1917 Inspiration and Aspect Ratio (4 replies and 5 comments)
I'm very excited to see your movie 1917! I've seen the trailers and the discussion on this forum and I have a couple of questions:
Previously you mentioned tangential, peripheral sources of inspiration in your other films, such as Alex Webb's photographs for Sicario.
1.) In preparation for 1917 did any media, such as Peter Jackson's They Shall Not Grow Old, influence or inform your approach to this story?
The "cinematic" aspect ratio of 2.39:1 is tried and true. It's expansive, immersive, and perfect for locations (such as battlefields) where horizontal lines dominate the composition.
2.) Was there a discussion about aspect ratio for this period piece when the aspect ratio of that era was 1.33:1 (or 1.37:1)?
There were no films we used as reference for '1917' other than original film footage from WW1. I did think of 'Ivan's Childhood' and, especially, 'Come and See' but neither were really references. Inspiration perhaps.
We never considered any other format than 2.39 but we knew we were going to release in IMAX so we composed with that format in mind. We used the top and bottom of the sensor to expand the image for IMAX rather than losing the sides of the 2.39.
Ivan's Childhood is one of my favorites. I'll rewatch that after 1917 to see if I can find thematic connections 🙂
One technical question now that the film is released: Over the years you've said that, while you choose the best lens for each shot, you have frequented the field of view of the 32mm on the Alexa in 2.8k mode. Afterwards that preference has developed to 32mm on the (wider FoV of the) Alexa in 3.4k mode.
On the Alexa LF in 4.5k mode, that same field of view would equate to ~42mm. Did the 40mm become the "go-to" focal length?
And as a brief follow-up: For a "one-take" movie, I would imagine that you would be married to one lens throughout the shoot for continuity. Was the entire movie shot on that lens?
Yes, we used a 40mm for almost every section. Inside the German bunker we used a 35mm and on the river we used a 47mm. I would have liked to shoot on the 47mm for more of the film but the 'one shot' treatment meant the 40mm made more sense.
Thank you very much!
A 40mm lens on a LF format would be equivalent to which lens of a full frame still camera like Sony (a7iii etc)?
More or less the same. The Alexa LF in Open Gate is 36.7mm wide and the Sony A7iii sensor is 35.6mm wide. That's like a 40mm on the LF versus a 39mm on the Sony A7iii to match horizontal field of view. Maybe a 38mm.
Thanks David!! So the depth of field would be similar as well? Considering the same focal lenght and t stop
Yes, both cameras are Full Frame 35mm formats. It's interesting that in still photography, medium format is larger than full-frame and large format is even larger -- so the Alexa 65 would be closer to a medium format in still camera terms. So I'm not sure how FF35, which is the same as the 8-perf 35mm VistaVision format in moviemaking, came to be called "large format" for the Alexa, it's confusing, especially since they make a larger format, the Alexa 65.