Imax pan and scan for The Dark Knight
December 16, 2008 5:16 AM   Subscribe

Was the Imax footage from The Dark Knight double-cropped for the full-screen pan and scan DVD?

I'm just curious about how WB handled this situation and I can't find this information in any review so far. Since the Imax 1.44 and the fullscreen 4:3 ratios are similar, it could be an opportunity to present the Imax footage almost uncropped from the Imax theatrical presentation in the fullscreen version of the DVD, though I doubt they did, for marketing reasons among others.

It'd be silly if they cropped the footage twice though, once for the 2:35 non-Imax theatrical and DVD version, a second time for the fullscreen pan and scan.

Anybody can put my geek curiosity to rest?
posted by jchgf to Media & Arts (2 answers total)
There's some technical jargon in the American Cinematographer article here. Basically, they had separate format negative masters for the IMAX version and the normal theatrical version. If they used the normal theatrical version, then there is no way the IMAX footage is framed the same.

However, it's hard to be sure that they used the IMAX version as the basis for their home video masters. It seems likely that they did, based on the fact that the blu-ray release is full screen HD (1.78) for the IMAX sections. It's not a certainty though, because they could just be extracting a 1.78 image from their 2.40. I kinda doubt that though.

The real issue probably has to do more with shot composition, since they mention earlier in the article that they had to adjust their framing when shooting with the IMAX camera to counterbalance the fact that the audience has to crane their necks to see the top third of the screen. This extra headroom would be pretty noticeable on a regular television, so even if they had access to the full IMAX frame they probably wouldn't want you to see it on your tv, and would put in adjustments throughout to make the image more small-screen friendly.

Sorry if that's making it more confusing. I have a tendency to make things like this either very confusing or very boring. Yes, it would be silly to have two sizing adjustments, but I find the whole idea of full screen versions of movies like this to be silly. A lot of people do.

I only really know one guy at WB. I can ask him about this, but I doubt he'll know.
posted by dogwalker at 7:38 AM on December 16, 2008

Thanks Dogwalker for your answer. I remember some weird framing in the Imax version that your answer explains.

If anybody has a copy of the full screen version DVD handy, you could check the framing of the first few shots of Ledger. For exemple, I remember in the Imax theatrical version, you could see him from head to toes before the camera starts pulling in his mask, and in the normal theatrical version, you only se him from his knees up. Same thing when they get out of the truck before the bank robbery, in Imax you could see them from head to toe with some room to breathe on top and bottom in an impresive wide shot, and in the theatrical, only from the knees up to the edge of the head.

I like wide angle shots in movies.
posted by jchgf at 11:23 AM on December 16, 2008

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