Thursday, September 10, 2015

Aspect Ratio, Part II - Shifting between aspect ratios as a creative tool

Speaking on aspect ratio in my previous blog, I had begun exploring the creative decisions made in regards to aspect ratio on many of my favorite films. Through this exploration, I had begun viewing footage from my favorite IMAX films, and how the aspect ratio plays into making the IMAX experience a more visceral one.

The first film I examined was Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. When viewing my blu-ray copy of the film, I noticed that the film was shot in a standard cinemascope 2.35:1, with the exception of the overhead cityscape shots. The aspect ratio made a dramatic shift from the 2.35:1 aspect ratio to the standard IMAX ratio when showing overhead shots of the city. This created the effect of making the city in this narrative, Gotham City, much larger.

The other film that really got my attention was the second installment of the Hunger Games trilogy, titled Catching Fire. There is one scene in this movie in which the film permanently changes its aspect ratio to accommodate the subsequent rise in action. When the protagonist enters an arena in which she must begin fighting for survival, her senses are heightened, and this is represented in the audience's heightened sense of sight that comes with opening up the ratio at which the film is shot.

These two films are two striking examples of how using different shifts in aspect ratio is a very clever way to showcase visceral experiences. I want to continue exploring some of my favorite films to find other creative decisions that vastly improve the viewing experience for the audience.

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