Scope  Showscan  -  Super 8  -  Super 16  -  Super 35  -  Superscope  Technirama  -  Techniscope  -  Technovision




8mm  -  16mm  -  CinemaScope  -  Cinerama  -  IMAX  -  MGM Camera 65  -  Panavision


Todd-AO  -  VistaVision  -  Widescreen

Soon after the introduction of CinemaScope in 1953, many anamorphic challengers began to appear on the horizon. Fox intended to own the use of the process and license it to other companies. Unfortunately, Fox soon discovered its rights were limited to the patents it had obtained from Professor Chrétien. CinemaScope's other basic design patents were considered to be in the public domain. As soon as the principles behind CinemaScope were published, a number of competing manufacturers began to announce anamorphic lens systems.

Fox's most serious challenger was Warner Bros. Warner was determined to develop its own process and solicited bids from several American and European optical companies, finally making a deal with Zeiss Optical Company from Germany for a system that would be called WarnerSuperScope [later shortened to WarnerScope]. Warner originally planned to use the Zeiss lenses on 'Rear Guard/The Command' [1953; ph by Wilfred M. Cline] and the remake of 'A Star is Born' [1953-54; ph by Sam Leavitt], but the lenses were not ready in time. Instead, on 'Rear Guard' Warner used a lens system called Vistarama, that had been developed by the Simpson Optical Company [the film was, however, released with the label CinemaScope]. By September 1953, when the Zeiss lenses finally arrived at Warner Bros., the studio made a test. When the studio reviewed the footage it found that the Zeiss lenses had poor resolution and were unsuitable for feature production. As a result, Warner Bros. started to shoot 'A Star is Born' in spherical three-strip Technicolor, but, eventually, the studio scrapped the first ten days of filming and started over in CinemaScope. In the late 1950's, Warner Bros. would revive the WarnerScope name for 3 features that actually were shot in the Superscope/Super 35 format.

Outside of the United States, various foreign film companies began to develop CinemaScope-compatible anamorphic lens systems. One of the most significant systems was developed in France by Ernst Abbe and was called Cinépanoramic. It was the basis of the French Dyaliscope and Franscope processes.

Republic Pictures Corporation, the most important and influential studio in the history of the 'B' movie, purchased rights to Cinépanoramic and called it Naturama. The Naturama system appeared to have less of a problem with anamorphic mumps than CinemaScope. Republic's Naturama lenses had a concave distortion, which was most noticeable in pan shots, and was apparent in every focal length of lens. By contrast, CinemaScope and Panavision lenses only caused concave distortion in their shortest focal lengths.

Here are some examples of systems [clones] similar to CinemaScope, often with 'scope' in the name so that the word became an abbreviation for such systems in general:

Agascope: 1955; Sweden/Hungary; developed by Evert Aulin and Aga Laboratory; first film was 'Gorilla' [1955; ph by Sven Nykvist]

Arriscope: 1989; developed by the German company Arnold & Richter [ARRI] with lenses made by Isco Optik; e.g. 'Body Snatchers' [1992; ph by Bojan Bazelli]

Arrivision: developed by the German company Arnold & Richter [ARRI]; originally a 3-D film process with a 3-perf pulldown and spherical lenses + 3-D lenses; now an anamorphic system with Arriscope lenses [2.35:1]; e.g. 'Amityville 3-D' [1983; ph by Fred Schuler]

CameraScope: 1955; England; based on Cinépanoramic

Cinépanoramic: 1953; France; a system, developed by Ernst Abbe, which used an anamorphic lens + a corrective lens to avoid the anamorphic mumps

Cinescope: 1958; Italy; a.k.a. Supercinescope

Daiescope: Japan

Dyaliscope: France; based on Cinépanoramic

Franscope::France; based on Cinépanoramic

Grandscope: Japan

Hammerscope: 1956; England; the anamorphic lenses were developed by Jan Jacobsen [1916-98] for Hammer Film Productions; e.g. 'The Abominable Snowman' [1957; ph by Arthur Grant]

Hawk Scope: anamorphic lenses designed and build by Vantage Film GmbH, Germany

J-D-C Scope: 1981; developed by Joe Dunton Cameras, Elstree, U.K.

