All about the image format or the recording format

Tout sur le format d’image ou le format de tournage

Image Format

Shooting Format and projection



This is a moment that I haven’t written an article on pure technique. All in all, this is also a time that I think of this article ;o) As I am currently in preparation of a first feature-length film, about the shooting format was discussed. This is why I want to talk about it.

We often think that the image format is standard from one film to another. When you see a film on television or at the cinema there is very little attention to it. In addition, when a producer of grass or a screenwriter in the grass thinking of his film, he imagines it as 16: 9 and it is normal at the bottom.

Why the size of the frame is so important ?

I remember the first short film that I shot was in 1.33 ! I feel like I’ve already lost some readers with that last sentence lol. Before continuing I will explain to you the different formats. Know one thing, the choice of format is part of the artistic choice of the director. It goes through these different possibilities, call her a certain way, show or hide things.

Once you have chosen your format, it will not be possible to go back. You can not spend 1.33 at 16.9 (1.78) or to another at your convenience. It is true that today it is possible to ” transform “ some formats into some others, but at the expense of the initial framework.

Formats what is it ?

It is simply the proportion between the width and height of the image.

The different image formats

As I told you a little over the top, there’s the 1.33, this corresponds to the 4/3 as the tv sets of our parents carry. It is for this reason that the TV’s were square….finally…they were square because the movie was filmed in this format too…one has the impression that it was a century ago and yet…at the same time, the more young you have not known it…sometimes, when you go into the home of an old aunt, you still need to see. I assure you, even for me who have experienced these TV, it makes me feel funny lol. Yet 25 years ago, a simple TV 36 cm was my happiness to play on my playstation…1.

And then we have the 1.78…that everyone knows because it is simply the 16: 9 aspect ratio that allows a film to be projected without the black strip at the top and bottom, like all plasmas, moreover, LED or lcd ;o) Why this format ? Because it corresponds, more or less…or more closely resembles the vision of the human being.

The 1.85

This format is close enough to 1.78, it is the american standard for excellence ! Format of movies shot in 35 MM (film…the film what !)

And then we have the formats that I love above all ! The 2.35, in the film, that was in the 70 MM. today the digital cameras can play different formats of course. This is the format that you find on the DVD but it is mainly the most used format today in the cinemas. In short, a movie in 2.35 reserve a cinematic experience that huge…well… if the movie is good ! If you turn a dark dung, the format 2.35 will not save your movie ;o)

The more you are going to choose a format that is lying down, the more you’re going to have to fill the frame or image if you prefer. You will need to compose your image in promoting the ends or the height.

The scope, for example, will give you more of a sense of space and freedom in your image. You can, therefore, support stronger your story or the journey of your hero, the way that he has to go, thanks to this format.

At the same time, with the 1.33 it is possible to make the danger more present, filling the entire width of the frame with the grille of a truck like in “Duel” by Steven Spielberg.

Have fun to study the choice of the format that has made the director of the film that you are watching and try to see how it uses the space of the framework and why !

If you are shooting a very wide – of a character walking in a desert, a forest or the Antarctic you will get an impression of smallness of the character, lost in the immensity if you’re shooting in 2.35

If you put your hero at one end of the frame to the left or to the right, you will give an impression of imbalance.

You will have understood, the choice of format can tell or help you tell the story that you have written or that you are trying to put in scene.


Often the directors with whom I work ask me of the scenery ” graphics “ that is to say, of the sets where they can play with the lines of the buildings, houses, door frames, electrical wires, drain lines of a guardrail or a bridge ! Why I hear you say ? To play with the format and the framework.

Don’t forget that the format is square or rectangular. So these are geometric shapes. The scenery, the streets, the houses, in short, what you want to shoot is often built in geometric fashion. By combining the format of your frame with the lines and shapes of your decorations, you can play with and tell or to feel emotions as varied as varied.


Have fun also to analyze the lines or shapes of an image or of a sequence. Imagine, a window fills a large part left of the image. A character is backed against the wall to the right of this window. This plan would not have the same effect if the character was leaning against the middle of this window and the window in the middle of the frame, no ? ! If you tell that your hero is uncomfortable in his skin, that it does not assume etc…the fact of the lean against the wall next to the window takes on its full meaning ;o)

If your character likes to put himself in the light, as before in life, as you put lean-to in the middle of the window and the window in the middle of the frame.

On your next set, you will think so in the format you want to use ;o) and the dial-in function.


That’s it for this article on the formats of shooting, the image format… I hope it will help you ;o)

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