Technological Responses to the Threat of Television

The Development of Inexpensive Color Film Stocks

1935: Three-strip Technicolor (three strips of film running through the camera) made feature-film debut with Becky Sharp

How Color Movies Are Made How Three Color Movies Are Made, part 2
Source: Modern Mechanix.

Becky Sharp
Source: "The Color-Space Conundrum," American Cinematographer, January 2005.

The African Queen Example

"Three negatives from Technicolor camera"
Three negatives from Technicolor camera

"Printing Matrices – Step 1"
Printing Matrices – Step 1

"Printing Matrices – Step 2"
Printing Matrices – Step 2

"The final print"
The final print

View African Queen sequence.

Source: Phil Green, "Technicolor 3 Strip", The Digital Intermediate Guide.

1950: Kodak released single-strip Eastman Color Negative Safety Film 5247 and Color Print Film 5281

three-strip vs one-strip
Source: "The Color-Space Conundrum," American Cinematographer, January 2005.

Sound Enhancements

Kill Bill 2 screen shot
Source: Jeff Smith, "Atmos, all around"

Jeff Smith explains "quad track" sound on a strip of film from Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004):

  1. "Left of the picture area, you can see the twin optical sound stripes, encoded as wavy lines, that are used for older Dolby Stereo systems."
  2. "Just to the right of these optical stripes you can see dashed white lines used for DTS time code. DTS is a digital surround sound technology that uses compact discs to store and play back the film's audio."
  3. "On the extreme left and right edges of the film strip, outside the perforations, is a speckled light blue stripe. That encodes the audio data for SDDS playback."
  4. "Lastly, in between the sprocket holes on the left side, you can see the audio information for Dolby Digital."


Aspect Ratio

Diagram of aspect ratios.

  Frames from He Said, She Said
TV and
Pre-1952 Cinema

Cinerama Projection

Cinerama projection
Source: Wikipedia.

Resulting in a wide image (1:2.59), as in this screen shot from How the West Was Won (1960), the first Cinerama feature film (note the image seams):

How the West Was Won screenshot
Source: The American WideScreen Museum.

Anamorphic Widescreen

Original CinemaScope frame, displaying a squeezed circle.

click for larger image
Source: Max Smith, released to public domain on Wikipedia.

DVDs/Blu-ray Discs: Letterboxing Versus Pan-and-Scan

He Said, She Said Aspect Ratio Illustrations.

DVDs often include both versions of widescreen (anamorphic) films--usually one on each side of the disc. The Ronin DVD allows you to compare the two versions.

Extra Material on DVDs

Click for larger image. Click for larger image.
Menu: an interface much like one on a computer or video game allows you to select additional materials. Scene Selections: choose to go to a specific point (sometimes called "chapters") in the film.
Click for larger image. Click for larger image.
Special Features: including audio commentary by the director, John Frankenheimer, and an alternate ending that was not used in the film as it was released (frame grabs from the alternate ending). Languages: English and French--in both the spoken language and the subtitles. This is particularly appropriate for Ronin since it stars several French actors.

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Original material copyright © 1994-2024 Jeremy G. Butler.
Last revised: 27 August 2019 21:23:36