A short film demonstrating the new 70mm widescreen Todd-AO system. After a prologue that shows all that the eye can see through the Todd-AO wide angle lens, we take a ride in a roller-coaster, fly over the canyons of the Grand Teton Mountains, ski in Sun Valley, and follow a motorcycle chase through the San Francisco.Written by
Jonathan D. H. Parshall <email@example.com>
I saw The Miracle of Todd-AO on the same bill as the Todd-AO version of Oklahoma! in the 1950s. There never was a better wide screen process. The image was almost perfect, and truly impressed our photography club. The roller-coaster ride, if anything, was better than the one in This is Cinerama, because there were no jiggling join lines to cause disbelief. The San Francisco motorcycle ride was even better. But it was the picture window clear, grainless, sparkling nature of the 70mm (twice as wide as the normal 35mm) presentation that was the most impressive. Because of the 30 frames per second (faster than the 24 fps standard), what little grain there was (visible only from the first few rows of the theater) did not obscure the detail -- the clarity rivaled that of still photography with an 8 by 10 negative in a Linhoff. The deeply curved screen simulated the arc of vision, and the 2.2:1 shape became more like 2:1 or 1.9: 1 because of the curve taking up some of the spread. This was a much more comfortable shape than the 2.35:1 that is often seen in 35mm Panavision, CinemaScope, and the like.
Todd-A0 was later brilliantly used in Around the World in 80 Days (1956), The Sound of Music, Baraka, and many other films.
I'm hoping for a revival of 70mm. Because of the bigger aperture in the projector's film gate, much more light gets through to the screen, a feature much needed today, now that the industry has abandoned the old, brilliant carbon arc projector lamps. I'm tired of dark projection in theaters!
Hasn't IMAX replaced and bettered Todd-AO? No! The IMAX shape is much too square to simulate the arc of vision, and IMAX is much too dark, except from the seats right in the center. The 6 channel stereophonic sound in 1956's Around the World in 80 days, 1959's Porgy and Bess and 1965's Sound of Music (and most other Todd-AO films) is actually superior to that of IMAX, because the average Todd-AO equipped theatre had(has)speakers that grab a lot more air than the usual smaller IMAX speakers. The IMAX subwoofers reach a little farther into the bass, but there is much more sonic impact in Todd-AO in the range where the punch is (about 50 Hz to about 300Hz) providing the impression of more and deeper bass. Most Todd-AO soundtracks are very warm sounding, and the 80 days soundtrack, with its 114 piece orchestra, is one of the best cinema recordings ever (but one must hear it in Todd-A0, not squeaky mono optical). Several large cities have 70mm projection facilities, just waiting for 70mm prints!
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