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This is the story of VistaVision, an explanation of the process and its many advantages.
by Loren L. Ryder
VISTAVISIONis a new SIMPLE, COMPATIBLE and FLEXIBLE overall system of producing, release printing and exhibiting motion pictures. It will give to every theater the world over the finest possible quality on the largest possible screen at the lowest possible cost.
In introducing VistaVision, Paramount has introduced the technique of optical reduction from a large negative image to the standard release print image. This is the most important and distinctive feature of VistaVision. It is VistaVision. It is the feature that others must follow if they are to reduce grain, eliminate fuzziness and gain bigger, brighter and better pictures.
Larger screens and larger pictures, such as the old Magnascope, have always been possible. The limiting factors have been picture quality and adequate screen illumination. The metallized screens (which were introduced for 3-D) and new projector lamp houses have helped screen illumination. VistaVision is the first process to make a noteworthy and immediately apparent improvement in picture quality. VistaVision improves the front and side seat viewing, whereas, all other processes diminish the value of these seats.
In balancing the overall system to this new level of quality we are making several changes. Most of these changes simplify the procedures, and most of these changes are made during production and release printing, not at the theater. -All of these changes are described herein.
VistaVision release prints will play in any theater anywhere in the world with an improvement in picture quality. Some improvement will be apparent even on the old "postage stamp" screens in theaters where not one cent has been spent to improve the presentation. Theaters that have large seamless screens and good projection equipment will gain full advantage of VistaVision without further change or expenditure.
Paramount makes no demand on any theater, but there is one thing on which there is complete agreement among all studios and all exhibitors, big screens are here to stay. They have brought a new look to motion pictures, a permanent new look. Paramount earnestly urges that every exhibitor who has not already done so install the largest feasible seamless screen both as to height and width. Our objective is to fill this screen with a clear, sharp and bright picture. Paramount urges that every exhibitor have good standard projection equipment, good standard type lenses and adequate screen illumination.
VistaVision is a FLEXIBLE SYSTEM and it is a COMPATIBLE SYSTEM. As explained later in this booklet, the picture can play in any aspect ratio from 1.33/1 through 1.66/1, 1.85/1 up to 2/1. It plays best in ratios close to 1.85/1. There is one point on which Paramount is emphatic. Paramount pictures are not to be played in an aspect ratio greater than 2/1. Paramount pictures are photographed with height which gives them stature and an artistic proportion that is lost by reducing screen height.
The steps of the VistaVision process are explained in the following paragraphs under:
1. VISTAVISION DEFINED
2. PRODUCTION TECHNIQUE WITH VISTAVISION
3. RELEASE PRINTING AND DISTRIBUTION
4. THEATER PRESENTATION OF VISTAVISION FILMS
5. DRIVE-IN PRESENTATION OF VISTAVISION FILMS
6. GENERAL DISCUSSION
7. PARAMOUNT POLICY
8. USE OF VISTAVISION TRADE-MARK
For the convenience of the reader, we have indented paragraphs of technical data which may be of interest only to technicians.
1. VISTAVISION DEFINED
Briefly, the VistaVision process includes new wider angle lenses to give greater scope on the big screens; new cameras through which the 35 mm negative travels horizontally eight sprocket holes per frame (instead of 4) giving a negative image with an area of nearly three times the area of the standard negative image. The picture negative is Eastman Mazda color taking stock. It is processed by Technicolor and optically reduced directly from the negative to the Technicolor matrix which in turn is used to stamp out the release print by the imbibition process. All release prints will have a single photographic sound track that will play on every standard sound reproducer the world over. Paramount does not contemplate the release of any pictures with either a separate or four-track magnetic film. Further, Paramount does not contemplate releasing any prints having the Fox-Eastman narrow sprocket holes.
2. PRODUCTION TECHNIQUE WITH VISTAVISION PICTURE
The technique of picture shooting with the VistaVision camera is the same as with any standard camera.
The light level used on interior sets is between 350 and 600 foot-candles, with most shots running between 400 and 500 foot-candles. This is the same light level that has been in use at Paramount studio for nearly a year. The lenses are stopped to f:2.8 and f:3.2.
