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Theaters botching soft matted movies

Old 12-13-02, 11:02 PM
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Theaters botching soft matted movies

We've seen much discussion on soft matting in the recent Back to the Future threads. If I'm not mistaken, when a movie is soft matted it's up to the individual theaters to crop it correctly.

My question is...Have any of you seen a movie in a theater where the matting was obviously wrong?

I may have.

Example 1: My local drive-in shows the same commercials at intermission time, show after show, year after year. You may remember the Coke commercial where a comedian orders snacks at a theater's concession stand and proceeds to entertain the clerk with his comedic routine about socially awkward situations. (i.e. your friend is dropping you off at the airport and tells you to "have a nice flight." and you respond "you too.")
Anyway, I saw this commercial week after week and all of the sudden one week the image appeared squished and I could very clearly see the boom mic's every move, the studio lights, and even the point where the top of the set ended and the studio ceiling began. This was all visible throughout the duration of the commercial.

Example 2: My friend saw the Kevin Costner flick 'Thirteen Days' in the theater. He and his companion said that people in the audience were pointing and laughing because the boom mics were so obvious so many times. A couple weeks later another friend of mine saw it in the same theater. He was looking closely for these mics, but saw nothing he thought was unusual. The problem seemed to be corrected.

There may be some other explanation for these instances, but I'm currently going with the 'botched soft matting' theory.
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Old 12-13-02, 11:16 PM
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When this happens, just pop out and tell an usher. They just radio upstairs and get the problem fixed.
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Old 12-13-02, 11:45 PM
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Re: Theaters botching soft matted movies

Originally posted by hugo1000faces
You may remember the Coke commercial where a comedian orders snacks at a theater's concession stand and proceeds to entertain the clerk with his comedic routine about socially awkward situations. (i.e. your friend is dropping you off at the airport and tells you to "have a nice flight." and you respond "you too.")
NO WAY! That's Brian Regan! He's HYSTERICAL! I definitely recommend him. I've never heard of that commercial before?

Originally posted by Groucho
When this happens, just pop out and tell an usher.
hugo was talking about the Drive-In I don't know of many ushers at a Drive-in.

Last edited by DarthMarklar; 12-14-02 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 12-14-02, 09:35 AM
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Re: Re: Theaters botching soft matted movies

Originally posted by DarthMarklar
hugo was talking about the Drive-In I don't know of many ushers at a Drive-in.
In that case it's permissable to honk in morse code: F..I...X....M...A...T...T...E...

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Old 12-14-02, 09:55 AM
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haha--don't know if Traffic was "soft matted," but when I saw it at my local multiplex, you could see the boom mic dip into nearly all of the Michael Douglas and family scenes. when Soderbergh won best director for Traffic, I wondered how any academy of any kind could vote for a director who let the boom mic into the shot.

when i got the dvd (both the barebones, then the Criterion), the film was properly presented, and lo and behold, no boom mic...
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Old 12-14-02, 10:04 AM
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I've seen the same thing at my local drive-in.

My wife and watched Mr Deeds ( don't ask, it was a double feature with Spider-Man ) and we made a game of yelling BOOM! and counting how many times we seen it.

It was a lot more fun than the movie.
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Old 12-14-02, 10:05 AM
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Originally posted by cupcake jesus
haha--don't know if Traffic was "soft matted," but when I saw it at my local multiplex, you could see the boom mic dip into nearly all of the Michael Douglas and family scenes.
Did you check the credits, when you saw it in the theaters, to make sure the boom mic wasn't supposed to be there.

You never know:

Credits
Michael Douglas .... Robert Hudson
WakefieldDon Cheadle .... Montel
GordonBenicio Del Toro .... Javier
Rodriguez Rodriguez
Luis Guzmán .... Ray Castro
Dennis Quaid .... Arnie Metzger
Boom Mic .... Himself
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Old 12-14-02, 12:01 PM
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Re: Theaters botching soft matted movies

Originally posted by hugo1000faces
Anyway, I saw this commercial week after week and all of the sudden one week the image appeared squished and I could very clearly see the boom mic's every move, the studio lights, and even the point where the top of the set ended and the studio ceiling began. This was all visible throughout the duration of the commercial.
If it was squished and you saw boom mics, then I'd guess it was a 1.85 ad, but the projector had lenses for an anamorphic 2.35 print (which I'm guessing is what the movie was, if that looked fine). Showing a 1.85 print through a 2.35 lens would squish it vertically, and you'd see the whole frame. If it was soft matted, you'd see too much information above and below the image. So, that's probably what it was.

For the other boom mics appearing in frame, it also all sounds like soft matting with screwed up framing. It could also be they showed the whole movie with the wrong lens, since that's been known to happen. Everything would be squished, but you'd be surprised at how often people won't notice or complain about that. The boom mics are obvious, though.

