Letterboxed: The Evolution of Widescreen Cinema

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Letterboxed tracks the history of stylistic experimentation with the film frame and demonstrates how the expansion of the screen has uncovered myriad creative possibilities for directors.

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About Harper Cossar. The simplest approach is to merely overlay black bars along the bottom and top of the image to give it a letterboxed look. As hinted elsewhere, this is what in essence happens when film is projected in a movie theater: the top and bottom portions of the film frame are masked off. The difference is, their source material was shot with this in mind. Go through your footage and see if you can get away with this cropping.

Letterboxed : the evolution of widescreen cinema

Supplement this by designing your opening title, chapter heads, and other support graphics with the widescreen aspect in mind, and you should be able to pull this cheat off convincingly enough. But again, many jobs call for aspect delivery. A common task of theirs is creating videos about new Isuzu vehicles, aimed at the press and Isuzu sales staff.

A recent project for Kogei included opening and closing titles plus additional graphics for a video about their new Axiom crossover vehicle. We decided part of this would include using widescreen framing where possible. Fortunately, most cars in profile or from above also have a widescreen aspect ratio, making our jobs easier. For the Axiom video, we still used a full-screen background so the transitions between full-screen video and our inserts would not be too jarring, but otherwise restricted the layout to a widescreen box.

The technical illustrations then went on top of this graph paper background. For example, we had a close-up of the car recede back from full frame until it filled just a letterbox over our background. In other shots where we had to create montages of concept vehicles or competing cars, we irregularly masked the cars down to suggest individual widescreen aspect ratios as shown here to the left.

Another long-time corporate client we enjoy working with is Xerox, for whom we create a lot of trade show graphics. In this case, the client knew from the outset that they wanted a widescreen look; they even considered running two monitors with different video feeds side-by-side. Logistics ruled this out, but we decided to keep the widescreen idea.

A habit of many companies, when they have a revolutionary new product in this case, an extremely high-speed full color copier , is to want to trace their own history in the context of the evolution of all of mankind — in somewhere between two minutes and thirty seconds. We noticed three distinct sections in the music, and decided to split our video into three different eras in time: pre-xerography represented by a typing pool , during the development of the photocopier up to before color photocopying, and from then up to the present.

We decided the third section the present should be represented by a modern video look. Our hero shots were composited over this. Since the singer in Jesus Jones does not exactly enunciate clearly and trade show floors can be loud anyway , the client wanted us to overlay key words from the lyrics.

Letterboxed : the evolution of widescreen cinema, Harper Cossar

Widescreen is refreshing to design in, and also to watch because of its current novelty. It also is our inevitable future. This article illustrates several techniques for going between the normal and widescreen worlds. We see this in particular at trade shows that have rented eyecatching widescreen plasma displays, and then realize later all of their videos were created for a screen. So they stretch it to fit.

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And it looks wretched. Likewise, you may be tempted to go shoot your next production in widescreen because your new camera allows you to, only to realize later that you have to blend in previously-shot source material. And although many NLEs now allow you to choose between and image aspect ratios, they most likely do nothing to help you combine the two.

This puts the burden back on you to figure out a way to combine them. The content contained in our books, videos, blogs, and articles for other sites are all copyright Crish Design, except where otherwise attributed. Get access to our latest and featured articles from your favorite authors, wherever you are, directly on your phone! Toggle navigation Menu. A normal frame left by definition does not contain as much image area in the width as a widescreen image framed to have the same height right.

So how do you fit one into the other? Tags: Editing. Support ProVideo Coalition. Shop with. Shop Now. Share Our Article. Go to Comments. Chris and Trish Meyer. You Might Also Like. We stopped by the booths. We saw the gear. We talked to as many

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