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Author Topic: I need DVD aspect ratio help
George May
Film Handler

Posts: 60
From: Bath, United Kingdom
Registered: Nov 2001


 - posted 08-04-2008 05:31 AM      Profile for George May   Author's Homepage   Email George May   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Like many of you I'm beginning to screen DVD material from a laptop when there is no 35 mm print and when I can sort out the licensing.

I'm a mobile outfit so need to have any array of lenses to suit the different venues I go to. I've got a 4,000 lumen projector which was designed for interchangeable lenses. The manufacturer's lenses are, IMO, eye-wateringly expensive. So I've modified my projector to take a mounting plate and sleeve into which my standard 35 mm projector lenses will fit.

At each site I need to know the throw and the aspect ratio to select the right lens to fill the screen. And I'm thoroughly confused! Here's a selection of the specifications on some DVDs I've seen recently:

"1.85:1 Widescreen" (Sin City)
"1.78 Anamorphic" (Fitzcarraldo)
"Widescreen 2.35:1" (The Talented Mr Ripley(which plays at 16:9!))
"16:9 full height anamorphic" (The Cement Garden)
"1.85:1 Anamorphic" (The Long Day Closes)
"2.35:1 Anamorphic" (La Vie de Jesus)

What's going on?

Thanks and best wishes to you all.

George

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Cameron Glendinning
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 845
From: West Ryde, Sydney, NSW Australia
Registered: Dec 2005


 - posted 08-04-2008 06:00 AM      Profile for Cameron Glendinning   Email Cameron Glendinning   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ok, projecting DVD, Do you have a widescreen projector? or is it 4/3, the panasonic 5000 series is stated as being 14/9 but you may as well think of it as 4/3.

If you have a 4/3 style projector do you have a 1.5 x anamorphic or old style varamorph (light eater).

Remember that your dvd player can also vary the output ie letterbox widescreen or pillarbox 4/3 or output a 1.5 squeezed widescreen image ect and that the projector will also have settings that do similar things that can also cause confusion.

The other factor is that video projectors aren't very noisy so you can even place them at the front of the audience and keystone correct ect.

I hope this helps or at least is a start.

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John Wilson
Film God

Posts: 5438
From: Sydney, Australia.
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 08-04-2008 06:36 AM      Profile for John Wilson   Email John Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Mr. Ripley was 1.85:1 so don't know what the 2.35:1 rubbish is all about on the DVD packaging.

There are versions of The Magnificent Seven here on DVD that have the ratio as 1.85 on the packaging. [Roll Eyes]

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Cameron Glendinning
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 845
From: West Ryde, Sydney, NSW Australia
Registered: Dec 2005


 - posted 08-04-2008 06:51 AM      Profile for Cameron Glendinning   Email Cameron Glendinning   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I recently saw a dvd of a Room with a View claiming to be in 2.35/1 on its back cover, thankfully it was as I remembered (running it so many times) presented in flat.

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Lyle Romer
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1400
From: Davie, FL, USA
Registered: May 2002


 - posted 08-04-2008 07:12 AM      Profile for Lyle Romer   Email Lyle Romer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
On DVD anamporphic has nothing to do with aspect ratio. It is a way of encoding that utilizes the entire 4:3 picture (DVD native ratio) resolution to make a widescreen picture.

AFAIK, all "flat" films on DVD are 16:9 on DVD. I've never seen any small letterbox to make it 1.85:1.

Scope I've never measured so I don't know if they letterbox at 2.35:1 or 2.39:1 or a mix depending on title.

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Jonathon Miller
Film Handler

Posts: 9
From: Kallaroo, Western Australia, Australia
Registered: Jul 2008


 - posted 08-04-2008 11:46 AM      Profile for Jonathon Miller   Email Jonathon Miller   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Most 1.85:1 stuff of current films are opened up to 1.78:1 for home video transfers these days.

DVDs can be an aspect ratio within either a 4:3 or 16:9 frame. As long as you figure out whether the transfer is anamorphic or not, you shouldn't have too many problems.

I don't envy you if you try to show a 2.35 film in "scope" as it were, in case there are subtitles that were originally on the print, but are on the DVD as a subtitle track. They usually end up in the black bars, so if you've blown the image up and masked the top and bottom off, you're shit out of luck.

Also, plenty of older DVDs are non-anamorphic 1.85/2.35. Most of these are from older masters, the most notably ones being the "original versions" of the star wars films included as a bonus disc with the individual re-releases of sw/empire/jedi.

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Mike Schindler
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Posts: 1039
From: Oak Park, IL, USA
Registered: Jun 2002


 - posted 08-04-2008 11:54 AM      Profile for Mike Schindler   Email Mike Schindler   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Am I right in thinking that you're not confused by the technical aspect, but more by how the DVDs are labeled? If so, the two factors which need to be determined are whether it's a 16:9 transfer or 4:3 transfer, and what the aspect ratio of the actual movie is. This can be difficult because, as your examples show, there is no uniform labeling, and lots of times things are mislabeled.

Like Lyle stated, anamorphic is the same as 16:9. All of the DVDs you listed appear to be 16:9. Lots of times, if the DVD has a 4:3 transfer, this will not be indicated on the box. Really, the only way to be sure is to run the disc itself.

quote: Lyle Romer
AFAIK, all "flat" films on DVD are 16:9 on DVD. I've never seen any small letterbox to make it 1.85:1.

Actually there are a good number of flat movies which are in 1.85:1 on DVD. Many TV's cover the black bars with overscan, but they're there. It seems like Universal, Fox, and some others frame them at 1.85. Warner Bros. does full frame 16:9 transfers, as do others.

Also, if you're trying to determine the best version of a given movie to show (in terms of picture and sound quality), there's a great website here which compares all of the various releases of a particular movie in great detail.

