|The movies, for nearly 100 years they have been a place for people to go and get away from there worries and share in a group experience. That experience was unbeatable until the early 1950's and the advent of television. Because television was taking a lot of business away from the local movie theaters, Hollywood had to come up with a new way of attracting people to the theater, so a new film process had to be developed to bring audiences back to the theater, it's name was Cinerama. Almost two and a half times wide than it is high Cinerama ushered in a new age of movies. But to see why movies were changing we need to go back.|
|In the early days of silent cinema things were very basic. When Thomas Edison designed motion picture cameras, he designed them with ratio of approximately 1:33:1 which is a slightly rectangular screen and for years in the silent era people enjoyed these movies with the old piano playing in the background. Classic movies such as D.W. Griffiths' Birth Of A Nation or the classic A Tale Of Two Cities. By 1927 a new format came to the movies, sound. This new format of movie called the talkie picture became became very popular|
|There was a technical problem with the advent of sound, when soundtrack was added to the side of the film frame it cut down the size of the the actual film size to an almost ugly square. In 1932 the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences changed the ratio standard back to a more respectable width for the time, it became known as the academy ratio. Movies continued to rule the roost, classic movies such as Gone With The Wind, All Quiet On The Western Front, Casablanca and more were wowing audiences but this was all soon to end with the advent of a small little box in peoples living rooms, The Television.|
Television was a new medium, it had inherited the same ratio dimensions as the theater 1:33:1. Television grew to be so popular that movie going attendance was on a steady decline, so Hollywood came up with a secret weapon to change the playing field of screen sizes and make the competition more competitive.
In 1952 the first major wide-screen
process made it's debut, it was called Cinerama. Cinerama was a huge 3
panel wide-screen process that used 3 separate cameras and 3 separate
projectors to project the image on a huge screen which merged the 3
images into one huge projected image. Movies that were filmed in the
Cinerama process had a variable aspect ratio between 2:65:1 to 3:00:1.
Cinerama was a short lived format, the most notable movie filmed in this
format was How The West Was Won (1962)
Around about the same time Cinerama was making the rounds, along came another format wide-screen process that in one way or another is still going today, it was called CinemaScope. Adopted and copyrighted by 20th Century Fox, CinemaScope was an anamorphic system that compressed the images on normal 35mm film when being filmed and were uncompressed when being projected. This format was so successful that most major studios copied the system and made there own rival systems, notables being WarnerScope and Panavision which is still in use today for scope movies. CinemaScope movies have an aspect ratio of 2:35:1. A few years after the success with CinemaScope and with everyone else out with a CinemaScope variant, Fox introduced CinemaScope55 a variant of CinemaScope using 55mm film, this proved to be less popular than it's predecessor.
About the only studio to shun the scope ratio wide-screen process was Paramount. Instead Paramount designed a format of there own called VistaVision. VistaVision was a high quality non-anamorphic filming process that used standard 35mm film horizontally. The VistaVision system had an aspect ratio that could vary between 1:70:1 to 1:85:1. It was generally noted that VistaVision prints were of more high quality than other formats. VistaVision is generally not used much today for filming actual movies, although many special effects sequences use a VistaVision camera in conjunction with 65mm film.
Through the years there have been many wide-screen formats, but today the main processes used in films are by Panavision with there 2:35:1 and 1:85:1 formats. There are other formats as well including Super35. But what does all this mean for us?