VistaVision is a variant of the 35mm motion picture film format created by Paramount Studios in the 1950s. With all of the other major studios using CinemaScope, Paramount debuted VistaVision in 1954 with White Christmas. The film is run horizontally, as in a still camera, with a width of 8 perforations per frame. This gave a wider aspect ratio of 1.5 against the conventional 1.33, and a larger image area. The film was usually then matted to a standard aspect ratio and optically printed onto vertical reels. Most films were ultimately framed at 1.85, although there was for a time a VistaVision ratio of 1.96.
Alfred Hitchcock took to the format and used it for many of his films in the 1950s. However, it never really caught on, as it required considerable labwork including optical printing and matting down to a conventional aspect ratio on vertical film (with the exception of a very small number of theaters between 1954 and 1956), as well as the cost of twice as much film stock during filming. In the end, VistaVision lost out in the general market to the less expensive, anamorphic systems such as Panavision and the more capable 70mm format. It has virtually disappeared as a primary imaging system for feature films, although it was still very infrequently used in lesser-known Japanese films up to 2000.
Well put, although I think a mention is in order for Industrial Light + Magic’s use over the years, of VistaVision as an acquisition medium.
Because of the bigger 8-perf negative, ILM used VV to gather much of the world’s most famous visual effects footage, from 1975 on.
They manipulated those images in their big, beautiful optical printer, printing them finally, through an anamorphic lens, onto 4-perf 35mm ‘Scope format.
There were exceptions, (E.T. was a four-perf show), but most ILM films were VistaVision, for a long time. I’ve shot VV, and I’ve shot 65mm, both are great, but only VistaVision is “Motion Picture High Fidelity!” (TM)