At the present time Paramount is using cameras which were made by William P. Stein in 1926 for a two-frame color system. The motor drive and many features of these cameras have been modernized so as to gain good registration and film movement. The cameras are rotated on their sides and the aperture plates have been opened up for the double frame negative image. A new wide angle view finder has been adapted to the camera and operates with vertical rather than horizontal parallax.
Paramount has four of these cameras which have been used as an expedient in the shooting of WHITE CHRISTMAS, THREE RING CIRCUS, STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND and subsequent pictures until other cameras are available. Technicolor is modifying a number of their three-strip cameras for VistaVision double-frame horizontal exposure of a single negative. These cameras will be available shortly as a further expedient to gain immediate production by the VistaVision process.
Complete camera specifications on a proposed new camera were mailed last October to all camera manufacturers. We are advised that Mitchell, Bell and Howell and the Producers Service Company will be making cameras available for Paramount and others in the industry. An effort is being made to relieve the present critical shortage by working out modifications for the standard NC and BNC cameras so as to have double-frame film movements.
Persons outside of Paramount who are interested in the purchase of cameras should make their inquiries directly to the camera companies and any orders for cameras should be placed with these companies. Paramount wishes to encourage others in the use of VistaVision cameras and will supply copies of the new specifications to any person or company having a bona fide interest in camera design.
With respect to camera lenses, Paramount has found that standard motion picture lenses of 75 mm and up have adequate field coverage for use on the double-frame camera. High quality Leica type lenses are used for all of the shorter focal lengths. This includes lenses down to 24 mm, which will give a photographic angle of coverage slightly above 75 degrees. Improved lenses are being designed which will include lenses of still shorter focal length. It is the writer's opinion, however, that we are gaining an adequate angle of coverage. The 75 degree angle is wider than that used in any other motion picture process, except Cinerama and Todd-AO.
The area of negative film exposure is shown in Figure 1. The film is standard 35 mm negative exposed horizontally.
The most important feature of VistaVision is the large negative and its optical reduction to the standard print. In VistaVision this can either be accomplished by using a special wide film negative with the subsequent photographic reduction or the horizontal eight-sprocket hole film movement as herein explained. Tests indicate that as we increase the size of the negative, we improve picture resolution in the plane of focus and grain size reduction, but beyond a certain point we tend to lose depth of field. We believe that in our use of the VistaVision process we have selected the best ratio of negative area to positive area for motion picture making. We have established the negative width for optimum results, taking into account the image reduction factor and wide angle photography. At this width we have gained slightly in depth of field. The VistaVision system has a large gain in depth of field if the image height is maintained the same as on standard photography.
The finders on the VistaVision cameras carry a hairline framing marking in the aspect ratio of 1.66/1. There will also be a frame line marking for the 1.33/1 aspect ratio. The cameramen are instructed to compose for a loose (meaning adequate head-room) 1.66/1 picture. A picture composed in this way will play equally good at 1.85/1, it will play very satisfactorily at 2/1 and it can be played at the old standard of 1.33/1.
The VistaVision cameras will be used for all future Paramount black and white pictures as well as color pictures. It is contemplated that we shall derive the same benefit on black and white pictures that we are now gaining in color photography.
Paramount has already photographed background projection, inserts, special effects, miniatures, etc., with the VistaVision camera. We also expect to make matte shots, and we see no reason why we should not gain the same improvement in all types of special effects photography.
The production picture dailies are optically printed directly from the large color negative to the standard 35 mm image size. The reduction ratio is 1.63/1. Eastman color stock is now being used for all daily prints. (See Figure 2 for size of print image.) The editorial and studio handling of these prints is exactly the same as the previous handling of daily, except that special negative numbers are placed on both print and negative for future negative cutting. The special numbering may be eliminated when we have time to modify a printer so as to print-through the negative numbers.
