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What is the perfect aspect ratio for the human field of vision?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
So I've been wanting to upgrade to a larger screen and started to fall in love with the idea of a 2.35:1 (or thereabouts) screen. My newest projector (an Epson 8350) has a large zoom range and I'm perfectly fine manually zooming in/out for every movie to optimize it on the screen. But then I ran into some other issues such as the extra black drop I wanted to add above/below a Da-Lite Model C w/High Power possibly causing creases.

As I mulled over all of my options, it got me to thinking again about why 2.35:1 is "better" if, in fact, it is. Is it better because it actually is *better*, or is it simply "different" than what the common home screen size is (i.e., 16:9), yet optimized for what many movies are filmed at?

It seemed to me, as I thought about it some more, that the optimal screen ratio would seem to be the one that fills the human field of vision. And by "fills", there could be some debate as to whether the ideal would be to keep the image just below what you can see without moving your head, versus just above what you can see without moving your head.

From what little I've read so far (just started Googling tonight), it seems like the human field of vision is pretty close to 16:9. And, as I understand it, 3D movies seem to be almost always filmed at 16:9, which seems to make sense in that you want that entire artificial reality to be convincing to you, with 3D effects popping in from every corner of your field of vision.

I'd be interested in hearing anyone's objections to the case I've made above. If that is accurate, then it still leaves a couple of reasons why someone might want to go with a 2.35:1 screen:
1) There are a large percentage of movies filmed in that ratio, and having a screen optimized for it, gives you an advantage when watching those movies, as well as being "different" and more optimized for the "film" experience.
2) Per #1, when you're watching a Blu-ray disc, there's a pretty good chance (better than 50%?) that the movie you're watching will be wider than 16:9 and, because it's a Blu-ray, it should have super-great PQ, whereas when you're watching HDTV, the majority of the content will be 16:9, but will also be much more compressed than what you can get on a Blu-ray, so watching it in a smaller window will help to minimize how much you'll notice those compression artifacts.

Still, at the end of the day, I'm now thinking that 16:9 might be a more optimal "field of view filler" than 2.35:1.
post #2 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by srauly View Post

Still, at the end of the day, I'm now thinking that 16:9 might be a more optimal "field of view filler" than 2.35:1.

That may very well be true. But if you set up your 16:9 screen and seating distance just how you like it, your 2.35:1 image will likely feel too small. Instead of being wider and more immersive like the format was designed to be. This is the reason most of us here have gone with scope screens. The idea is to set up your viewing distance so 16:9 material is the right size, and then 2.35 material becomes more immersive and maybe even a little overwhelming. That is a good thing.

A good strategy would be to use a wall or makeshift screen and try out different image sizes and seating distances.

BTW, your 2 reasons above for going scope are also good ones.
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I'm still on the fence about it. And as if I didn't already have enough options to think about, I've also toyed with the idea of going with something in-between (e.g., 2.0:1).
post #4 of 22
Well you can't 'film' a movie in stereoscopic (at least not easily or cheaply) so movies that are shot in stereo (2-cameras side by side) are going to be digital meaning they will be working from a 16:9 (1.77) sized sensor, so the native image will be 1.77. But for theatrical release this can (and is often) hard-matted down to 2.39 or 1.85.

But I would not say the majority of stereo theatrical releases are 1.85. On the contrary I think they are mostly 2.39. It's just that many are conversions (if the director wanted to shoot on film, for instance). But for the tentpole film (as many stereoscopic films are) 2.39 is definitely in vogue these days, especially now that you can get a decent quality film on Super 35 or digitally. There's a few examples of 1.85 films that were stereoscopic. Hugo and Dolphin Tale come to mind, but (and maybe someone can verify) I don't think this is the norm (or the future for that matter as filmmakers do not want to be inhibited by a particular technology which is one of the reasons for 3D's waning influences in Hollywood).

