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25

Jun
2013

51 Comments

In Editing

By vashi

The Ultimate Aspect Ratio Guide For Filmmakers

On 25, Jun 2013 | 51 Comments | In Editing | By vashi

aspect ratios throughout cinema history

The boundaries of the canvas that filmmakers use can take many forms. The Aspect Ratio of the frame size varies from The Kid’s 1.33 to Ben Hur’s 2.67 and everything between and beyond. There is the Academy Standard of 1.37, the HDTV standard of 1.78, Vistavision’s 1.85 and more. I would like to share a plethora of aspect ratios (with examples) so you, as a filmmaker, can decide which one will best serve your story. At the bottom of this post…I’m including a FREE template package that covers just about every aspect ratio ever used. Feel free to use them on your own project or share it with other filmmakers, so they too can harness the power of the frame.

I decided to compile all these assets after seeing the wonderful and educational video posted by FilmmakerIQ that does an amazing job explaining the aspect ratio and its historical context. After watching it, I was reminded of a widescreen template package I downloaded years ago and but now can no longer find on-line. I’m more than happy to keep it alive and inject it back into the interwebz so that any current or future filmmaker will have access to all the geometric framings used over the years.

 

3 classic aspect ratios

 

1.33 – THOMAS EDISON STANDARD (1909)

The Kid (1921)

 

1.37 – ACADEMY RATIO (1932)

Casablanca (1942)

 

The following Aspect Ratios listed include the first film ever used in that format.

 

4.00 – POLYVISION (1927)

Napolean (1927)

 

2.77 – CINERAMA (1952)

This is Cinerama (1952)

 

1.75 – METROSCOPE (1955) MGM

The Glass Slipper (1955)

 

2.55 – CINEMASCOPE (1953) 20th Century Fox

The Robe (1953)

 

2.35 – REGALSCOPE (1956) 20th Century Fox

The Black Whip (1956)

 

2.35 – PANAVISON (1966) Panavision

The Sand Pebbles (1966)

 

2.39 – SHAWSCOPE (CINEMASCOPE)

Five Shaolin Masters (1974)

 

2.00 – PANASCOPE (1961)

Fury At Smuggler’s Bay (1961)

 

2.00 – SUPERSCOPE (1954) RKO

Vera Cruz (1954)

 

2.35 – SUPERSCOPE 235 (1956) RKO

Run for the Sun (1956)

 

2.35 – WARNERSCOPE (1958) Warner Brothers

The Naked and the Dead (1958)

 

1.85 – VISTAVISION (1954) Paramount

White Christmas (1954)

 

2.20 – TODD AO (1955) Michael Todd

Oklahoma! (1955)

 

2.20 – DIMENSION 150 (1966)

The Bible (1966)

 

2.55 – CINEMASCOPE 55 (1956)

The King and I (1956)

 

2.76 – MGM CAMERA 65 (1959) MGM

Ben Hur (1959)

 

2.20 – SUPER PANAVISION 70 (1959) Panavision

The Big Fisherman (1959)

 

2.75 – ULTRA PANAVISION 70 (1962) Panavision

Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)

 

2.35 – TECHNIRAMA (1956)

Monte Carlo Story (1956)

 

2.20 – SUPER TECHNIRAMA (1959)

Sleeping Beauty (1959)

2.35 – NIKKATSU SCOPE (1959)

The Rambling Guitarist (1959)

 

1.43 – IMAX (1970)

Tiger Child (1970)

 

2.39 – THEATRICAL and BLU RAY (current)

http://www.highdefdigest.com/blog/mission-impossible-ghost-protocol-aspect-ratio-poll/

 

Broadcast TV / Cable TV / Video cameras have their own Aspect Ratio…

 

1.78 – HDTV (1983) developed by Kerns Powers for SMPTE

Hannibal (2013)

 

and finally a throwback to Panascope and Superscope from David Fincher…

 

2.00 – RED CAMERA (2013) cropped from 1.78

House of Cards (2013)

 

2.00 – UNIVISIUM (1998) Proposed by DP Vittorio Storaro as the aspect ratio he considered the new standard.

 

*UPDATE – COMPILATION OF 70 DOCUMENTED FORMATS

http://www.schneideroptics.com/projection/homecinema/History.pdf

 

To test out over 70 FREE Aspect Ratios presets in any video or stills editing software…please use this LINK to download Film Dog Pro’s HD Letterbox Template Pack. It contains both 1920×1080 and 1280×720 sized PNGs and the 2 master Photoshop files used to create all the files. They were offered at www.ehartfordstudios.com but the site has been dead for some time. These are an incredible set of tools that allow all filmmakers to match the Aspect Ratios of almost any film ever made. Thank you Film Dog Pro wherever you are…

Lastly, If you would like to morph your footage from 16×9 into Anamorphic…
I created VashiMorphic40 a FREE After Effects project for filmmakers.

Thank you for taking the time to explore my blog and for reading this special post. It’s nice to find a lost nugget of goodness and be able to share it with you all…
Until next time…


vashivisuals.com
@vashikoo

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Comments

  1. Awesome article. Thank you very much.

    Greetings from germany

    • vashi

      You’re welcome Josef! Thanks for the kind comment.