SOUND RECORDlNG FOR VISTAVISION
In our work with stereophonic sound we have found that it is overbearing and gives too much effect of movement for front seat listening, and it is of little value in the rear of the theater. Further, classical stereophonic sound tends to punctuate cuts, and detracts from the smooth flow of the pictured Story. For these reasons, and its cost, it has not gained general acceptance.
Paramount suggests PERSPECT-A STEREOPHONIC SOUND for the very large theaters and for use by exhibitors who feel that they should have a stereophonic or directional effect.
As indicated before, All VistaVision release prints will have standard photographic sound tracks which will play on any existing standard optical sound heads. These same sound tracks will also carry low frequency modulation at three different frequencies which will control the volume of the center and side loudspeakers in those theaters that are equipped with Perspect-a stereophonic sound control units. These sound control units will cost about $800 plus about $500 for installation. In theaters that do not have auxiliary loudspeakers, it will, of course, be necessary to purchase extra loudspeakers and amplifiers at an increased cost of approximately $2,000. All houses that have been equipped for stereophonic reproduction can use directional sound by merely purchasing the sound control unit.
At this time we wish to point out that Perspect-a-sound is being made available as a part of the flexibility of the VistaVision system, but its use is optional with the exhibitor and no demand for its use will be made by Paramount.
The production shooting for VistaVision sound will be handled the same as on any monaural sound picture At Paramount all production recording is done on 17 1/2mm film in the 65-pound suitcase recorders built by Paramount. All scoring will be single sound track magnetic with as much reverberant bigness as can be obtained. On future pictures it is contemplated that all sound editing will be with striped magnetic 35mm film and the magnetic cutting print will be used as the re-recording print. All re-recording will be to a single-sound-track magnetic master which will have been re-recorded (dubbed) with monaural monitoring. The single-track magnetic composite film will then be made stereophonic in the re-recording channel, using three horn systems and the necessary panning pots to gain any desired balance. A magnetic control track recording will be made during each review and when a satisfactory review is obtained the control track recording will be combined with the re-recording master in the preparation of a photographic negative for release printing.
With respect to the foreign handling of sound for dubbed versions, we will keep the music, sound effects and dialogue separate on multi track magnetic for shipment to the foreign studios for dubbing. The stereophonic effect for the foreign Perspect-a-sound release will be effected at the time of foreign dubbing.
3. RELEASE PRINTING AND DISTRIBUTION
All domestic and possibly the foreign release prints are to be made by a new imbibition dye transfer method which Technicolor has developed and which is being introduced along with the release of WHITE CHRISTMAS. It will also be used on all subsequent VistaVision pictures.
The negative will be handled in 2,000-foot rolls corresponding to the 1,000-foot rolls of normal film. Negative cutting of Paramount VistaVision pictures will be by the so-called A and B process, so that all dissolves and fades will be made from the original negative without duping.
If Eastman release prints are required by the Foreign Department, we feel sure that the VistaVision double-frame negative will give a better inter-negative for such release printing than could be obtained by any other system. In this case fine grain double-frame master color separation prints will be made from both the A and B negative for each reel. The printing in this case will be by-the so-called A and B method -similar to 16 mm color printing) onto the intermediate color negative which in turn will be used for release printing in the overseas laboratories.
We see no complication in the handling of subtitles or other special requirements for foreign release other than those complications which have existed on all pictures that have an aspect ratio above 1.33/1.
With respect to the sub-title foreign release, it is the writer's earnest recommendation that all theaters that exhibit sub-titled pictures use an aspect ratio of 1.66/1 or 1.33/1. Wherever possible, they should avoid 1.85/1 and 2/1.
The sound for all release prints will be made from the same type of sound negative, and as indicated above all release prints can play on any standard optical sound head in any theater in the world. Further, these same prints can play with stereophonic sound in theaters having Perspect-a-sound control equipment.
VISTAVISION STANDARD RELEASE PRINTS
The VistaVision standard print is a standard release print in every regard except that the quality has been improved. This will give a new depth perception in exhibition.