BTW, shouldn't this be in Movie Talk?
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Old 12-14-02, 12:08 PM
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Re: Re: Theaters botching soft matted movies

Originally posted by Dvdsky
For the other boom mics appearing in frame, it also all sounds like soft matting with screwed up framing. It could also be they showed the whole movie with the wrong lens, since that's been known to happen.
I agree, charlesp mentions seeing a "Mr. Deeds (1.85:1) and Spiderman (2.35:1)" double feature at a drive-in. I'd assume the drive-in projectionists either don't know what they're doing or don't care enough to change the lenses in between films.
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Old 12-14-02, 01:29 PM
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Anyone remember the shot in "There's Nothing Out There..." where one of the kids
Spoiler:
jumps up, grabs the boom mic, and uses gymnastics to escape the creature?
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Old 12-14-02, 02:41 PM
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This happened to me when I saw Ransom. I assumed Ron Howard really was a hack until Ilearned it was the fault of the projectionist. Very strange though. Really takes you out of the film.
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Old 12-14-02, 05:36 PM
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Yah know, this happened to me will Good Will Hunting, and before reading this thread I just thought I was crazy.

I know I saw a boom mic in at least 2 or 3 scenes, one of which being the bar that the two guys are at, talking about the Unabomber.

Wow, I wasn't insane
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Old 12-14-02, 05:58 PM
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WoW!!! Drive-Ins still exist?
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Old 12-14-02, 06:11 PM
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Originally posted by ernestrp
WoW!!! Drive-Ins still exist?
They just opened a new one here. I've never been there, but I've heard it's pretty cool. They don't have the box speakers any more, you just tune your car stereo to a certain FM station, and it broadcasts over your speakers.
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Old 12-14-02, 08:19 PM
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You're right Darth! It is Brian Reagan. They have two different ads and they both seem to have been created specifically for movie theaters.

You're right DVDsky. I think the movie I was watching was Pearl Harbor which is 2.35:1. It's strange that all that extra visual information is even on the film.

I feel very fortunate to live close to one of the remaining drive-ins. I'm glad to hear that they're still making new ones. It's far from the DVD experience (weak picture, glare from street lights, kids running around), but there's a lot to be said for the atmosphere there (ceiling of stars, animated dancing food, intermission time). And two full movies at eight bucks a car load is a steal. Even when it's a Finding Forrester and Saving Silverman double feature.

Does anyone know how to find out if a movie was originally soft matted?
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Old 12-14-02, 09:11 PM
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Originally posted by hugo1000faces
You're right Darth! It is Brian Reagan.
If anyone's interested, I found a Brian Regan web site where it plays the "You Too" clip that hugo was talking about
(Brian Regan did a series of commercials for movie theaters in 1999)
http://www.theconversationcompany.com/reganbio.html
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Old 12-15-02, 12:11 AM
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When I saw "Saving Private Ryan" at the theatre I was shocked to see a boom mike during a scene where three U.S. soldiers huddled together and talking.

I was like, "What the hell?!?! Couldn't they have done a better job editing that out?"

Now it all makes sense!
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Old 12-15-02, 11:11 AM
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While searching other forums for the Back To The Future issues, I came across a lot of people mentioning the release of the 'Jurassic Park' DVD (DTS version) being screwed up. They never explained why, they mearly reffered to the fact that Universal has a history of botching matte transfers to DVD and they used Jurassic Park as an example. Is this true? Anyone know why JP (DTS version) was bad?
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Old 12-15-02, 03:15 PM
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Anamorphic projection in the US is at 2.39:1, using a 2:1 lens on the projector.
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Old 12-17-02, 03:28 PM
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When seeing Beautiful Mind at Loews, the film was matted too low on the bottom and thus everyone's heads were cut off at the top making every scene feel cramped.

Collateral Damage had a similar problem, only the bottom part of the frame was cut off and the credits were not visible at all, as were subtitles.
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Old 12-17-02, 03:40 PM
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Originally posted by NitroJMS
When seeing Beautiful Mind at Loews, the film was matted too low on the bottom and thus everyone's heads were cut off at the top making every scene feel cramped.

Collateral Damage had a similar problem, only the bottom part of the frame was cut off and the credits were not visible at all, as were subtitles.
Maybe you should try seeing them at Home Depot instead of at Loews.

p.s. I kill me
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Old 12-17-02, 03:44 PM
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I saw Jurassic Park III with my best friend while I was visiting him in Ohio. I knew JP 1 and 2 were both filmed 1.85:1 so I assumed JP 3 would as well. However I noticed the theater's screen was obviously 2.35:1. Sure enough once the movie started the framing looked awful. There was no head room, and I could tell they weren't projecting it right. I went and told the manager and she basically told me I didn't know what I was talking about and they were projecting the movie correctly.
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Old 12-17-02, 09:29 PM
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Movie theaters irritate me ... I've never really had any trouble with matting, but I seem to constantly have to leave the theater to tell somone that the picture isn't framed properly (stupid black bars) or that it is a slight bit out of focus.
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