movies, or a Terminator movie, I think. Viewing it on my 4:3 TV was painful. It was a thin ribbon of screen in the middle of a vast field of black. I'm someone who prefers widescreen presentation, but that was just excessive.
I feel a need to re-iterate that 2.35 is not an extremely wide aspect ratio. It is very common, with at least one-third of American movies using it, probably more.
User avatar
Touched
Posts: 504
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2006 7:33 am
Location: Sunny California
Contact:

Post by Touched » Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:25 am

I don't know if the movie I'm referring to was 2.35 or not, but whatever it was, it was excessive for a 4:3 letterbox.
User avatar
andrewjs
Posts: 43
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 11:01 am
Contact:

Post by andrewjs » Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:58 am

Touched wrote:I don't know if the movie I'm referring to was 2.35 or not, but whatever it was, it was excessive for a 4:3 letterbox.
2.35 is as wide as it gets for movie distribution. I agree though that a smaller 4:3 TV will make your eyes hurt a bit. Even a small widescreen TV is an improvement.

I'm just surprised by the impression that people have that 2.35 is somehow unique and unusual.

FYI - T2 and T3 were both Super-35 2.35, but T1 was regular spherical 1.85. Alien 1 and 3 were anamorphic 2.35, and Alien 4 was Super-35 (2.35). Movie tech specs are available from imdb.com; very useful resource for this kind of stuff. Usually will tell you what lenses and camera models were used, too. Fun to know.

When I watched Babel recently, I was confused because though it is 1.85, the out-of-focus elements in much of the movie were oval, which is a characteristic of anamorphic lenses, only used on Scope (2.35). The tech specs revealed that each story was shot in a different process; some 16mm, some 1.85, some 2.35, and all cut together for a 1.85 presentation. A unique opportunity to see a Scope process used for smaller framing. (I wish I could say I found the stories as interesting as the photography.)

Another movie that mixes processes is the phenomenal City of God.
User avatar
slowtiger
Posts: 5396
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2006 6:53 pm
Location: Berlin, Germany
Contact:

Post by slowtiger » Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:54 pm

Just some corrections:

1. It is not an unusual practice to shoot an 1:1.85 film with anamorphotic lenses to get a better image resolution: it's a gain of about 50% more vertical resolution.

2. Super 35 must not be mixed with any aspect numbers. It is just another negative footage format and only used for shooting, not for distribution.

3. Asides from formats which used multiple cameras/projectors, Panavision's 1:2.76 was the widest format in distribution.

A really comprehensive list of movie film formats and their aspect ratios can be foound here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_film_formats
User avatar
andrewjs
Posts: 43
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 11:01 am
Contact:

Post by andrewjs » Tue Apr 24, 2007 3:02 pm

slowtiger wrote:Just some corrections:

1. It is not an unusual practice to shoot an 1:1.85 film with anamorphotic lenses to get a better image resolution: it's a gain of about 50% more vertical resolution.

2. Super 35 must not be mixed with any aspect numbers. It is just another negative footage format and only used for shooting, not for distribution.

3. Asides from formats which used multiple cameras/projectors, Panavision's 1:2.76 was the widest format in distribution.

A really comprehensive list of movie film formats and their aspect ratios can be foound here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_film_formats
Very interesting. Can you give some examples of 1.85 movies shot with anamorphic lenses? At least here in the States, this is certainly not a common at all.

Super 35 movies are almost entirely 2.35 aspect ratios, again at least here in the States. I understand that Europe has a more versatile system that also screens 1.66 films, right?

I realize that there have been in the past wider aspect ratios used, but today 2.35 is the widest in distribution, again, here in the States.
User avatar
andrewjs
Posts: 43
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 11:01 am
Contact:

Post by andrewjs » Tue Apr 24, 2007 4:25 pm

slowtiger wrote:Just some corrections:

1. It is not an unusual practice to shoot an 1:1.85 film with anamorphotic lenses to get a better image resolution: it's a gain of about 50% more vertical resolution.
I just checked with a fellow I know in the ASC, a very accomplished DP. I was so curious by your suggestion I had to look further. His response:

It's extremely unusual to use 2X anamorphic lenses for 1.85 -- afterall, despite the fact that you use the full negative height, you now have to crop the sides a lot to get 2.39 back to 1.85, negating any grain benefits.

