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 Posted:   Jun 18, 2013 - 5:43 PM   
 By:   Mark R. Y.   (Member)

I'm trying to find a good book or two on the whole subject of the projection of films in movie theaters. Can one of our experts here recommend a really good accurate and comprehensive history of this subject? Thank you!

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 18, 2013 - 7:17 PM   
 By:   eriknelson   (Member)

I don't know about books on the subject, but an excellent starting point is the Widescreen Museum website. It's endlessly fascinating.

http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 18, 2013 - 11:08 PM   
 By:   Christian Reiffenrath   (Member)

Well, there is a good book if you can read german:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/3891666462

i bought it at the time it was released and it still is a useful reference work for all kinds of information like aspect ratios and all those obscure cinemascope formats that (once) were out there etc...

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 19, 2013 - 1:02 AM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)

Although it's riddled with errors, Hays and Carr's "Wide Screen Movies: A History and Filmography of Wide Gauge Filmmaking" is still the most comprehensive study. Despite criticism by other film experts, I find it invaluable - particularly for its filmographies on different film processes; http://www.amazon.com/Wide-Screen-Movies-Filmography-Filmmaking/dp/0899502423/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371627522&sr=1-1&keywords=widescreen+movies. The book needs to be read alongside Daniel Sherlock's lengthy list of corrections; www.film-tech.com/warehouse/tips/WSMC20.pdf.

There's also "Widescreen Cinema" by John Belton about the history but it's not at all comprehensive and, frankly, rather dull; http://www.amazon.com/Widescreen-Cinema-Harvard-Film-Studies/dp/0674952618/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371628316&sr=1-1&keywords=widescreen+cinema

 
 Posted:   Jun 19, 2013 - 4:07 PM   
 By:   Mark R. Y.   (Member)

Thank you for all of the suggestions so far. smile

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 22, 2013 - 6:23 AM   
 By:   vinylscrubber   (Member)

Geez, I remember subscribing to a short-lived "Widescreen" home video magazine in the mid-to-late 90's whose formal name escapes me, but it's letters column was stuffed with flame wars over it's entire life with people arguing over the correct projection aspect ration of 70mm. It was the perfect home for movie geek anal retentives.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 22, 2013 - 9:11 AM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)

Geez, I remember subscribing to a short-lived "Widescreen" home video magazine in the mid-to-late 90's whose formal name escapes me, but it's letters column was stuffed with flame wars over it's entire life with people arguing over the correct projection aspect ration of 70mm. It was the perfect home for movie geek anal retentives.

It was "Widescreen Review". It was a great magazine. It's Laserdisc and DVD reviews were invaluable prior to the internet. I believe it is still published and also has as a website: http://widescreenreview.com/

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 22, 2013 - 1:37 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

Isn't WIDESCREEN REVIEW the magazine our own Joe Caps wrote articles for back in the 1980s???

By his articles, Joe was an informed gadfly, and very instrumental in getting the studios to look into their back catalogs and to then present their films on video, particularly laserdisc, in properly mastered editions, with restored color, proper ratios, and, especially, their original stereo tracks.

The restoration of the stereo tracks, within the studios' vault holdings, and on the videos they eventually released, really began during this time and I think it's Caps persistence on this issue that helped push the events forward. We have him to thank for that.

 
 Posted:   Jun 22, 2013 - 1:46 PM   
 By:   Mark R. Y.   (Member)

Although it's riddled with errors, Hays and Carr's "Wide Screen Movies: A History and Filmography of Wide Gauge Filmmaking" is still the most comprehensive study. Despite criticism by other film experts, I find it invaluable - particularly for its filmographies on different film processes; http://www.amazon.com/Wide-Screen-Movies-Filmography-Filmmaking/dp/0899502423/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371627522&sr=1-1&keywords=widescreen+movies. The book needs to be read alongside Daniel Sherlock's lengthy list of corrections; www.film-tech.com/warehouse/tips/WSMC20.pdf.

There's also "Widescreen Cinema" by John Belton about the history but it's not at all comprehensive and, frankly, rather dull; http://www.amazon.com/Widescreen-Cinema-Harvard-Film-Studies/dp/0674952618/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371628316&sr=1-1&keywords=widescreen+cinema


Ah good - my downtown library has a reference copy of the Carr and Hays book. I'll download the Sherlock article to have on hand at the library as well.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 22, 2013 - 3:58 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Isn't WIDESCREEN REVIEW the magazine our own Joe Caps wrote articles for back in the 1980s???

By his articles, Joe was an informed gadfly, and very instrumental in getting the studios to look into their back catalogs and to then present their films on video, particularly laserdisc, in properly mastered editions, with restored color, proper ratios, and, especially, their original stereo tracks.

The restoration of the stereo tracks, within the studios' vault holdings, and on the videos they eventually released, really began during this time and I think it's Caps persistence on this issue that helped push the events forward. We have him to thank for that.



Joe certainly did all of that. Except that the first issue of Widescreen Review came out in November 1992.

