Sunday, March 26, 2017

This Full Frame Goes Wide

"You bought that on Blu-ray?", I threw back to my Star Wars fan buddy. "The original Star Trek series?" He nodded gently as though he understood clearly that his sneaky move was easy to understand. I stunned: "I don't even have that show on Blu-ray." (I don't have Star Trek on any format, including paper prints.)

My friend of fine and broad tastes had a quip on the Blu-ray's quality, over and above the stunning image: "It has black bars on both sides of the picture."

I explained to him something very familiar to me as I worked for years in film/television 'imaging': "It's like that because those shows were shot full-frame; full-Academy. To tell you the truth, most widescreen feature films, the ones not photographed in 'scope', were shot full-frame; they just put a mask on the top and bottom of the image to create a 1.66:1 or 1.85:1 widescreen format . . . when they were aired on television, the prints were commonly shown full-frame which is why you'd sometimes see a microphone drop in from the top of the picture." (Flicks photographed via that method would involve the camera operator composing for the intended widescreen. His/her camera eyepiece would have finder markings for the 1.66:1 and/or 1.85:1 aspect ratios.) Movies shot in "CinemaScope", or other "scope", would have special prints struck for television's then 1.33:1 aspect ratio. An exponent of this method was what is referred to as "pan-and-scan", which often involved a simple shot-by-shot repositioning.

The point of this article is that I always want full frame, certainly on (not necessarily that) old television programs. The camera operator composed the shot for the then television broadcast ratio. And I want that.

This morning I learned that the superb 1973-74 British television documentary series The World at War has been released in its original screen ratio. (Its first Blu-ray release from a couple of years ago has the ever luscious 16:9 aspect ratio.) This new release is for Region-2 only but maybe it'll see Region-1 so I can consider buying the set.

There's something else I could grab on Blu-ray....

No comments: