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Progression of Aspect Ratio

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Simon Firth

on 20 October 2015

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Transcript of Progression of Aspect Ratio

By Simon Firth
History of Aspect Ratio
William Kennedy Dickson - Used the the 'Kenitoscope' invented by Thomas Edison to create the first motion picture. This motion picture used 35mm film in a 4:3 aspect ratio. This would then become the cinema standard for half a century.
1909 - Motion picture patent company
Optically printed synchronized sound was introduced in 1929 and changed the aspect ratio, this was because the printed audio took up a small section of the film thus changing the aspect ratio of the image. In 1932 The Academy of Motion Picture arts & sciences declared that by keeping the synchronized sound the images on the film needed to be masked on the tops and bottoms to create an aspect ratio of 1.37 slightly different to the predecessor 1.33. It was in 1937 that it would officially become known as the Academy Ratio
1932/37 - Academy Ratio was born
Fred Waller pioneers Cinerama 3 35mm cameras shooting with 27mm lenses, on film that has images 6 perforations high. Created an image with a field of view of 147 degrees closer to the 180 degree field of view we see at with our eyes. Thus creating a truer feel and a bigger picture, allowing the camera to capture more within a scene. The 3 films would be projected from 3 projectors onto a huge curved screen, the 3 films stitch together to create 1 whole image. This was hugely popular and regenerated interest in going to the cinema this was at a time when TV's where becoming increasingly popular. However it was 10 years until it was used in feature films, one of those being a classic "How the West Was Won" (1962)
1950's - Widescreen ( Cinerama ) (2.59)
Motion picture patent company declares that 35 mm film with 'Edison perforations'
and an image 4 perforations high (4:3 aspect ratio) to be the film standard for all films in the US.
1953 - Paramount produce first flat widescreen film
'Shane' Shot in Academy Ratio with tops and bottoms of the images removed to show a 1.66 Aspect ratio. The differences weren't apparent until shown on a bigger screen such as a 50ft screen. This wasn't a good solution as it produced film grain.
1953 Anamorphic Lenses used to create - Cinema Scope
Anamorphascope, invented in the 1920's by Henri Chretien. Anamorphoscope distorts a lens in only one direction, the horizontal axis. This is called an Anamorphic lens. A 2:1 anamorphic lens create a squished image that would fit onto 35 mm film and produced a 2.35 aspect ratio on 4 perforation high film. This was cheaper than Cinerama. This still didnt fix grain. All studios embraced CinemaScope except for Paramount.
1954 - Vista Vision
Used 35mm film shot horizontally instead of the traditional vertical way of shooting. 8 perforations wide with an aspect ratio of 1.85, this would then be printed back onto regular vertical 35mm film. This reduced grain thus meaning a higher quality picture. First used on the film ' White Christmas ' (1954). Alfred Hitchcock shot many of his films in vista vision and was incredibly popular.
1955 - TODD- AO
Mike Todd invents 70mm film. With an aspect ration of 2.20. This was meant to have the features of Cinerama with only one camera and one projector.
Late 1950's Panavision - MGM65
the MGM2 has an aspect ratio of 2.76 using 70mm film. The 'Super Panavision 70', different to the MGM65, as it used standard spherical lenses instead of anamorphic in the predecessor this would then shoot at an aspect ratio of 2.20. used on the epic 'Lawrence of Arabia' (1962). Downside was that it was expensive.
1980's - present day - 16x9
A compromise for television, 16x9 used an aspect ratio of 1.78 which was between the 2 most common used aspect ratios in cinema, 1.33 and 2.35. This meant that footage shot on 1.33(pillarboxing) and 2.35 (letterboxing) would take up similar screen real estate. This then became the standard for HD and even Ultra HD (4k).
Reference Video
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