3 01 2010

disney’s – LADY AND THE TRAMP, released july 1955.
 the first of very few CINEMASCOPE films the studio would produce in the years to come. 
in the cinemascope format a single background is already 
impressive, but when you look at the enormous length of 
pan-BG’s you are speechless. it is very interesting the way
 the camera was used in this format, the character always
leads the camera-action. that means, a character starts to
 move first, then the camera follows moving in the same 
direction later. the format is so big that in some of the 
scenes a camera movement was not even necessary, the 
characters have enough room for their movements sideways. 
close-ups are more critical. in a normal head-shot you still
 have a lot of ’empty’ space next to the character. it must 
have been a very intense learning experience for the layout 
team that was used to deal with 3:4 normal size formats 
over all these years. cinemascope means a format 1 : 2, you have to 
compose a scene a lot different in that stretched size.

you have to see the original backgrounds, there are
 fortunately a lot of them left in the disney archives. 
they look so loosely painted, created by absolute 
professionals. the style is close to realism, with a
 simplified ‘disney’ touch. but the painters were so 
skillful after all the movies behind them, that their 
work looks effortless. very rough brushstrokes when
 you look close, but from a distance all these strokes 
reveal something new, like in a matte painting. I would 
want to show you more, but I don’t know where to 
start. and all my recreations are not even halfway 
close to what the real, the original painting looks like.
 hopefully there will be a publication with all these 
masterpieces in the future… 
besides the beautiful look of the backgrounds they 
are just perfect as what they are – the stage. the 
characters work so well in front of them. the color-
balance is incredible. very different from another 
one of my favorites a few years later – SLEEPING 
BEAUTY, where the BG.s are such incredible art-
pieces by themselves, that you are most of the time 
overwhelmed by the look and can not follow the
 most beautiful animation. here in LADY AND THE
TRAMP you get just enough detail to know what 
you need to know, it is never confusing or over-
whelming, – until you see the ORIGINALS!

the BG-artists – 
 but the layout crew was equally important – 
 what a team!

NANCY BEIMANN wrote in her comment – 
KEN O’CONNOR told me that this was one of the hardest projects he ever did, since LADY was released in SCOPE in only a few theatres; the majority of the prints had standard screen ratio. this meant that all his layouts had to have the main action take place in the centre of the screen, with unimportant stuff on the sides. but he had to keep the sides active and interesting for the widescreen version. the scope-version noticeably slows down the camera moves. if you run the RAT FIGHT sequence at standard ratio, the camera moves are fast and dramatic. they are leisurely, almost a drift, in the widescreen version of the same shots. you also see more of the rat at the beginning of the sequence. with the standard version, suspense is stronger since you see the rat enter the shots much later on.

 O’CONNOR had characters moving through the frame or toward the camera to help shots work in two formats. and he actually built those victorian houses in the studio woodshop.

 other sequences of the film are more static and sometimes show their technique when dealing with the two format layout. In the BELLA NOTTE sequence, watch for the cook stepping out the door, then rapidly stepping to screen left so that he doesn’t leave centre frame. It looks a little strange in the widescreen version.

© disney enterprises, inc




8 responses

3 01 2010
Aaron Spurgeon

Breathtaking. Great post!

3 01 2010
Michael Sporn

The film was not sent to theaters in anything but a Cinemascope version. The first time it appeared flat was on television (usually in clips). I suppose they prepared for the inevitable that a 16mm version would be show flat somewhere, but in even the tiniest of theaters in the US, Cinemascope was a standard by 1955. All of 20th Fox’s output, by 1953, was in scope.

3 01 2010
Ignacio Carlos Ochoa

I am completely in agreement with you Hans, and is very interesting the data from Nancy.
I’m 32, and I saw for the first time the complete film a few years ago when it was released on DVD, and two things impacted me. The high level of backgrounds, and the solid drawings in the marvelous animation.
Surely you have noted that by the camera position, almost never, we can see large portions of the sky; and with a magnificent management of the tones and the atmosphere, these artists took charge of smoothing out the details that necessarily appear drawn.
Thanks again.

4 01 2010
peter oedekoven

Wahrscheinlich schon oft gehört bzw. gelesen ,aber ihr Blog ist
der Informativste den ich regelmässig ansehe..
Eine Frage hätte ich jedoch….haben Sie herausgefunden wo man den Film “HEROIC TIMES” bekommt,den Sie vor einigen Monaten besprochen hatten?
(Ich kann mich an diesen Film nämlich auch noch erinnern.)
Vielen Dank und ein schönes neues Jahr.

4 01 2010

The 1.39:1 version was out on Laserdisc a few years back (I’ve got a copy) You can tell because Lady has a different design in a few shots. It was started as a standard shot film, but expanded early on to Cinemascope.

The recent DVD issue is far too magenta. Disney really needs to talk to an artist about these restorations.

4 01 2010
Kendra Melton

Gorgeous! Oh wow how the colors do sing, some really wonderful palettes. thanks :]

8 01 2010
Floyd Norman

Wide screen formats were always a pain to work with. Disney’s Sleeping Beauty ended up looking beautiful on screen. However, that extended format proved to be a lot of trouble for the artists.

10 01 2010
Uli Meyer

Cinemascope ratio is 1:2.35, I believe and regular academy ratio 1:1.85 🙂

from hans –
panavision is 1:2.35 – cinemascope 1:2 – widescreen 1:1.85…
dr zoch kuett

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