View Full Version : The Grand 4:3 Ratio Thread

Hampus Lager
03-23-2014, 11:38 AM
After some discussions around the 4:3 ratios and after seeing "The Grand Budapest Hotel" yesterday I thought it would be nice to have a thread for it where we can post frames and discuss around the square format.

First off I can say that I avoided 4:3 like the plague in school and shooting my own projects. That was for TV news and other non-fiction like your parents' holiday videos. Shooting wide and even cropping in order to get black bars was cinematic for a young want to be filmmaker. But when looking back at many of my old short films I feel they are exactly that: cropped. And for no good reason. The composition isn't right. It didn't do justice of the location most of the times. Skip forward 10 years to today: Now I know about location scouting from a photographic point of view, looking at how to compose the images for great effect. And of course how to light and use natural light and mix the two.

After having tested anamorphic adapters and lenses I'm even more in love with it. But adapters aren't very convenient and I can't afford the lenses most of the time (Have to drive across half the country in Sweden, that's how small the business is here). And when shooting scope without anamorphic it just doesn't feel right to me anymore. And 16:9 is little effing boring (the new 4:3). So my goto ratio has become 2:1 after watching "House of cards" and the bluray of "The Last Emperor". It's still wide, but it gives me enough height without feeling cropped.

Enter "Fish Tank". The first (modern) movie I saw in the 4:3 ratio. And it looked great! And seeing "The Grand Budapest Hotel" on the big screen it was more amazing. I can only dream about IMAX (No, we don't have that in Sweden neither). The way close-ups of faces fill out the screen (take a look the one of Saoirse Ronan below) and how you can use height and compose vertically has really opened my mind as a cinematographer. It's really interesting, especially for close-ups, wides and masters. More of the performances are seen as well as the location.

Feel free to post frames from other 4:3 movies (or your own projects) and have a fun time discussing this wonderful new (old) format!

PS: I could post even more frames from this wonderful movie, but let's keep it at max 10 and keep the resolution down (I used 640x480 via TinyPic)

http://i61.tinypic.com/2a8esm1.png http://i59.tinypic.com/29ol84o.png
http://i61.tinypic.com/s5vc6f.png http://i60.tinypic.com/2q3om76.png
http://i60.tinypic.com/2v3lm48.png http://i60.tinypic.com/oscrrt.png
http://i58.tinypic.com/xoecmd.png http://i60.tinypic.com/2639f89.png
http://i60.tinypic.com/25z1o4p.png http://i59.tinypic.com/ibamwg.png

03-23-2014, 12:19 PM
I love sometimes 4x3 too
I'd like to try anamorphic lens for doing 4x3 on pocket in that case.

Logan Gee
03-23-2014, 02:54 PM
Single grab from my thesis film. It's not all 4:3, just the noir portion.


I enjoyed the aspect ratio. It's a refreshing break from the wider formats everyone seems to be shooting anymore.

Hampus Lager
03-23-2014, 03:47 PM
Very nice Logan!

03-23-2014, 06:57 PM
I've been thinking 4:3 as well for projects using 16mm glass, as a way to complete the look. A couple of my fav lenses don't quite cover the Pocket camera sensor, vignetting the corners so its either 2.4:1 or 4:3. I find myself naturally drawn to the full height and the centre of the frame, not really wanting crop for width. Strange, as I always gravitated to widescreen crops and letter box movies back when tv was 4:3. Now with projection in my home theatre and flat screens much bigger than any standard set I ever owned I don't really mind pillar box.

03-23-2014, 07:49 PM

03-24-2014, 04:13 AM
Just FYI, Cosmonova on Skansen in Stockholm has an IMAX projector ;) And back in the days Liseberg had one aswell, don't think they do anymore though.

Hampus Lager
03-24-2014, 05:15 AM
Just FYI, Cosmonova on Skansen in Stockholm has an IMAX projector ;)

Yeah but it's more of a ride and not for features, unfortunately.

03-24-2014, 07:20 AM
Yepp. Because they mainly show Ride-films on it :D But it IS a IMAX projector =) Maybe someone could convince them to start showing feature films aswell (maybe Stockholm Film Festival, IMAX edition? =)

Btw. ive noticed Wes uses that aspect ratio (and sometimes even quadratic) fairly often. Interesting experience when viewing.