These standard prints will carry a framing index (upper right hand corner of the frame. Figure 2) at the start of each 2,000 foot reel as a guide to the projectionist. If the picture is being projected in the old 1.33/1 aspect ratio, the projectionist will frame with the top frame line just above the top of the projected picture as in the past. If the picture is to be played in an aspect ratio of 1.66/1, the projectionist will frame at the little dot in the upper right-hand corner of the picture (the dot below the top frame line and above the dashed line). If the picture is being projected in the aspect ratio of 1.85/1, the projectionist will frame on the dashed line, and if the picture is to be projected in the aspect ratio of 2/1, framing should be on the little dot below the dashed line. These framing indices will be placed so as to give adequate head-room and the best composition for the aspect ratio selected.
VISTAVISION SQUEEZED RELEASE PRINTS
For the exhibitors who wish complete flexibility in picture projection, Paramount suggests the purchase of variable prismatic expander lenses such as those manufactured by the Tushinsky Brothers under the trade name of "Superscope" lenses. VistaVision squeezed prints will be made available for those exhibitors desiring same. These squeezed prints will be made in the same manner and from the same negative as the standard prints, except that in optical reduction the picture area will be taken from the area of the negative that supplies the portion of the picture normally used in 2/1 aspect ratio projection from the standard print. (Dashed lines, Figure 1.) A compressed print is shown in Figure 3.
If a circle is photographed it will appear on the negative as shown in Figure 1. In the standard release print the circle will still be round, as in Figure 2. In the squeezed print it will be oval as shown in Figure 3. The oval will then be expanded to a circle in projection by the variable prismatic expander lens.
In addition to gaining about 40% in light on the 2/1 picture, this squeezed print has the possibility of having slightly better color saturation and possibly (still to be proved) slightly better picture definition for large screen projection.
The squeezed ratio of this picture (Figure 3) is 1 1/2/1 as compared to the squeezed ratio of 2/1 which is used by CinemaScope. In the opinion of the writer the optics for a 1 1/2/1 ratio will give better picture quality than a higher ratio. This is not hindsight. It was pointed out to the Motion Picture Research Council and the motion picture industry in a letter dated February 11, 1953. This was well before the shooting of the first CinemaScope picture, and well before the theaters were equipped with 2/1 expander lenses. The VistaVision squeezed prints will not play through the CinemaScope 2/1 expander lenses.
4. THEATER PRESENTATION OF VISTAVISION FILMS
VistaVision standard prints can be projected in any theater in the world with an improvement in picture quality. Further, the viewing will be better than heretofore from the front and side seats. If the theater is to take full advantage of the improved quality of the VistaVision print, the theater must have good projection equipment and a LARGE SEAMLESS SCREEN. Motion picture studios expend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a meticulous effort to deliver the best possible technical quality along with good entertainment. The theater should accept their responsibility and make an equal effort in their exhibition.
We can understand how over a period of years the picture quality and the projection quality have been on a par, and improvements in projection equipment were not always apparent. We have now arrived at a turning point where the product has been markedly improved, and if the theaters are to gain the advantage of this improvement they must have good equipment.
When Paramount introduced the large screen to the motion picture industry prior to and during the release of SHANE, Paramount recommended that the theaters install the largest feasible screen, both as to HEIGHT and WIDTH. This recommendation still stands. Every theater should install the largest possible screen, both in respect to height and width. As a further recommendation in this regard, it is our belief that in the very large theaters they should install screens capable of accepting the aspect ratio of 1.85/1, unless the sight line for seats at the back of the main floor is limited by a low hanging balcony. In this case the theater may elect to install a screen in the ratio of 2/1. This is the only limitation that should force the theater into an aspect ratio as high as 2/1. In theaters where the screen width is limited to under 30 feet, and where there is adequate height, we recommend a screen aspect ratio of 1 66/1, reducing the height only when necessary for good viewing.
One of the objectives of VistaVision is to FILL THE SCREEN. VistaVision is a flexible system and allows adequate latitude for filling the screen. In the preceding paragraphs we have named specific aspect ratios. However, the theaters should vary from these defined ratios as required to fill the screen.
