Aspect Ratio Conversions (5 replies and 11 comments)
I did a feature framed for 2.40 but with a 1.78 (16x9) version planned -- so I shot 2K 16x9 ProRes (there was no 3.2K option at this point and no budget for Arriraw Open Gate) on the Alexa. I followed the idea that Fincher did for "Panic Room" where he shot 3-perf 35mm (which is about 1.78 : 1) and composed for 2.40 with a 1/4-offset from Common Top. The problem with regular Common Top is that you have a lot of extra picture at the bottom of the 1.78 frame, and the problem with Center Crop is that you have a lot of excess headroom in 1.78. So he split the difference and created what at Panavision was called the "Fincher GroundGlass." ARRI went with the idea and created their own "1/4-Offset" 2.40 inside 1.78 GG, and with digital cameras it is easy to create a custom groundglass that is similar. Here is a frame from my movie where I overlaid the framelines:
Thanks for the reply! Did you frame for 2.40 exclusively and use the crop marks just to make sure the 1.78 version was safe/clean; or was the 16:9 aspect also an artistic consideration in the framing?
I only composed for 2.40 but protected the outer area.
First time hearing about the 1/4 offset. I'd come to a similar conclusion myself without realising there was a "standard" out there. I'm not sure I was exactly 1/4 offset but the point of fixing the headroom issue was the same... now if only I could convince productions to stop requisition social's aspect ratios.. shooting for 16:9, 1:1 and 9:16 at the same time is something I still can't wrap my head around.. feel like I should just shoot everything on a 12mm and let the editor find the frames :,-(
Here is another frame where I marked the 2.40 framelines in the 1.78 capture. Dailies were letterboxed but matched this framing, so thin black bars on top and heavier black bars on the bottom. But final masters shifted the letterboxed 2.40 image back down to be centered on the screen.
Hi David, you mentioned "custom ground glass" on digital cameras for this framing. Is that just a preference for you? Or is it because there aren't monitors or eyepieces that allow for an uncommon digitally superimposed frame like this?
Sorry I didn’t mean I used an optical viewfinder, we had custom framelines for the electronic viewfinder.
Okay, thanks for sharing your insight!
Here is an example of a letterboxed dailies frame for editorial. Truth is that for some reason half our dailies came back without this letterboxing, I don't know why, it may have been an A versus B camera thing in terms of processing the footage and not applying it consistently.
Thanks for the examples! Have you seen anyone distributing the difference between 2.40 and 1.78 by both (slightly) cropping the sides and (slightly) opening the top/bottom? It seems like a fair compromise assuming 1.78 is a smaller screen.
...I guess something like opening the top/bottom to 2.0 and then slightly cropping the sides.
Yes in the early days of laserdisc, some Super 35 movies framed for 2.40 were released on home video opened up to 2.00 : 1 — but remember this was back when TV sets were 4:3. “The Abyss” and “Star Trek VI” were two examples.
The good old days of 4:3! I have a question regarding dailies, when the open gate extends horizontally beyond the protected outer area. Let's say your protected area is 1.78 or 2.00, and the open gate is 2.11; would you crop the sides on the dailies (instead of adding dark bars)? I ask because I know some filmmakers like to have the option to reframe in post.
Open Gate on the Alexa is 1.55 : 1. Dailies are usually HD, which is 16:9 video (1.78 : 1) so letterboxing is used to create other aspect ratios. Doesn’t matter if dailies are cropped or letterbox, you always have the original camera footage for reframing purposes like stabilization. If you mean letting the editor and director recompose the movie in post, I don’t believe that’s a good idea. Fixing a shot or reframing to save a shot now and then, sure, that happens but just taking what was composed on set by the cinematographer and recomposing it in post by someone else sounds like something I wouldn’t want my name on as a cinematographer. Minor adjustments maybe, but creative reimagining on every shot, then what was the point of hiring a cinematographer?
I know that David Fincher records a larger area like 6K or so on a Red camera and frames within a smaller 5K, let’s say, area so he has room to adjust, mainly to smooth out camera moves using stabilization tools. I’m not sure about his dailies workflow in terms of letterboxed dailies and what the editor works with. I’m sure some editors might prefer getting full frame footage and using a framing chart to apply the letterbox, but editors are not the only people that get dailies - producers, etc. will be looking at dailies and should get them properly letterboxed even if the editor gets the footage unletterboxed.
Great insight and I agree 100%. I was just curious if filmmakers like Fincher want to see the full frame footage on dailies. I think the Alexa 65 open gate is 2.11 and that would be pretty confusing if framed for 1.78. Thanks again!