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Old 07-02-2007, 14:14   #1
Alan George
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Academy Ratio ?

This ratio business is a real can of worms (not Cinemascope). As, the academy shape may have disappeared around 1956, but the camera's stayed the same, photographing the whole acad. area. The camera's then had 1.85 markings on the ground glass so that the cameramen could check if, say, a mike boom in shot would be masked out when the Lab. printed on the black bars - there were a few camera's that only filmed the 1.85 area, but only a few.
So now when you do a transfer of a late '50s or any '60s film, finding a print can be near impossable. It's usually easier to get hold of the org. negs. (or a new interpos. or fine grain pos.) with the full frame exposed. Then in the absence of any paperwork, it's guess-work, or if you don't know what your'e doing, full frame.
There's too many films of that era with full frame DVDs. I see the DVD of "DUNKIRK" is full frame, but when it was on BBC2 a while back it was 16.9 & looked spot on.
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Old 07-02-2007, 18:19   #2
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Though, as you say, once you get past 1955 or so in the US mainstream cinema (later in other countries) you're on pretty safe ground by saying that a film is not going to be in Academy Ratio if:

a) it's a commercial feature intended for wide distribution (i.e. not an arthouse movie)

b) originated on 35mm

c) a dramatic work (i.e. not a documentary)

...despite what many people - including quite a few who hang around the Home Theater Forums - seem to think. The rise of DVD has generated more nonsense about aspect ratios than I care to contemplate, but don't get me started on that.

There are a very few exceptions to this rule of thumb, but they are notable for being exceptions. And even so, films like Coppola's One from the Heart and Van Sant's Elephant may be *intended* to be shown in Academy, but they are certainly also protected so that they could be shown in any ratio up to 1.85:1 without losing anything vital. The directors aren't fools: they know that very few cinemas (outside arthouses and repertory) can show Academy properly.

Of course, it can be difficult to determine precisely WHAT ratio is the right one, whether it be 1.66:1, 1.75:1, 1.85:1 or 2:1. 1.85:1 is the best bet for a US non-Scope film made after the late 50s, but there are exceptions to that.
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