We realize that it is impossible to lay down fixed recommendations applicable to all theaters. We are, however, setting down some general principles and recommendations which can be used as a guide. With respect to picture size, in the past the most acceptable picture quality has been at a distance from the screen between two and five times screen width. As an example, with a screen 25 feet wide, this has been from 50 to 125 feet from the screen. On the basis of the same old picture quality, if the screen width were increased to 50 feet, the most acceptable picture quality would be between 100 and 250 feet from the screen. This reaches beyond the back wall in most theaters. If people are seated closer, they see film grain and the picture is fuzzy and tiring to the eyes. This applies to both straight and anamorphic projection of all previous pictures. VistaVision pictures, starting with WHITE CHRISTMAS, can be viewed with ease and comfort from 1/2 to 8 times screen width. With VistaVision on a screen 50 feet wide, the seating will be acceptable down to 25 feet from the screen and will be very satisfactory at 38 feet from the screen. This is the answer to front seating.
Side seating is also improved by the better definition and relative freedom from film grain which is accomplished by the VistaVision process.
There is also another "rule of thumb" method for determining best screen width-namely, "the best screen width should not be more than 1/3 the distance from the screen to the center of seating, and the screen width should not be less than 1/6 the distance from the screen to the back of the auditorium. The center of seating in most balcony theaters is about 3/4 the distance from the screen to the back row of seats". With the new Paramount process this rule can be changed to "the screen width can be increased to 1/2 the distance from the screen to the center of seating". As an example, if a theater is 100 feet deep, the best viewing will be on a screen 38 feet wide. The previous width for the old pictures would be 25 feet. As another example, if a screen 50 feet wide is installed in a theater 100 feet deep, the screen will be too wide and viewing will be uncomfortable unless seats are moved back to at least 25 feet and preferably 38 feet from the screen.
With respect to screen height, Paramount has made a series of tests which indicate that the same scene always looks better and the actors can always be brought closer to the audience, as the height of the screen is increased with respect to width up to the ratio of 1.85/1 for large screens and 1.66/1 for smaller screens. This is in keeping with the recommendation made earlier in this writing.
Screen height, the same as screen width, is usually limited by the proscenium. However, screen height may also be limited in balcony houses by the maximum height that can be seen from the back row of the main floor where the sight line is eclipsed by the overhang of the balcony.
We recommend curving metallic screens with a radius equal to the projection throw or in long narrow houses this radius may be increased to 1 1/4 or 1 ½ times projection throw. We also recommend tilting the screen back slightly at the top in theaters that have very high projection angles. The angle of tilt should not be over 1/3 the projection angle, and the writer is opposed to tilting the screen over 5 degrees.
There is a tendency on the part of theater men to select a metallized screen that has a uniform distribution across the house. Such a screen gives an inferior picture at the center of seating and seldom improves the side seats. For large houses we recommend purchasing a metallized seamless screen that has a light gain of two and one-half to one. A screen of this type will give much better viewing to the important and largest number of seats, and it will provide satisfactory light distribution throughout the theater. In smaller theaters, seamless white screens can be used if adequate projection light is available.
All theater screens should be SEAMLESS and if the screen now installed has bad seams, the screen should be replaced. One look at a good seamless screen, as compared to a screen with seams, is all that is necessary to convince anyone that a screen with bad seams should never be used. Please do not be misled by the word "seamless". The screen should be seamless and not just called seamless. Seamless screens are made by Bodde, Roy Stewart and others.
In studies made by Paramount we find that seams become more apparent with time. Part of the trouble is no doubt due to an accumulation of dirt at the seams, and microscopic examinations also indicate that stretching at the seams deforms the screen surface in the adjoining area.
PROJECTION LENSES AND APERTURE PLATES
After the best screen size has been established proper focal length high quality standard lenses should be obtained so as to gain the correct width of picture on the screen. Theater supply companies have tables and can recommend the proper focal length lens to give the desired picture width.
Several manufacturers are supplying adapter lenses to be used on old long focal length lenses in place of supplying good new short focal length lenses. Although we have probably not tested all of the different types, most of these lenses give poor results. The only place we would use such a lens would be where the projection throw is very short, requiring a lens having a focal length under 21/4 inches. We have used carefully selected Xpansa lenses for this purpose.