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5305
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 08-04-2008 01:03 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In this same vein, I have never heard a good explanation of why lenses for a digital projector need to be so much more expensive than film projector lenses. The both lens are looking at an aperture that needs to be focused onto a screen -- what's the difference if that aperture contains a frame of film or DMD? What is the 2-3 thousand dollar difference?

But then I also said the same thing about slide projector lenses which, seeing as how they needed to see an area of a 35mm slide which is larger than 4/35mm film, they have to have an even larger rear element than for 35mm film, which means it would be even easier for them to achieve good edge-to-edge focus in a 4/35 aperture. And slide projector lenses are lots cheaper than cine lenses. [Confused]

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 8146
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-04-2008 01:20 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've actually used a regular Kodak slide projector lens in a video projector (Sony LCD unit). It more-or-less worked, but the image was not as sharp as with the video projector lens. No idea why. Focusing involved physically moving the lens back and forth.

In any case, SD video will be in one of three formats: full-frame 1.33, letterbox widescreen, and anamorphic widescreen. Except when using a 1.33 screen, a zoom lens is pretty much required in order to accommodate all of these and to fill at least one dimension of whatever aspect ratio the screen happens to be. Most zoom lenses don't have enough range to fill a common-height screen for all formats from 1.33 to 2.35, however.

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Brian Guckian
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 594
From: Dublin, Ireland
Registered: Apr 2003


 - posted 08-04-2008 01:29 PM      Profile for Brian Guckian   Email Brian Guckian   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I had to recently show a DVD copy of Peter Weir's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World on a 25ft screen in a cinema I was working in.

The DVD aspect ratio was labelled as 2.35:1 but also as "16:9 Enhanced".

Despite setting everything up very carefully, the image on projection (and on the monitor) was slightly stretched horizontally and there was nothing that could be done about it (all the settings were checked; i.e. the projector was not mistakenly set to "unsqueeze" the material [which was 4x3 letterboxed]...nor was the DVD player).

The overall quality was also terrible and a betrayal of the huge craftsmanship that went into the film. The WXGA LCD projector used (posited as "good enough" for the screening) was bright enough but obviously couldn't possibly achieve the necessary contrast, colour gamut or resolution, so the picture fell apart, especially in the film's many dark or low-lit scenes.

Sound was Lt Rt decoded in the cinema's Dolby CP650 as we couldn't interface the DVD player's 5.1 output with the CP (would have needed at least the I/O Option Card fitted).

Ultimately the specification of the DVD format seems hard to control.
You're handed the disc - which can have a myriad of authoring characteristics - and told to get on with it; and in this case a print could have been screened, but no, it would have been "too expensive" (it was a private hire).

I believe screening DVDs instead of 35mm prints (so-called "DVD substitution") raises serious ethical problems as the format was never designed for large-screen projection, but rather purely for domestic use.

What about looking at 35mm print non-availability another way - and this requires courage - and saying, well, if a print isn't available, then the title can't be shown?

Although this might go against a well-meaning "the show must go on" ethos, it does protect the integrity of the work of the great numbers of craftspeople who bring these films to fruition.

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

Posts: 8367
From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Registered: Nov 2004


 - posted 08-04-2008 09:12 PM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Brian Guckian
The DVD aspect ratio was labelled as 2.35:1 but also as "16:9 Enhanced".


16:9 enhanced basically means that the playback info on the disc is actually squeezed for the pict to be played back in a true scope form for widescreen TV's...

Standard 4:3 as a normal TV displays, the widescreen display is like the hard matted trailers - assigned to fit in that certain display parameter.

..it's a pixel programming thing.

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Darryl Spicer
Film God

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From: Lexington, KY, USA
Registered: Dec 2000


 - posted 08-04-2008 09:29 PM      Profile for Darryl Spicer     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I am not sure about this because I haven't investigated it to see but I think the anamorphic squeeze they use on the DVD is different than what you will find on 35mm film. So if you try to send an unsqueezed DVD image through an anamorphic for film it will look over pulled out. If someone knows for sure that it would be acurate let us know. I have often wondered if the same squeeze ratio was used for scope on DVD as it is on film.

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Lyle Romer
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1400
From: Davie, FL, USA
Registered: May 2002


 - posted 08-04-2008 10:59 PM      Profile for Lyle Romer   Email Lyle Romer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I would assume the DVD anamorphic squeeze is 1.33. 1.33:1 x 1.33 = 1.77:1. Depending on the numberr of 3's you use in the calculation it gets pretty close to 1.78:1 of a widescreen TV. This is obviosly a different sqeeze than 'scope 35mm film.

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Carl Martin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1424
From: Oakland, CA, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 08-05-2008 01:53 AM      Profile for Carl Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Carl Martin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Brian Guckian
What about looking at 35mm print non-availability another way - and this requires courage - and saying, well, if a print isn't available, then the title can't be shown?
you might even encourage the striking of a new print. settling for a dvd, however, could have precisely the opposite effect.

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Cameron Glendinning
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 845
From: West Ryde, Sydney, NSW Australia
Registered: Dec 2005


 - posted 08-05-2008 05:29 AM      Profile for Cameron Glendinning   Email Cameron Glendinning   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Darryl Spicer
but I think the anamorphic squeeze they use on the DVD is different than what you will find on 35mm film
yes film is a 2x squeeze, Video is a 1.5x squeeze.

I still have at least 3 old 35mm Varamorph lenses in the garage where you can ajust the squeeze from none to 2x, so they can be used for video.

Also there are DIY sites that will show you how to build a video anarmorphic lens, attach them to a 1.33 chip projector for a full resolution 1.75 image(16/9), or attach them to a 16/9 chip projector for a full resolution 2.4 scope image!

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