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65mm - The Versatile Shooting Format

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Ramon Lamarca Marques, Brian Guckian and Mike TaylorDate: 25 June 2007
As audiences become more demanding of technical quality and as high-definition imagery penetrates the home environment, there has never been a better time to originate feature film material on 65mm.

With cost differences over the standard 35mm format far less than popularly perceived, and with a range of film stock, lighting and camera packages available, serious consideration of shooting full-length material on 65mm is now possible, not least because of the multi-platform release capability that 65mm offers (Fig 1, above), whilst maintaining very high quality across the range of release options.
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Fig. 2 (left) and the accompanying magnification chart clearly show how shooting on 65mm permits release on theatrical 70mm plus the IMAX format with low magnification factors (or none, in the case of 70mm). The greatest contrast is with conventional Super-35mm, which when blown up to IMAX requires a very high magnification factor of 7.8 and considerable digital image processing to maintain an acceptable degree of quality (the IMAX DMR process). But, if original material is acquired on 65mm, the magnification factor for IMAX release is just 1.8, with no digital processing involved and yielding far higher image quality.

The 65mm negative also yields far higher quality conventional 35mm prints as the negative area is over 4 times greater than 35mm, and critically, also offers an extremely high definition source for both 4K and 2K D-Cinema platforms, plus later HD TV transmission and HD-DVD / Blu-Ray Disc release. It is not surprising that major consumer and professional audio-visual electronics manufacturers regularly showcase 65mm-originated material to demonstrate the capability of their display technologies.
The 65mm format further reintroduces the 70mm Roadshow release option for key theatres and markets. Many cinemas retain or have installed dual-gauge 35/70mm capability, with full-range, multi-channel disc-based digital audio available that removes the need for expensive magnetic soundtracks.

Across this wide spectrum of release options, with its ability to offer and maintain very high image quality, plus its archivability and film-based advantages, 65mm film offers an unbeatable option for visionary filmmakers. The infrastructure and work practices exist, the economics are very attractive and the potential returns are enormous.
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Updated 03-04-12