It Can't Be Done...But Here It Is!
16mm blow-up to 70mm
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The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: FILM
EFFECTS of Hollywood, Inc (around 1973)
FILM EFFECTS of Hollywood, Inc when they made
70mm print(s) of a 16mm film. Click on the advert to see an enlargement.
Like the CONCERT FOR BANGLADESH for instance, where we blew
up 47% of the original 16mm negative image to full 70mm release print
format, scanning "on the fly!"
Optical conversions to and from any film format. Complete creative
photographic effects for theatrical and non-theatrical films.
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|More in 70mm reading:|
"A Place to Stand":
Canadian 70mm Short Films
70mm Blow Up List 1972
Concert for Bangladesh (imdb.com)
DON WEED, Film Effects of Hollywood
When Film Effects was first approached by producer Saul Swimmer, our
reaction to his proposal to blow up 16mm to 70mm elicited our normal
technical misgivings-which might be expected. However, on viewing the 16mm
workprint, we decided to make preliminary tests.
The subject matter, the stage lighting that supplanted usual photographic
lighting, and the camera technique involved, seemed to us to be sufficient
grounds for attempting what would seemingly be an impractical effort.
For the tests, we first made a 65mm blow-up interpositive, using liquid-gate
optical printing, of course. A contact 65mm internegative was made from this
interpositive and 70mm prints from the internegative.
The result was amazingly good-albeit more grainy than we would have
preferred. The 70mm prints were sound-striped and six-track sound
transferred at Todd-AO. The finished prints were shipped to Swimmer in New
York, who screened them in regular 70mm theatrical houses … and the rest is
20th Century-Fox bought the release after seeing our 70mm test
In the meantime, Film Effects made preliminary tests from Reversal
Internegative direct to 70mm 5385 prints. The result was a marked decrease
in the grain and a much improved overall quality. Since only a dozen or so
70mm release prints were required, it was decided to make them direct
blow-ups from the 16mm CRI, with no other intermediate film steps involved.
One of the interesting aspects of the project was the fact that, since we
were blowing up the 16mm frame to fill the entire width of a 70mm frame, 53%
of the original 16mm information was lost in the transfer to the 2.2:1
wide-screen format. Because the 16mm cameras utilized extreme closeups and
zoom lenses, the remaining 47% of the 16mm had to be accurately scanned
vertically during printing. To do this, a print from the 16mm CRI was first
scanned on the printer and a proper footage log resulted in a scanning
operation that could be repeated any number of times. Even those extreme
close-ups where the 70mm framed only the central portion of a face were
successfully scanned for the direct release prints, and the eyes, nose, and
mouth then wound up on the blow-up instead of showing the top of the man’s
head or his adams apple!
As far as we know, this is the first time that a 16mm film has been blown up
to 70mm for theatrical release and it's nice to know that it seems to be a
to be a huge success, so far!
advert for CONCERT FOR BANGLADESH film. Click to see enlargement
Blow up 16mm to 70mm? Impossible.
At least that's what Cecil and I first thought when Saul Swimmer handed us
the Eastman 16mm film footage from "The Concert for Bangladesh". We
had our reservations, but we told him we'd try.
Then we started experimenting. Saul wanted to go to 70mm to get maximum
stereo effect from the 14-track music tapes. Because the 16mm format is in
the wrong aspect ratio to be blown up directly to 70mm wide-screen, we
realized that we would lose about 50% of our original 16mm frame area ...
assuming that it could be done at all. No one had ever tried it, but we
found the answer. We adapted a wet-gate system to an existing 65/70mm
optical printer at Film Effects of Hollywood. Then we scanned each image
vertically 'on the fly' as we were printing. Accurately.
Our first trial experiments without the wet-gate were weak and scratchy. But
we saw enough quality in the results to be convinced that the excellent
Eastman 16mm negative would hold up going to 70mm. When we went to final
process, the results were beautiful. Cecil, Saul and I were astounded. So
was everybody else.
The last step was release prints. Those we hand-made by going directly from
the 16mm Eastman color negative film to 70mm Eastman color print film 5385.
We had done something probably no one else had ever done before. With the
right materials, nothing's impossible in this business.
end title as seen on YouTube
This isn't a very useful contribution but I saw "THE CONCERT FOR
BANGLADESH" on it's original
showing in 70mm. The picture quality was what you'd expect from 16mm
of the time (pre Super 16 which is much better) but it was terrific
because the sound made for a concert experience.
The cinema, The Rialto, wasn't very big and has long since been
converted into a restaurant and then shops.
Malcolm Blackmoor, UK
Concert of Bangladesh" was shown in 35mm at the Hamburg Esplanade
Filmtheater, there is no hint "70mm" in it. German advert from Gerhard
My Father was Chief Projectionst at the Rialto Cinema in Coventry
Street. He screened the film in 35mm 4-track magnetic stereo (I did see
it). I once heard that a 70mm 6-Track print screened for 3 day's at the
Casino Cinema in Old Compton Street, it was taken off due to many
complaints re the picture quality.
Roger Young, UK
I've only just seen that a reply has been posted contradicting my
thought that I saw this in 70mm at The Rialto. The answer has to be
correct but what convinced me was that there was a 70mm print credit on
the end. This misleading shot was obviously also on the 35mm version.
Sorry to post wrong information.
Malcolm Blackmoor, UK
I ran "Concert For Bangladesh" in 35mm optical and 70mm. The 70 mm
were a little grainy, to be expected with lighting levels. The surround
circuit was used mostly for applause. Owing to the 70mm optics, I liked the
70mm image...I was able to run the same reel on 2 machines in 70mm on #1 and
35mm on #2....this was for my own study. The sound was excellent.
John Carver, USA
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