Attn filmheads: 16mm anamorphic 1955 film to 16:9?

johnmeyer wrote on 9/19/2013, 2:44 PM
I am about to receive from an NFL Films subcontractor, a regular 16mm film (not Super 16) of a 1955 American NFL football game that was shot on 16mm film using an anamorphic lens. I will be doing the film transfer. The 16mm film stock is, of course, more or less 4:3. When using an anamorphic lens the resulting image is designed to be widescreen.

Years ago, when capturing SD widescreen material via the DV pass-through chain, I simply kept everything at 4:3 until the video was on the Vegas timeline, and then changed the media properties, via the PAR, to 16:9 (i.e., I went from 0.9091 to 1.212). VoilĂ !

However, my understanding of anamorphic lenses used on film cameras of that era is that the stretch is non-linear, and if I use this workflow, things will look too wide in the middle of the frame and too squished at the right and left edges.

So, I have several questions:

1. Is my assumption about non-linear stretching correct?
2. If it is, are there any specs for common 16mm anamorphic lenses of that era?
3. Is there such a thing as an anamorphic lens chart?

If the stretching is non-linear, my thought is that if I can find some sort of lens chart showing equally spaced vertical lines that have been photographed through an anamorphic lens, I can develop my own transformation to take the 4:3 material and properly stretch it horizontally, with very little stretching in the center, and lots of stretching at the right and left margins.

Any help from those of you with experience with 16mm film cameras would be greatly appreciated.

Comments

john_dennis wrote on 9/19/2013, 6:21 PM
No experience with stretching, but I remember a discussion of it in this thread. Like it or not, (I don't) a lot of the old movies that my wife watches on the broadcast TV sub channels appear to be done using the method that altavaric referenced.

I know you'd rather do it a little more scientifically...
JJKizak wrote on 9/19/2013, 6:43 PM
I believe the anamorphic lenses of that era were 2.66 x 1 and not 2.35 x 1. As far as non linear stretching I would not think so as you would then have to have that designed into the projection lenses and I have not seen that in my very limited experience. I mounted a Japanese 16mm. projection lens in front of an angeniux 17 x 60 mm zoom lens
(I can't remember the exact numbers) and then showed the films with a German Moller 2.66 x 1 projection lens without apparent distortions. When I had the films professionally transfered to Betacam SP they used the 2.35 x 1 ratio and the people came out a bit on the skinny side. But I have never seen any logrithmic linearity variations as you can get on some of the new tv's with stretchovision. So I think you could play with the aspect ratios in Vegas to get it where you want it without linearity problems.
JJK
farss wrote on 9/19/2013, 8:45 PM
A quick read from here should help:

http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/cinemascope_oar.htm


Bob.
kplo wrote on 9/19/2013, 9:51 PM
John,
As I recall, 16mm anamorphic lenses of that era gave the 4:3 image a 2:1 squeeze.
This would make the display ratio (unsqueezed) aprrox. 2.66:1.
If the taking lens and projection lens matched, the image was perfectly linear...ie: same stretch at center and edges, so no worries there.
I only shot with 16mm anamorphics on a few occasions in the '60s, but the images were pretty nice on a large screen considering the anamorphic "lens" was actually an anamorphic adaptor mounted to the prime camera lens.

As JJKizak says, play with the PAR until it looks right.
Hope this helps.
Ken
johnmeyer wrote on 9/19/2013, 10:10 PM
Thanks for the replies.

No experience with stretching, but I remember a discussion of it in this thread ...Thanks for that. If you read the thread you'll see that I was the one who came up with a way in Vegas to do non-linear stretching. That's what I was planning to do here, although I may also do it with individual frames processed through my photo editing program in batch mode.


As far as non linear stretching I would not think so as you would then have to have that designed into the projection lenses and I have not seen that in my very limited experience.

and also

If the taking lens and projection lens matched, the image was perfectly linearExactly so. However, as I probably should have made clear in my original post, my transfer system uses a standard, linear lens. As a result, I'm expecting the image to look really squished, and then when I try to stretch it by changing the PAR, I expect it to look distorted.



A quick read from here should help ...All I see on that site is a listing of various aspect ratios. Also, it is only for 35mm film. My problem has nothing to do with deciding whether this is 2.66 or 2.55 or 2.35 or any other ratio. The main issue is that I need to somehow simulate, in software, the "unsqueezing" algorithm used in the projector lens.

I'll figure something out. One fortunate thing is that this is a film of an American football game which is played on a field with a lot of vertical stripes at regular (10-yard) intervals. I may be able to use a wide shot as my calibration chart.

