1.85:1 vs 1.78:1

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Bryan, Jan 13, 2011.

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  1. dobyblue

    dobyblue Forum Resident

    It was only existing for certain features. 70mm film is the equivalent of 2.20:1 and has been used for 100 years. 2.35:1 scope has been around for 60 years.

    The 16:9 aspect ratio was created by SMPTE member Dr. Kerns H. Powers putting all the aspect ratios together and taking the interlapping parts.


    Regarding Toy Story 3, it is actually 1.78:1 on the disc, even though the OAR is 1.85:1. Not all theaters show 100% of an image and SMPTE practice allows for a 5% crop, recommending 3%. Cropping the width of a 1.85 movie 5% gives you an aspect ratio of 1.76:1 so 1.78 is within SMPTE standards.
  2. Bryan

    Bryan Starman Jr. Thread Starter

    Berkeley, CA
    Okay I guess that does make a fair bit of sense about the creation of 16x9.

    So it sounds like some 1.85:1 films are cropped (Toy Story 3) and some are opened up (Kubrick films) for 1.78:1. I'd assume that some are also left in 1.85:1. So I guess it's just a case-by-case basis.
  3. dobyblue

    dobyblue Forum Resident

    If you watch Clockwork Orange it should be in its OAR of 1.66:1 with small black bars on the left and right of the screen.

    But yes, it's on a case-by-case basis. For the most part Paramount and WB will crop 1.85 > 1.78.

    Sony, Disney, Fox, Universal and Lions Gate usually leave 1.85 as is.
  4. ziggysane

    ziggysane Forum Resident

    Austin, TX
    That's terrible! It's every bit as bad as TNT and the other networks running pre-stretched movies and TV shows, except that in those cases you have the home formats to turn to. And was only two years ago (as opposed to during the "dark" earliest days of the format)!
  5. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    It depends.

    If the film was hard-matted in the camera (which is pretty rare), then we would have to do a slight digital blow-up to lose the matte edges.

    99% of all films are not shot with hard mattes (at least, not consistently), so in a 1.78 transfer, you'd see another 20-something lines at the top and 20-something lines at the bottom. It's maybe 1% more image -- nothing to get upset about.

    I've tried to convince DPs that this is a trivial difference, but they get very antsy at the thought that viewers will see another 3/8" at the top and bottom of the frame. Most of them insist that we add a matte in the video transfer.

    I'm equally flummoxed by certain studios that insist on 1.37 transfers of flat films, vs. a 1.33 transfer. They're worried about a .04 matte? I think this works out to about 1/32nd of an inch on a consumer monitor.

    What I worry about more is whether we're seeing as much of the picture as possible. I routinely try to frame the image a little loosely, just on the opinion that if somebody compares the new transfer for the old, they'll see a little more image area on the new transfer. In more than 25 years, I've never had anybody complain about that. But they do complain if they're seeing less image area in the new transfer.

    BTW, thanks to Dobyblue for the aspect ratio chart above. I've been looking for one of those on the web, and haven't seen one until now! Much appreciated. Note that 1.85 is not matted on the sides at all for Blu-ray -- this is only a comparative size, not what actually gets mastered.
  6. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    We asked Sony and the NHK that in 1990 when Hi-Vision started taking off. The official response was: "1.78 (1920x1080) mathematically works out better than 1.85, and is a more appropriate use of bandwidth and signal processing."

    At the time, the American Society of Cinematographers was furious about this decision, and ran several editorials pointing out that 1.78 was not even an official film aspect ratio (though there were a handful of 1.77 movies in the 1960s). They felt that cameramen had been totally disrespected by the manufacturers, and that 1.85 or even 2.00 would've been a better choice.

    I think everybody has given up at this point and just goes for 1.78, then masks it appropriately in the theater. Quite a few 2.40 films are being shot with HD cameras, where they just re-position the image as required for the right framing. I actually like having the ability to give the actors more (or less) headroom, which you cannot do with anamorphic scope.

    I also really, really like 1.78 as an aspect ratio, and I think it works well for a lot of different kinds of storytelling. But I'm also on record as believing that 2.40 scope is not well-suited for certain films. For example, to me, there are very few comedies for me that work well in 2.40. I think close-ups work better in 1.85, and any movies that need height (like Jurassic Park) work better in 1.85.
  7. Turnaround

    Turnaround Somehow heartbreak feels good in a place like this

    New York
    Say you have a Blu-ray film that is 1.85:1 aspect ratio. You set your Blu-ray player or TV to view the film in 16:9 mode (or 1.78:1 mode, as the OP refers to it), thereby removing the small black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. Is picture quality affected for the better or worse?

    That is, was your Blu-ray and TV originally in sync on 1080 lines of the source and what shows on the screen? But by zooming into the picture a bit, you lose some lines of the source, so the TV now has to "make up" lines to fill out the 1080 lines on the screen?

    Same question for HD cable programming. When your TV set gives you the choice of a full screen option (where you can see the overscan), versus 16:9 mode (which zooms in a bit to cut out the overscan), which one is matched up to the lines in the cable program, and which one is adding or deleting lines as needed to fit the program onto the screen?
  8. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    There's no way to do this that I know of. You just see what's in the 16x9 transfer, which includes small letterbox borders top and bottom. No big deal. if you were to blow it up, you'd run into scaling artifacts, plus you'd lose X amount of picture information on the extreme left and right. My advice is to live with the borders.

    I'd go for 1:1 pixel mapping -- no overscan. Don't worry about lines and numbers. Get a set-up disc like Joe Kane's Digital Video Essentials and set up your monitor correctly.
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