Thread: The "aesthetical" use of letterboxes

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  1. #1 The "aesthetical" use of letterboxes 
    Hi guys,

    I've been a member of this forum since 2014. I have never posted anything, just read the threads until now.

    I am currently in the final chapter of studying film (SAE in Vienna, Austria) and am therefore working on my bachelor thesis with the topic of letterboxes and their aesthetical, not technical use and I would appreciate if you guys would like to discuss the topic...
    What do you think? Can letterboxes achieve a "more professional" look for the general audience, even if the initial film wasn't filmed in widescreen and the addition of black bars obviously leads to the loss of image information? Do you apply letterboxes to your work?

    I also created a survey regarding this topic and still need answers (especially from filmmaking professionals). It would really help me if you could also answer it. It just takes 10 Minutes, but of course you don't have to if you don't want to!

    Survey link:

    Please note that the video examples are altered on purpose and not shot and framed in widescreen. I want to analyse if consumers prefer letterboxes or just the "illusion" of widescreen, even if it's not the original format, the framing is off etc. Feel free to ask me anything about the project. I will post the results as soon as the survey is over!
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Hollywood, USA
    A bad film with a matte top and bottom will still be a bad film. You really have to compose the image for a specific aspect ratio. And I don't think all stories lend themselves to a widescreen presentation. I would consider both the story and the ultimate distribution for the project and let that decide your choice.
    marc wielage, csi colorist/post consultant daVinci Resolve Certified Trainer
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  3. #3  
    Letter boxing is in the realm of really shallow depth of field. It's something everyone with a DSLR thinks looks professional, but it looks kind of silly. I agree with Marc, ratio affects the composition quite a bit. Between my last two features, I used 2.4:1, 1.85:1, and even 1:1, depending on the film, or even based on the scene. It's a matter of what's in the frame and what's out, not how wide the frame is.
    Luke Kokinos
    RED One #10158
    Madison, Wisconsin
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