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TOPIC: Aspect ratio

Aspect ratio 22 Dec 2013 12:41 #40494

  • bpk
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I searched the forum, but can't find too much info on aspect ratio. My theater will have three screens, each in rooms ranging from 22' wide to 54, 48, and 42 feet in depth. We will mostly show arthouse flicks. Ceiling height is about 14' above the highest row of chairs. Any recommendations for which ratio is best suited for the space? Are there any preferences among distributors? Or, can the ratio be adjusted on the fly with digital projection? Hope this isn't too amateur a question!
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Aspect ratio 22 Dec 2013 15:23 #40495

  • revrobor
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The aspect ratio is set by the lens in the camera. It is only set by the theatre when they don't have enough room for a screen to match the director's aspect ratio. What we call "'scope" is 2.35 x 1. What we call "flat" is 1.85 x 1. Some older prints in flat may be 1.66 x 1 or 1.33 x 1. Try to get screens that allow the full 'scope print. 'Scope comes from the old "CinemaScope" process and is a compressed (anamorphic) print.
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Aspect ratio 22 Dec 2013 18:20 #40496

  • rufusjack
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Standard operating procedure is to go with common height. You will have two different formats of movies: scope (2.39 to 1) and flat (1.85 to 1). So if you 14' H to use for a screen assuming 1' at least across the top for the screen frame; you will have 13' h screen. That would give you a screen width of approx. 2.39 x 14 =33.5'. That is a pretty good size screen for this size of room.

A 13' tall screen gives optimum seating distance from the screen of between 26' (2x screen height) and 52' (4x screen h).

Your equipment supplier will get you the appropriate lens to fill the screens. When you run a flat movie, you should have masking that moves in. You will run both flat and scope movies. Preference is with the director.
Last Edit: 22 Dec 2013 18:23 by rufusjack.
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Aspect ratio 28 Dec 2013 12:09 #40508

  • lionheart
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Going back to your original post, I see that your ceiling height is 18 feet. How far above the floor will the bottom of the screen be? With a 13 foot high screen, and 1 foot above the screen for the frame, that leaves 4 feet below the screen. That is not bad, as long as sight lines are good. The site lines will depend on the angle of a sloped floor or the height of risers in stadium seating. (If your seats only rise a few feet, I'm assuming you are using a sloped floor. One inch of slope for every foot of length is the amount allowed by law.) Just be sure that people walking in front of the front row don't cast shadows on the screen. You want to have the bottom of the screen as low as practical for sight lines and for the neck muscles of your customers sitting down front, but high enough to avoid those shadows. Part of shadow avoidance will come from having your first row of seats set back 1.5 to 2 times the height of the screen. One screen height is the absolute minimum.

When designing sight lines, you need to take out some graph paper. Turn it to landscape orientation. Set the vertical axis as the ceiling height and the height of the projector lens and the screen. Set the horizontal axis to show position of seat rows, walking aisles in front. Figure out how high the tops of heads will be, and how high eyeballs will be. I don't remember the figures I used. After you play with it a bit, you will know exactly how high your screen should be above the floor, how high you need to set you projector, how far apart your rows need to be to allow good sight lines, etc. Once you know how high the screen should be off the floor, you can calculate your screen size using the ratios already provided.

Alternately, you can hire a skilled theater architect to calculate all that for you. But... most of us want to know enough to figure if it's a workable plan before we spend big bucks on an architect. So, get friendly with a pencil and graph paper and you can figure it all out.
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