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One of the first things you need to think about when producing a short film  is what aspect ratio you want your film to be in. We’re going to use ‘23 Degrees..’ as a way of testing our feature film pipeline for future projects so right from the beginning we have decided that we will be going to film.

This is an expensive process so in the past we have waited to see how successful the short is before we made the expensive decision to make a digital film print. However this is isn’t always the best option as there are certain choices you should make early on to increase the cinematic experience.Knowing that the film will end up on a giant (I’ll settle for large) screen means that you need to consider the size of your texture maps, the details of your background characters, etc

There’s a lot that you will get away with when something is on TV… here’s what a scene looks like in 4:3 ratio:

(click to enlarge pics)

  Professor Orits study in 4:3 format

Professor Orit's study in 4:3 format

Then you have the wider 16:9 ratio, which looks a bit cooler:


  Orits study but in a slightly cooler 16:9 aspect ratio

Orit's study but in a slightly cooler 16:9 aspect ratio

& Then of course you have the Super cool cinematic widescreen:


  Orits study in full widescreen for cinema…

Orit's study in full widescreen for cinema…

Of course the problem with this type of widescreen is that it gets harder to frame your characters & you almost always have to seriously reframe things to make it OK for TV.

Here’s the College Green shot as it was:


Pre-Viz_College green from Darragh O’Connell on Vimeo.

& here’s a test of it in super widescreen:


College green_35mm_anamorphic from Darragh O’Connell on Vimeo.

As you can see what this test has done is pretty much cut off the top & the bottom of the shot, so we have lost the sky & now the shot looks a little more claustrophobic ( you could argue…)

 Anyway, we have some fun weeks ahead figuring out how to frame the film. As 90% of people will probably end up seeing in online as opposed to the big screen then we need to figure out how it will look at ALL sizes.

Check out previous Making Of  ‘23 Degrees 5 Minutes’ posts here.


Yea getting the ratio work with the scenes can be one of the biggest pains while making a 3D film, you always end up showing stuff you dont want or cutting part of the scenery off so that the characters are framed right

But the screen shots look great, as does the outdoor shot of college green


20 May 2010 by Matty

Thanks for the comments Matty, yeah the real fun will begin once we start getting the characters in there!

20 May 2010 by Doc

Can’t you change the camera focal length? Or does that have to be fixed?

4 June 2010 by Ken Heslip

Apologies Ken, I completely missed your comment until now… and I don’t know the answer!
Hang on & I’ll check with James, our TD.

15 June 2010 by Doc

Hey Ken.I’m working with Doc on the project.Yeah for certain shots you can adjust the focal length but you dont want to get too forshortened. With that super wide ratio the frame becomes a tool of its own, so more careful attention needs to be payed to BG and character placement than with other ratios.

15 June 2010 by James Stacey

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