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Digital film, Global television

Red Riding: formats

There is some confusion over the broadcast formats of the the three Red Riding films, so I’ve taken a screen grab from each film and measured each image in terms of the pixel matrix to calculate the aspect ratio.

Andrew Garfield as the young reporter in Red Riding: 1974

Andrew Garfield as the young reporter in Red Riding: 1974

I calculated this image to be 1086 x 608 pixels on my computer screen (it’s scaled down here) and that equates to a screen ratio of 1.79:1. I may be one or two pixels out given the way I use the grabbing software, but no more than that, so I’m fairly confident that the Channel 4 image is 1.78:1 , i.e. the standard 16:9 of the modern widescreen TV set.

Paddy Considine as Peter Hunter in Red Riding: 1980

Paddy Considine as Peter Hunter in Red Riding: 1980

The interview of the 'Wrong Man', Michael Myshkin in Red Riding: 1983

The interview of the 'Wrong Man', Michael Myshkin in Red Riding: 1983

Using the same procedure on the grabs from 1980 and 1983, these came out as 1086 x 476, equating to a screen ratio of 2.28:1, which is slightly less than the cinema projection standard for CinemaScope of 2.35:1. I find this a bit strange. No doubt Channel 4 alienated a small proportion of viewers by showing the films in ‘Scope (especially given how murky 1980 becomes). But why compromise on 2.28? Why not 2:1 or the full 2.35? Is this in any way related to the use of Super 16 or the Red One digital camera? Or is this just Channel 4 ‘house style’? Of course, it could also be an issue to do with how the TV signal is broadcast or received. Mine came via cable, set to letterbox for my 4:3 TV set.


6 thoughts on “Red Riding: formats

  1. I have been back and checked the formats. I could not work out doing pixels, so I used a more traditional technique.
    I think Roy is probably right about the films. However, whilst 1 and 2 fitted this, the transmission of 3 that I saw was actually in about 2:1, so cropped ore than part 2.
    Good as Channel 4 are in comparison to others, they have their faults.
    And it is not just anamorphic films. 16:9 seems to cover a range of ratios from 1.6:1 to 1.85:1.
    Hence it is better to see films at the cinema, where they only occassionally get it wrong. This is, of course, less true of digital versions!

    Posted by keith1942 | May 5, 2009, 17:48
  2. Further to Red Riding. The biggest problem I had with aspect ratios was Part three. So, as Channel 4 repeated it last weekend, I checked that film. It appears that on analogue broadcast it was in 1.85:1, whilst on Digital broadcast it was in about 2.20:1.
    Makes TV viewing a lottery.

    Posted by keith1942 | September 24, 2009, 13:21
  3. You meant 1:78?

    Posted by della | March 16, 2010, 21:37
    • No I meant 1.85:1, that is what I made it.
      I know TV often presents in what is called 16:9, but this seems to vary between 1.70:1 and 1.80:1.
      Anyway as noted in the review, the film is actually 2.35:1, so it is clearly been cropped. What is slightly odder is that the ratio seems to vary depending how you tuned in?

      Posted by keith1942 | March 17, 2010, 18:24
  4. The first part is filmed on 16mm film stock. Then they filmed part two on 35mm film stock and then the third part was filmed in HD.

    Posted by daniellepuleston | January 12, 2013, 15:20
    • Yes, that’s what we’ve reported in this and the other posts on the trilogy (Super 16, 35 and RED). This specific post is about how Channel 4 broadcast the films rather than the format used to shoot them. It’s always possible to change the aspect ratio for broadcast/projection.

      Posted by Roy Stafford | January 12, 2013, 16:11

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