Filming in Widescreen

Dec 7, 2008 by Samantha Halfon · Leave a Comment ·
Filed under: Equipment, Filming 

Yesterday we filmed an exhibition opening at an art gallery in Montmartre, Paris. As i mentioned in an earlier post, I intended to film in Wide Screen (16:9) for the first time. Our camera, the Canon GL2, offers two options to film in Wide Screen:

  • The first option is to display two lines (one of top, one of the bottom) showing the limit of the 16:9 frame. You can then film in 4:3 and, when post-producing, generate a 4:3 version and/or a 16:9 version. If you respected the lines while filming and framed making sure that no important information was outside the limit, both versions will be OK.
What you see in the viewfinder

What you see in the viewfinder

The resulting 4/3 image

The resulting squared ratio image

The resulting 16/9 image

The resulting wide image

  • The second option is to modify the aspect ratio and film in 16:9. In that case, in the viewfinder, you will see what you are framing but resized to a 4:3 ratio. It will make everything look squeezed and distorted but when played back in the correct ratio, the image will be perfect. While you film, you can rely on what is and what is not in the frame which is the strong point. The weak point of course is that everything you see through the view finder is deformed by the 4:3 ratio.
The image as seen in the viewfinder

The image as seen in the squared viewfinder

The same image as seen in the widescreen movie

The image as seen in the resulting wide screen movie

As this was my first time filming with that ratio, I expected difficulties framing but it actually came naturally. The only thing that disturbed me at first was that I had to place myself a little bit further away from a painting to film it entirely since, to film 16:9, the camera has to blow everything up a little bit. I quickly adjusted to that and all my instincts fell back into place.

As for what the ratio brings, well, it enables to put more characters or more action in the frame which brings more depth, more life to the images. It also looks more like the movies we’re now used to and I think it is now a necessary thing for video makers to do. We just can not afford to keep using 4:3 when everything else people watch is shot wide. At no point did I feel like I missed the 4:3 ratio, I doubt I will be going back.

Please don’t hesitate to comment on your experience if you already switch to 16:9, let us know why and when you switched and what you like and dislike about this ratio.

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