#8 Framing: What You Shoot and What You Show
Framing has become one of the most debated technical challenges for modern filmmakers because we are in such a great state of change in this area. For years film at the theater was done wide, and television was done square. We accommodate one for the other whenever a production was done for both. Now TV is moving into the wide, and eventually everything will be done wide… but not yet. Super 8 was originally designed as a 4 x 3 image size. More or less a square, like TV. Modern film making is more and more often done with 16 x 9 framing – rectangles. Because super 8 was designed to be a square there are only minor issues when transferring super 8 to standard definition video, which is also a square format. When you look through your camera, you see a certain square frame. What is on the film is actually a little bit more image. When you transfer that frame to video you have to leave a little extra so the transfer of films such as super 8 or 16mm to SD video essentially leaves you with a little less than you had. Because you had a little more to start with than you thought , these tend to cancel each other out. This is for the most part a minor inconvenience. When you transfer something in Super 8 to High Definition or Theatrical formats, and you want to use the same framing. You have to zoom into the square enough to fill the rectangle. This is a radical difference in the framing. In this situation, you are cutting out a lot of picture. This affects both the resolution of the material and even more importantly the composition. When you think of the time you spend with your camera framing up the perfect combination of headroom, interesting subject matter, etc., it is sometimes devastating to see that cropped down to fit in a completely different space.
If you have already shot the footage , one option is to use the square framing inside the rectangle by matting the sides. This has to be a creative decision that you are comfortable with.
If your shooting there is an option, which is to film in Super 8 wide-screen. At Pro8mm, we call our wide screen Super 8 format Max8. There are other Super 8 widescreen formats such as Super- Duper 8 or Anamorphic, or even anamorphic Max8 and anamorphic Super Duper 8. All of these formats will fill the super8 frame with image out to the edge of the negative. This will make the master super 8 a rectangle and make the framing for HD much easier with better resolution. The difference between using the entire super 8 negative and the standard negative when framing for HD is a 20% increase in resolution in addition to having correct framing.
If you are going to use standard super 8 framing for HD just keep this in mind while filming, and know that the results will be an image that is zoomed in quite a bit. If you frame for HD while in production, you will be much better off. Again, you must remember to tell the post facility what you are doing. There are so many options that only you as producer can decide what is best. (c) Pro8mm ™ Phil Vigeant 2009
When you scan at Pro8mm, we have a choice of framing sets ups. Check out the this link : http://www.pro8mm.com/pdf/framing_setup.pdf -Rhonda www.pro8mm.com