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Re: What aspect ratio should I shoot with, when mixing historical footage?

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Andrew Somers
Re: What aspect ratio should I shoot with, when mixing historical footage?
on Aug 8, 2018 at 5:51:31 pm

If there is hardly any difference between 16:9 and 1.85:1, then why do so many filmmakers till use 1.85, instead of just using 16:9?

Thera are two standards for theatrical projection in the United States: 1.85 and 2.39

Nevertheless, filmmakers may use multiple aspect rations, pillar boxing and letter boxing as needed within the 1.85 or 2.39 frame.

Keep in mind that it's different in some areas of the world. 1.66 is common in Europe for instance, in fact Stanley Kubrick often shot and released in 1.66, going so far as to ship 1.66 projection gates to American theaters.

Some studios mandate "protecting" the full video release frame while composing for 1.85. Universal was big on this during the VHS days, insisting that the full 1.33 image was protected and useable for telecine and video release, even though the theatrical was releasing 1.85 (typically on film, the matte was only applied in the project or, so that 1.85 film would likely screen as 1.66 in Europe.)

If you want an opinion, IMO 2.39 is a bad choice for a documentary where you are going to be using a lot of narrower aspect ratios. 2.39 is great for big kaboom action adventures. In a doc, especially as you are shooting interviews, you want to be more intimate, so 1.778 or 1.85 are better choices for composition.

Best of luck!

Andrew Somers
VFX & Title Supervisor

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