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Why is A & C Meet Frankenstein being letterboxed?


clore
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I know, usually I'm pointing out the opposite. But while I understand why there are pan-and-scan prints circulating, I can't see why one would crop an Academy ratio film.

 

EDITED TO ADD:

 

I've turned to regular TCM and the image is in standard ratio. First time that has happened to me in the eight weeks that I've had the HD cable boxes.

 

Edited by: clore on Jan 15, 2012 8:51 PM

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Yes Valentine, that's exactly what's happened - also going on with A&C MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN. On channel 285, the TCM HD signal is letterboxed, but on channel 82, the "normal" TCM channel, the film is in the 1.33:1 ratio.

 

Even the descriptive card prior to the Frankenstein film, the visual that shows the MPAA rating, indicated that it was letterboxed. I didn't notice if that happened for the second film tonight.

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It appears TCM must have received a new HD print of this film as it defintiely looked sharper and cleaner on the HD feed. Oddly the opening credits remaining Full Frame but the film itself was widescreen.

 

Great to see these A&C films, maybe someday TCM will make them stars of the month.

 

 

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Oddly the opening credits remaining Full Frame but the film itself was widescreen.

 

Yes, I noticed that, so I thought that the MPAA rating visual prior to the film, which also noted that the film was letterboxed, was in error. Then as soon as the film began after the credits, the image was cropped.

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There are 2 explanations the first I don't like. They did convert a standard 1.16 or 1.37 aspect ratio film for HD. Why would they pull the film "foward" to fit HD sets while losing some of the top and bottom, the opposite of showing pan and scan widescreen on an SD set. Doesn't make any sense and I don't mind the black side bars. My TV has a compromise "Full screen" that allows a little widescreen with smaller side black bars for regular non-widescreen movies.

 

The second is that the movie was shot in 1.66 and this is how it suppose to look. Many films was shot in this simulated widescreen (not to be confused with 2.35) and should be restored. Maybe this is the case.

 

Here are the ratio differents (along with a backup link)

 

[img=http://www.und.edu/instruct/cjacobs/Overheads_files/image013.jpg]

 

http://www.und.edu/instruct/cjacobs/Overheads_files/image013.jpg

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In the case of the first two films tonight, they were made in the Academy ratio to be shown in that ratio - soft mattes weren't an item at the time of their production. The third film tonight is late enough in the day (post-1953) for "widescreen" and is listed on the IMDb as a 1.85:1 ratio. However, it's being shown as a 1.33:1 film. Thus, all three A&C films tonight are being shown in the wrong aspect ratio on TCM HD.

 

I just got off the phone with a friend of mine and I had mentioned what was going on tonight with the fist two films. He said "Again? The same thing happened last Sunday while I was watching JOAN OF ARC."

 

 

To that I said that "maybe there's someone on the weekend shift who is hitting the wrong button." My friend said that no other channel was affected that way last week.

 

 

I don't know if it's a problem at the Atlanta end or just at our cable provider's end, but I'll make sure to pay attention next Sunday to see if it happens a third time.

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You are *correct* that there were no actual widescreen i.e. CinemaScope as we know it today back in 1948. Since this movie as you stated was shot in 1.37 then there would had to be a slight stretch and some pull in to fit HD sets.

 

Some movies were shot in other aspect ratios that has nothing to do with CinemaScope but has *wide* framing lines (1.85:1) giving a little appearence of widescreen. These movie will be labeled *Letterbox* along with actual widescreen movies as CinemaScope, Panavison, Panavision 70, Todd-AO, etc.

 

This does cause a lot of confusion on that label *Letterbox.*

 

Edited by: hamradio on Jan 16, 2012 12:12 AM

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>Some movies were shot in other aspect ratios that has nothing to do with CinemaScope but has wide framing lines (1.85:1) giving a little appearence of widescreen.

 

They were shot full frame and then cropped top and bottom. This is known as being shot with "spherical" lenses. I.E. normal lenses rather than anamorphic (oval) lenses.

 

Any film can be cropped top and bottom and be called "wide screen", such as Gone With the Wind in its wide-screen release in the late '60s or early '70s.

 

This was an irritating thing about a lot of "wide screen" films shown in theaters in the late 1950s and during the '60s. Thousands of theaters had no room on the sides of their old 1.37 screens to add a new wide screen, so they showed the artifically cropped films on their regular old large 1.37 screens, leaving black bars at the top and bottom of the screens, just as we see today in many films shown on TV.

 

Even some Cinemascope films were shown on standard large 1.37 screens, and we used to laugh at them and moan and groan because we were paying more to see less image on their 1.37 screens, since the tops and bottoms were cropped and made black to give the illusion of a wide Cinemascope picture.

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FredCDobbs wrote:

<< Any film can be cropped top and bottom and be called "wide screen", such as Gone With the Wind in its wide-screen release in the late '60s or early '70s. >>

 

I'm very glad you pointed that out about GWTW. :)

Why would anyone wants to see *less* of an original film like GWTW or "Abbot and Costello" by turning it into a *fake* widescreen. Like I said in my OP, doesn't make any sense. ?:|

 

 

Movies should be shown in their original format and let the *viewer* adjust their TV as they see fit.

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>Why would anyone wants to see less of an original film like GWTW or "Abbot and Costello" by turning it into a fake widescreen.

 

The overall scheme of Cinemascope was to have all the theaters install new wider screens so the new screen would be just as tall as the old screen, but it would be much wider.

 

But this didn't work out in most theaters because they had no room on the sides of their old screens which already filled up most of their back walls.

 

Also, studios didn't want to pay the Cinemascope fee and realized they could fake a wide screen by cropping a regular 1.37 print at the top and bottom of the frame. The whole idea was to charge more money for wide screen and to offer something TV couldn't offer.

