Format Seminar in London
"All formats great and small"
This article first appeared in
The 70mm Newsletter
Wouter de Voogd, The Netherlands
Issue 40 - September 1995
Mr Wouter de Voogd and Mr Johan Wolthuis
attended the "All Formats Great and Small" BKSTS-seminar given at
the National Film Institute, London at June 23, 1995. Mr Rob
vice-president of Disney Animation hosted this seminar.
It was the first time ever that a comparison of different film formats was
given in Europe, in which the SAME scenes were filmed under exact the SAME
conditions in the different formats ranging from super 16mm to 70mm. Results
of former comparisons of film formats were always distorted by the fact that
the scenes were filmed under different circumstances, processed at different
The following formats were compared:
- Super 16
- Standard Academy 1.85
- Super 1.85
- Super 35 (Super Techniscope)
- Anamorphic (Cinemascope, Panavision)
We were anxiously awaiting the moment when our most favorite format would be
A/B compared with the other formats especially with anamorphic 35mm and 70mm
blowup. What a revelation! Not one of all the other standards could stand up
to 70mm! Both anamorphic and 70mm blow- up (from 35mm) looked blurred, less
realistic with sometimes over-saturated looking colors compared with
original 70mm material! Mind you, all the different transfer processes had
been done with the utmost care. Mr. Hummel assured us that for the filming
of 70mm NO extra lighting was necessary.
One other process that looked promising was the reduction from 65mm to 35mm
using the brand new COSHARP-continuous reduction printer 65/35 [Continous
Optical Slit High-Speed Anamorphic Reduction Printer, ed] which can run up
to 200 ft/min optically, compare that with the frame by frame printing which
is still in use today! The difference between the original 70mm material and
this reduction (35mm) wasn't that big.
During this very interesting seminar Mr Rob Hummel told the audience that Mr
Jeffrey Katzenberg of Walt Disney Corporation once planned to make a movie
in 65mm. It is already known that Steven Spielberg had that idea when
planning the filming of "Empire of the Sun". The disappointing
picture quality of "Far and Away" was due to the
underexposure of the film, if this would have been done with ordinary 35mm
material, the image would have been impossible to watch!
Mr. Hummel intended to show the comparison between 35mm anamorphic and 70mm
also to Mr. Spielberg in the near future in order to convince him of the
superiority of the 70mm format. Mr Rob Hummel himself is convinced of the
necessity of the rebirth of the 70mm process.
It was a pity that cinematographer Mr Vittorio Storaro couldn't be in London
at the seminar because of family circumstances. As most of us know he is
also a great promoter of 65mm photography which he used lately in Bernardo
Bertolucci's "Little Buddha". The only disappointment was
the presentation of one reel of "Little Buddha" on the
relatively small screen of the NFI. The screening as seen on one of the
enormous wall to wall screens of the Kinepolis cinema complex at Brussels is
much more impressive and that is what the 70mm process is created for!
Nevertheless, the audience, comprising of several professionals in the film
field, were all breathtaken by 70mm, especially after the 70mm screening of
this one reel of "Little Buddha". We surely hope that this
seminar will help convince more filmmakers to shoot in 65mm!
Further in 70mm reading:
Seekers", a short film in 70mm
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