October 30, 2015 at 8:17AM

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Aspect Ratio for Documantary

I am editing a short documantary which i am plannig to use 2.59:1 aspect ratio. The question is, does it affect the story negatively?

14 Comments

Where is your film going to be seen?

Not many places support 2.59:1 aspect ratio.

October 30, 2015 at 2:26PM

3
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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
29840

I will submit it to film festivals. I just wonder that if is it affect the storytelling. I like it in fiction movies but i am not sure in a doc. Thanks.

Hacı Elmas

October 30, 2015 at 5:56PM

Also, is there any specific reason why you've chosen this format ?

October 31, 2015 at 12:43PM

0
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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
29840

2.59:1 is somewhat unusual, wide, and is liable to feel like a narrow strip across the middle of the screen on most modern devices (ie: a 16:9 or 16:10 display). For that reason I have a hard time justifying anything wider than 2.4:1, which is at least a fairly common format.

It also depends what kind of visuals are going to be in your documentary. Talking heads in a controlled, seated interview context generally don't lend themselves to wider ratios. I'm a fan of wide ratios because of how landscapes and other wide views look, but after testing I found myself using a slightly taller ratio than traditional scope for my own documentary project since it is largely focused on interviews and I needed the framing for those to feel natural.

October 31, 2015 at 11:29PM

6
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avatar
Philip Heinrich
Director, Producer
991

Thank you very much for your unique informations. I wanna use this aspect ratio because i think it makes amateur camera's (In my case Canon 7D&6D) footages more cinematic. Also i just love wide looks. I won't use any interview on this documentary, i do not have any looking or framing (technical) problem too. I just wonder if it is make sense to story, or will it make misunderstanding etc. By the way the documentary is about a music teacher who gather a child choir in a religious school and give a concert.

Hacı Elmas

November 5, 2015 at 4:32PM, Edited November 5, 4:32PM

Is there a specific reason you plan to use a non-standard ratio like 2.59:1?
edit: Doh, that's been already asked.

I any case, unless you have wide vistas or clever frame utilization in your film, it's usually better to stick to a taller frame for character driven docs.

November 2, 2015 at 11:45AM, Edited November 2, 11:47AM

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Ezi Seel
584

All good; i just worried about how it will affect the story. Thanks Ezi.

Hacı Elmas

November 5, 2015 at 4:35PM

It all depends what story do u want to tell. If it's more cinematic, epic story with many landscapes I think really wide shots look nicely. However if you want movie to feel less "epic", more realistic then it's not a good idea. So in general - epic = very wide shots, realistic = more narrow. I personally like House of Cards aspect ratio (2:1), it works with anything really nice.

November 6, 2015 at 8:11AM

1
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Andy Tokarski
Director, Editor, Colorist
1103

There is no interview in the documentary so it is not nessesary to be realistic. I will take a look at House of Cards. Thanks Andy.

Hacı Elmas

November 8, 2015 at 4:27AM

I think it just depends how you framed your shots. Wide can look great if you plan for it, but that should have been the plan from the start. Go with your gut, what looks best to you and how you want to get your film across to others.
If there is not a specific need for 2.59, maybe try something else.

November 6, 2015 at 1:56PM

3
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Ben Meredith
Cinematographer/Filmmaker
1124

Thank you Ben.

Hacı Elmas

November 8, 2015 at 4:20AM

Hi Haci, in time people has always broken the rules and revolutionized the world. There is nothing wrong with choosing your aspect ratio. To me it really will not effect your story, instead it will definitely give you a film look and set your documentary apart from most others. Since it is about a music and choir it will enhance the story more as you will be able to compose more panoramically adding more cinematic look.
Unless you try it you won't know it. Start cutting in your chosen aspect and see how you feel about it. Go with your guts. If you ask our opinions, we all will give our own likes and dislikes. Do not get biased by what we write here. Go with your gut feelings.

November 7, 2015 at 1:48PM

2
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Dibyendu Joardar
Director of Photography
721

That's what i am gonna do! I just wanted to know what you thinking. Thank you very much Dibyendu.

Hacı Elmas

November 8, 2015 at 4:19AM

the goal is either netflix, digital distribution or tv. it should be in 16:9 or they might end up doing the cropping for you.
always think of the destination when making decisions.

November 8, 2015 at 1:01PM, Edited November 8, 1:01PM

0
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Kazu Okuda
Filmmaker
1219

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