True Definition

Archive for the ‘Aspect Ratio’ Category

We’re Going to Need a Bigger Screen

In 3D, Aspect Ratio, High Definition, Three-Dimensional on November 4, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Shortly after the Second World War the film industry noticed a steady decline in cinema attendance. Theatres began to shut down and productions were being postponed. Where did this decline come from? Many believe it was a lack of interest. At the time, servicemen were reuniting with their families and going to the movies was the last thing on anyone’s mind. I mean, who needs to go the movies when you have a perfectly good television set in your living room? The film industry desperately needed a way to change how they showed their pictures, and the best way to do that was to make it a bigger and wider picture.

Fred Waller had the idea to create an extremely wide screen cinema system that would surround the audience with picture and sound. This would be known as Cinerama and would jolt consumer interest within the next few years. Though a minor and cheap change for the film industry, the switch to Cinerama will forever revolutionize how movies are viewed.

It’s important to note that there is more than just one type of wide screen ratio. In fact, there are four basic aspect ratios that are commonly used today in television and in film. First, I’ll start with full screen television, which has a ratio of 1.33. What this means is that for every single vertical unit, there will be 1.33 horizontal units. After television you’ll make the jump to HDTV viewed in a 1.77 ratio, or 16:9 as most have called it. Since HDTV’s have become more accessible and are generally cheaper than in the past, it is becoming, for most of us, the standard television format.

The same rules are applied when you make the jump into cinema. The standard cinema aspect ratio for most films is 1.85 and 2.35 for Cinemascope, or in other words, ultra-widescreen films. Unfortunately films were only showed in Cinemascope between the years 1953 and 1967, as Fox was able to find a cheaper and more cost effective anamorphic lens developed by Panavision. Some notable films shot in Cinemascope were East of Eden and Our Man Flint.

Just as it was in the 1940’s, the line between Television and Cinema is still a thin one. Movies are played on TV within their original aspect ratio, and HDTV is nearly a standard in most homes. This leaves the film industry in basically the same spot as it was in before, maybe an even worse position with the implementation of new media, such as computers. Since the spark of the Internet we have seen ticket sales plummet, giving some the idea that going to the movies is meaningless when you can just download your preferred media legally, or illegally over the Internet. What should the film industry do at this point? Well, they need a way to re-invent themselves as they did before. They need a way for the screen to come alive. They need to bring back 3D.