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New Kubrick book settles aspect ratio confusion

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New Kubrick book settles aspect ratio confusion

Old 04-24-05, 07:17 PM
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New Kubrick book settles aspect ratio confusion



I pulled this info from a post at HTF.

The Stanley Kubrick Archives book once and for all clears up the big aspect ratio confusion in Mr. Kubrick´s own words and writing.

There is a photo of a SK drawing of potential shots for The Shining - he made it for his DP's second unit crew for outdoor shots. Now... lo and behold, as opposed to what Warner Bros and Kubrick's assistant Leon Vitali want us to believe, it clearly states in SK's own handwritten note that all shots should be COMPOSED for 1.85:1, while being protected for 1.33:1. Vitali and Warner Bros for years have claimed that Kubrick composed Shining, FMJ & Eyes Wide Shut for 1.33:1 and that they should be presented that way.

We finally have proof of what was aesthetically apparent when you watched these three movies: They were NOT composed by Mr. Kubrick for 1.33:1 and the current representations are not what the director intended.

Last edited by Cygnet74; 04-24-05 at 07:21 PM.
Old 04-24-05, 07:24 PM
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Very interesting. I always scratched my head when I heard that Kubrick wanted his films in 1.33:1 now the truth comes out that he didn't, doesn't really surprise me. I don't see how any director would want his movie to look like a square. Guess we all need new DVDs now.
Old 04-24-05, 07:42 PM
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I don't see how any director would want his movie to look like a square.
Why not?
Old 04-24-05, 07:44 PM
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Pah...most of the greatest (and most well-composed photographically) films ever made "look like a square"!
Old 04-24-05, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by lordhidetora
Pah...most of the greatest (and most well-composed photographically) films ever made "look like a square"!
True, but I don't see how after watching a movie like Lawrence of Arabia any director would want to go back to a smaller size. I guess it depends on what you're trying to accomplish.
Old 04-24-05, 08:06 PM
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Does a 1.85 print of FMJ even exist? Or if a correction is ever made, are we going to get a cropped (matted) version of the current 1.33 copy?
Old 04-24-05, 08:08 PM
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Not only did he see Lawrence of Arabia... the man made Spartacus...Spartacus...Widescreen to die for....

I think the only way to settle the villagers is to give people both on the same disc....i am opposed to this most of the time, but it could work....seperate commentaries for each one....hopes
Old 04-24-05, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Lowrey
Does a 1.85 print of FMJ even exist? Or if a correction is ever made, are we going to get a cropped (matted) version of the current 1.33 copy?

I'm pretty sure that's exactly how it will be since almost every 1.85 movie is made by filming with a 1.33 negative, then matting for 1.85 . And before somebody brings up just zooming the current 1.33 movies on a widescreen set, there is a loss of resolution. I've tried it, and you need a really good 1.33 transfer to make that look good.

If you're wondering why we want 1.85 films when they're just matted 1.33 images, it's because of what the quote above says. They were composed for 1.85, only protected for 1.33.
Old 04-24-05, 10:30 PM
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Kubrick was one of Warner Bros. most valued director's and one of the few who always commanded final cut. While Kubrick composed his films for a widescreen theatrical release, he also "protected" (as stated previously) the 1.33 versions. He did this because he felt that 1.33 was the preferred version for home video release. Anybody who thinks that Warner Bros. released unmatted versions against the director's wishes is a fool - especially considering how well documented the issue has been here.
Old 04-24-05, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Peep
Kubrick was one of Warner Bros. most valued director's and one of the few who always commanded final cut. While Kubrick composed his films for a widescreen theatrical release, he also "protected" (as stated previously) the 1.33 versions. He did this because he felt that 1.33 was the preferred version for home video release. Anybody who thinks that Warner Bros. released unmatted versions against the director's wishes is a fool - especially considering how well documented the issue has been here.
It's clear that he asked for 1.33:1 transfers of his films, but it's never been exactly clear why. Some people have speculated that he preferred that he actually preferred the 1.33:1 compositions (in which case he would never have wanted widescreen versions of his later movies made available) whereas others have said that he just wanted the screen to be filled (in which case widescreen versions of his movies would have been his preference had he lived to the era of widescreen TVs). This definitely gives ammo to the second group.
Old 04-24-05, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Peep
Kubrick was one of Warner Bros. most valued director's and one of the few who always commanded final cut. While Kubrick composed his films for a widescreen theatrical release, he also "protected" (as stated previously) the 1.33 versions. He did this because he felt that 1.33 was the preferred version for home video release. Anybody who thinks that Warner Bros. released unmatted versions against the director's wishes is a fool - especially considering how well documented the issue has been here.
this new evidence makes it clear that they were composed, first and foremost for 1.85:1. keeping the frame free from booms, grips, camera reflections, etc was a secondary "protection". which version would you want to see? the director's ideal, or the safety net he provided for video transfers?
Old 04-24-05, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by PopcornTreeCt
True, but I don't see how after watching a movie like Lawrence of Arabia any director would want to go back to a smaller size.
Aspect ratio has nothing to do with size; it has to do with shape.

