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"Village of the Damned" screen ratios and cropping

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  • "Village of the Damned" screen ratios and cropping

    I know little to nothing about the cropping of films for television and DVD release - so I'd like to hear from anybody who would like to comment on these comparisons between the DVD release of 'Village of the Damned' and a VHS recording from the 1990s.


  • #2
    So this is 1960 and VILLAGE OF THE DAMMED.
    The film would have been shot 'full frame" at 1.37 and the 35mm print delivered to cinemas would contain that full image.

    In the USA the projector would mask off the top and bottom to display a 1.85 image.
    In the UK the projector would mask off slightly less of the top and bottom to display either a 1.66 or 1.75 image depending on how the screen was set up. Most cinema chains were set up for 1.75 then though some independent cinemas stayed with 1.66.

    When filming, the director Wolf Rilla would have framed his shots for 1.85 projection but allowed variance to 1.66.

    In both cases the full width of the photographed image would be shown; it was only the height that would vary. Therefore with that in mind both your screen images seem rather odd.

    I don't know if any DVD or BluRay has ever been issued of the film, but one were to be I would expect it to be 1.75 or 1.85.

    As for any pan-and-scan video made for TV showings years ago, who knows how they framed it. I think the rubbish bin is the best pace for that.

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    • #3
      Currently the only source of the original British 'A' classification version of the film is from British VHS recordings - so I'm going to hold off binning this just yet.

      Thanks for the information - I was surprised just how much had been cropped for the Warner DVD (1.85) release.
      Last edited by Anthony McKay; 15th November 2017, 08:36 AM.

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      • #4
        [QUOTE=Anthony McKay;n43996]I was surprised just how much had been cropped for the Warner DVD (1.85) release.[/QUOTE]

        The DVD cropping is a perfectly acceptable projection ratio. Although it would show slightly less height than the original British projection, it's how it would have been projected in the USA and the director would have made sure that nothing of importance would have been lost in that framing.

        The VHS framing on the other hand is a vile abomination and it should be consigned to the nearest rubbish bin at the earliest available opportunity.

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        • #5
          [QUOTE=Anthony McKay;n43996]I was surprised just how much had been cropped for the Warner DVD (1.85) release.[/QUOTE]

          It seems quite common for DVD/Blu-ray releases to be issued in a different format even these days. I'm quite certain Stanley Kubrick's The Shining was shot in 1:1.37 however on the Blu-ray it's 1:1.85.
          Yet annoyingly I have DVD's of films shot in the wide format, yet it's issued as 4:3 on the disc!

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          • #6
            [QUOTE=Carl V;n44002]

            It seems quite common for DVD/Blu-ray releases to be issued in a different format even these days. I'm quite certain Stanley Kubrick's The Shining was shot in 1:1.37 however on the Blu-ray it's 1:1.85.
            Yet annoyingly I have DVD's of films shot in the wide format, yet it's issued as 4:3 on the disc![/QUOTE]

            The somewhat eccentric Kubrick may have claimed that he shot The Shining for 1.37:1 and that that was his preferred ratio, but that is most certainly not how it was shown in cinemas, which could only play non-'Scope films in 1.75:1/1.85:1.

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            • #7
              [QUOTE=Carl V;n44002]

              I'm quite certain Stanley Kubrick's The Shining was shot in 1:1.37 however on the Blu-ray it's 1:1.85.
              [/QUOTE]

              There seems to be a lot of internet myth and confusion on this subject. As you no doubt know, almost all films were shot full frame, but if projected in that ratio after the mid-fifties could often show sound booms, lighting etc. at the top of the frame as they was never intended to be seen on the projected image.

              Kubrick 'protected' The Shining for television screenings, so made sure that the full frame image was unobstructed. It therefore works well at this ratio.

              He did however 'compose' his images for theatrical distribution. His preferred ratio was probably 1.66:1, but he was well aware that they would be projected at 1.85:1 in the US. Very few cinemas, other than art house venues, had the aperture plates necessary for full frame projection.

              There's nothing missing in the Blu-Ray that Kubrick considered important.
              Last edited by narabdela; 15th November 2017, 10:51 AM.

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              • #8
                As an aside to the above: one thing you do see in the full frame version of the Shining, that isn't intended to be seen, is the helicopter shadow in the opening shots.

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                • #9
                  [QUOTE=narabdela;n44004]
                  There's nothing missing in the Blu-Ray that Kubrick considered important.[/QUOTE]

                  Thank you both very much Narabdela and Odeonman for your explanations. The Blu-ray looks fantastic I have to say, but it is the shorter version at (I think) around 115 minutes. I understand the extended version is also available.

                  Prior to buying the disc, I had only ever seen this film on TV many moons ago, and was if I recall shown in the 4:3 format - as indeed many films were broadcast in this manner anyway back then.

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                  • #10
                    A couple of comments regarding this discussion.

                    "Village of the Damned" was most likely shot full frame as PhilipW rightly said.
                    It is just as common for a 'hard matte' plate to be inserted in the camera to ultimately act as a guide in the projection print so that there is no mistake, not necessarily with aspect ratio, but more importantly correct vertical framing. Alternatively the negative can be full frame and the lab can insert a mask, known as a 'soft matte' in the printing film element as a guide.
                    Regard to "The Shining". I worked in the cutting rooms. The negative was shot full frame. On the steenbeck, which is a flat bed viewing table, the screen shows the whole frame. The screen had markings for 1.85 drawn on it. One day I was called to the editing area and Stanley, with Ray Lovejoy (editor), actually asked for my opinion on a scene (I'm pretty certain it was Nicholson sitting at the bar). After I viewed the scene, I made a comment regarding continuity on Nicholson's arms that were folded in one shot, and after a cutaway, were unfolded. Stanley immediately retorted that particular area wouldn't be seen as it would be ultimately hidden out of range below the lower matte line. This seemed to indicate that he wasn't too concerned with regard to minor continuity, as it may eventually be seen when it shows up on television. As I do not have a frame of a release print to see if it was 'soft matted' in the lab. If it wasn't the chances of it being mis-framed in projection is unlikely.
                    The helicopter shots for the titles were filmed way after main shooting was completed. Stanley gave instructions on how it was to be shot and did not seemed concerned, from memory, when he viewed the footage, with the shadow of the rotor blades.
                    Last edited by Stephen Pickard; 17th November 2017, 07:05 PM.

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                    • #11
                      I have both the British and the American DVDs of Robert Day's CORRIDORS OF BLOOD (1958, but released in 1962). Curiously enough, the movie is LESS cropped above and below in the US edition, than the British one. On the sides, they are similar. Normally, it would be the contrary...
                      Furthermore both versions are cut - but differently !
                      I still have a DVD-r copy of the very old VHS released by Kingston Video and a number of scenes are more complete in this tape. The late Richard Gordon asked me to send my VHS to Criterion when they decided to release the movie on a DVD set of four British movies. I never got my VHS returned, they didn't send me a copy of their release, and the "cut scenes or shots" of my tape were just used for the "bonus". They didn't even try to find a complete version...


                      Last edited by Sweeney Todd; 3rd January 2018, 09:44 PM.

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                      • #12
                        This precise shot doesn't longer exist in British and American editions, along with a number of other cuts. Sometimes, the British edition is bloodier than the US one, for instance during the first surgical amputation...

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