Every fall, those of us who live in New York watch the Whitman’s Sampler of World Cinema, a selection of highlights from the year’s most famous international festivals. Considering the annual production of theatrical films around the world, this is by no means a large sample size, but it’s still a weathervane.
Which way was the wind blowing this year?
Please listen to what I say below with a grain of salt. At NYFF 61, we watched 27 feature films out of the 44 feature films programmed into the main slate and spotlight sections. In other words, a modest sample of a modest sample. All digitally projected from DCP.
1) NYFF 61 was dominated by what I call “full frame aspect ratio”.
Let me explain. I’ve been tallying theater aspect ratios at festivals for years, mostly out of curiosity. He divides it into four categories.
Full frame. I define it as 16:9 (aka 1.78) or 1.85. The first is today’s ubiquitous television and video aspect ratio, and the second is the American “flat” widescreen projection ratio, originally from the era of film. Although the shapes are slightly different, each essentially fills a modern wide display, such as a 16:9 TV or YouTube window, or a DCP’s 1.85 cinema screen. Note that a 1.85 image will have small barely noticeable black bands on the top and bottom when played back as 16:9, and small black bands on the left and right when 16:9 is projected as 1.85.
The second category is “anamorphic”, or 2.39 (also known as 2.40). 2.39 means 2.39:1, so this is a widescreen image that is at least twice as wide as it is tall. In the film era, special anamorphic lenses (hence the name) were needed to squeeze ultra-wide-angle images into the square frame of negative film, but today’s digital film can be shot with either anamorphic lenses or traditional spherical lenses. . In the latter case, significant top and bottom cropping is used to achieve the widescreen shape.
My third category matches the classic silent 1.33 aspect ratio, or the 1.37 “Academy” variant of sound movies. And finally, there’s the category of digital movies that mix multiple aspect ratios, something that digital cinema has made easier to achieve.
Of the movies I saw at NYFF 61, by my count, 18 were shown in full frame, 4 were shown in 2.39, and 4 were shown in 1.33. If you add one more film, La Practica, 2.0 is a newcomer to the aspect ratio associated with episodes primarily from streamers. 1.33 One of the films is: maestro, uses 1.33 to show the past in flashbacks for most of its running time, but the present day scenes of the story also end at 1.85. This is how 1.33 is usually used as shorthand for the past, at least the past as captured by movie cameras.
This points out that the majority of DCI 4K digital cinema projectors use Texas Instruments DLP chips as imagers, and each of these chips contains 4096 x 2160 pixels, with a chip aspect ratio of 1.89. That’s a good idea. This means that all projected aspect ratios, including 1.33 and 2.39, are projected from the same palette of 4096 x 2160 pixels. Only full-frame 16:9 and 1.85 aspect ratios use virtually all available pixels for projection. Shapes that are significantly squarer than 1.89, such as 1.33, or wider, such as 2.39, eliminate the use of large pixel bands on the DLP chip. Yes, this means lower vertical screen resolution for 2.39.
One could argue that the flat, anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio is a vestige of the film industry’s panic over the prospects of home television in the early 1950s. (Color NTSC was introduced in his 1953). Just as today’s desperate theater chains add plush seating, food service, and Dolby Atmos to attract audiences, the movie industry in the early 1950s added wide-screen seats to enhance the spectacle of movies. I created screens 1.85 and 2.39. It’s better to avoid that boxy TV. It’s a small image in the shape of 1.33.
Do we still need these cropped aspect ratios? After all, today’s televisions, computers, smartphones, and digital cinema projectors are all natively widescreen. So does this have something to do with the preponderance of 16:9 and 1.85 full-frame film that I encountered at his NYFF 61, most of which have been partially underwritten by broadcasters and streamers?
On the other hand, the digital imager or display itself doesn’t care whether letterbox or pillarbox black bands occur. In the heyday of broadcast television, leaving parts of the screen “blank” in this way was prohibited and illegal. Some may think that analog television is broken. You may lose your broadcasting license. Still, Yorgos Lanthimos and cinematographer Robbie Ryan use extreme fisheye lenses in this film. poor thing, this is NYFF 61 from Venice and Telluride, whose image circle was too small to fill the celluloid frame (shot on film), creating a porthole effect. No one thinks they failed. Does this portend a new fad in using lenses that don’t cover the format properly?
2) As of late summer 2023, all projectors in Lincoln Center theaters will be DCI 4K. All his DCP servers are 4K. When I asked NYFF’s technical staff how many of the DCPs submitted this year were 4K instead of the traditional 2K, they said basically all of them. Of course, 4K DCP files are larger than 2K DCP files, but due to the efficiency of JPEG 2000 encoding, they are only about twice as large. Additionally, 2K DCP plays perfectly well from his 4K server and his 4K projector. One of the benefits of JPEG 2000 compression is that it scales seamlessly to large screens. So everyone wins.
3) Additionally, as of late summer 2023, at least two screening facilities at Lincoln Center (Alice Tully Hall and Walter Reade Theater) will feature 4K RGB laser projection. RGB laser projection is not as bright (DCI standard screens must have a brightness of 14 feet Lambert (+/- 3 fL)), but it is more saturated and displays richer colors. In fact, no digital video monitor comes even close to the full color gamut produced by an RGB laser projector. With these alone, you can achieve the extended color gamut of Rec. 2020 HDR (High Dynamic Range) Video Technical Specifications. This is because for additive color display systems, the narrower the width of each source light on the electromagnetic spectrum, the larger the size of the reproduced color gamut, and the larger the RGB laser’s red, green, and blue diode lasers. . Each projector output is a single wavelength. sweet! The next time you watch a Netflix movie at the Walter Reade Theater, pay special attention to the big red “N” logo that pops up against the rainbow-colored vertical stripes.you literally look What I meant was.
4) When it comes to lens trends, I’ve long been obsessed with lens perfection, and my preference is for “detuned” lenses (lenses intentionally tuned to introduce slight spherical aberrations) and coated lenses. We still fall into the unfortunate throes of overuse of trends that aren’t. Both lenses intentionally cause flare and veiling glare. “Uncoated” usually means that the outer lens element has been stripped of the multilayer anti-reflective coating that produces the green, purple, blue, and orange reflections you see when looking into high-end lenses. Accompanying this trend is a trend of unearthing old cine lenses (some from the pre-World War II and lens coating eras) and rehoused them for use in modern digital cameras. I commented that after a particular film at NYFF 61, I learned what it was like to see the world through cataracts. I won’t name this film because I have a lot of respect for my fellow cinematographers. However, there were some scenes where I felt like I was trying too hard to see the details in the theatrical scrim and didn’t quite succeed. I noticed evidence of this trend in many of the films shot digitally at NYFF 61, especially in all the scenes where the camera pans through an open window with outside light streaming in.
5) Finally, I attended quite a few industry screenings during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike, including a press screening at NYFF 61. The Q&A that followed featured a series of questions and answers instead of the usual lineup of actors (often by contract). The production designers, art directors, costume designers, cinematographers and other department heads joined the director on stage, which was always fascinating and enlightening. I don’t blame the actors, but I wish there were more discussions like this in the industry after screenings. There, key creators whose names and film credits are known, but whose faces are completely unknown, are called in to take their place and asked to dig deeper into the actors. The challenge of creating a genius movie together. That’s because filmmaking is fundamentally a collective enterprise, and sometimes we fail to understand that.