Originally Posted by DelJ
The real question is why are directors so arrogant as to shoot in 2.40:1 when most movie theaters, let alone televisions, are 1.85:1? For your information, 1.85:1 is in fact the US theatrical standard.
I'd like your source on this. Where does it specifically say in the MPAA, DGA, SAG, SMPTE or any other film-related organization's guidelines that 1.85:1 is the "USA standard." They don't. There is no hard and fast standard, period. Most theaters I've been in are set up for Panavision, which is the de facto anamorphic 2.35:1 format today. If theaters were to limit themselves with a 1.85:1 screen, they would be cropping off the sides of anamorphic films which the movie-going public would not stand for, or they would have to letterbox the image which I've never
seen a theater do before. Since they run in constant-image height mode, they must be able to accomodate the widest (common) AR which is 2.35:1.
Also, TVs are 16:9 but that does not
equal 1.85:1, it's actually 1.78:1. So even at 1.85:1 there will be small letterbox bars on a 16:9 display.
If you look at the issue in more detail, you will discover that the "widescreen" (really should be called "shortscreen") ratios were developed to differentiate the movie industry from television largely for financial purposes.
Largely for financial purposes? Duh, it was all
for money! The studios wanted to survive another day against the increasing onslaught of television. It's no surprise that movie attendance peaked the same year (1949) TV was introduced to the public and has been on a decline ever since. The studios had to adapt to simply survive.
Widescreen is the proper term because they did not shorten the frames on the print to reshape the image, but instead used horizontal compression/expansion (ie. anamorphic) to widen it beyond the old 1.33:1 which TV was fixed on. Cinemascope was the first such format, introduced in 1953 with the film The Robe. Today, Panavision rules anamorphic due to improvements in the lenses (faster, lighter, more stop ranges, less expensive to rent, etc.).
You will also find that 1.85:1 or 16:9 were finally selected as standards as they are closest to natural peripheral vision.
Again, I'd like to see your reference on this from a reputable psychovisual group or organization because I don't believe it. I may not have eagle eyes but my peripheral ability is wider than that. And again, saying "1.85:1 or 16:9" implies they are equal, and they're not
Why do so many people think that a bigger ratio has to be better?
Because we live in a world that, for all intents and purposes, is laid out before us horizontally
. Just look at the horizon. Looking up goes into uninteresting sky pretty quicky, looking down does the same with the ground. Scanning across the horizon is much more interesting with the variations in the land, buildings, etc. and conveys much more information.