In its core essence, a framing chart is a visual tool to communicate which area of the captured image is meant to end up on screen in the final product. This area is also commonly referred to as ‘active picture’. Below, we will outline how to fully utilize the framing chart and what to include in creating one.
The ideal framing chart clearly shows the exact captured resolution and aspect ratio, as well as the intended active picture’s resolution and aspect ratio. This information will inform downstream teams how to map (crop and/or scale) the OCF (Original Camera Footage) the right way.
We recommend creating a pixel-accurate digital framing chart (a.k.a. a synthetic chart), that can be printed onto large scale paper and shot by the camera during the technical camera test (a.k.a. a physical framing chart). Both the synthetic and the captured physical framing chart should be delivered to the dailies, editorial and DI departments as a reference to determine scaling and cropping of the captured image.
Example of a framing chart:
The above framing chart tells us the following:
- Capture resolution is 6048 x 3190 (the associated sensor mode is called “6K 17:9 Full Frame”). Dark grey area / middle grey arrows.
- The largest possible extraction in the intended aspect ratio (1.78:1) within this sensor mode is 5670 x 3190 pixels. Middle grey area / black outlined arrows.
- The intended active image resolution is 5386 x 3030 pixels, which is a ~5% crop from the largest possible extraction. Light grey area / red arrows.
Furthermore, you see the following elements:
- Crosshair to show the exact center of the chart.
- Siemens (focus) charts.
- A dotted outline rectangle that shows the maximum allowed crop for the footage to still be considered 4K/UHD capture.
This information can be utilized in the following ways:
- The 1st AC can print and shoot the framing chart, and use it to create accurate framelines in the viewfinder of the camera. The camera operator and DoP will frame for the framelines, everything outside of that frameline isn’t intended to end up on screen in the edit, but will be there when necessary (see below for more on this topic).
- The dailies vendor will look at the chart to determine how to scale and crop the captured footage into rendered review dailies and editorial rushes.
- VFX departments will look at the chart to know which part of the image in the VFX pulls is intended to end up on screen.
- Conform editors will use the framing chart to decide their timeline setup and once again crop and scale to show the intended part of the image.
- When you are capturing at a resolution that is higher than 4K/UHD, we recommend to add a safety margin of somewhere between 3 to 10% (like in the above example). This safety crop / safety margin will be helpful for stabilization, reframing and other post-processing later on in the filmmaking process. If this safety margin is available/visible in editorial or only during the final grade is to be decided on a per-project basis, but having that margin available in VFX and grading can prove to be valuable on numerous occasions.
- When shooting the printed physical framing chart, it’s recommended to use a 50mm lens or another lens with minimal distortion. This will make it easier to line up the edges of the chart with the edges of the viewfinder.
- Siemens (focus) charts are added to make it easier to see if the camera is perpendicular to the physical chart.
- If you are using different cameras or even different setups within one camera, it is recommended to create and distribute a separate framing chart for each setup.
Framing charts for anamorphic capture:
When you are shooting with anamorphic lenses, you will need two different types of framing charts. Because of the fact that the camera is capturing the real world but is storing that captured data in a horizontally squeezed image, you will need the following:
- An unsqueezed chart that shows circles as actual circles. This will be used for printing the physical framing chart.
- A squeezed chart that shows circles as ovals (oftentimes at a factor 2 to 1, but depending on the squeeze factor of your lens). This will be used as the synthetic framing chart.
Archival Delivery Items:
Collecting framing charts, along with archival assets, helps to match the original framing in the case of future remastering. Therefore, in each production’s delivery list, we request delivery of the framing charts. Ideally, we would receive both synthetic and captured physical framing charts, for each different camera setup.