 

So what do we have now in mall theaters? Screens that are the same width of old screens but not as tall as old screens. So we have smaller screens now (top and bottom) and a pretense that these are "wide screen" films.

 

I saw Gone with the Wind on a giant 1.37 screen in 1953 and it was wider than a mall theater screen and much taller.

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These aspect ratio/letterboxing/sprocket hole/Cinemascope/VistaVision/PanandScan/34:26:34 threads are always a mile and a half over my head, so I'll just say the print was supoib, it was nice to see the three Abbott and Costello Meets on the line-up (seemingly for the first time in a rather long time, with the exception of Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy which aired as part of Professor Shaheen's Festival of Rightous Indignation Over Arab Misrepresentations in Film back in June)

 

Even though Osborne didn't say anything about the film I didn't already know, it was inn-teresting to hear him comment "what a funny film" at the end. I seem to recall him curling up his nose with displeasure when Baldwin mentioned it during the Essentials presentation of Out of the Past.

 

 

(For the record, it is a hilarious film.)

 

 

And it was *REALLY NICE* to *NOT SEE* Doctor Zhivago, Since You Went Away, Picnic, Trapeze, Elmer Gantry, Gaslight, The Heiress, From Here to Eternity, or an encore encore of Close Encounters and The Searchers in prime time.

 

 

Keep it up with the new blood TCM. Thanks.

 

 

ps- To Sir with Love AGAIN? What is it with that film and you guys on the weekends?

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> {quote:title=hamradio wrote:}{quote}There are 2 explanations the first I don't like. They did convert a standard 1.16 or 1.37 aspect ratio film for HD. Why would they pull the film "foward" to fit HD sets while losing some of the top and bottom, the opposite of showing pan and scan widescreen on an SD set. Doesn't make any sense and I don't mind the black side bars. My TV has a compromise "Full screen" that allows a little widescreen with smaller side black bars for regular non-widescreen movies.

>

> The second is that the movie was shot in 1.66 and this is how it suppose to look. Many films was shot in this simulated widescreen (not to be confused with 2.35) and should be restored. Maybe this is the case.

>

>

>

>

>

> Here are the ratio differents (along with a backup link)

>

>

>

>

>

> [img=http://www.und.edu/instruct/cjacobs/Overheads_files/image013.jpg]

>

>

>

>

>

> http://www.und.edu/instruct/cjacobs/Overheads_files/image013.jpg

>

I HATE that term "simulated widescreen", or as some have called it "fake widescreen". BOTH of those terms...specifically...refer to any movie composed (and intended to be seen) in a full frame ratio and then later incorrectly CROPPED to widescreen...regardless of what that specific ratio might be.

 

Your example of what ratios are is also a good example of what the Super 35 process is...films shot full frame but with the image and action within composed so that the movie can later be shown in EITHER a 1.85:1 or a 2.35:1 ratio...and I've seen a couple of films both ways.

 

 

A non-anamorphic widescreen film is NOT "simulated widescreen"...a movie done as you described, composed for what is termed either an "open matte" or "hard matte" ratio (composed for 1.66:1 or 1.85:1, and either masked off in the theater projector or printed with black bars on the films itself), is NO LESS a widescreen film than one shot anamorphically (such as Cinemascope or or such process). I've seen...and gotten into similar discussions....on other sites in regards to movies filmed open matte but composed and intended to be seen in a particular ratio, when a movie gets released on video in both full-frame and widescreen versions. People have criticized the widescreen version, calling it "fake widescreen", not understanding that those masked or cropped off areas were never meant or intended to be seen theatrically.

 

Your use of the term "simulated widescreen" is misplaced, or at least incorrectly defined or used. Widescreen is widescreen...regardless of the ratio or the process used to achieve that ratio. "Widescreen" simply means the film's image is composed for, projected in, and intended to be seen in a ratio which is wider than it is high.

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Thanks for that post, I understand it now but how many people ever heard of open matte or hard matte formats? This thread is my first time ever hearing of that terminology.

 

The *industry* (who you should really blame) is causing the confusion with the average person who don't understand the technicial facts.

 

What is the viewer suppose to think when they see *Letterbox* on their TV or *Widescreen* printed on the DVD when it is in the 1.66 ratio?

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anamorphic_widescreen

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> {quote:title=hamradio wrote:}{quote}

> The *industry* (who you should really blame) is causing the confusion with the average person who don't understand the technicial facts.

>

> What is the viewer suppose to think when they see *Letterbox* on their TV or *Widescreen* printed on the DVD when it is in the 1.66 ratio?

>

The industry is causing nothing...there is simply the existence of different widescreen ratios used for various artistic reasons/choices. There has been various ratios since the beginning of the sound era (movies like John Wayne's The Big Trail, and thrillers like The Bat Whispers were both done in early widescreen formats). That's like saying the industry causes confusion when artistic choices are made between filming in color or black & white, or stereo vs. mono sound, or any other number of difeerences made in either image or sound choices. The term "letterbox" has come to be a bit misused in defining "widescreen", because...originally..."letterbox" originally was meant to define a movie being shown in widescreen with the black bars above and below the image area to preserve what the original aspect ratio was. This was more accurately used on older 4x3 non-widescreen tv screens...now, with widescreen HDTV's the term "letterbox" is practically pointless (except, perhaps, for a movie in a 2.35:1 ratio...such as Cinemascope, etc...which NEEDS those borders above and below the image to preserve the ratio on an HDTV whose ratio is actually 1.85:1, or 16x9 as it's usually referred to).

 

Read this...it explains it all.

 

A Short Course in Movie Screen Ratios

http://web.archive.org/web/20040210024048/http://www.hunkvideo.com/library/ratios/ratios.html

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