After determining the proper focal length lens the projector aperture plates should be filed so as to project the proper shaped picture to meet the size of the screen that has been selected. If the screen carries black masking, the projected picture image should overlap the masking far enough to give a well framed picture.
Much has been said both for and against the practice of gaining proper picture shape by diminishing the opening in the projector aperture plates. The procedure is called "cropping". Our desire is to gain the best picture quality, and as long as cropping gives the best picture quality, we recommend cropping .
In considering cropping, most people think of a possible quality loss from the cropped print. The fact is that the real loss is due to the restricted area of negative that is used to gain the cropped picture. The VistaVision negative is large, thus the loss does not occur with VistaVision. A loss does occur on the 2.55/1 anamorphic pictures when the aspect ratio is reduced by side cropping, and some loss does occur when pictures made from standard negatives are cropped. "Cropping" is accomplished in the projector by using special projection aperture plates filed to the desired aspect ratio.
Re-read this paragraph a couple of times and see if you don't detect that Mr. Ryder is speaking with a forked tongue. What he is saying is that VistaVision isn't going to be an exciting new wide screen system unless the theatre crops the picture on the VistaVision print, which is apparently okay with VistaVision but not CinemaScope or Superscope.
PROJECTORS AND LAMP HOUSES
We make no specific recommendations in regard to projector type or projector lamp houses, except that in our experience with shorter focal length lenses, better screen illumination is obtained with lamp houses of the reflector type having mirrors 16 inches in diameter.
In theaters using very large lamphouses and high amperage we recommend the use of water and air cooling, also dichroic heat reflectors. We also like the focus stabilizing feature of the large Brenkert lamp house wherein a jet of air hits the projected frame from the lens side of the film and low velocity air cools the film on the lamp-house side.
VARIABLE PRISMATIC EXPANDER LENSES
There is a great deal of confusion between aspect ratios, and squeezed and/or expansion ratios. The aspect ratio is the ratio of width to height of the picture image on the screen and/or the width to height of the picture image on the film. The squeezed and/or expansion ratio is the result of an optical change in a lens system. When the images are squeezed they are made to appear thin and tall. When these thin and tall images are expanded in projection, they appear normal on the screen.
In the CinemaScope system the camera lens picks up a scene that is 2.66 times as wide as it is high. This scene is squeezed horizontally in the squeeze ratio of 2/1 which gives a negative image in the aspect ratio of 1.33/1. A print made from this negative is still squeezed.
In CinemaScope projection, the image passes through an anamorphic expander lens which expands the image in the ratio of 2/1. This would normally give a screen aspect of 2.66/1. In the CinemaScope process the sides of the picture are cropped down (to make room for the magnetic stereophonic sound tracks) so that the final aspect ratio of the picture when projected is in the ratio of 2.55/1.
In the VistaVision process standard camera lenses are used in photography and a standard (non-squeezed) large negative image is obtained. When desired, squeezed prints are made during the process of optical printing, but in the case of VistaVision the squeeze ratio is 1 1/2/1. When these prints are projected, they must be projected through an expander lens working in the expansion ratio of 1 1/2/1 (not 2/1as in the case of CinemaScope) which gives a screen image in the aspect ratio of 2/1.
During the years 1934 and 1935 Paramount made a series of tests with a set of Chrétien anamorphic lenses in the compression and expansion ratio of 2/1. The picture film which was made with these lenses is still in the Paramount studio library. It projects in the ratio of 2.66/1. It was Paramount's decision then, as it is today, that the 2.66/1 aspect ratio is too wide for its height. As soon as the Chr´tien lens was again considered for industry use, Paramount went on record with the Motion Picture Research Council and the studios of the industry in a letter written by the writer on February 11, 1953, recommending that if anamorphic lenses were to be used, they should be used in a compression and/or expansion ratio of 1 1/2 (not 2/1) so as to give a picture aspect ratio of 2/1 on the screen. The position of Paramount has never changed, and with VistaVision, Paramount is making available release prints which have been compressed in the ratio of 1 1/2/1 for projection through a variable prismatic expander lens set at the expansion ratio of 1 1/2 to give a screen aspect ratio of 2/1. In this regard it should be pointed out that Paramount has never taken a position against the use of anamorphic lenses, but Paramount has taken the position that its pictures should be projected in an aspect ratio not exceeding 2/1 for the best presentation.
