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An alternative large negative format to 65mm origination - Vistamorph ®
An alternative large Format Film Experience

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Chris O'Kane Date: 24 January 2007

Vistamorph 70mm frame. Press image to see enlargement.

There exists today a substantial market for large format cinema. These cinemas sell the thrill and experience of a big show where films entertain and educate the audience for 40 minutes with short films and over 2 hours with commercial feature films. The large format Imax® system has its films originated on 15-perf 70mm horizontal film. These films are printed at great cost and synced up with a powerful surround sound system. The concept is to convey a sense of realism to the audience, as if they are physically involved in the film through the use of scale and power. This idea stems from Cinerama, a system launched on the cinema industry in 1952, where the panoramic film was shown on a curved screen 90ft wide and 30ft high. Accompanied with 7-channel stereo sound, Cinerama made such an impact in the industry that all wide screen film systems were developed as a consequence of the very great public response to the Cinerama experience. Even wide screen TV is now common in homes.

The Vistamorph film system was developed by Vistatech Ltd. As a response to the rising costs of large format film production and presentation in the late 1990’s. It was envisaged that it could fill the role that Cinerama once had in commercial cinema and offer a much lower cost alternative to 15/70 formats as a medium. Vistamorph is a process that can produce spectacular wide screen films and emulates Cinerama in scale. One of the many benefits of Vistamorph is that it utilises existing motion picture technology to produce films at a reasonable cost in comparison to 15/70 films. Vistamorph has a presentation ratio of 3: 1 to 1 or greater and is originated on 35mm motion picture negative stock. It incorporates a x2 anamorphic optical compression along the horizontal axis of the film stock and is shot in a VistaVision format camera. A range of primes lenses can be coupled to the Vistamorph anamorphic attachment lens for originating wide and medium fields of view.

More in 70mm reading:

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70mm 5-perf cinemas outside North America
70mm 5-perf cinemas in North America
Vistamorph 70mm frame. Press image to see HUGE enlargement.

In March of 2000 a short test film was shot using a Technicolor model camera from Panavision and a Nikon prime lens coupled with a x2 anamorphic attachment. The film was shot in good daylight on Eastman Kodak EXR 50D 35mm stock. The film “A Trip to Dunoon” was shot on the west coast of Scotland in early spring and consists of several shots of moving boats, vehicles and people in a rural landscape. The film also includes moving camera shots. This was done to test for strobing problems in theatre viewing. These proved to be minimal and non intrusive for the audience. The negative was processed by Technicolor in England and was telecined by The Mill in London. The negative was cut by Trucut of London and a 70mm Vistamorph projection print was produced by Technicolor using existing Technirama printing equipment. The test film was run a DKP75 Kinoton projector with a 3K lamp and shown on a 56ft Todd AO screen where the aspect ratio exceed the width of the screen at 3:1 to 1 The film was also test run on the Pictureville Cinerama screen in Bradford and on the 96ft Cinerama screen at the Martin Cinerama Theatre in Seattle, where the aspect ratio of the screen was exceeded also. This was done using a medium focal length backing lens attached to an industry standard x2 anamorphic with a 7K lamp as a light source.

The development of better lenses and cameras would further improve the quality of the Vistamorph process and make it a viable system to produce super-wide-screen motion pictures. The costs to do this need not be excessive as some existing equipment could be adapted for the purpose. The VistaVision negative format lends itself to fitting in with existing printing techniques. Technicolor can produce either a 70mm or 35mm anamorphic print from the Vistamorph negative and DTS can produce a surround sound track for the film. A multiplex cinema could knock two large halls into a large one and build within it a Vistamorph auditorium that would allow the screening of, not only Vistamorph 70mm format films, but also all existing 70mm, 35mm and future digital formats too.

Vistamorph requires at this stage a three-phase development.

Phase 1: Production and testing of a full-scale prototype system and test film.

Phase 2: Production of new equipment for filmmaking and the building, or adaption of an existing theatre as a Vistamorph auditorium in a popular location.

Phase 3: Establishing the concept worldwide.

Vistamorph is a UK registered trade mark - Copyright© Chris O’Kane 2007
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Updated 07-01-23