Hollywood Onramp‘s Jay Troutman (or is it Jake Troutman or Jay Cutler?) has spilled the visual beans on Oppenheimer. Sorry, fans, but it sounds like the same con as before….a wowser factor that is cool but limited.
A relatively small percentage of the viewing public will be watching Oppenheimer in a proper IMAX theatre on a massive screen. And it’s time to come clean: Like Tenet and other IMAX-shot Nolan films, only a certain portion of this upcoming film (7.21) will be projected within the boxy 1.43:1 aspect ratio.
A healthy-sized portion will be presented within a 1.9:1 or 2.2:1 aspect ratio — more or less 2:1 a la Vittorio Storaro. So all the “you absolutely must see it in true-blue IMAX!” hype is basically a shell game.
True-blue IMAX delivers a 15-perf, 70mm image with a boxy aspect ratio (i.e., 1.43:1 or a bit wider than 1.37:1, only much bigger) and a widescreen 1.9:1 or 2.2:1 aspect ratio for smaller, non-IMAX-scale screens.
“The thing is, the IMAX camera is big and loud, so it’s not great for scenes in small rooms with quiet dialogue. Sometimes [the editors] would be like ‘is there a lawnmower in this scene? Where’s the lawnmower coming from?” So Chris Nolan also used the Panavision System 65 5-perf format.”
Eric Kohn: “The bulk of Oppenheimer is men in rooms talking.”
In the shooting stage “both formats use the same film stock, but IMAX captures an image 15 perforations wide while System 65 captures an image five-perfs tall.
“In order to mix these formats together, the five-perf shots are optically blown up to 15 perf and the IMAX 15 perf shots are optically reduced in size.
“You can also see that the different formats result in different shapes, in what we call aspect ratios. The IMAX image is taller than the five-perf image. That means when you go to a proper IMAX theatre with a 1.43:1 screen, anything shot with an IMAX camera will fill the full screen while anything shot by the five-perf camera will have black bars at the top and bottom.
“If you go see the five-perf 70 millimeter print, which [Universal] marketing is calling 70 millimeter film, the image will have a 2.2:1 aspect ratio, and anything shot by the IMAX camera will have have the top and bottom cut off.
“Now you might think that would be a deal-breaker, but [Chris Nolan and his team] always had these different frames in mind. And the 2.2:1 frame is actually what Chris and editor Jennifer Lame were looking at through most of the editing process.
“We had both 2.2 and 1.43 footage in our AVID timelines so they could watch both to make sure everything was working, but the main aspect ratio we worked in was 2.2.”