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DVD Widescreen Format

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD discs' started by Hopkins, Aug 22, 2005.

  1. Hopkins

    Hopkins
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    Is it my imagination, or are nearly all of the widescreen DVDs that I own just cropped 4:3 pictures? Surely this means that you're only getting about 400 lines?! I have a couple of widescreen DVDs which seem to be 4:3 signals but which you stretch to fit the screen and restore the correct proportions, but most of them just need to be zoomed in.

    Am I missing something?
     
  2. LV426

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    Probably.

    I'm not 100% sure I understand exactly what you perceive as a problem. However, assuming you have a 16x9 TV AND your DVD player is correctly set to output a 16x9 signal where present on the disc, then and disc you watch may be one of:

    a) 4x3 video carrying 4x3 material. This would be the case with an old TV show, for example, and some classic movies. The correct way to watch these is with black bars to the left and right of your TV screen.

    b) 4x3 video carrying 16x9 or wider material. This would be the case for some early widescreen DVDs. Thankfully this practice is all but discontinued on new releases. Examples include "The Abyss" and "Titanic". On such discs, there are black bars above and below the image encoded into the video signal. The correct way to watch these is zoomed in, so that the film fills the width of the screen, and part (or sometimes all) of the black bars are cropped off by your TV.

    c) 16x9 video carrying 16x9 or wider material. Most modern movie releases and TV shows. Watch these with your TV in wide mode. There may still be black bars above and below.

    Why the black bars? Bear in mind that films are made for the cinema. Where they have really wide wide screens. Wider than your TV. The only way to get all of a really wide widescreen film onto a 16x9 TV is to accompany it with black above and below. Otherwise it won't fit.

    To put it another way..........assuming your equipment is set correctly (in particular, your DVD player is set to 16x9 or "wide" or whatever, in the TV type/shape setting)......

    If

    - objects are the right shape (i.e. circles are round, people are people-shaped, etc) AND
    - you have black bars on no, or 2 sides of your image (but never all 4 sides)

    then everything is as it should be.

    OK?
     
  3. PJTX100

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    I think if this were right there would have been an outcry well before now!

    If you are talking about films, most 4:3 DVD's are cropped/pan&scan versions of the original 2.35:1 or 1.85:1 version (or whatever widescreen AR it was orginally filmed in). TV produce is different, many of those are straight 4:3 which you'll need to view with vertical black bars on a widescreen TV if you want to watch it in its correct AR.

    I can't see where you are coming from when you say widescreen is simply a cropped version of the original 4:3. Were there any made-for-cinema films produced in 4:3 AR? I've never seen one!...PJ :)
     
  4. LV426

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    Oh yes! War of the Worlds (1953), Gone With The Wind (1939) are two that immediately spring to mind. Academy Ratio it's called and it's the reason why old TVs are the shape they are. But new films are rarely (or, never, even) made with this intended ratio. Always 1.85:1 or wider.
     
  5. PJTX100

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    OK, but fringe stuff like that doesn't count does it? ;)

    ...PJ :)
     
  6. Hopkins

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    Firstly, thank you all for your comments.

    Yes, only purchased recently.


    Wow, embarrassingly, I was not aware that I had to do this! The DVD player was set to 4:3 mode. As such, I was getting a cropped 4:3 image which, when zoomed to fill the screen, was particularly obvious.

    Allow me to fill you in on a bit of background. The reason I have held off buying a widescreen TV until now is because it seemed to me that the whole idea was a bit silly, and because its gradual implementation seems to have been poor.

    The reasons I find it silly are as follows:

    - What was wrong with the 4:3 shape?
    - Why change all the recording and broadcasting standards just because films tend to be mastered in a different aspect ratio?
    - Why reduce the screen area of your TV for a given footprint?
    - Plus, given that CRTs are only slowly being replaced in many homes, why change to an aspect ratio that is less suited to this technology?

    The main reason why I suggest that the implementation has been poor is because no standard has been introduced to describe fully the aspect ratio (and other characteristics) of a given signal. It is also annoying to see widescreen TVs being touted heavily by manufacturers and retailers when there are so many other problems with home video that should have been fixed first!

