Red Riding formats

There is some confusion over the broadcast formats of the the three Red Riding films, so I’ve taken a screen grab from each film and measured each image in terms of the pixel matrix to calculate the aspect ratio.

Andrew Garfield as the young reporter in Red Riding: 1974

Andrew Garfield as the young reporter in Red Riding: 1974

I calculated this image to be 1086 x 608 pixels on my computer screen (it’s scaled down here) and that equates to a screen ratio of 1.79:1. I may be one or two pixels out given the way I use the grabbing software, but no more than that, so I’m fairly confident that the Channel 4 image is 1.78:1 , i.e. the standard 16:9 of the modern widescreen TV set.

Paddy Considine as Peter Hunter in Red Riding: 1980

Paddy Considine as Peter Hunter in Red Riding: 1980

The interview of the 'Wrong Man', Michael Myshkin in Red Riding: 1983

The interview of the ‘Wrong Man’, Michael Myshkin in Red Riding: 1983

Using the same procedure on the grabs from 1980 and 1983, these came out as 1086 x 476, equating to a screen ratio of 2.28:1, which is slightly less than the cinema projection standard for CinemaScope of 2.35:1. I find this a bit strange. No doubt Channel 4 alienated a small proportion of viewers by showing the films in ‘Scope (especially given how murky 1980 becomes). But why compromise on 2.28? Why not 2:1 or the full 2.35? Is this in any way related to the use of Super 16 or the Red One digital camera? Or is this just Channel 4 ‘house style’? Of course, it could also be an issue to do with how the TV signal is broadcast or received. Mine came via cable, set to letterbox for my 4:3 TV set.


  1. keith1942

    I have been back and checked the formats. I could not work out doing pixels, so I used a more traditional technique.
    I think Roy is probably right about the films. However, whilst 1 and 2 fitted this, the transmission of 3 that I saw was actually in about 2:1, so cropped ore than part 2.
    Good as Channel 4 are in comparison to others, they have their faults.
    And it is not just anamorphic films. 16:9 seems to cover a range of ratios from 1.6:1 to 1.85:1.
    Hence it is better to see films at the cinema, where they only occassionally get it wrong. This is, of course, less true of digital versions!


  2. keith1942

    Further to Red Riding. The biggest problem I had with aspect ratios was Part three. So, as Channel 4 repeated it last weekend, I checked that film. It appears that on analogue broadcast it was in 1.85:1, whilst on Digital broadcast it was in about 2.20:1.
    Makes TV viewing a lottery.


    • keith1942

      No I meant 1.85:1, that is what I made it.
      I know TV often presents in what is called 16:9, but this seems to vary between 1.70:1 and 1.80:1.
      Anyway as noted in the review, the film is actually 2.35:1, so it is clearly been cropped. What is slightly odder is that the ratio seems to vary depending how you tuned in?


  3. daniellepuleston

    The first part is filmed on 16mm film stock. Then they filmed part two on 35mm film stock and then the third part was filmed in HD.


    • Roy Stafford

      Yes, that’s what we’ve reported in this and the other posts on the trilogy (Super 16, 35 and RED). This specific post is about how Channel 4 broadcast the films rather than the format used to shoot them. It’s always possible to change the aspect ratio for broadcast/projection.


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