Audition, why 16:9 widescreen and not 2.35:1 anamorphic?
We shot the film with the view that it was likely to be cropped down to 2.35:1. The Nikon d800, like all other DSLR shoots at 16:9, 1080p. A lot of films, shorts included, are cropped to 2.35:1 (anamorphic). This gives it the distinct cinematic feeling, so why, when most of my earlier films are anamorphic, stick to widescreen?
For those that don’t know the difference, an anamorphic aspect ratio or crop is responsible for the black bars at the top and bottom of videos (such as movie trailers) on websites such as YouTube. This is because YouTube by default features a 16:9 video player.
We framed a lot of the shots for anamorphic, but during the edit I fell in love with the taller picture. It gave a sense of an uncompromising view of the horror, like their was nothing being hidden. A lot of the rooms we shot in were square so to show from head to toe we’d have had to have stepped even further from the action.
There’s one particular shot where Beaufort stands with all these dead bodies in front of him, the initial idea was to focus on his blade wielding hand and the bodies, but there was something more disturbing about the full picture. The 16:9, tv aspect ratio called back to memory older Hitchcock movies and TV movies which use more practical special effects than visual effects, which is exactly what we did with the film.
In addition the main audition sequence is constructed through the use of two close-ups, cross cut, which strips away the environment and focuses on the action. These were purposely framed really tightly so you find yourself, as an audience member, being stuck in the middle of this dark engagement, scared for Cherry the auditionee and seduced by Beaufort the villain. Cropping would have taken away some of the upper forehead detail or lower mouth movement and this reduced the view of exactly what we were focusing on.
In the end the framing and presentation worked better in standard widescreen, and knowing that the film would be released online there was no point in using an anamorphic crop as a shortcut to a cinematic look. The lighting, the performances and the drama should create the performance on their own accord and that’s what we hope to have achieved.
I will be returning to the anamorphic aspect ratio for my next film ‘Glove Compartment‘.