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"Brainstorm" in 65mm

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Douglas Trumbull in a reply to Peter Anderson, ASC Date: 14.09.2008
70mm frame with optically enlarged 35mm segment

A recent [August 2008] e-mail discussion among large format experts resulted in a comment from Mr. Douglas Trumbull to Peter Anderson, ASC, about the true genesis of the film "Brainstorm". I have posted it here since it has general interest characteristics for everyone interested in 65mm photography and especially "Brainstorm".

Thomas Hauerslev, editor

"Brainstorm" was originally developed to be the first film released in SHOWSCAN. Charlie Bludhorn who was chairman of Gulf and Western, who owned Paramount, wanted a film that would be partially normal, with sequences in SHOWSCAN. That was the plan. There would have been 70mm 60fps prints, with the 35mm stuff skip printed to 60 from 24. Also, there would have been 65mm material drop framed to 24fps for a normal 35mm release.
There would have been no aspect ratio changes - only the frame rate.

Nobody would go for it, as you know.

So we settled on full aperture 2.2:1 65mm shooting of the (what would have been SHOWSCAN) vital POV scenes, and shot the rest in 35mm with a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. All the 35mm material was fitted optically into 65mm negatives optically so we could do a complete 65mm negative assembly. For 35mm release, the 65mm negative was optically reduced to 35mm, retaining the two aspect ratios, which now became 2:35:1 and 1.66:1. Later, for video release, we filled the 3:4 video aspect ratio with the 35mm material, and squeezed the 65mm stuff into the same frame. To my knowledge there has not yet been a DVD or BluRay that retains the original aspect ratios and sound changes.

Also, the film was mixed to change from mono sound on the 35mm material to full Dolby stereo on the wide shots, with purposeful exaggeration of surround fx.


More in 70mm reading:

25th Anniversary of "Brainstorm"'s 1983 Release

“Brainstorm”: The North American 70mm Engagements

Showscan: A High Impact Experience in 70mm

Showscan enters liquidation process

2001 bit and pieces

Showscan: The Best 70mm I have ever seen


Douglas Trumbull

Dennis Muren, Steven Spielberg and Douglas Trumbull at the recent Visual Effects Society Awards in Los Angeles. Picture curtsey Bill Kallay.

Selected filmography as Director (films in 65mm):
• Leonardo's Dream (1989) Showscan
• Let's Go (1985) Showscan
• Brainstorm (1983)
• Big Ball (1983) Showscan
New Magic (1983) Showscan

Selected filmography as Special Effects Supervisor (films in 65mm):
"Blade Runner" (1982)
• Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
"Close Encounters Of The Third Kind" (1977)
Stanley Kubrick's "2OO1: A Space Odyssey" (1968)

• Go to High impact immersive widescreen filmmaking with Douglas Trumbull
• Go to Douglas Trumbull - A Conversation
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Updated 21-01-24