Three types of anamorphic expander lenses are now being manufactured. They are the cylindrical lens type, such as used by CinemaScope, the reflector lens type, as manufactured by the Old Delft Company in Holland, and the prismatic type, which is now being manufactured by the Tushinsky Brothers, and others. Of these three types of lenses, the prismatic type is the only one that can be made variable. Further, in the tests made by Paramount, the variable prismatic expander lens gives the best quality. The variable prismatic expander lens, such as manufactured by Tushinsky also has the capability of projecting any ratio of squeeze, from a ratio of 1/1 to 3/1, if anyone ever produces a picture for such a wide aspect ratio. In the 1/1 position these lenses will project standard prints either of the old standard type or the VistaVision standard type. Thus the variable prismatic expander lens provides complete flexibility in the projection booth for the exhibition of any print.
In addition to gaining flexibility in projection, the compressed VistaVision prints, working with expander lenses will give a light increase of approximately 40% which can be of real assistance on very large screens. The light gain would be less for lower aspect ratios and although there may be some gain with an aspect ratio as low as 1.85/1, the use of expander lenses is not recommended by Paramount for lower aspect ratios.
If the squeezed and expander lenses are used for screen ratios slightly below 2/1, the reduced ratio is obtained by "cropping" the picture width, which is accomplished by reducing the width of the projector aperture plate. In this case the picture composition will not be as good as the picture composition from a VistaVision standard print which has been "cropped" from top to bottom.
VistaVision squeezed prints will carry a standard photographic sound track with control track for Perspect-a-sound. All VistaVision squeezed prints, the same as VistaVision standard prints, will not project properly through the CinemaScope 2/1 expander lenses.
As stated above, all VistaVision release prints, both standard and squeezed, will have a single photographic sound track located in the standard position so that they will reproduce on any standard optical sound head in any projector the world over. The sound track will also carry low frequency (below audibility) modulated control signals which will control the direction of sound reproduction in theaters that are equipped for directional sound.
PERSPECT-A STEREOPHONIC SOUND will expand music to multiple loudspeakers and control the direction of the sound source when and as it is required for dramatic effectiveness. Paramount suggests this type of sound for those exhibitors who desire multi-horn reproduction and who wish to fill the theater with sound. The present experience indicates that stereophonic sound is of questionable value in the smaller theaters. It may add to the effectiveness in large theaters with very large screens. The decision as to its use rests with the exhibitor. In selecting Perspect-a-Sound for VistaVision pictures, Paramount is moving toward standardization. It is our hope that we can gain complete compatibility with M.G.M., Warners and others.
In adapting theaters for Perspect-a-sound, it is not necessary to make any changes on the projection machines. In theaters that already have multiple horn systems, it will be necessary to install only a control unit in the electrical circuit between the fader and the loudspeaker amplifiers. We are advised that the cost of this equipment will be approximately $800 and the installation cost should be under $500. In theaters that do not have multiple loudspeakers, it will be necessary to buy additional loudspeakers and their associated amplifiers, the cost of which should be approximately $2,000 installed, except for very large theaters where the cost may be higher.
For VistaVision directional sound it is only necessary to have three loudspeakers, as shown by A, B, and C, Figure 4. In very wide theaters and very large theaters, the addition of auditorium speakers at D and E may improve the sound effectiveness. These auditorium loudspeakers, if used, should be located well to the front of the auditorium. Loudspeaker D should be connected to the same electrical circuit as loudspeaker A but operated at a lower level, and loudspeaker E should be connected to the same electrical circuit as loudspeaker C, and also operated at a lower level.
The control units for Perspect-a-Sound will be available from Westrex and other manufacturers. The theater service companies will have complete instructions in regard to their installation and operation.
