"As Good as it Gets"
Demonstrates power of large format
The 70mm Newsletter
Reprintet from Kodak's InCamera, July 2007 with
"As Good As It Gets" was presented last spring to an audience of avid movie
fans during Widescreen Weekend at the National Media Museum in Bradford,
England, along with 70mm prints of classic movies from the Motion
Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences Archives. Bill Bennett, ASC traces
the origins of the short film to a conversation that he had with ARRI
Group Managing Director Franz Kraus when he visited their factory in
“We were talking about the state of the industry in general,” Bennett
says. “One concern that we shared was the consistent diminishment of the
quality of images seen in motion picture theaters compared to the 1960s
and early ‘70s. During our conversation, we realized that two
generations of movie audiences have never seen 70mm projection.”
Kraus suggested that Bennett design and shoot a demonstration film with
the 65mm ARRIflex 765 camera that was introduced during the early 1990s.
The cinematographer was also inspired by Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, who used
a combination of 65mm and 35mm formats while filming
"The New World" with
director Terrence Malick. Wide-angle shots were filmed in 65mm format
and closeups in 35mm.
“It was something you felt while watching the film on a cinema screen
rather than noticing it on a conscious level,” Bennett observes. “I
decided to produce a demonstration with scenes recorded on 65mm,
anamorphic 35mm and Super 35 film in order to compare the impact when
the images are projected in various formats.”
in 70mm reading:
"As Good as it Gets" - Afterthoughts
“As Good as it Gets” -
"We Fight To Be Free"
Panavision and the Resurrecting of
Kodak InCamera Magazine
Bennet became enarmored with cinemtography while studying theatre arts
at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. After completing his formal
education in 1973, Bennett moved to Los Angeles determined to become a
filmmaker. He was hired by legendary commercial director Ron Dexter, ASC,
initially as a prop man. Bennett likens his work with Dexter and later
with commercial shooter Sid Avery to graduate school. He has
subsequently filmed more than 1,000 television commercials around the
Following his discussion with Kraus, Bennett developed a plan and
recruited a crew and cast consisting of two young actresses. They spent
three days filming sequences at scenic, exterior locations. The first
sequence was filmed at Whitney Portal in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
near Lone Pine, California. One scene had both actresses standing next
to a waterfall. They were surrounded by a forest of pine trees. Bennett
filmed wide-angle and close-up shots with matching framing in the three
The next scene consisted of two set-ups in the nearby Alabama Hills. One
was a long dolly shot with a pickup truck driving past the performers.
The other was a curved tracking dolly shot going past one of the
actresses who was standing on top of a large rock. Bennett filmed
establishing and close-up shots in all three formats.
The final scene was filmed at Minaret Summit near Mammoth Lakes at
sunrise with the two women hiking through a high mountain meadow with
peaks looming in the background. There are other shots of them canoeing
at nearby Convict Lake surrounded by high mountain peaks and a
stunningly beautiful sunset.
Bennett says that he was especially careful in the selection of
backgrounds, framing and focusing 65mm shots because every detail can be
seen when the film is projected in 70mm format. FotoKem in Burbank,
California, processed the negative and transferred the images to a
digital file used for offline editing. The conformed 35mm negative was
scanned at 4K resolution and the 65mm film at 6K resolution by ARRI Film
& TV Services in Munich on ARRISCAN film scanners.
Bennett heard that Kees Van Oostrum, ASC had used 65mm film for
wide-angle shots and 35mm for close-ups during the production of
"We Fight To Be Free", a documentary about the life of George Washington.
That 22-minute film is featured in two theaters at the Visitors Center
at Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon, Virginia. Van Oostrum embraced
the opportunity to show 35mm and 65mm shots from
"We Fight To Be Free"
projected in the various formats as part of the presentation.
"As Good As It Gets" was initially presented to some 300 students, faculty
and filmmakers from all sectors of the industry at the University of
California Los Angeles’ James Bridges Theater. It was projected in the
4K compressed digital format recommended by the Digital Cinema
Initiative (DCI) sponsored by the major Hollywood studios, uncompressed
4K digital format, and on 35mm and 70mm print film.
Four times more
July 2007 edition.
“Seeing is believing,” Bennett says. “You have to judge for yourself. We
could see and hear the reactions of the audience when both the 65mm
shots and 70mm print film were projected on the screen. It’s not about
projecting prettier pictures. It’s about the emotional connection that
occurs when the audience gets pulled deeper into the film.”
The presentation was capped by projecting a scene from "The Sound of
Music" in 70mm format. That classic film was produced in
format in 1965. The scene featured Julie Andrews singing the title song
to the von Trapp children. They are on a grassy hill overlooking an
endless horizon. “It was a stunning experience to be reminded, or see
for the first time, how compelling the movie-going experience was 40
years ago,” Bennett says.
"As Good As It Gets" has been taken to the next level. FotoKem has
re-scanned the 65mm scenes at 8K resolution. Andrew Oran, vice
president, Sales & Operations Large Format, at the postproduction
facility explains that a five-perforation, 65mm wide frame has the
capacity to capture more than four times more information than a
four-perf 35mm frame of film composed in 2.4:1 aspect ratio.
He says, “A 1,000 ft roll of 65mm negative scanned at 8K resolution will
produce more than 1.4 terabytes of picture data. Film is also a proven
archival medium which ensures that the movie will be there for future
generations of fans.”
Bennett observes, “State-of-the-art 65mm cameras and lenses are
available for lower rental fees than the best 35mm film and digital
equipment, and the higher raw stock and lab costs generally amount to a
very small part of the budget. Kees (Van Oostrum) estimated that the
higher cost for shooting about 10 percent of
"We Fight To Be Free" in 65mm
format was a fraction of a penny for everyone who will see the film.”
He concludes, “We are on a mission to show this demonstration to as many
people as possible with the hope that it will inform and inspire them
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