    Another, sillier reason why I delayed a widescreen TV purchase until now is the number of people who seem to *prefer* to watch distorted pictures, stretched to fit their new TV so that they don't "waste it" :p. The whole thing just annoys me, especially when you're subjected to this kind of thing on public displays, like for football matches in pubs. What's wrong with these peoples' eyes?! (I know that you can choose not to watch things like this on your own TV, and I'm thankful that my new TV tries to default to non-distorted pictures, but it just annoys me and makes me want to boycott the format!)

    The last reasons are that I wanted a large CRT and I can't see them getting much cheaper in the UK, plus prices seem to have lowered on TVs in general recently, maybe because everyone is scared of having an "out of date TV" when HDTV arrives in the UK. (Rather, I think that they should be worried that the transition to this new format will be just as bad as the one to widescreen ;).)

    Anyway, I didn't intend this to turn into a rant, but the simple solution to my problem made me feel like writing a long winded excuse! Besides, I think that most of my comments are valid, although feel free to argue!

    Another thing I noticed is that my DVD player had defaulted to "NTSC" mode. I was surprised to see that the colours looked more washed out in NTSC mode - or, at least, the black level was higher. Plus, I was also surprised that the extra resolution of PAL was so obvious by comparison.

    There have been some "open matte" versions of films released on DVD, where the full 1.37:1 aspect ration of the 35mm film has been used in the transfer to DVD. My friend has a version of The Usual Suspects which was released with a mixture of open matte and pan & scan shots.

    Thanks again both of you for your help!
     
  7. LV426

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    OK. In defence of the 16x9 format for TV/Video(which has, in my view, been poorly implemented, as you say):

    1: It's been cited that, because our eyes are set side by side, we "prefer" to see things in a lateral plane. So, if true, wider is better.

    2: In the context of an overall spread of material, we see original sources coming in at various ratios:

    > 4x3 (academy ratio, old TV shape, old movie shape)
    > 16x9 (widescreen TV shape, approximately the same as many newer, but not (very) widescreen movies, and what is used for most modern TV material)
    and
    > wider than 16x9 (wide widescreen movies) various ratios up to around 22x9.

    Now, if you consider the area of the (fixed shape) screen occupied by these various formats

    For a 4x3 TV

    4x3 = 100%
    16x9 = 75%
    22x9 = 54%

    In other words, for a (really) widescreen film you only actually use a bit over half of your 4x3 screen.

    For a 16x9 screen

    4x3 = 75%
    16x9 = 100%
    22x9 = 73%

    In other words, considering a full spread of material, you always use at least three quarters of your screen area.

    It could be argued, then, that 16x9 is just about the perfect essential compromise.

    As for open matte - yes, such transfers do exist. However, what you see (on your 4x3 open matte transfer)

    a) is not the director's vision, and not as presented in theatres - which, I'd contend, is a maxim of the "Home Cinema" hobby.
    b) may (and in many cases, does) reveal things that should not be visible; studio artefacts (microphones and the like) and so on. I seem to recall that there is one classic example in the film "A Fish Called Wanda" in which Cleese's character is supposed to be naked; in the open matte transfer, his underwear is seen.
    c) in some cases, open matte trasfers actually truncate part of the film. In one or more of the Back To The Future films, the effects shots were composed at 1.85:1 (so near to 16x9 as makes no difference) yet the rest was shot 4x3 and matted. The open matte transfer shows the unintended extra areas in the regular shots, but then crops the FX shots to fit.
     
  8. Hopkins

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    Not only *could* it be argued, but you *have* argued it, and successfully, I might add!

    I'm glad it's not only me who believes that the implementation of the whole variable screen format thing has been poor, though.

    And, indeed, the releasing of open matte versions of films is not necessarily possible, nor beneficial.

    My point regarding CRTs not being as well suited to wider screen formats still stands, however this will become less of an issue as flat screen technologies continue to develop. For now, I'm able to cope with a monstrous CRT, but I expect it will be my last. (Particularly interesting here is the OLED, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OLED, although I'm sure this is well under discussion elsewhere on this forum.)
     

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