Anamorphic Widescreen

         The cinema business is an ever-changing one, with new technologies coming out every day. These advances have made movies more real and more fantastic in incredible ways.

         In the early days of the cinema, there were giant technological leaps from one film to the next. It was a time of pioneering when filmmakers were discovering what worked and what did not. In films like D.W. Griffith’s 1915 Birth of a Nation, color filters were used to give a different feel to different settings, along with new editing techniques to make the story flow better.

         Today, new advancements in film, from computer effects and animation to new techniques in cinematography and editing, have revolutionized movies. In my opinion one of the most important advances in technology in cinema is the use of anamorphic widescreen. Humans see with peripheral vision, so in my opinion widescreen is a better option when compared to standard 4:3. With the use of anamorphic widescreen, directors had to adjust to balance the image better and, in my opinion, be more artistic with the widescreen aspect ratio.

         With the popularity of anamorphic widescreen in the early 1950’s, almost every studio in Hollywood was using it. Its popularity grew so fast with the public eighty-five percent of the theaters in the U.S. were converted within just a few years. The first innovation in anamorphic widescreen was CinemaScope. As with any first try at something, there were many problems with the system. During the next decade many of the major problems in the system were worked out due to the invention of the Panavision lens. Using anamorphic widescreen, directors are able to tell a better story with the image and not rely as much on editing. They can shoot dialogue in one shot without relying on cutting to move the scene.

         While widescreen is not the most important technological advance, its importance cannot be understated. Its impact on the film industry was completely revolutionary.

Justin Wylie

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