The current issue of HOTSHOT marks our 3-year anniversary.
Over the past three years, we have witnessed many changes in movies and motion picture production, as well as in screenings and viewing environments.
Recently I have been thinking about screen aspect in relation to a production as well as what embodies an era.
These days, the average viewing time on our smart phones now has far surpassed that of television.
Aspect ratio has been changing these past few years. There were more 18:9 (2160 x 1080pix) Android smart phones sold between 2018 and 2019 than 16:9 ratio HD smart phones. The iPhone 11 series’ high-definition, higher resolution 19:9 (iPhone 11 Pro had a high resolution of 2668 x 1242pix) seems to be the mainstream these days. Sony’s Xperia 1 has a wider ratio of 21:9 and a higher pixel count (3840 x 1644pix, suited for HDR).
Smart phones are mostly used for games and social networking, or for browsing websites.
Image content is an integral part of this, and this close relationship between smart phones and images will only continue grow.
The screen aspect ratio and viewing style have long had a close relationship in the history of film.
The director Daisaku KIMURA, who was interviewed in HOTSHOT’s #8, is well-known as the assistant director of photography on Akira KUROSAWA’s films.
It was during this time that the CinemaScope format made its appearance in Japanese film production.
The period of “The Hidden Fortress” (1958) to “Red Beard” (1965) was known as Toho Scope, in other words, all the movies were filmed in CineScope and coincide with the time when Mr. KIMURA was the assistant DP.
We spoke with Mr. KIMURA about the CineScope productions, and what made the greatest impression on him was the 100mm, which was the latest wide lens, and the 1000mm telephoto lens.
KUROSAWA is famous for his use of telephoto lenses, but having two operation rings on the anamorphic lenses of the Toho Scope rotating in opposite directions made it difficult to use. He was also particular about set construction in relation to the field of view for the CineScope size.
His passion and drive as a filmmaker come through when watching his films even now.
The year 1958 was the height of Japanese filmmaking, and it was a time when the number of visitors to the domestic movie theaters reached 1.13 billion, a figure that is mind-boggling to us today.
It is no accident that this was also the height of CineScope productions.
Since 1965, Hollywood film production began evolving and expanding, and the Japanese film industry as well as CineScope productions decreased as a result. In 2019, there are both large and small 35mm full-size cameras on the market, and there is even a camera that allows users to select 4:3 aspect and mount anamorphic lenses.
Now it is relatively easy to create work with a landscape-oriented aspect ratio – this includes smart phone viewers.
However, production costs are becoming increasingly severe, and the Japanese motion picture industry has been forced to fight a difficult battle in the world market.
Before KUROSAWA made his final CineScope production in 1965, “Red Beard”, he said, “We are facing the decline of Japanese filmmaking.
The only thing that can save it is the passion and faith of filmmakers.” It is the same even now, and I wonder whether the “passion and faith” of movie makers is being questioned.
Akasaka, TOKYO ,
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 ISO200 SS 1/250 f6.4 XF27mm F2.8