I thought it seemed strange, so unless you can give examples I need to assume this is not something filmmakers do.
human
Posts: 688
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2007 7:53 pm

Post by human » Tue Apr 24, 2007 5:14 pm

A couple of responses to observations posted above:

(a) Some people don't understand why 2.35 : 1 ought to be treated as exotic, but another poster just pointed out that cel animation is seldom done in this format today. So perhaps this is a bit of a departure after all. Why not try composing for this aspect ratio, as I have recently, and see what you think?

(b) People are complaining about how widescreen pictures look on DVD. My friends, for your own good, I would invite you to look five years into the future. If western civilization survives that much longer (heh, don't get me started), shoppers are going to look upon DVD as the eight-track-tape of video. We don't know yet whether BlueRay or HD DVD are going to be embraced by consumers, or whether they will be purchasing their HD content on demand instead. In either case, doesn't your content have to compete with the visual richness they're getting from feature films?
User avatar
Gnaws
Posts: 339
Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 9:31 pm
Location: Las Vegas
Contact:

Post by Gnaws » Tue Apr 24, 2007 5:25 pm

Bones3D wrote:First, use BIG TYPE! The bigger and more extruded into the horizon, the better!

Next, use loud, booming voices and sound effects! The more exaggerated it is, the bigger it seems to the viewer! Also, use dark, foreboding narration that starts with the phrase "In a world where...", followed by a problem and how the hero of the story will solve it.

Finally, use tons of jump cuts and explosions! In each jump cut, someone needs to be freaking out about how there's no time left! Also, throw in some gun play, hand-to-hand combat and car chases.

Then just end on a cliff-hanger...

HAHAHA!! Perfect formula! I have to write this one down.
User avatar
andrewjs
Posts: 43
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 11:01 am
Contact:

Post by andrewjs » Tue Apr 24, 2007 6:45 pm

human wrote:A couple of responses to observations posted above:

(a) Some people don't understand why 2.35 : 1 ought to be treated as exotic, but another poster just pointed out that cel animation is seldom done in this format today. So perhaps this is a bit of a departure after all. Why not try composing for this aspect ratio, as I have recently, and see what you think?

(b) People are complaining about how widescreen pictures look on DVD. My friends, for your own good, I would invite you to look five years into the future. If western civilization survives that much longer (heh, don't get me started), shoppers are going to look upon DVD as the eight-track-tape of video. We don't know yet whether BlueRay or HD DVD are going to be embraced by consumers, or whether they will be purchasing their HD content on demand instead. In either case, doesn't your content have to compete with the visual richness they're getting from feature films?
i agree that it is healthy to experiment with aspect ratios to find what suits your material.

however, i don't understand your equating a wider ratio with visual richness. i don't think 2.35 means a movie has greater richness.. it just means it is, well, wider. most of Spielberg's movies have been 1.85:1.

technically, in the widescreen TV market, 1.78:1 is the richest of them all, since it uses the most pixels, so 1.85 or better yet 16X9 would have most visual information, which I might interpret to mean "richness".

the nice thing about the computer and TV market is that other aspect ratios can be used without the problems introduced in creating a 2.35 print for projection (which requires a squeezed image to be unsqueezed by anamorphic lenses on the projector, which would thus require the animation to go through an additional step for theatrical distribution).

interesting thread all the same. interesting to see how people interpret different ratios.
User avatar
Touched
Posts: 504
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2006 7:33 am
Location: Sunny California
Contact:

Post by Touched » Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:02 pm

Personally, I don't consider wider to be better unless it's actually being projected on a giant screen that fills my field of vision. I compose my work at 16x9 because that's the size of the displays these days.
User avatar
slowtiger
Posts: 5396
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2006 6:53 pm
Location: Berlin, Germany
Contact:

Post by slowtiger » Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:54 pm

I compose my work at 16x9 because that's the size of the displays these days.
Amen to that. It is a safe format with the biggest chance of wide distribution

No single aspect ratio is any "better" than another. Billy Wilder said about Cinemascope that it would be the perfect format to film a dachshound's life. Birth of a Nation, Ben Hur (1924) and Citizen Kane are great epic films, and they are 1:1.33.