Naturama: Republic Pictures Corp., USA; first picture was 'The Maverick Queen' [1956, Joe Kane; ph: Jack Marta]; based on Cinépanoramic

Panoramic[a]: Italy

ShawScope: Hong Kong; developed by prod Shaw Brothers and doph Tadashi Nishimoto

Shintohoscope: Japan; developed and used by prod Shintoho Company Ltd.

Sovscope: USSR

Spectrascope: England; e.g. 'It's a Wonderful World' [1956; ph by Wilkie Cooper]

Tohoscope: Japan

Totalscope: 1956-66; Italy; developed by Henryk Chroscicki; the system had a wide range of anamorphic lenses, from 32 to 150mm, with hardly any distortion and made CinemaScope almost obsolete in Europe; 450+ features and 1,000+ doc's made use of the system, until it was replaced by Techniscope; a.k.a. Cinetotalscope or Super Totalscope/100; e.g. 'La dolce vita' [1959; ph by Otello Martelli]; see: Technovision

UltraScope: Germany; the lenses for this system were developed by Jan Jacobsen and made by the Ultra Gesellschaft für Optik in Munich for Arnold & Richter [ARRI]; a.k.a Totalvision in the former German Democratic Republic

Warwickscope: 1961; England; based on the Superscope system; developed for producer Albert R. Broccoli's Warwick Films

Showscan was developed by special effects expert Douglas Trumbull [1942-].

A Showscan 'ride' theater

This camera and projection process uses 5-perf 65mm [neg]/70mm [print] film, shot and projected at 60 fps - exceeding the sound film standard of 24 fps by a 2.5 multiple - resulting in the most perfect projected image possible. The enhanced visual qualities of the Showscan films are a brighter, more highly defined image with a reduction in the visual persistence of grain structure, deeper color, smoother motion with greater sharpness, and the perception of depth and three-dimensionality. The Showscan process approaches the maximum amount of visual information that the human eye can process each second. A 16 fps rate was the first speed established as the minimum required to sustain the illusion of continuous presence of a motionless image presented through a sequence of stills. The 24 fps rate was adopted later to improve the fidelity of optical sound tracks. The perception of an uninterrupted flow of motion, free from stroboscopic effects, requires a still higher frame rate. Through experiments conducted at Future General Corporation, the joint Trumbull/Paramount Pictures research division, Douglas Trumbull determined that the effective maximum frame rate should be 60.

Paramount, Future General's parent company, asked Trumbull to develop a feature film that would showcase the Showscan process. 'Brainstorm' [1981-83; ph: Richard Yuricich], developed initially with an eye toward amusement park theatres, seemed the perfect project. Trumbull's idea was to use Showscan only for the images perceived through the 'reality recorder'. The bulk of the film would be shot with a narrower aspect ratio at 24 fps, then optically converted to 60 fps by double- and triple-printing alternate frames. Thus, even though the entire film would then be projected at 60 fps, only those portions featuring the Showscan technique would be dramatically enhanced. But, as with all new technologies, there were problems [e.g. properly equipping each theater]. Paramount decided to pass on the project. The film began a second life at MGM, but Showscan was not to be part of the project. No Showscan full-length feature film!

In developing the Showscan process, Trumbull was following in the footsteps of Fred Waller, Michael Todd and others, who through Cinerama, Todd-AO and multi-channel audio aspired to ever higher levels of impact and audience involvement in motion pictures.

The intensity of Showscan films is also due to the theatrical projection process and the theatrical environment. The 'ride' films use software and simulators, i.e. capsules in which the audience moves in sync with the movie. [Using quotes from articles by Gregory Gutenko and Brad Munson in Cinefex #14, October 1983.]

Some Showscan specialty and 'ride' productions:

1983  Big Ball [Douglas Trumbull] Showscan 70mm/c; short/23m

1983  New Magic [Douglas Trumbull] Showscan 70mm/c; short/27m; ph: Jim Dickson

1985  Let's Go [Douglas Trumbull] Showscan 70mm/c; short/19m; ph: Ernest Day

1988  Call from Space [Richard Fleischer] Showscan 3-D 70mm/c; short/29m; ph: Jack Cardiff

1989  Leonardo's Dream [Douglas Trumbull] Showscan 3-D 70mm/c; short/26m; ph: Giuseppe Rotunno

1989  The Magic Balloon [Ronald Neame] Showscan 3-D 70mm/c; short/42m; ph: Jack Cardiff

1991  Devil's Mine Ride [Roger Wielgus] 4m 'ride' film

1996  Street Luge [Hal Needham] 5m 'ride' film

In the 1960's, the Eastman Kodak Company began research on an improved system of 8mm home movie products that would also have potential use in Audio-Visual Applications. The concept of a cartridge-loading movie camera had been around since 1936. This time, however, the film cartridges would be made of injection-moulded plastic, rather than metal, which required hand-manufacture and were subject to jamming. The 8mm size was retained for reasons of economy, but with several significant improvements. The perforations were reduced in size, allowing for a wider image area that was about 50% larger than standard 8mm film. The perforations were also moved to a point adjacent to the centre of the film frame, making steady registration simpler. 16mm and standard 8mm formats had placed the perforation at the corners of the frame to reduce fogging of the image at the head and tail of the roll caused during loading of the film. Since Super 8 was a cartridge-loaded product, this was no longer an issue.

In April of 1965, Super 8 was introduced. In 1973 followed the introduction op Super 8 film with a magnetic soundtrack. Today, new generations of filmmakers with film projects and applications which were non-existent in the 1960's have come to embrace the small film.

Super 16 was developed as a feature film format in 1969 by Swedish doph Rune Ericson. Ericson introduced the concept of Super 16 to Jean-Pierre Beauviala, the founder of Aaton, who decided to design a Super 16 camera with 'theater projection' resolution at its heart. The first Super 16 feature film [35bu] was 'Lyckliga skitar/Blushing Charlie' [d: Vilgot Sjöman; ph by Rune Ericson] in 1970. Read Rune Ericson's story here.

Rune Ericson

Super 16 is a single-perforated, motion picture film that uses the maximum image area available on conventional 16mm film. The width of the Super 16 frame extends an extra 20% into the area normally occupied by the sound track. A modified 16mm camera is needed to accommodate the single perforated 16mm film stock. Super 16 has an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. This is close to the new HDTV [High Definition Television] format of 16:9 or the wide-screen cinema format of 1.85:1. Consequently, very little cropping is needed to convert to these picture formats. The greater frame width of Super 16 and the need for less cropping on the top and bottom gives Super 16 a 46% increase in image area over standard 16mm film when displayed in the wide-screen 1.85:1 ratio.

For the countries in Northern Europe, standard 16mm is the television production medium for those who shoot on film. Approximately 80-85% of all 16mm negative film sales fall within the television market segment. The U.S. television market segment is primarily 35mm. With the advent of HDTV and the wide-screen TV formats, such as PAL Plus, there has been a great deal of interest in Super 16 film because the aspect ratio of Super 16 is similar to that required for HDTV and PAL Plus. Super 16 format is future proof, and although 35mm is still the imaging standard, Super 16 offers a cost-effective method for producing TV programming. Super 16 also offers the option for blow-up to 35mm for cinematic release.

Super 35 uses the same film as regular 35mm, however, Super 35 utilizes more of the film's picture area. In reality, Super 35 uses the frame area of the film that movies occupied prior to the advent of sound from sprocket hole to sprocket hole, top to bottom. When the sound track area was added to film in the late 1920s, the picture had to be narrowed and shortened to maintain the same aspect ratio. As a result, a significant portion of the original frame is not used in conventional 35mm cinematography.

In 1980, Joe Dunton planned to make and ph a 35mm film, 'Dance Craze', of which he wanted full-width 70mm release prints. Remembering Superscope, he shot the film to fill the full aperture by re-centering the spherical lenses and new viewfinder markings. In this manner, he was able to frame the important action for a 2.20:1 aspect ratio. For the film 'Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes' [1982-83], Warner Brothers wanted a full-frame 2.20:1 70mm release print, but doph John Alcott didn't like anamorphic lenses. He felt the slower anamorphic lenses would be impractical under the difficult lighting situations he would face in the jungle of Africa. As a result, Alcott made tests with re-centered lenses and chose to shoot the film with them, a technique he called System 35.

The new process soon became generally known as Super 35. Producers also became interested in the format because they could use the same negative to make a 35mm anamorphic print [without the film having been shot that way], a full-frame 70mm print and a video release that would not require the images to be panned and scanned. Because of the many cost-saving and photographic advantages of this system - spherical lenses need less light and have greater depth of field than their anamorphic counterparts - both Super 35, and its counterpart Super 16, are widely used today in feature film and television production.

'The biggest difference [between anamorphic and Super 35] is that anamorphic uses a larger negative area so you have more detail in the frame and less grain. The grain problem with Super 35 blow-ups has recently been improved by a combination of new finer-grained film stocks and digital intermediates, which can avoid the graininess of an optical printer blow-up. So the objection to Super 35 has become less strenuous in the past two years. Still, it has less overall information in the frame than anamorphic photography and this is apparent when shooting wide shots outdoors. The trouble with anamorphic is that it may capture more fine detail with less grain, but if you're doing night photography and most of the frame is out of focus because you don't have enough depth of field, then are you really gaining much from the increased information of the anamorphic negative? But doing an exterior movie like a desert film or a western, anamorphic is still superior for just the amount of fine detail you can resolve in the image.' [M. David Mullen]

The Super 35, 4-perf system utilizes the entire width of the film and is used primarily to extract an anamorphic print for theatrical release by optical reduction printing. This system is quite versatile: from a Super 35 negative, 70mm blow-up prints can be produced, as well as extractions for 16x9 [1.78:1]. The Super 35, 3-perf system is used for extracting 16x9 [1.78:1] prints and for origination for widescreen television.

Panavision Super 35 is a format for shooting full aperture, utilizing a greater camera negative area. This format provides the option of releasing a film in any of 3 formats: 70mm, 2x Anamorphic, and 1.85, without cropping any of the sides. The final decision can be made in post-production, as it does require an optical process. Allows the cinematographer to use spherical lenses, while achieving a 2.40:1 finished product.

See also: 35mm and Superscope

This widescreen process - created in the laboratory rather than the camera - was developed in 1954 by Superscope, Inc. [Irving & Joseph Tushinsky] and RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. Photography in the Superscope process was generally no different than normal non-widescreen films. The only difference was that the entire silent 35mm aperture was utilized. Standard spherical lenses, much faster and lighter than the CinemaScope optics, were used. Using a Superscope lens, the image was printed onto 35mm with 2x anamorphic squeeze. The aperture was .715" x .715" and the aspect ratio 2:1.

The process made it possible to make anamorphic prints from spherical negatives. This made it no longer necessary for studios to film two versions, anamorphic and spherical [for theatres that were not yet converted to anamorphic projection]. Superscope, which had a brief spurt of popularity in the mid-1950's, was first employed for 'Vera Cruz' [1954; ph by Ernest Laszlo]. The process evolved into Superscope 235. Here the extraction area was further cropped down to yield a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and the prints were made using CinemaScope compatible specifications.

The Superscope system was also used under such names as Superama and Megascope until 1963, when it was supplanted by the introduction of Techniscope by Technicolor Italia.

A modern version of Superscope 235 [or Super Techniscope], which preserves many of its characteristics, utilizes a recent generation camera set to 3-perf pulldown and Super 35 configuration. This provides a larger than normal 1.85:1 negative with a noticeable increase in image quality, along with a 25% saving in stock and processing costs. The final 1.85:1 release prints are optically derived preserving much of the gain in image quality. 3-perf Super 35 may well become the new standard for High Definition Television. Such a system would make exceptionally efficient use of the 35mm format, perhaps only rivaled by anamorphic systems like the CinemaScope derivatives such as Panavision.

See also: Super 35

A widescreen film process developed by Technicolor and N.V. Optische Industrie 'De Oude Delft', Holland, in 1956.

Although Technicolor was producing beautiful VistaVision prints for Paramount, other studios were only using the process occasionally. Technicolor decided to introduce its own widescreen process combining VistaVision's picture quality and CinemaScope's wider screen. Development work began at their London plant. Known during its development work as the 'Technicolor Universal Frame Process', the negative was to be the same as VistaVision's 8-perf [double-frame] horizontal 35mm film format, but with the aspect ratio of the image increased to that of CinemaScope's 2.35:1, by using an anamorphic lens on the camera. Despite these similarities, however, the two formats were quite different. VistaVision offered impressively high-resolution images, but its 1.96:1 aspect ratio was hardly 'wide' - and only possible when footage was properly screened with a VistaVision projector. [Extraction 35mm prints were generally released in 1.66, 1.75 or 1.85:1.] However, with the additional use of a taking lens with 1.5:1 compression to squeeze more information onto the negative, Technirama could be transformed into either very high-quality CinemaScope/Panavision-compatible 2:1 compressed 35mm anamorphic reduction prints [by taking advantage of an extra 1.33 squeeze in the optical step], or a 2.2:1 aspect ratio [when unsqueezed and printed directly to 70mm, a.k.a. Super Technirama 70].

Technicolor had already heavily modified several of its now redundant 3-strip cameras to the VistaVision format. With new purpose-built VistaVision cameras produced by the Mitchell Camera Company, these also became available for Technicolor's own system.

Dr. Albert Bouwers

Technirama Camera

The first major problem was to obtain a high quality anamorphic camera lens to match the overall quality of the system. The Dutch Delrama system was suggested. This system was first used in 1955-56 on 'Drie dagen met Monica' [dir & ph: Wil van Es], a 20m promotion film for the harbor of Rotterdam.

The Delrama anamorphic reflecting system used curved mirrors arranged in the form of a periscope, instead of the more usual lenses or prisms, and was free of many of their defects. Tests using a modified projection unit were encouraging. Delrama's creator Dr. Albert Bouwers [1893-1972] of N.V. Optische Industrie 'De Oude Delft' seized upon the problem and came up with a design more suitable for camera use. This employed specially computed curved surface reflecting prisms, rather than cylindrical lenses or refracting prisms. It was an auxiliary attachment big enough to cover the larger diameter of the lenses needed to cover the double-frame negative and allowed for a maximum angle of view of about 60-degrees, equal to that of CinemaScope and the other systems then in use for general film making. The prototype was tested by being sent to the winter sports resort at Sestriere, Italy, with instructions to shoot a wide variety of scenes in all kinds of lighting conditions, particularly with the sun glaring off the snow, to make sure that the prime lens and Delrama combination produced no internal reflections. The results were superb, even at wide apertures, so Technicolor obtained exclusive rights throughout the world to use the Delrama, so it would only be used as part of its own widescreen system. The name Technirama was finally chosen for the system, said to be a combination of the words Technicolor and Delrama. [Using quotes from Grant Lobban's 'The Technirama Story'.]

The first Technirama film was 'Montecarlo/The Monte Carlo Story' [1956; d: Sam Taylor; ph by Giuseppe Rotunno], originally shown on horizontal/8-perf 35mm.

Super Technirama 70 used the same compressed frame on the negative, but unsqueezed it on a 70mm print in order to project an image of 2.2:1 through a normal lens. One of the first films was 'Spartacus' [1959; ph by Russell Metty & Clifford Stine (add scenes)]. Metty used Cooke lenses with a Delrama anamorphic adapter; the 35mm negative was converted via Panavision printer lenses to a 70mm print. One of the last Super Technirama 70 films was 'Zulu' [1963; dir by Cy Endfield; ph by Stephen Dade].

Techniscope was developed by Technicolor Italia in order to avoid the added cost of anamorphic production. The system was conceptually the same as Superscope. Techniscope employed normal spherical lenses. Anamorphic lenses were more expensive to hire, needed more light, were less sharp and had a narrower depth of field. The 35mm camera, however, needed modification. The movement was changed to expose a 2-perf image rather then the customary 4-perf to make the frame only half the normal height. In addition, the camera aperture was changed to 2.35:1 along with the viewfinder markings. A re-centering of the lens axis was not necessary with this system. The 2-perf pulldown meant another significant advantage of Techniscope, because the film stock now lasted twice as long as the equivalent length required for normal 35mm cameras.

When Techniscope came out, color duplicating stocks were not good enough to do a decent blow-up to 35mm 4-perf CinemaScope so Technicolor offered a deal to people using that format that it could be blown-up [adding a 2x1 anamorphic squeeze] directly from the 2-perf Eastmancolor negative to three 4-perf 35mm CinemaScope b&w positive 'matrices', which then were used to make dye transfer prints, thus saving a generation and creating very nice release prints. Despite the 50% enlargement of the image, Techniscope was usually clearer and sharper than CinemaScope at the time. [When Technicolor killed off dye transfer printing in the mid 1970's, it effectively killed off the Techniscope format.]

