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Different Shot Sizes for Different Screens: Film in the Modern Age

10/15/2013 11:12 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

One of the great casualties of modern viewing is the Wide Shot. Because many filmmakers expect viewers to be watching work on their laptops or (even... god forbid) cell phones, shooting stunning wide landscapes or shots that contain many people is avoided. Cinema has become tighter and more constrained, which also constrains the stories we tell.

I watch films on a giant 1080p projector on a wall in my apartment, and when I see a film that has been made for the cell phone generation it feels like an anachronism of our time.

There's a solution though. There should be different versions of films for different sizes of screen.

We already program web sites to display different versions based on screen size, because we know that people can take in a different amount of information. There's no reason to see a tiny chariot in the distance taking up five pixels on our iPhone, when it could be magnified. I'd like to see technology choices that give directors this option, should they want it. It's not very hard to deliver different versions of the film technically.

Of course, it's vital that these decisions are not made for directors and cinematographers. Ideally, the director would have the option of whether or not to deliver alternate versions (directors are already used to delivering tons of versions for films) and the viewer would have the option to watch those alternate versions.

Content distributors -- iTunes, Amazon, etc. -- can you help us make this happen? I'd love to get my wide shots back!

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