  2. I get a kick out of this post. Thank you for sharing those fantastic Aspect Ratios.

    • vashi

      Thanks Pablo! It was a lot of fun researching the information and getting all the assets.

  3. Great history lesson! Totally didnt know House of Cards was shot 2:1 aspect ratio, Literally almost anamorphic but not. Leave it for Fincher to experiment

    • vashi

      2.00:1 is a nice mix between 2.35 and 1.85 – I really like how it feels on screen. Thanks Jason!

  4. Nice article. But no love for IMAX?

    • vashi

      Good catch David. Will update with IMAX format.

  5. Nice post. Thanks for the templates.

    BTW, current widescreen is 2.39:1. (1920 x 804)

    2.35:1 hasn’t been used since the 1970s, and even then it was matted in theatres to 2.39:1.

    Digital Cinema Package 2k widescreen format is 2048 x 858 (2.39 aspect ratio)

    • vashi

      Thanks for the current and latest specs Popcornflix! I tried to cover the original and legacy formats that got us up to today but left out the most updated numbers…poop. Maybe because almost everything is shot digitally then cropped with aesthetic intent to the desired widescreen specs. Thanks again!

  6. Might be interesting to also mention movies like Dark Knight Rises which used multiple ascpect ratios throughout. It’s quite weird watching a movie as a filmmaker and noticing one change to the next!

    • vashi

      That sounds like an idea for a future post! I added IMAX as a format to the master list…so I’m halfway there. Thanks for the comment Yash!

  7. I’d like to add Life of Pie for consideration in the aspect ratio talk.
    At one point Ange Lee uses 4:3 and I believe 2.75 during sequence in the film.

  8. There is a great spanish master named José Val del Omar. It is vaguely know in the anglosaxon world. An inspiring figure and master investigator in the film format field. His innovations where not widely known. But for theoretical purposes where inmensely great advances.

    http://www.museoreinasofia.es/coleccion/obra/historia-formatos

    http://www.museoreinasofia.es/coleccion/obra/pruebas-formatos-bistandard-35-mm-e-intermediate-1635-mm

  9. I love this!!

    Don’t forget the new 9×16 camera phone aspect ratio! :P

    • vashi

      9 x 16 hurts my brain. When I see news footage from cell phones…my eyes bleed as my visual processing doesn’t comprehend. I literally turn my head sideways!

  10. Greetings from Portugal

    • vashi

      Greetings Ricardo! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found something fun or informative. Come back often!

  11. Europe, widely used: 1.66, don’t forget.
    Mirela

  12. nice one! cheers from uruguay

  13. The most complete list of aspect ratios that I’ve ever seen!
    Thank you very much!

    • vashi

      My sincere pleasure! Thanks for stopping by Alex.

  14. If you are interrested in aspect ratios and want to learn more, visit the incredible http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/ website. On the web for decades, its full of technical information and rare documents. A must see.

    • vashi

      Thanks for sharing! Amazing resource.

  15. I recommend this site to people, so I don’t have to scribble various
    rectangles onto napkins and bits of paper. I do still carry 65mm and 35mm
    film clips in my shirt pocket, and a few posters.

    Sam Longoria
    Producer
    Hollywood CA USA

    • vashi

      Much appreciated Sam! Thanks for sharing and never stop carrying the film clip artifacts with you. They will be currency one day…

  16. Thanks for this, however according to Wikipedia: “Scope, is still widely used by both filmmakers and projectionists, although today it generally refers to any 2.35:1, 2.39:1, or 2.40:1

    From widescreen.org:

    Cinemascope – 2.35:1 to 2.55:1

    This was once the most commonly used method of filming movies because its only major requirement was a special CinemaScope projector lens. This lens was and still is available at many movie theatres. CinemaScope was originally created by 20th Century Fox, but it is no longer in use in its original format.

    The 2.55:1 ratio was pretty much dead by 1957 when the last holdout, Fox, adopted magoptical over mag-only prints. From that point until the early 1970s a standard of 2.35:1 was used; however, there is usually slight matting in theatres which results in a theatrical aspect ratio closer to 2.40:1. All of the Star Wars movies and even the 1997 animated version of Anastasia were filmed in CinemaScope, as were classics like The Robe and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

    So, although it is likely correct to state THE ROBE IS 2.55:1, this does not tell the entire story of the aspect ratio that is CINEMASCOPE.

  17. The 2:1 aspect ratio was proposed by Vittorio Storaro and is call Univisium.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Univisium

    • vashi

      Thanks Tim. Good info and will update the database! Much appreciated.

  18. Thank for sharing this info! could you help me by telling what’s this new Aspect Ratio im keep seeing more & Liking on following Popular Videos

    Justin Bieber – As Long As You Love Me ft. Big Sean
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4em3LKQCAQ

    Sons Of Anarchy Season 6 – Brawl Teaser (HD)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bihxKZswG2A

    • vashi

      You are very welcome Sri! Looking at those videos it appears to be cropped in post to get that aspect ratio. Probably shot with Alexa or RED then cropped to a 3.50 or 4.00 aspect ratio. Hope that helps!

  19. The first digitally shot movie released in 2:1 is Lost Angels: Skid Row Is My Home, which was primarily shot with RED ONE cameras.

    • vashi

      Thanks for sharing John. Will note it.

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