In some theaters, the top and bottom of the screen is masked from 1.33:1 to achieve wider aspect ratios, resulting in a smaller widescreen image. In other theaters, the sides are masked off from 2.35:1 to produce 1.85:1 and 1.33:1, resulting in a smaller image.

Originally Posted by Mike Lowrey
Does a 1.85 print of FMJ even exist?
I'm sure prints do exist, and even if they didn't, the original negative does.
Old 04-24-05, 11:26 PM
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The only confusion has been Leon Vitali's. Contrary to what he would have you believe, the man is almost completely ignorant of any technical aspects of filmmaking. These myths about Kubrick's supposed preference for 4:3 and for non-anamorphic letterbox of 1.66:1 material all started with him.
Old 04-24-05, 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Lowrey
Does a 1.85 print of FMJ even exist? Or if a correction is ever made, are we going to get a cropped (matted) version of the current 1.33 copy?
First off, there is no such thing as a "1.85:1 print". 35mm film has a negative aspect ratio of 1.37:1. Movies shot 'flat' for 1.85:1 framing are photographed using the entire film negative, but the Director of Photography leaves dead space at the top and bottom of the frame that is not intended to be seen. Theatrical prints are masked to the proper aspect ratio during projection by a matte plate inside the projector.

Therefore, all "prints" of Full Metal Jacket are 1.37:1. The top and bottom should be masked off either during projection or during the film-to-video transfer. The existing DVDs do not apply any masking, and instead show us the entire film negative.

Full Metal Jacket has aired on the HDNet and INHD networks in a 16:9 widescreen transfer that looks much better framed than the open-matte DVD.
Old 04-24-05, 11:46 PM
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Approximately what % of 1.85:1 movies are filmed open-matte? I worked projection some at a theater and it seems most 1.85 or "flat" movies came hard-matted, meaning there were "black bars" above and below the 1.85 frame on the 35mm film.
Old 04-25-05, 12:25 AM
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I don't see how this settles anything. He "composed" for 1.85, yet by "protecting" for 1.33, he was really composing for that as well. I'd say that either aspect is the correct one.
Old 04-25-05, 03:07 AM
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Originally Posted by garyb
Approximately what % of 1.85:1 movies are filmed open-matte? I worked projection some at a theater and it seems most 1.85 or "flat" movies came hard-matted, meaning there were "black bars" above and below the 1.85 frame on the 35mm film.
i would say just about all of them. only the exhibition prints are hard-matted.

Originally Posted by Numanoid
I don't see how this settles anything. He "composed" for 1.85, yet by "protecting" for 1.33, he was really composing for that as well. I'd say that either aspect is the correct one.
clearly, 1.85:1 was his "ideal" while an open matte was kept in mind so the film wouldn't have to be pan & scanned to avoid booms, etc. remember, these decisions were made when letterboxing was a rarity.
Old 04-25-05, 03:25 AM
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clearly, 1.85:1 was his "ideal" while an open matte was kept in mind so the film wouldn't have to be pan & scanned to avoid booms, etc. remember, these decisions were made when letterboxing was a rarity.
OK, but what about his films that pre-dated home video? I'm thinking of pre-Shining--Barry Lyndon, Clockwork, etc. I can't imagine he even thought about "protecting" for 1:33. I dunno.
Old 04-25-05, 07:44 AM
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but still home viewing through television...
Old 04-25-05, 07:53 AM
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Probably better suited for movie talk...
Old 04-25-05, 09:25 AM
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Very interesting info, thanks
Old 04-25-05, 09:37 AM
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I don't think this really settles anything actually. Kubrick is still dead, so he can't personally answer us. These notes do not really clarify anything, they are photos from the Shining, not from his last two movie (which were nearly two decades later). Maybe by the time EWS came out he actually perferred the big square look. He just composed them for 1:85 because it was the theatre. I think it goes well beyond just making it satisfactory for TV, he had to know what he was doing.

Another note I'd like to bring up is, Kubrick hated the black bars, so do you think he would compose his films with the 16:9 in mind, in this era? I think he would. So should his last 3 movies now be released in that aspect ratio?

There are two many questions to really say this is settled, sorry.

Last edited by Drop; 04-25-05 at 09:39 AM.
Old 04-25-05, 09:51 AM
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Although the image quality is less than stellar, technically, anyone with a widescreen TV should be able to matte their own Kubrick films by switching their TV settings.

And I'd say the "wide" look is not more or less aestheticly pleasing than the "square" look. Strictly speaking, a lot of art has been done on a canvas that is, if anything, vertically oblong. Famous photographers, even regular ol' photography, is "square" --- there's nothing bad about it.

I will be cynical and say that the whole widescreen thing is economically driven. When movies were first in Cinemascope or Extremoscope or whatever, widescreen was a "novelty" for audiences, although thankfully one that was used artfully by many many directors. Over time, it also helped to make larger theatres as wide screens could fit more people per screen than a square screen. I haven't though that out a whole lot, but it seems to me that would be the case.

Now, TV makers like sticking in a nice premium just so a TV is "widescreen" -- or, as Best Buy employees call them, "digital".

It's not a well formulated argument, I'll be the first to admit it. But there is truth to it.
Old 04-25-05, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Cygnet74
We finally have proof of what was aesthetically apparent when you watched these three movies: They were NOT composed by Mr. Kubrick for 1.33:1 and the current representations are not what the director intended.
When you look at some of the scenes in these movies -- particularly The Shining -- the composition for widescreen is blatantly obvious. Without matting, there is so much null information -- expanses of ceiling and floor in wide shots, air above heads and awkwardly cut-off torsos in medium shots -- that it makes the film look amateurish.

Kubrick wasn't making TV shows. When asked about video transfers he may have felt that on a 19" TV at VHS resolution, opening the mattes would look better because the effect of his widescreen composition would lose its impact on the small screen anyway. But whether he even cared about TV during the actual creative process is another question entirely.

From the evidence actually on the screen, he was creating widescreen movies, and he knew what that meant.

RichC
Old 04-25-05, 12:13 PM
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I'm no expert on Kubrick, and I don't know much about the DVDs, but a set had been released while he was still alive that he OKed? Or not?

When you look at some of the scenes in these movies -- particularly The Shining -- the composition for widescreen is blatantly obvious. Without matting, there is so much null information -- expanses of ceiling and floor in wide shots, air above heads and awkwardly cut-off torsos in medium shots -- that it makes the film look amateurish.
I have to disagree. Look at some of these shots from the Shining DVD:
http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/dvdcompare/shining.htm
To me, the "open" shots in this movie have always been instrumental to the overall atmosphere of the movie. I've always associated the Shining's creepiness with how it was composed.

Or these shots from Full Metal Jacket:
http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDCom...al_jacket_.htm

To me, Kubrick did in fact compose 1.33:1. The shot of D'onofrio sitting on the can--sure, there's a lot of space above his head, but at the windows and the light on the wall. Also the shot of Modine and Ermey--Modine's head goes all the way to the top. The top of his head would be chopped off in 1.85:1!

Last edited by Egon's Ghost; 04-25-05 at 12:21 PM.

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