I have been bluffing for most of my career. (Please don't tell any of my employers!) When I got my first big break as a linear on-line editor in 1995, I was asked, "Do you know how to use the CMX Omni?" I bluffed. While I had seen many great things at NAB in Las Vegas, I can't say I had much experience using them.
What I did have was the thirst for knowledge, the motivation and the confidence to pull it off. I quickly adapted, applied all of my previous experience to my new job, and soon became very proficient. I remember thinking at the time, "Hey, this isn't so hard after all."
Applying my knowledge of the fundamentals combined with a bit of hit-the-ground learning proved to be invaluable at the time, and has kept me going to this day.
Recently I had the privilege to finish the 3D trailers for "Avatar." Did I have extensive knowledge of a stereoscopic digital intermediate workflow? Had I completed numerous 2K trailers before? No, and no. But I did my homework and hit the ground running -- and never looked back.
The key to success is to never stop learning. Life is about growing and learning -- only to realize you know nothing at all. Many of us tend to focus on one particular aspect of the industry. We become specialists in what we know. I have found that having knowledge of the inner workings of other parts of the industry proves to be invaluable, no matter what I'm working on.
In this article, I want to cover the basics of 35mm film framing and aspect ratios, and some of the differences between the acquisition and distribution film formats.
Why should you learn about 35mm film, when it is clearly on its way to oblivion? Because everything we use today is based on something we did yesterday. Once you understand the history of 35mm's evolution, you have a good foundation for learning about the future.
Ever since George Eastman mass-produced the first flexible transparent motion picture film stock in 1889, and Thomas Edison standardized the 35mm format in 1892, not much has changed in the world of film stock. There were others with ideas about frame sizes and aspect ratios, but the first round of format wars for motion picture film ended in 1909 with the standardization of a 35mm gauge (width), with 4 perforations per frame along both edges and a 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
A 1.33:1 (spoken as "one point three three to one," or simply "one three three") aspect ratio means that one side of the image is 1.33 times longer than the other. This same screen aspect ratio was later adopted by television, known there as 4:3 (four by three).
So how did we go from this to where we are today, with our 16:9 televisions and widescreen movies?
|Related Articles / Tutorials:|
Go Creative Show: The Cinematography of A Quiet Place
Charlotte Bruus Christensen is the Danish cinematographer behind the lens of the horrifying and beautifully shot film A Quiet Place. Charlotte joins commercial director and Go Creative Show host Ben Consoli to discuss the camera, lighting, and lensing choices for A Quiet Place, its unique sound design and how show created its horrifying yet warm look.
How Kubrick Achieved the Cinematography of Barry Lyndon
Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon is often lauded as one of the greatest achievements in the history of cinematography. And in a decade or even a year with some of the toughest competition imaginable, Barry Lyndon always seems to stick out just a little bit more. What sets the cinematography of Barry Lyndon apart from other movies? And how was it done? Let's explore the story...
Robert McLachlan: Cinematographer for Game of Thrones
Robert McLachlan is the cinematographer of Game of Thrones, Westworld and Ray Donovan, and he joins commercial director and Go Creative Show host Ben Consoli to share behind the scenes stories from some of his most iconic scenes including The Red Wedding and The Loot Train Battle.
Feature, People / Interview
DJI Mavic Pro In Depth Review - The Best 4K Drone?
VFX guru Tobias Gleissenberger was so delighted with the DJI Mavic Pro 4K drone that he bought (yes, bought) that he was inspired to take a break from making tutorials to create an in-depth review of this compact, lightweight, consumer drone offering terrific value. No, it's not a platform for your digital cinema camera, but if you're looking for a fast, fun, integrated 4K camera drone packed with features, the Mavic Pro might be for you. This review is delivered Surfaced Studio-style, with wit, high energy, and details you won't find anywhere else.
Beautiful 8K Timelapse of Norway's Four Seasons
One year of planning, one year of shooting, and four months of post-production is a lot of time to spend on a single timelapse, but photographer Morten Rustad‘s creation SEASONS of NORWAY captured this 8K masterpiece by travelling a total of 20,000
Join Go Creative Show host, Ben Consoli and his special guest, David Klein, ASC, cinematographer of Homeland and True Blood. David is here to talk all about it all. His love of realism has defined a generation of filmmaking and he continues to execute it flawlessly with his work on Homeland. David talks with us about all his gear and lighting choices, shooting hand-held effectively and how the best film education is to simply shoot something.
Feature, People / Interview
All Eyes on IBC 2016 for Cameras and Lenses Galore
What’s that you say? An IBC that’s not only relevant, but downright exhilarating?
This used to not be news, of course. However, in recent years, IBC has too often become simply an opportunity for European audiences to see products already announced at NAB. In 2016, however, the focus swings sharply to Amsterdam, especially when it comes to cameras and lenses. IBC 2016 is shaping up to be one of the most dramatic trade shows for cinematographers, broadcasters, and videographers in years. Join Creative COW Editor-in-Chief Tim Wilson for a speedy overview of some of the highlights.
Depth of Field: Gregg Toland, Citizen Kane and Beyond
Whenever somebody equates "shallow depth of field" and "cinematic look," it's important to remember that the opposite is also sometimes true. Creative COW Editor-in-Chief Tim Wilson celebrates the work of Gregg Toland, ASC, born this week in 1904 -- the first master of extreme depth of field in movies like Citizen Kane and The Grapes of Wrath that forever changed what is possible for humans to do with cameras. This reprise of a classic article from the Creative COW Archives also offers a look at what Toland's approach to cinematic composition can mean for YOUR shooting.
New Trends and Technology at Cine Gear Expo 2016
Cine Gear Expo 2016 exhibits open Friday June 3 and 4, at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California with major screenings, filmmaker panel discussions, groundbreaking techniques and new equipment premiers that are sure to influence the filmmaking industry. Catering to the world’s top motion picture, video and new media visual artists, Paramount’s prestigious back lot is the ideal setting for professionals to meet with colleagues and nearly 300 top equipment vendors to see live demos and get their hands on the latest gear. Take a look at how this year's hottest trends are shaping up.
School, Teachers, Italian Neorealism & a Few Soviet Films
In this exclusive interview, generously granted to Creative COW by the Gamma and Density Journal, during his lifetime, Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, sat down with Yuri Neyman, ASC to talk about his life as a cinematographer. We remember the genius.
Editorial, Feature, People / Interview