[edit]The information at this site makes it sound like the stretch is linear. If so, I'll be fine. It also provides some idea of how much stretch I will need to apply.

http://www.cinematography.net/edited-pages/%5Bcml-pro%5D%2016mm%20anamorphic.htm
fldave wrote on 9/19/2013, 10:32 PM
Have you been able to find grid patterns of old 16mm lenses? At this point in time, I have found most every reference work I needed on the net.

I just have 35mm projector experience long ago, definitely remember Cinescope, but there was another widescreen format we used back in the 70's, can't remember the name.
Serena Steuart wrote on 9/19/2013, 10:46 PM
Anamorphic was definitely 2:1 linear. There were other prismatic attachments that did a 1.5:1 squeeze.
johnmeyer wrote on 9/19/2013, 11:46 PM
Anamorphic was definitely 2:1 linear. Thanks for that. If it's linear, this will be easy. The 2:1 is also quite useful information. I've seen that in a few posts on the net, but not confirmed by anyone whose "creds" I already know. Thanks, Serena.
johnmeyer wrote on 9/20/2013, 1:48 AM
The film just arrived by midnight carrier pigeon. The collector had already done a transfer to DVD (which was unbelievably badly done) and the idiot who did that left it as 4:3. I was able to use the aspect ratio settings in my software DVD player to streatch it and confirmed that the correct aspect ratio is probably somewhere around 2.2 : 1. Most importantly, however, it is clearly a linear stretch, so this job will be easy. After I did some research, it appears that only the really high-end 70mm formats ever had the money to create the non-linear lenses.
musicvid10 wrote on 9/20/2013, 6:59 AM
"it is clearly a linear stretch, so this job will be easy. After I did some research, it appears that only the really high-end 70mm formats ever had the money to create the non-linear lenses. "

You're lucky. Most of what was produced was early Cinemascope, which was plagued by the nonlinear stretch, resulting in fat closeups. Could be 2.66 or 2.55 [typo fixed]. Doing a little review on Wikipedia, it was the Panavision lenses that overcame this with a set of racked elements. You're equally lucky it wasn't stitched-up Cinerama, which could be really annoying viewed in a flat-screen 35mm theater. Awful.
Serena Steuart wrote on 9/20/2013, 7:25 AM
Rather like many zoom lenses of the period, anamorphic optics were not distortion free. However this was not designed non-linearity, just distortion
johnmeyer wrote on 9/20/2013, 9:37 AM
The distortion in anamorphic lenses is mentioned often in the literature I've been reading. It was so common that it was given a name, "the mumps," because it would create local spatial distortions that sometimes made portions of an actor's face bulge, as if they had the mumps.

As for the references to various 35mm and 70mm formats, remember, this is 16mm, the format used by documentary film makers and others with a small audience. As I mentioned in my last email, I should have thought of that before I posted because there is no way the limited budgets of those using 16mm could have afforded the expense of non-linear anamorphic lenses.

The film is in four 400' cans and shouldn't take long to transfer.
johnmeyer wrote on 9/20/2013, 9:51 AM
OK, I want to know how a DVD can set the player to create playback at something other than 4:3 or 16:9.

I used VLC media player and dropped one of the VOB files from the client's DVD that resulted from the bad transfer of this anamorphic 16mm film. As expected, this is how it looked:



However, I then dropped the VIDEO_TS.IFO file onto VLC and instantly got this version of the film, which as you can see is much wider than 16:9, and judging by the looks of it, is in the correct aspect ratio:



So, is it possible to encode content on a DVD, without including black bars in the content itself, and then have the DVD player perform a wider stretch than 16:9?

I have not seen this before.

[edit]The aspect ratio is indeed 2.66 : 1. Since normal 16mm is 1.33 : 1, the squeeze is exactly 2:1, just like Serena said.

[edit2] OK, there's no magic. The media player just has some smarts built into it that most hard-wired DVD players do not. The DVD format only allows for 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios, and all other ratios are created by adding black cropping bars, thus wasting pixels.
musicvid10 wrote on 9/20/2013, 11:26 AM
Yep, you're limited to 4:3 or 16:9 display aspect. Bars in the DVD, with or without bars for VLC. Handbrake autocrop is quite handy at taking them off.

If there's no sound stripe, it is probably 2.66 (corrected in my post above).

So how do you sharpen up old kinescope without showing a lot of piping?
johnmeyer wrote on 9/20/2013, 12:22 PM
So how do you sharpen up old kinescope without showing a lot of piping?There are several very, very long threads at doom9.org which talk about this. They were started by "videofred," but I've contributed quite a bit as well:

The power of Avisynth: restoring old 8mm films

This shows a typical "before/after" on a 16mm film capture I recently did:

Dropbox MP4 of 16mm before/after