Paramount will have no magnetic sound release. It is our opinion that this move will give greater dramatic effectiveness, greater simplicity and greater flexibility, at a lower cost and with less service trouble than any other multi-horn system. The sound control units have an automatic return to monaural sound in case of trouble. This is a tremendous advantage.
Booth operation is simplified to the bare essentials in all theaters that use the VistaVision standard prints and monaural sound. VistaVision also offers the simplest and most flexible system for those theaters that wish to play squeezed prints through variable prismatic expander lenses. VistaVision, with its directional sound, simplifies operation in theaters equipped for multi-speaker reproduction.
Another innovation with VistaVision is the framing marks shown in the upper right hand corner of the picture frame in Figure 2. These markings are to be made less apparent than change-over markings and are to be used by the projectionist in gaining proper framing in the projection of VistaVision pictures.
The framing marks appear only at the head end of the 2,000-foot reels. The first such marks will appear approximately 5 feet in from the start of the reel and the second set of marks will appear 8 feet in from the start of the reel. In framing for a 1.33/1 picture, the projectionist will frame just above the top frame line in keeping with past practice. If the picture is being projected in the aspect ratio of 1.66/1, the top frame line of the picture as seen on the screen should just cut the top dot. For a 1.85/1 picture, the top of the picture as seen on the screen should just cut the line. For a picture projected in the aspect ratio of 2/1, it should be just possible to see the bottom dot at the top of the screen.
In operation the projectionist will complete his change-over operation and while he is looking through the port, he will observe the position of the first set of dots. If the framing is incorrect, he will make a correction and gain a check observation by viewing the second framing signal.
Framing on all squeeze prints will be at the top of the frame in keeping with the prevailing practice.
5. DRIVE-IN PRESENTATION OF VISTAVISION FILMS
Drive-lns can use the VistaVision standard release prints and project them in the same manner as any standard release print. The improved quality of the VistaVision print should be very apparent in the Drive-lns.
Paramount will conduct a series of tests in Drive-lns using the following outlined procedure which we feel will be helpful for Drive-ln presentation. We are not prepared to make a definite recommendation at this time.
It seems to the writer that Drive-lns can best be served by using a screen in the ratio of 2/1 and using the VistaVision squeezed prints along with variable prismatic expander lenses working at the expansion ratio of 1 1/2/1 as established for the VistaVision Prints.
In this case the Drive-lns should gain in screen illumination and also gain slightly by the larger projected images of the players. They may take a height loss in picture composition as compared to the 1.85/1 aspect ratio, but this compromise may be justified in Drive-lns.
As stated above, standard sound is available on all VistaVision release prints so that no change will be required in handling VistaVision sound for Drive-lns.
6. GENERAL DISCUSSION
The VistaVision process is an overall process, and the big quality gain in standard print presentation is in no way dependent on any other system. The VistaVision system is also flexible and can be used with the best features of other systems and methods such as the Tushinsky lens system, the Perspect-a-sound system and the Technicolor new dye transfer imbibition process.
7. PARAMOUNT POLICY
The VistaVision process is available to all motion picture producers and exhibitors who wish to avail themselves of this system.
Paramount has no interest directly or indirectly in the collection of royalties or in the manufacturing profits that may come from any of the products that may be used by this system.
In making the VistaVision process available to others it must be clearly understood that Paramount assumes no responsibility or liability in regard to patents or claims of any type.
8. USE OF VISTAVISION TRADE-MARK
It is contemplated that the VistaVision trade-mark will be available for use by all producers who use VistaVision cameras on all photography and who abide by all of the VistaVision procedures to the end that the technical quality of their product is comparable to the quality of the Paramount product.
Any producers desiring to use the VistaVision trade-mark must agree to abide by such quality requirements as are deemed necessary by Paramount.
NOTE REGARDING FIG. 2
It was not possible to project VistaVision prints with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 as illustrated. The frame height on the print is not enough to allow projection of a ratio narrower than 1.66:1 without cropping the sides of the picture. The only prints made from VistaVision negatives that were the full 1.33:1 aperture were made for television rather than theatrical presentation.
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