 
 Posted:   Jun 25, 2013 - 5:12 PM   
 By:   Mark R. Y.   (Member)

I was able to look through a reference copy of the Carr and Hayes book today, and it helped me better understand both the evolution and the tech aspects of widescreen film. I still wonder a bit about how with the larger size of 70mm that the ratio is generally 2.2:1 rather than the standard 2.35 for 35mm anamorphic. The Widescreen Museum site has a cool visual explanation of the various versions of the 1959 BEN-HUR. I'll have to dig more into that site to see if they have similar demonstration of the differences between 2.2:1 and 2.35:1. I'm just having some difficulty "getting it" on my own!

I was also fascinated to read about the "lost" 70mm Super Cinerama film THE GOLDEN HEAD, an American-Hungarian collaboration starring George Sanders and Buddy Hackett (boy, there's a duo!) which premiered in London in 1964, but never got its intended U.S. distribution. Has anyone here ever seen this, or know about its current status?

 
 Posted:   Jun 25, 2013 - 6:08 PM   
 By:   Mark R. Y.   (Member)

Excellent post by Manderley from "The Story Beind the Widescreen DVDs" thread of 8 years ago:

By: manderley (Member)

As someone who has shot flat, widescreen, anamorphic, vistaVision, etc. footage over a 40+ year career, I have been reading about this lawsuit with interest.

While I can understand the angst about this guy's claims and representations, I have not compared any or all of the films he cites (nor, I suspect, has anyone else). My personal opinion, however, is that he is singling out MGM, where, in fact, he should be adding nearly every other video distributor to his suit, including the much vaunted CRITERION.
IMHO, without exception, they have all screwed it up at one time or another.

I strongly suspect that, to everyone's surprise and dismay, he is going to be able to prove some elements of his case.

This whole screen-ratio problem today stems from at least the following areas:

1) The intended screen-ratio of a film has very little to do with the shape of the negative, and everything to do with the markings on the ground-glass on the cameraman's viewfinder which he has used to frame and compose his image.

When you all become cameramen --- good cameramen --- you will be able to "feel" immediately whether the transfer you are watching is correct, whether the composition was 2.76-1, 2.55-1, 2.35/2.40-1, 2.2-1, 2-1, 1.85-1, 1.66-1, or 1.33/1.37-1, or whether the transfer has erroneously used information recorded on the negative, but never intended for viewing.

2) Despite the wonderful "Widescreen Forum" website, younger writers and observers (and I mean most under 40), still don't fully understand chronologically how the anamorphic and widescreen revolution rolled out, first in production in the early spring of 1953 (following the tremendous success of THIS IS CINERAMA in 1952), and then in exhibition, starting around April-May-June, 1953, first across the US, then across Europe about half-a-year later, and then the rest of the world, concurrent (for the most part) with the CinemaScope revolution, in production in February-March, 1953, with exhibition starting in September, 1953.

3) The video industry "cut-its-own-throat" with its incredibly simplified designations for the various wider formats at the beginning of the video revolution. (As someone who was there early on, I never heard anyone in the US speak the word, "letterbox", in connection with films before the early 1980s! A letterbox was where the English deposited their letters.) Before the 1980's, and for the previous nearly-30 years, the term "widescreen" had a very definite and specific meaning: A "flat", spherically-shot film, composed by the cameraman usually at a 1.85-1 ratio (but sometimes at 1.66-1 or 2-1), either hard-matted in the camera or hard-matted in projection for wide projection in the theater at 2-1 ratio or less. (In the business, we often called these films, "flat---cropped/framed for widescreen" whether the film was cropped in photography or projection.)

The term "pan-and-scan" didn't really enter the lexicon until, as I recall, 1961, when 20th Century-Fox developed its special automated printer to do the job more successfully than the early attempts, by hand (....see early Columbia films), or by simple extraction of the center of the frame (....see two noses talking to each other in front of a prominently featured vase of flowers....often appearing in United Artists films), or muddy, half-hearted 1.85 extractions from the center of the CinemaScope frame (....see Warner Bros features), or gorgeous, simultaneously-shot-full-Academy aperture films (of CinemaScope producions), "composed for widescreen", which meant double work for technicians, labs, and studios (.....see the "flat" ROBE, 8-10 MGM features including THE STUDENT PRINCE, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, ROSE MARIE, BRIGADOON, and BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK, and UI's BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH, SIGN OF THE PAGAN, and Warner's THE COMMAND, etc.....)

We need to eliminate the word "letterbox" in video and substitute a series of new designations. Gee.....could we call the transfers CinemaScope, SuperTotalScope, VistaVision, Technirama, Super Panavision, etc. and let the public educate itself?.....

4) The shape of the intended theatrical image also has everything to do, sadly, with the marketing departments of the studio. (....see "The Dirty Dozen" and "Gone With The Wind").


There are more reasons.....but you get the idea.

I would think that this guy's lawsuit will make the studios afraid --- be very afraid --- and lead to much more careful labelling and designating on their packaging (if not their transfers).

Of course, this fear will also lead to more packaging descriptions which "cover their asses", like the "specially formatted for your television" logos, which often are applied to films whose transfers are actually totally accurate and haven't been re-formatted at all.

Boy, doesn't everyone love to talk about screen ratios, and very few actually talk to the cameramen, themselves?

 
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