Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Super 35 For Commercials

I was wondering about the advantages and disadvantages of shooting in the super 35 format for commercials. Does it give me a better image? What do I need to do in trems of prep: Lab/ Tranfer, Ground Glass, Lens? I saw a little on the subject in the Arri newsletter but it didn't give me enough info to go ahead with it.

Seamus Tierney


With Super 35 (just as in S16) the image center is shifted slightly and the area of negative exposed is increased to include the optical soundtrack area. There is a format that uses nearly all of that increased area for transfer to TV (4:3). It was called Big TV when I worked with it and presumably there will be a qualitative increase in the transferred image due to more negative space used. Unfortunately the shoot was with a French prod co and I never saw transferred material to confirm my gut feelings.

Drawback, since you are using nearly the entire negative there very little room to reposition in post.

One can also shoot Super 35 with a I.66/TV combo. This provides less negative space for the TV portion of the frame but if you keep equipment out of the top and bottom you will have great flexibility for repositioning in post (which could be an advantage or not I suppose).

Or you may plan to transfer 16/9 or other (1:85, 2:35) as opposed to squareish TV and then extra room in the neg side to side could be an advantage.

If you decide to shoot Super 35 be sure to contact your equipment supplier early on. Some cameras convert with more ease than others and not all rental outlets will be able to provide. I know there is an issue with Zeiss T/2.1 primes going on S35 Arri IIIs (they don't all fit, back element too deep) and some common video doors (Arri III) do not quite cover the entire pic area (viewing or video). There may be other lenses with coverage problems (long zooms) as well.

David Campbell


I shoot mostly commercials. My personal 35 gear isn't switchable to Super-35. But when I rent gear I go Super-35 if it's available from the rental house.

When discussing Super-35 for commercials I'm not talking about Super 2.35 or Super 1.85. I'm referring to Full Aperture 1.33. Some rental houses call it Big TV or Large TV. Like all Super-35 formats it uses the negative area normally reserved for a sound track on the final print. It's a 1.33 format just like Normal 35 TV is, but the usable negative is wider and taller. The comparison is similar to shooting Super-16 instead of Normal 16, except that a S-16 frame is wider than N-16 but both are the same height.

According to ARRI's Compendium of Formats, the exposed negative area on Super-35 4 perf Large TV is 24mm x 18mm. By comparison, the Normal 35 4 perf TV exposed negative area is 22mm x 16mm. So the advantage is that you get a larger usable negative area. More exposed negative means you don't have to magnify the image as much in telecine, so you have more flexibility if you want to zoom in or rotate the image at the transfer. You can also shoot with faster stocks and end up with a less grainy image than you would have gotten if transferring the same stock in Normal 35.

The disadvantage to Super-35 Big TV is that not all rental houses support it. Many older cameras aren't switchable to Super-35 and a lot of older lenses don't cover it. (My Cooke 20-100, for instance, vignettes in S-35.)

If you do decide to go Super-35 Big TV, just make sure the rental house has the whole package: a camera with lens mount that can be recentered for Super-35, a Super-35 Big TV Ground Glass, a Full Aperture gate, lenses that cover the format, and accessories (like a baseplate) that switchable to Super-35. And shoot a framing chart like you normally would so the colorist knows what you were seeing in the viewfinder.

To answer your other questions, there's no difference in the labwork. And based on my experience, any modern telecine machine can instantly be recentered for S-35.

If anyone out there knows more about this than I do please feel free to chime in. After all, I'm really just another wanna be; I shoot TV spots for a living--but I "wanna be" shooting big budget features and joining the discussions on Super 2.35 vs. anamorphic for projection!

D.A. Oldis


Winston-Salem, NC

It certainly gives you a better image, it's a bigger neg!

I all my commercials S35, it definitely helps with high speed stocks and generally improves the image quality.

Of course this being Europe everything is shot 1:78 so there is still a lot of room left for vertical repositioning.

Geoff Boyle FBKS

Director of Photography

Definitely gives you a better image, bigger neg, smaller grain, better picture. Is a 35 image better than a 16 image?

You need to tell your transfer house you intent to shoot this format so they can recenter the telecine. You need a different Ground Glass to cover the bigger image area, and to have the image properly centered.

Though most 35mm lenses should cover the bigger image area, the lens mount should be recentered. If it is not, it will be most apparent with very wide lens where the prespect convergence will be off center, and with zooms.

Don Canfield

Gear+Rose Motion Control


Super TV is pretty straight forward and very flexible. You essentially pick the size that you want, from Standard (utilizing the extra negative for repositioning) to Full Aperature (using maximum negative area). Most major rental houses have or can get a variety of Super ground glasses, or make one up to your specs. Obviously you want to check your lense clearances and vignetting and bear in mind that the focal length that you are used to may be a little wider than you think ( 60 mm in Full Ap. S35 is roughly the same as a 50ish mm in standard ). Always shoot plenty of framing charts and be in touch with all involved so that they know what you are doing. You can easily shoot a tighter chart on a lense that doesn't cover if you have to.

Whether you use Super 35 for safety of a bigger negative, I can't think of any reason not to use it whenever possible.

Anders Uhl


New York


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