Along our cinematic journey there have been a few additions/changes to our projection “tool kit.” For this discussion: what are the best options when firing onto a 2.35:1 “CinemaScope” screen?
Anamorphic lenses have been in use for a number of years. Back in 2008 Wolf Cinema launched a new feature with our Reference three-chip, xenon arc lamped DLP engines: using ultra-precise Konica/Minolta motorized optical assemblies, we controlled them and changed the on-screen shapes via addressable memories in the projector. I’m not sure if anyone else was doing this at that time (nearly everyone was using anamorphic lenses to do ‘Scope). But this essentially “free” lens memory trick is quite common today, available on a wide range of solutions. That year we trademarked this lens indexing concept – motorized focus/zoom/shift optics, accessible via memory recall – as “VariScope.” You’ll see that term often in our documentation, and sometimes on other projectors.
Our second popular methodology is to take the advanced scaling concepts found in Jim Peterson’s scalers, and for our Wolf Cinema editions create a wide assortment of aspect ratios through scaling – each instantly recalled by the user. Here the 2.35: 1 screen is filled natively by the optics – the optics locked down – then all the smaller width & taller aspect ratio images [4:3, 1.78:1, 1.85:1, 2.20:1 etc] are electronically downsized to fit the ‘Scope screen. We call this technique E-VariScope™ for “Electronic-Variscope” and it works really well. This has become a fan favorite here at Wolf Cinema – since is amazingly good looking, permits instant aspect ratio changes (no lens travel delays, no focusing problems, no anamorphic lens and sled to contend with), maintains the original pixel size throughout these changes, and doesn’t induce any visible artifacts to the original content.
We continue to offer three solutions for widescreen ‘Scope enthusiasts: anamorphic lenses, VariScope and E-VariScope. The attached documents outline the techniques, plus some of the pros and cons for each. [There is a fourth method available whereby the manufacturer uses a higher density 4:3 DLP chip set and then “turns off” selected columns or lines; that works too, but as an embedded method we’ll skip that one for now).
FYI probably 70% of our projectors have the “free” VariScope focus/zoom memory system included as a basic feature; for the balance that do not, nearly all of those systems are shipped with a ProScaler to do the E-VariScope techniques. We haven’t sold an anamorphic lens since early 2016… and we remain involved in lots of 2.35:1 projects.