AskDefine | Define Cinemascope

Extensive Definition

CinemaScope was a widescreen movie format used from 1953 to 1967. Anamorphic lenses allowed the process to project film up to a 2.66:1 aspect ratio, twice as wide as the conventional format of 1.33:1. Although CinemaScope was shortly made obsolete by new technological developments, the anamorphic presentation of films initiated by CinemaScope in the 1950s has continued to this day.

History

Origins

A French professor named Henri Chrétien developed and patented a new film process that he called Anamorphoscope in the late 1920s. It was this process that would later form the basis for CinemaScope. Chrétien's process was based on lenses that employed an optical trick which produced an image twice as wide as that produced with conventional lenses.http://jkor.com/peter/scopehist.html In New York, a premiere of Chrétien's new process impressed the major Hollywood film studios of the time, who were eager to win back lost audiences from television’s allure.http://www.in70mm.com/newsletter/2002/67/panavision/panavision_beginning.htm
Twentieth Century Fox bought the rights of the Anamorphoscope. (Predecessor company Fox Film Corporation had experimented with another widescreen process, Fox Grandeur, in 1929-1931.) However, the format needed more development before it would be ready to use. The first of Chrétien's lenses were quickly transported to Hollywood where they were further analyzed. From this analysis the basis of CinemaScope was formed.
Twentieth Century Fox's pre-production of The Robe was halted so that the film could be changed to CinemaScope, what Fox president Spyros Skouras called the future of filmmaking. Fox's famous advertising slogan "Movies are Better than Ever" gained credibility with the ground breaking 1953 film The Robe. With the introduction of CinemaScope, the movie industry was able to re-assert its distinction from its new competitor — television.http://www.in70mm.com/newsletter/2002/67/panavision/panavision_beginning.htm

Early implementations

The comedy How To Marry A Millionaire was the first film to be shot in CinemaScope. However, The Robe was released first. Fox utilized its influential people to promote CinemaScope. With the success of The Robe and How To Marry A Millionaire, the process became a hot property in Hollywood. Fox licensed the process to many of the major film studios including Columbia, Universal, MGM and Walt Disney Productions. Disney created one of the best-regarded examples of early CinemaScope productions with the live-action epic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/wingcs3.htm
Due to initial uncertainty a number of films were shot simultaneously with anamorphic and regular lenses. Despite early success with the process, Fox did not stick to their claim of shooting every production with the process. CinemaScope as a trade name was reserved for "A" productions, while "B" productions in black and white commenced in 1956 at Fox under the trade name, "RegalScope."

Rival processes

CinemaScope itself was a response to early "realism" processes Cinerama and 3-D. Cinerama was relatively unaffected by CinemaScope, as it was a quality-controlled process that played in select venues, similar to the current IMAX films of recent years. 3-D was hurt, however, by studio advertising surrounding CinemaScope's promise that it was the "miracle you see without glasses." Technical difficulties in presentation spelt the end for 3-D, but studio hype was quick to hail it a "victory" for CinemaScope.
Earlier in 1953, a rival technique now known as "flat" widescreen appeared. In this process, a fully exposed 1.37:1 Academy ratio-area is cropped in the projector to a widescreen aspect ratio by the use of an aperture plate, also known as a soft matte. Aware of Fox's upcoming CinemaScope productions, Paramount introduced this technique in March's release of Shane with the 1.66:1 aspect ratio, although the film was not shot with this ratio originally in mind. Universal-International followed suit in May with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio for Thunder Bay. By summer of 1953, Paramount, Universal, MGM, Columbia, and even Fox, under the banner of "Panoramic Productions" had switched from filming flat shows in a 1.37:1 format, and used variable flat widescreen aspect ratios in their filming.
The fundamental technique that CinemaScope was built on was not patentable because the anamorphoscope had been known for centuries. Anamorphosis had been used in visual media such as Hans Holbein's painting, The Ambassadors (1533), as early as the sixteenth century. Some studios sought to develop their own systems rather than pay Fox.
In response to the demands for a higher fidelity spherical widescreen process, Paramount created an optical process, VistaVision, which shot horizontally on the 35 mm film reel, and then printed down to standard 4-perf vertical 35 mm. Thus, a finer grained negative was introduced, and consequently less grainy prints. The first Paramount release in VistaVision was White Christmas. VistaVision died out in the late 1950s, with the introduction of finer grained film stocks.
RKO used the Superscope process in which the standard 35 mm image was cropped in post-production to create a widescreen image.
Another process called Techniscope was developed by Technicolor Inc. in the early 1960s, using normal 35 mm cameras modified for two perforations per frame instead of the regular four and later converted into an anamorphic print. Techniscope was mostly used in Europe, especially with lower budget films.
Many European countries and studios used the standard anamorphic process for their widescreen films, identical in technical specifications to CinemaScope, and renamed to avoid the copyrights of Fox. Some of these include Euroscope, Franscope, and Naturama (the latter used by Republic Pictures). In 1952-53 Warner Brothers also planned to develop an identical anamorphic process called Warnerscope, but after the premiere of CinemaScope, Warners decided to license it from Fox instead.

External references

Cinemascope in Catalan: Cinemascope
Cinemascope in German: Anamorphotisches Verfahren
Cinemascope in Spanish: Cinemascope
Cinemascope in French: CinemaScope
Cinemascope in Italian: CinemaScope
Cinemascope in Hebrew: סינמסקופ
Cinemascope in Hungarian: CinemaScope
Cinemascope in Dutch: Cinemascope
Cinemascope in Norwegian: CinemaScope
Cinemascope in Polish: CinemaScope
Cinemascope in Finnish: CinemaScope
Cinemascope in Swedish: Cinemascope
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