Techniscope was a development of the Technicolor Corporation. The purpose of the system was to provide the most economical use of the camera negative. In the 1.85:1 spherical wide screen system about 33% of the available negative is wasted because the cropped image is just three perforations high despite the fact that it resides in a four perforation playground. In Techniscope, film consumption in the camera was half that of other 35mm processes.
Techniscope used the same spherical lenses used in other non-anamorphic systems but the frame height was just two perforations. This frame, being 1/2 the height of standard 35mm anamorphic, had an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Any standard 35mm camera could be used for Techniscope production. The movement simply(?) had to be altered for a two perforation pulldown and an appropriately sized aperture plate installed. Camera makers Mitchell, Panavision and others offered Techniscope conversions.
Films produced in Techniscope were printed using Technicolor's dye transfer system. The two perforation image of the negative was given a 2:1 vertical stretch in the optical production of the four-perf printing matrices. The final print made from those matrices was identical to other 35mm 2.35:1 anamorphic processes. Like Superscope, Techniscope could benefit from the use of shorter focal length camera optics, providing greater depth of field. Special processing could artificially sharpen the original negative and the nature of Technicolor's dye transfer process provided a further impression of sharpness. Despite all the efforts to produce an optimum image, Techniscope films were grainier appearing on large screens than were those produced with anamorphic camera optics and the full four perf negative area.
The economics in raw film stock and the greater ease of use associated with any small format process made Techniscope a very successful system which was used to produce hundreds of films. Ultimately Techniscope would die when Technicolor abandoned their dye transfer printing process. That process made systems like Superscope and Techniscope practical with the older film stocks.
Read the American Cinematographer article
announcing the new Techniscope system
E-mail the author
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Martin Hart, Curator