What is Shawscope? Is it CinemaScope? Panavision?
To understand the term, one should first read: When Cinema was Square. In the early 60's, cinematographer Tadashi Nishimoto introduced CinemaScope (and Eastmancolor) to the Shaw studios and they adopted the "scope" process. While Shawscope is basically the Shaw's version of CinemaScope, it should not be confused with "Panavision."
Yes, CinemaScope and Panavision are "technically" equivalent processes. Both use anamorphic lenses on the camera to squeeze a widescreen image onto standard 35mm film. When the film is shown in theaters, it is projected through an another anamorphic
lens that stretches it out horizontally to the proper shape.
The confusion occurs because of two reasons. Firstly, the term CinemaScope has become synonymous for similar processes (including Shawscope) - similar to the way "Xerox" is used for "photocopy." (No, "BootlegScope" is not one; merely a satirical witticism by the author). Secondly, the term "Panavision" is a name used for several processes which include: Panavision (35mm anamorphic), Super Panavision 70, and Ultra Panavision 70 ... but that's only the half of it!
Panavision, more importantly, is a company that makes and rents (but rarely sells) cameras, lenses, and related equipment. When a company rents a Panavision camera for use on a project they are obligated to credit Panavision. If "Panavision anamorphic lenses" are used in a production, the credit reads "Filmed in Panavision" but if normal (spherical) lenses are used - whether to film in 1.66 or 1.85 [flat widescreen] or 1.33 [TV] - the credit reads "Lenses and Panaflex Camera by Panavision" or "Photographic equipment by Panavision."
When Panavision's lenses were first introduced (1971) they were so superior to the CinemaScope lenses that even Fox dropped CinemaScope in favor of Panavision.
The problem that has arose in recent years is due to the "credits." Written by agents/attorneys (not the filmmaker), the terminology has become misinterpreted. Flat widescreen films might say "Filmed in..."
while anamorphic films say "Lenses and cameras..." Even various television shows (1.33:1) have been credited as "Filmed in Panavision."
Though Shaw may have utilized Panavisionís products, it doesn't necessarily mean a movie was "Filmed in Panavision." Once these films are fully restored, we may discover some were indeed shot in Panavision and not Shawscope (if the credits are correct). In any event, "BootlegScope" will finally become a thing of the past for these 760 Shaw classics.
© Terrence J. Brady