Hampus Lager
04-21-2014, 06:35 AM
Next up: Fish Tank!

http://i59.tinypic.com/2lcnr4o.jpg http://i58.tinypic.com/219uy6b.jpg
http://i57.tinypic.com/2mhac1t.jpg http://i62.tinypic.com/x3h7rq.jpg
http://i61.tinypic.com/v5bz2p.jpg http://i61.tinypic.com/2unyjc8.jpg
http://i62.tinypic.com/246rzhg.jpg http://i60.tinypic.com/71k4g6.jpg
http://i57.tinypic.com/315od1w.jpg http://i60.tinypic.com/20sywzp.jpg

04-28-2014, 01:26 PM
Terry Zwigoff's "Louie Bluie" - R16


and "Crumb"


04-29-2014, 09:03 AM
The larger question for me is what do certain aspect ratios help the audience ---or deter the audience----from experiencing?

For instance, does 4:3 allow us to focus at the center, moving our focus away from the landscape? What does anamorphic do to our attention to the landscape or to characters?

Been wondering this lately....

Anyone know why Anderson chose this aspect ratio, other than to enhance the stylization?

04-29-2014, 10:11 AM
He wanted to illustrate a delineation between the eras in which the film took place.

04-29-2014, 11:17 AM
He wanted to illustrate a delineation between the eras in which the film took place.

Gotcha. Interesting. I haven't seen it yet, so I bet this would be more clear once I do.

05-03-2014, 08:48 PM
(See "Computer Chess" in the post below that was meant to be here)

Set in 1980 the film was shot on the type of Sony video camera that would have been used at the time. It actually looked great- better than in the trailer.

05-15-2014, 05:59 AM

Although not 4:3, I was very drawn into the tight crop and framing of Like Someone In Love. The trailer is cropped wider than the release, which is at 1.66. This is probably known to most, but I just realised why, in a more immediate sense, taller frames are more often better suited to 'dialogue' films. When we talk to someone, our eyes, I believe, scan (whether consciously or not) our interlocutor in vertical directions. A 1.66 frame in close-up mimmicks this mannerism or that it allows our eyes to relax (or constrain) in the same manner. While I enjoy the scope aspect ratio as much as the next guy, I'm increasingly finding it either distracting or under-utilised, i.e., I am scanning the frame, in the end, feeling the whole exercise being unmotivated or unrewarding. Another scope-related issue I'm bothered with is and perhaps, and by all means, I'd like to be told of the impetus for it the practice of vignetting certain portions of the picture in many wide-framed movies. I understand why it is employed, but most times I'm feeling the darkened (in effect, unused) space is doing nothing for me; imagining it away, I don't sense any change in mood of the film, otherwise, and that only the attention said effect has drawn from me is to itself.

(A little off-topic, but could someone take a guess at what focal length(s) might've been used in L.S.I.L., specifically the restaurant and the apartment scenes? I'm really drawn to the aesthetic.)

05-24-2014, 11:04 PM

I'll just let the images speak for itself.

EDIT: More footage via the The ASC's Benjamin B's blog (http://www.theasc.com/asc_blog/thefilmbook/2014/05/13/lighting-scenes-ida-with-lukasz-zal/), which also features scene and lighting breakdowns.


'The real inspiration for how this film looks was my impatience with cinema, where the vein of cinema is going. I wanted to make an anti-cinema film where there are no pointless camera moves, no pointless close-ups. I’m not emotionally excited by the power of cinema’s tricks anymore. Maybe it’s my personal midlife crisis. I’d love to see something that was calm and meditative, where you suggest more than show, where each kind of shot has some kind of density and tension, not just in the drama and the acting, but in the visuals, and where acting and image and sound are all part of the same thing. When I watch most films, with some exception, I always ask myself: “Why is the camera moving? Why is there a close-up now? Why does this have to be handheld now?” It was a way of purifying, getting rid of habits, and doing something really simply.'

- Pawel Pawlikowski, http://www.filmcomment.com/entry/interview-pawel-pawlikowski

05-25-2014, 12:28 AM

I'll just let the images speak for itself.

Whoops. I just realised that my post above was meant to be this film "Computer Chess" not "Louie Bluie". Silly me.

edit: now this has quoted the wrong video- something weird is going on.