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4:3 in a 16/9 environment - creative question if you please..

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Mark Foerster
4:3 in a 16/9 environment - creative question if you please..
on Jul 13, 2019 at 3:59:19 pm

I have a Apollo doc that I'm cutting - alot of the source footage is 16mm from nasa and I'm currently going to just let it black pillarbox on both sides - wondering about any creative ways to make it different/better (there is the "cell phone vertical video, double layer zoom, of same material behind it technique) which I'm half kidding about.
Any ideas or just leave the sides black - thanks in advance!

Mark Foerster csc
Toronto


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Robert Withers
Re: 4:3 in a 16/9 environment - creative question if you please..
on Jul 14, 2019 at 3:09:29 am

Hi Mark,
There are probably many ways to make it different but I don't think there are any of making it better than the integrity of the 4:3 ratio of the original movie image. Think of any classic photograph or painting -- one can always make it different.

I heard that wide-screen movies used to be re-processed for distribution on 4:3 TV screens by zooming and panning within individual shots to reframe compositions in order to fit the different ratio ("pan and scan"). This would seem to be fairly labor-intensive, and perhaps not always successful. From the point-of-view of some producers and distributors this might have been considered better. From the point of view of others, it would be considered a deceptive concealment of the nature of the original. I guess it could be done in reverse, panning and zooming to try to find wide-screen compositions within the 4:3 image.

Of course exhibited films have always submitted to the vagaries of each individual theater's available masks, screen sizes, and drapery. We are now at the mercy of streaming sources and TV manufacturers who modify cinema images to produce different results that may be rather different from what filmmakers intended.

Best wishes!

Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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Shane Ross
Re: 4:3 in a 16/9 environment - creative question if you please..
on Jul 14, 2019 at 3:23:44 am

Hi Mark. I onlined a feature length TV doc on the Apollo program for National Geographic called APOLLO: MISSIONS TO THE MOON. We had some SD footage, a lot of HD footage that was pillarboxed, and 8K footage. How you treat this is up to you and the producers and client who's financing it...distributor or network. Our network, National Geographic, wanted the footage to be full screen. So we pushed in on the 4:3 footage and cropped off the top and bottom, and repositioned. I watched the CNN doc, APOLLO 11...and they did the same.

But, if you have a network/distributor that wants to see the full image....then I suggest keeping it pillarbox...black on the sides. Anything else is distracting, IMHO.

When I onlined a documentary on the JFK assassination....THE LOST TAPES: THE JFK ASSASSINATION, it was done in collaboration with the 6th Floor Dealy museum...as they provided all of the footage, at a discounted price. With the stipulation that we not crop the footage at all. The network wanted it full screen, but Dealy was insistent, so we just went with Pillarbox. It looked fine. I preferred that as we saw the full image...no cropping.

Doing tricks that news does where they fill in the sides with the footage layered below it, blurred and somewhat darkened...THAT to me is distracting.

So...either push in all the way, or go with pillarbox. Depending on the client wants/needs/demands.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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