Friday, March 1, 2013

Framing That In A Differnt Light: Re-framing The Dark Knight Rises Blu-ray Part 1

Modern movies generally come  in two favors of aspect ratios 1.85 and 2.39 (or 2.35 for movies before 1977) but in the past there have been dozens of different aspect ratios, 1.33 (pre-1954 movies), 1.66 (European Widescreen), 2:20 (65mm/70mm film), etc, etc. You can read more about it here: and here: Modern High Definition TVs have an aspect ration of 16:9 or 1.77 to which 1.85 fits nicely into. 2.39 on the other hand has to be "letterboxed" (, which mean black bars are placed at the top and bottom of the screen to maintain the aspect ratio. In the last few years a few directors have shot their movies in multiple aspect ratios mostly for the rise of IMAX in movie multiplexes (aka: LIEMAX). Shoot the movie in one aspect ratio but open it up for special scenes in IMAX. Tron Legacy did this, Transformer 2 did this but the most famous movies for doing this are The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. That is why if you watch either of these films on Blu-ray, the aspect ratio is constantly changing. The 1.85 scenes were the reformatted IMAX scenes and the 2.39 scenes from regular 35mm film. You can see this in the example above from The Dark Knight Rises. This all plays very well on a modern HDTV but what happens if you don't have a 16:9 TV, what if you have 2.39 TV?

Some people, like me, have digital projectors in their homes. This is an attempt to create a movie like atmosphere at home. Most screens are 16:9 but a few stupid people (read: me) have 2.39 screens. It can be a pain but I really do think it creates a more expansive cinema experience at home.  You can achieve a 2.39 (or 2.35) through two methods. The cheap way is done through zooming the lens (I do this) or with an expensive anamorphic lens. These seem to be good articles on the subject: and

The problem with movies like The Dark Knight Rises is you can't keep changing your project to accommodate the constantly changing aspect ratio. So, what do we do? Well The Dark Knight Rises was also meant to projected in non-IMAX screens in constant 2.39. They simply made sure that all the important information was in the center of the screen and matted out the rest. So the above picture becomes this:

This guide is an attempt to show how you can re-format The Dark Knight Rises Blu-ray (or The Dark Knight) with free tools from the Internet and not more expensive programs like AVID, Premiere or Final Cut. Basically you will change this:

into this:

Or this:

into this:

while not changing the director's original intent as seen in both non-IMAX movie theaters and the DVD (both where in 2.39). Part 2 of this guide will show you how create the new re-framed Dark Knight Rises and store it as a MKV file. Part 3 will show how to take that MKV and changing it into a Blu-ray.

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