Re: Are 1.85:1 films "pan 'n' scanned"? (was: Re: NxNW/The Birds on…

From: David P. Hayes
Date: 1997/10/23
Newsgroups:, rec.arts.movies.past-films, alt.movies.hitchcock

In article <62krhr$jfc$>, wrote:
> Um, someone brings up the tv version of Body Heat and William Hurt's
> boxer shorts.  If you're talking about regular tv, I'm sure that was a
> "cover" shot done specifically for tv, and NOT a full frame reveal.

I made the remark about "Body Heat."  My recollection that the boxer shorts were revealed not only in the TV presentation but also in the videocassette. (Perhaps the one take was deliberately framed to be cropped for theaters and still be covered for television.  In 1979, at the time of the film's release, videocassettes were not a significant market and cable penetration was minor.)

> I think a lot of confusion here is the use of the words pan & scan for
> full frame versions of 1:85 movies.  Some movies of that ratio DO have
> hard mattes and those films are blown up to get rid of the mattes.  Most
> that I've seen are evenly blown up and so you lose even amounts on the
> left and right sides.  Beyond that there is no pan and scanning of the
> image in a lot of transfers (not saying all transfers).

My response to this is in my earlier post.

> If the movie
> was shot with the negative fully exposed and the full frame is used for
> the video or tv transfer, you will of course see information that was
> not projected theatrically and not intended to be seen by the director
> and cameraman.  They are framing for the theater ratio, not some showing
> down the line.  That's why, in some older films, you will definitely see
> mikes, top of sets, etc.  In North By Northwest, you can see right over
> the top of one of the backdrops if you expose anything beyond 1:66, as
> VistaVision could be projected anywhere from 1:66 to 2:1.

You can also see over the top of a set in "High Society" (1956).  Mikes are visible in such more recent films as "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" (1973) and "Pale Rider" (1985).

>… .  I'm sorry, but if the director and dp are framing their film for 1:85, then
> that is the way they intended it too be seen.  And that's the end of the
> story.

A friend of mine who is a fan of Albert Brooks's "Lost in America" remembers that in the theater, the framing seemed awkward.  When he saw the movie on television, he realized that when the 1.33:1 framing restored the tops and bottoms that what was there was much better composition.  You can say that the director and the director of photography gypped the ticket-buyers, but that doesn't the conclusion that with those particular creators on that particular project, 1.33:1 is better.  (Please don't gripe that I don't appreciate widescreen. My previous posting indicated my strong preferences for the widescreen editions of "Once Upon a Time in America" (mostly soft-matted) and "Gigi" (anamorphic)."


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