Techniscope became very popular with European low-budget filmmakers because it was economical, saving half the cost of the negative. The first Techniscope film was 'La donna dei faraoni/The Pharaoh's Woman' [1960; ph by Pier Ludovico Pavoni]. The process eventually died out in the late 1970's because modern anamorphic lenses were greatly improved, and the cost of optical printing had become extremely expensive.

Drawing by Max Smith

In 1999, in Sydney, Australia, MovieLab owner Kelvin Crumplin revived the Techniscope format renamed as MultiVision 235, attempting to commercialize it as a cinematography format alternative to the Super 16 format. His proposition was that it yielded a 35mm-quality image [from which could be derived 2.35:1 and 1.85:1 aspect ratio images] for the same cost as Super 16.

It started with a simple e-mail. Cinematographer Daniel Vincelette, CSC, messaged that he would be shooting author Brad Fraser’s film directorial debut, 'Leaving Metropolis/Poor Superman' [2001]. Vincelette added that the feature would be shot, for the first time in Canada, in MultiVision 235. 'It's an Australian process,' he continued, 'similar to the old Techniscope, in which we shoot with modified 35mm cameras running at the rate of two perforations per frame instead of the usual four.'
MultiVision 235 [2.35:1] is a revisitation of the 1960s and 1970s Techniscope system. In that 20-year period, some 400 films were shot using this great format. Now with the modern advantages of exceptional film emulsions and sharper lenses, MultiVision 235 offers the filmmaker large cost savings with screen quality of 35mm and for only a budget approaching Super 16.
MultiVision 235 has a natural CinemaScope aspect ratio, but does not employ anamorphic lenses. It uses standard spherical lenses, giving the advantage of twice the depth of field and twice the lens speed, which results in a lighting-level requirement of around one-quarter of standard anamorphic.

Vincelette: 'The budget was not big, but they didn't want to shoot on Digital Beta or Super 16 because they thought this movie deserved a better quality picture. They preferred to shoot on 35mm in an affordable way.'

'Multivision 235 provided the main Moviecam camera and a spare body. The movement of the camera was modified to run more slowly as it pulled down the film at two perforations per frame through a special 35mm gate.'

'An Edmonton lab did our film processing; that was straightforward,' Vincelette said. 'Whether you shoot 1-perf, 2-perf or 16-perf, you just put the film roll through the soup. We used standard 35mm film, except that the 1,000-foot roll would last 20 minutes instead of 10.'

'Then we had a post-production facility transferring all the film to video. Because we were shooting in only 2-perf, the spacing for future cutting purposes was very small between images. They couldn't do any corrections. They had to run the rolls without stop to make the transfer.'

'Where it gets more complicated is the actual negative cutting. The space between the frames is much tighter, so the negative cutting is touchier. It is a special process with an A and B roll where you have to keep a couple of frames more than the ones you are going to use so that you don't get any glue artifacts on your actual negative.'

MultiVision 235 'gives you exposure from perf to perf on the vertical side,' the cinematographer explained. 'On the horizontal part, you expose even over the space normally left clear for the soundtrack, which is similar to Super 35. This system is like Super 16 or Super 35 in that you have to go through an optical blow-up, or a digital blow-up if you have the money. You have to blow it up to a 35mm Internegative. At some point you need to get up to a 4-perf format. [From article by Don Angus on the CSC website, October 2001.]

In April 2006, Techniscope was more or less revived by Aaton, who realized a pilot film shot in 2-perf Super 35 [2.35:1]. This pilot was shot with a modified Aaton35. The company, however, has now developed the Penelope, a 3-perf & 2-perf 35mm camera.

See also: 35mm/2-perf

In the early 1970's, Henryk Chroscicki, developed the anamorphic lens system Technovision. He based himself on his research for and experience with his lens-system Totalscope [1956]. Technovision made its debut in 1974. The first film that used the whole range of Technovision lenses was 'L'innocente/The Innocent' [1975; ph by Pasqualino De Santis].