I'm playing around with different aspect ratios for a short film. I feel like 2.35 crops too much and 1.85 crops too little. Is there any reason against splitting the difference and making it 2.10? I know that's not a traditional aspect ratio, but does it matter?
Thanks Jason, but I'm more concerned with why these standards are standard. Why 2.35 and not 2.33 or 2.37? Did someone standardize these ratios, or are they based on traditions of old film/camera technology? Obviously there are different emotional/compositional/dramatic responses a viewer can have with each ratio, but is there any good reason not to stray from these very specific standards?
on Jan 26, 2016 at 8:46:36 pm Last Edited By Gary Huff on Jan 26, 2016 at 8:46:53 pm
[Adam Rosenberg]"Why 2.35 and not 2.33 or 2.37?"
Because back in the day it would have required custom glass to natively achieve different ARs outside of matting, and if you're simply matting, then you're just losing information. The switch from the 4:3 standard (it's all 4:3 film from 3:2 AR 35mm stock being run sideways through a projector) to 1.85:1 via matting was mostly a "we must compete with TV!" switcheroo to make movies seem more epic than the shows you got in the comfort of your own living room, and it stuck. Frankly, I've enjoyed some modern 4:3 films (The Artist, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and at no point found myself comparing it to TV or feeling constricted. I find the selection of ARs to be rather arbitrary, based on one's on emotional reaction to the format with technical reasons being fumbled about later.
There is one specific reason to, say, go anamorphic vs. spherical. That would be the vistas. If you're planning incredibly wide vista shots, then anamorphic may be more appropriate because it's allowed to stretch out. You can absolutely shoot wide enough to get those vistas in 16:9/1.85:1, but the look of it in that AR may seem a bit odd or wonky. Whether this is entirely due to conditioning (i.e. if you'd never seen a movie before would a 12mm spherical vs a 25mm anamorphic not look as pleasant to the eye) or not is irrelevant, as, either way, if it bugs you it bugs you.
I would ask first, what is the issue with cropping "too little"? Are there elements in the shot that shouldn't be there like a boom pole? Are there some wonky compositions that reframing would help fix, and cropping looks better than zooming? If so, then I'd simply pick which ever matting AR works best to resolve these elements and simply render it out letterboxed in a 16:9 container.
If, on the other hand, you need to fake a "filmic" element in order to sell the idea of the short film as "looking like a movie", then I would surmise there are more problems with it than just not seeming cinematic from having a letterboxing element.
That last post got me thinking enough to go and check, and grab some still frames...
Now, all this is assuming that the copies I own are "theatrically correct," as were actually released...
Now, if that is true (and I'm going to assume that it is), that while "Grand Budapest" is indeed 4:3, "The Artist" is not. It's close, but appears to be actually a little bit wider...
If that is true, then the filmmakers in that instance did buck the "traditional" aspect ratios and use something that looked right to them... a ratio that does not fit any of the existing "standard" ratios.
Bottom line, through masking and pillarboxing and letterboxing you can present something that looks like any aspect ratio you choose, for aesthetic reasons. However for technical reasons your production needs to fit on a "canvas" that is a standard ratio... and for most of us in the electronic world that will be 16:9.
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Thanks for the info everyone! To give some background info on my original question: I shot a short film, 16:9 AR, and have been playing around with cropping to give it different looks. I feel like 1.85 is not wide enough, and 2.35 is too wide, and there doesn't seem to be a standard AR in between the two. So I started making my own that felt right to me, but got to thinking that I was doing something "wrong" by not using a standard AR, which is why I posted my original question.
It sounds to me like standard ARs are standard due to technical origins and cinematic tradition. Therefore using a non-standard AR is ok as long as it is a creatively and artistically justified decision.
It sounds to me like standard ARs are standard due to technical origins and cinematic tradition. Therefore using a non-standard AR is ok as long as it is a creatively and artistically justified decision."
You can use any AR you wish without regard to technical limitations as long as you render a 16:9 container and letterbox within that.
But randomly picking an AR after shooting seems odd as opposed to shooting with that in mind. Are you planning to reframe every single shot within your matte, or just toss a matte on there and call it a day?
I'll admit I did not consider aspect ratios prior to shooting. After watching the footage I thought it could benefit from a wider AR. So I will reframe my shots to make them work within their new AR, and next time I will be sure to consider ARs prior to shooting.