Originally Posted by hphase
Broadcasters have been pushing the theory that Letterboxing the SD will finally allow producers to use the entire 16x9 frame, perhaps saving it from being usurped by logos, bug, and other pests.
NBC has been doing it for a while. Shouldn't be a problem.
But this would have no effect on affililates that center-cut the HD feed as their SD feed, correct? So 4:3 framing isn't going anywhere.
I believe URFloorMatt is correct.
When foreign sales of programming on network television come into play we are talking about 3rd world countries also. 4:3 TVs are the most popular around the world.
Take "Saturday Night Live", even with it being letterboxed on the SD feed in the USA you may notice all the critical action takes place in 4:3 as well as the HD morning new shows (GMA, Today Show) that get some foreign sales.
While I have always commended NBC for showing letterboxed programming starting about 4 years ago with "The West Wing" actual framing still protects for 4:3 or in some cases protects for 14:9 as the BBC specs require for UK programming.
It was done with 35mm film in years past when shows like "ER" would shoot with a 'common top line' and take a 4:3 image for the edit & broadcast. The 35mm film was protected for 16:9.
When the DVDs were created for full seasons the producers went back and retelecined the cut negative for high definition. The anamorphic video is presented on the DVDs starting with season 1. It really makes for a nice experience as you get to see more stuff happening in the background with all those extras crossing with carts and walking and makes it more cinematic than it ever was before with many walk and talk signature 'ER' steadicam shots.
Image Transfer Review: ER was one of the first shows on prime time television to be shot in a widescreen format.
"E.R." was one of the early shows (the first?) to be filmed and presented in widescreen. However, that started later in the show's run (a couple of episodes in November 2000, then consistently starting in December 2000), which makes the new anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) presentations of the episodes in this first season a surprise. Although none these episodes were originally presented in widescreen, they appear to have been filmed with widescreen in mind, as the compositions appeared quite good.
As we all would love all programming to make full use of the more cinematic 16:9 frame there is big business that the producers think of for syndication to foreign countries for 4:3 TVs.
And now with Blu-ray sales specifically for HDTVs perhaps in another 5 years we will start to see more network television scripted shows start to frame for 16:9 5 years after the US analog NTSC shutoff.
When we see network television reality shows frame for 16:9 then we'll know there is no turning back for networks to framing for 4:3.