The problem with 2.39 and human vision is that while the landscape, horizontal perspective is there, the vertical is not which forces it into an artificial dynamic. It's actually a very tough ratio to compose properly for (some filmmakers really don't like it) because if you're in closeup, you're often in really close, and because of the width to height ratio an inordinate amount of shots end up being wide angles (an in anamorphic this will come with the barrel distortion and other artifacts). So 2.39 is a very movie-ish look that was intended to create a wide landscape feel, but in practice ends up creating a motif all of its own.
post #5 of 22
4:3 covers it best, large.

http://www.researchbooth.com/categor...escreen_tv.php

"When the widescreen was first introduced it was said that it is more pleasing to watch because of the way the human eye works and that the aspect ratio was more inline with the human eye’s workings. Many say that this rationale behind the widescreen is just sales hype as the human eye actually has a field of view closer to the older 4 to 3 aspect ratio. Many also add to this by saying that the retina, which is used for detailed vision, is circular and not rectangular like the widescreen television, meaning that the 4:3 ratio makes more sense if you are going off of what the human eye can take in most pleasurably."
post #6 of 22
Yes, if you look up diagrams of the human field of vision, especially the portion with most acuity, you get something closer to 4:3 (or between 4:3 and 16:9 in shape).

I'd brought this up many times in face of the often perpetuated idea that CinemaScope more closely mimics the field of human vision.

Nonetheless, CinemaScope looks cool!
post #7 of 22
IMHO, the mission of most HT hobbyist is to replicate the film as the artist intended in the home theater enviroment or another "version" is to create the professional theater at home.

That being a common mission, then we take into account our physical and enviromental limitations/requirements into account to create a personal satisfying HT experience. That being said, srauly I persoanlly believe you are overthinking the CIH option.
post #8 of 22
Highjinx, Rich,

Are you accounting for saccade?
From what I've read, yes the lens of the eye works vertically and horizontally more ore less equally, but it is never at rest and given that western culture reads left to right I dare say that most of us saccade horizontally primarily.

This does not account for aspect ratio. I'm with rboster in that respect.
Td
post #9 of 22
I'll just relate my personal experience. I went to see Transformers 2 at IMAX (one of the "real" 1.44:1 70mm theaters), for those who don't remember, Transformers 2 was one of those films with a few scenes shot on IMAX (1.44:1) and most of it shot scope (2.39:1).

Throughout the whole movie I hardly noticed the IMAX scenes being any taller than the rest of the movie. I mean obviously they were, but I was so "focused" on the 2.39:1 portion of the movie that it would take me a few seconds to realize the picture suddenly got taller for the IMAX scenes.

The other experience is with working with monitors/multiple monitors at work and home, I find I much prefer widescreen monitors, and to have my multiple monitors arranged horizontally. It's just much more comfortable, and easier for me to work horizontally like that.

So for me at least, regardless of what field of vision maps, or websites say, the horizontally "wide" central area of my vision is the most "useful" and comfortable, and that aligns very well with the scope format.
post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
Along the lines of stanger89's comments, I'll provide an opposing view, but with a caveat. Last night we watched The Dark Knight (Batman). I recently moved my 45"x80" (92" diagonal 16:9) screen down to the living room from our loft, and I think I'm going to stick with this new location. The screen is currently floating from a beam above it, and I want to upgrade to a larger screen, but I've been hemming and hawing about whether to go 16:9 or 2.35:1 (in either case, I'm hoping to squeeze a 116" wide screen into my space).

My room is not height-restricted. It's a sunken living room with a two-story ceiling (the loft that was my movie room overlooks into it). From a seating distance of about 15', I was immediately struck every time the aspect ratio changed from 2.35:1 to 16:9 (or whatever the specific ratios are). The 16:9 scenes seemed to be temporary panning shots of the sky, and it struck me as "Wow, it's nice to have the whole screen filled up." Now, if I had a 2.35:1 screen with masking above/below (which I'm not sure if it would even completely black out the extra visual info in the case of this movie), I'd be oblivious to that.

