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Broadcast TV - Aspect ratio on new programme.


Distinguished Member
Hi I seldom watch drama series on TV but started to watch the new series Singapore Grip on ITVHD last night. I noticed that there were narrow black bars top and bottom giving a picture aspect ratio of about 16:8.5 (or 32:17). Why is this? Adverts and following programme were full screen.
As I say there may be other drama series that have been shot in this aspect ratio but I have never seen it before. The black bands are far narrower than those you get with a widescreen movie
I am sure there is a good reason but it is not apparent to me.


Distinguished Member
It is because that is how the Producers and/or Directors of the programmes want to do it.

Same as the 'filmic' look, mumblevision, deliberately washed out colours, natural candle-lit scenes and other such 'arty' stuff.

There's no excuse wrt cameras as they can superimpose/overlay 'safe areas' when filming to suit any aspect ratio and export the digital files in the correct format after editing.

BBC (and many other UK broadcasters) require such letterbox 'cinematic' formats are agreed with them before delivery as files for playout. BBC - Technical requirements - Commissioning see the pdfs if interested.


Distinguished Member
Why curtail the viewing area of the intended viewing device?
Perhaps they intended the programme(s) to be viewed cinematically using projectors/screens masked to whatever the aspect ratio was?
With TV screen viewing just an additional revenue stream?

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