"Epic" isn't a question of screen size. It is a way of storytelling. If your story needs to show lots and lots of landscape, then Cinemascope might be fine for you.
cel animation is seldom done in this format today
This should be "yesterday" instead of "today". There's a simple practical reason for not using cinemascope in animation: you need more paper and more cels (by area), and both are much more difficult to handle (the paper must have more holes punched into it, and so on). I assume that totally digital production makes it easier to do animation in that format.
It's extremely unusual to use 2X anamorphic lenses for 1.85
Thanx for checking with someone who should know. I just deduced from memory from lots of films in 1:1.66 or 1.85 which had the elliptical lights or lens flares, so I can be completely wrong on this.
today 2.35 is the widest in distribution
For recent films, of course. Old films in Panavision rarely get shown with the correct lens on the projector, which is a shame. Only a few theatres are equipped with the whole range of lenses necessary to project the whole film history adequately ... but I was raised with that luxury.

I certainly don't know about the actual situation here in germany because a lot has changed over the last decades. In the 80's cinemas died, while "Kommunale Kinos" rose (something like arthouse cinema, but with governmental funding). The disease called Multiplex spread all over the country, and so did the habit of wrong projection. It was not uncommon to show each and every movie with the same lens, no matter how much of the image got cropped on screen. Same goes for the gate, which led to the wrong impression that american moviemakers always left their microphones visible in the frame ...

Since those dark times things got improved up a bit. There's still a good portion of traditional cinemas which are proud to treat all films with respect, which means to project them the way they were intended to. The Multiplexes have become better and better. But if you want to see a non-widescreen movie, you have to rely on arthouse cinema, or retrospectives at festivals - or on DVD.

I tried to find some statistics about the usage of different aspect ratios, but found none.
human
Posts: 688
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2007 7:53 pm

Post by human » Wed Apr 25, 2007 1:37 am

At the risk of getting off topic, I just have to respond to:

"Citizen Kane... great epic film"

I understand that a lot of people believe this; I've heard it all my life.

Curiosity finally got the better of me last year and we screened it on DVD.

Say whut???

Citizen Kane features:

[1] An incoherent and unconvincing script
[2] Choppy editing
[3] Astonishing bad, breathtakingly-bad, acting

The most damning thing I can say about CK, ultimately, is that it wasn't "bad" enough to be "good" (ala the legendary "Plan 9 from Outer Space")

What did I miss?
User avatar
jorgy
Posts: 779
Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: Colorado, USA

Post by jorgy » Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:37 am

human wrote:(a) Some people don't understand why 2.35 : 1 ought to be treated as exotic, but another poster just pointed out that cel animation is seldom done in this format today. So perhaps this is a bit of a departure after all. Why not try composing for this aspect ratio, as I have recently, and see what you think?
Atlantis - The Lost Empire (Disney animated release of a few years ago) was done in 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0230011/

On the DVD, the directors talk about how hard it was to convince people to animate like that - the fear was that people would have to get new drafting tables, new peg layouts, new cameras, everything. But it turned out not to be a big deal.

I personally like when a filmmaker can use the wider aspect ratio in telling the story. It gives the director more options in framing a shot, and more flexibility. Why not in animation? Especially now that the workflows are digitial.

jorgy
Patmals
Posts: 551
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 7:19 am
Location: Nagoya-shi, Japan

Post by Patmals » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:27 am

And, slightly off the topic of aspect ratio, putting the film through a final compositor (eg. After Effects or Combustion, like Greykid uses) can give the visuals a real film look.
User avatar
slowtiger
Posts: 5396
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2006 6:53 pm
Location: Berlin, Germany
Contact:

Post by slowtiger » Wed Apr 25, 2007 8:57 am

I personally like when a filmmaker can use the wider aspect ratio in telling the story. It gives the director more options in framing a shot, and more flexibilit
This is a common mistake in thinking, like in "The screen is bigger, so we have more possibilities to fill it". Hitchcock said something about Cinemascope, other directors do, in interviews and books.

You should only use widescreen if you have something to tell that demands that format. Otherwise you will end up with lots of standard scenes where you desparately try to add some unimportant eyecandy into the vast empty spaces in your composition.

Space operas, horse operas, sandal films, they all have something big and horizontal to show. But as Hitchcock said, it is quite arguable if a film still is a good film if the scenography gets more important than the story and the actors.

For further investigation of this topic, get some decent books about filmmaking, film history, and film theory.
Curiosity finally got the better of me last year and we screened it on DVD.
Citizen Kane features:
[1] An incoherent and unconvincing script
[2] Choppy editing
[3] Astonishing bad, breathtakingly-bad, acting
What did I miss?
Context.

It is a great film. It is repeatedly been voted to be one of the best or even the best movie of all times - by filmmakers and film critics. It just is not your common popcorn flick. Like any piece of art, enjoyment increases with knowledge.
Post Reply