Sunday, July 13, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Seeing Double

Behind the Scenes is a weekly series that covers an aspect of the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival presented by Bank of America, from food to films, traditions to (Airstream) trailers. This series will post each Sunday evening, letting you in on another secret behind the Film Fest. Stick with us for all 10 weeks; by the end you'll be an expert!   

You look forward to Monday night's Film Fest screenings. But did you know that the films are actually screened twice each week? 

As dusk falls on Sunday evening, the Airstream trailer that houses the projection system is maneuvered into position on the Upper Terrace, along the back of the library, and the films are test screened. This ensures that the may aspects of the film--projection, alignment, sound, and more--are ready to go for Monday night.  

Each of our films are from different time periods and manufactured with different technologies, which means that the aspect ratio (the ratio of width to height of the picture) of the film varies week to week. The HBO screen is sized to fit the widest picture style; we compensate for narrower pictures by placing black panels on either side to frame the picture the night before. 

You can see that black panels were added to the left and right sides of the screen because the film shown that week, The Mark of Zorro, was shot in a narrower field than the screen. 

In addition, the alignment is adjusted to make sure the picture displays properly, and the audio is tested so that it matches with the picture on the screen. The Airstream's position on the Upper Terrace is adjusted, too, so that the film is not off-center!   

So as not to ruin the excitement of the Film Festival, we don't show the entire film a day early. The film shows just until all the quality checks have been made. If you want to know how the film ends, you'll have to join us on Monday evenings!

Join us tomorrow evening for our screening of Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). This film is based on a play by Tennessee Williams and answers the question "What really transpired last summer when a European vacation went bad?"

HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival
Mondays, June 16 through August 18
Lawn opens at 5pm
Films start 30 minutes after sunset

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