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TOPIC: classic films lens?

classic films lens? 22 Dec 2004 11:26 #22045

  • leeler
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OK, I'm showing Casablanca for New Year's Eve. Since it is in Academy Standard aspect ratio (1.37:1) which lens do you use? Flat (1.85:1) or Scope (2.35:1)? Must be Flat, right? Will this skew the picture?
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Re: classic films lens? 22 Dec 2004 11:48 #22046

  • Large
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I use my 1.37:1 lens.

In a pinch you can use the 1.85:1 lens. You'll just crop the image.

Also, in a pinch you can use the backup portion of your two piece scope lens, and the scope aperature plate.

We bought a used lens from our cinema supplier to show the occational 1.37:1 or 1.66:1 image. Each lens was about $200 and we cut an aperature plate for each lens.
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Re: classic films lens? 22 Dec 2004 13:27 #22047

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Years ago, when I was working as a projectionist I suggested to my boss that for our showing of GWTW we use the scope aperture and primary lens to adhere to the original 1.37:1 ratio... It worked fine, but he took one look at the narrower (and smaller) picture and said no way, and to use the 1.85:1 stuff... Despite the loss of verticle information in certain scenes, it does look a lot better on a big screen...
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Re: classic films lens? 22 Dec 2004 17:04 #22048

  • revrobor
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To get the full 1:33 x 1 ratio you will have to change both your apprature plate and your lens (assuming your machine has changable plates). There are plenty of good used lenses out there you could use for your 1:33 x 1 classics.

Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Bob Allen
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Re: classic films lens? 22 Dec 2004 17:17 #22049

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HELLO BOB <> Not trying to be a wise ass, but the only film that's 1.33:1 is silent... When sound came along the aspect ratio was changed to 1.37:1, which was the standard until the widescreen era...

[This message has been edited by outaframe (edited December 22, 2004).]
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Re: classic films lens? 22 Dec 2004 21:53 #22050

Actually it was the other way around 1.33 was the academy ratio 1.37 was actually the silent apperture
In a pinch remove the anamorphic attachment from your scope lens and use it and the scope plate
the image will not fill the full height of the masking but at least you will not be cropping the composition of the print
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Re: classic films lens? 22 Dec 2004 22:39 #22051

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Well, that makes sense as the reduced width of 1.33:1 would coincide with the amount of image lost to the area now occupied by the soundtrack, but it contradicts every other bit of information I have ever seen on this... Also, the anamorphic should have no effect on the height of the projected image, but only open it back up to the same width originally photographed and squeezed onto the negative...
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Re: classic films lens? 23 Dec 2004 00:48 #22052

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A few years back I ran a 3 Stooges short for a historical society event. As a test I first ran it with my 1.85:1 lens and while it looked OK, as Large indicated, it cropped the image and the tops of everyones head was out of the image. Fortunately we still had our 1.33:1 lenses from the pre-Cinemascope days so I reran it using those lenses and it looked great. It was also fun to explain to people that prior to 1954 that was the size that movies were projected.
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Re: classic films lens? 24 Dec 2004 00:27 #22053

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That's OK outaframe, Gordon answered you and no offense taken. FYI my dad started in this business in 1916. I joined him in 1945 so I have seen most of the changes in the industry. This doesn't mean I know it all. Gordon is probably a much more knowledgable tech than I'll ever be. When I returned to the business this year I discovered it is basically the same except for the technology and BOY!, that's enough to keep me hopping. At our ten-plex when we have a power failure EVERYTHING goes out - projectors, sound, boxoffice and concessions terminals - and it's a real project to get them going again.
Anyway MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Bob Allen
The Old Showman
"Back In The Saddle Again"
Bob Allen
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Re: classic films lens? 24 Dec 2004 23:40 #22054

Aspect ratios are probably the most hotly debated topic out there and usually no one is ever total right just like what is the speed of silent movies (actually the projector was probably cranked at the speed necessary for the operator to get to the pub before it closed)
The old accademy ratio was never cast in stone even by the late 40's universal was advocating a wider screen and several architects were designing around 1.66:1 on there fixed masked screens
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Re: classic films lens? 27 Dec 2004 14:04 #22055

  • John Pytlak
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Standard SMPTE 195 specifies the projectable image area for the 1.37:1 "Academy" aperture as 0.825 x 0.602 inches. You can determine the correct focal length of the lens using the Schneider or Isco lens calculators:
http://www.schneideroptics.com/software/theatre_design_pro/
http://www.iscooptic.de/Downloads_new/LensCal.exe
http://www.kodak.com/US/plugins/acrobat/en/motion/newsletters/archived/pytlak/composition.pdf

John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
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John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
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Re: classic films lens? 27 Dec 2004 15:08 #22056

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OK, so JOHN'S "Academy" aperture dimensions (.825/.602) CONFIRM that the correct official aspect ratio for non-widescreen sound prints IS indeed 1.37:1, and in line with all the info I had previously seen about this... In the "real world" I have seen widescreen flat pictures projected from approximately 1.5:1 to 2.0:1 with results varying from quite satisfactory to just passable... With the nearly non-existant frame lines on most flat prints nowadays, you have a LOT of latitude between having the mic showing and losing major verticle information on widescreen flat pictures, and few installations are EXACTLY 1.85:1... Unless you are showing a great many older classics in the 1.37:1 format, you will probably be able to use your normal flat aperture and lens on the rare occasions that you show an oldie... Only the purists will even be aware of it because the public sees so many films on TV that are modified from their original aspect ratios...
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Re: classic films lens? 28 Dec 2004 00:56 #22057

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I really hate seeing the heads cut off with a 1.37:1 film being projected at 1.85. I'd definitely vote for the scope backup lens with a newly cut plate...they're not that expensive. The trick is getting some RP40 test film if you don't have any. It's really worth it. You'll see the picture is wrong if you don't have enough of the frame on the screen right away.

I worked at museums and screening rooms mostly and ran a lot of these. So I really can't help being opinionated...
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Re: classic films lens? 28 Dec 2004 03:02 #22058

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No argument, IF you run a LOT of classics you SHOULD have the correct apertures AND lenses... However, if it's a only a once a year thing (or less) you can use your flat stuff... Another little trick is after the opening credits (unless the film is subtitled) you can gradually frame it slightly higher and eliminate cut-off heads...
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Re: classic films lens? 28 Dec 2004 10:24 #22059

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OK, to recap for me (I'm a little slow on this stuff).

I should use the back part of my two-piece scope lens and then my flat aperture plate?

The film came in yesterday and I've been slowly piecing it together. It's actually in much better shape than I expected it (so far). I'll finish it up today and run some experiments with the back half of my lens and different aperture plates. I hope not to have to try and cut another one. I don't have any blanks here and have never cut one (just witnessed it). Hopefully, one of the ones I have will work.

Thanks everyone. I'll report here on my findings......
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