Now let's face it, that movie's an oddity. If I was to switch to a wider (but same height) 2.35:1 screen, I will be quite pleased when watching 2.35:1 movies, and I suspect that I won't feel as slighted when watching 16:9 movies as I do with the reverse situation today, but then that's not necessarily a fair comparison since I won't actually be downsizing my 16:9 picture size if I upgrade to a 116" wide 2.35:1 screen.

I suppose a separate question would be: If I upgraded to a 116" wide 16:9 screen, will 16:9 movies feel too *big*? I'm not sure about movies, but I suspect that many TV shows will. Will I really want to watch Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on such a large screen (leaving aside the fact that cable TV compression artifacts that will be more noticeable)?
post #11 of 22
Scott:

Maybe your angst towards this change can be answered by looking at this a different way....

Who had a scope theater and then changed back to a 16x9 and why?

Here's a thread that asked that question awhile back:


http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...highlight=16x9


IMO, the two changes made to my HT that I believe helped a achieve a "theater-like" experience were the move to a projector and then CIH. I wouldn't go back to a flat panel nor a 16x9 set up.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by srauly View Post

Along the lines of stanger89's comments, I'll provide an opposing view, but with a caveat. Last night we watched The Dark Knight (Batman).

From a seating distance of about 15', I was immediately struck every time the aspect ratio changed from 2.35:1 to 16:9 (or whatever the specific ratios are). The 16:9 scenes seemed to be temporary panning shots of the sky, and it struck me as "Wow, it's nice to have the whole screen filled up."

I'll just point out that I believe 15' from a 6'8" wide screen (2.25x width viewing distance) is a lot farther (relatively) than in an IMAX (which I think is a lot closer to 1x width. So the "missing" areas of the picture would be much closer to your primary field of view than at an IMAX. This could explain the difference in perception/experience.
post #13 of 22
Remember the eyes is placed on horizontal axis of your face and not the vertical. It becomes more natural to a have your eyemovement on that axis.

While our vision isnt as wide as scope, the format does have a nice wider then life feel to it. I also think that 2.35:1 gives a very estetic look to movies.
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by srauly View Post

Along the lines of stanger89's comments, I'll provide an opposing view, but with a caveat. Last night we watched The Dark Knight (Batman). I recently moved my 45"x80" (92" diagonal 16:9) screen down to the living room from our loft, and I think I'm going to stick with this new location. The screen is currently floating from a beam above it, and I want to upgrade to a larger screen, but I've been hemming and hawing about whether to go 16:9 or 2.35:1 (in either case, I'm hoping to squeeze a 116" wide screen into my space).

My room is not height-restricted. It's a sunken living room with a two-story ceiling (the loft that was my movie room overlooks into it). From a seating distance of about 15', I was immediately struck every time the aspect ratio changed from 2.35:1 to 16:9 (or whatever the specific ratios are). The 16:9 scenes seemed to be temporary panning shots of the sky, and it struck me as "Wow, it's nice to have the whole screen filled up." Now, if I had a 2.35:1 screen with masking above/below (which I'm not sure if it would even completely black out the extra visual info in the case of this movie), I'd be oblivious to that.

Now let's face it, that movie's an oddity. If I was to switch to a wider (but same height) 2.35:1 screen, I will be quite pleased when watching 2.35:1 movies, and I suspect that I won't feel as slighted when watching 16:9 movies as I do with the reverse situation today, but then that's not necessarily a fair comparison since I won't actually be downsizing my 16:9 picture size if I upgrade to a 116" wide 2.35:1 screen.

I suppose a separate question would be: If I upgraded to a 116" wide 16:9 screen, will 16:9 movies feel too *big*? I'm not sure about movies, but I suspect that many TV shows will. Will I really want to watch Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on such a large screen (leaving aside the fact that cable TV compression artifacts that will be more noticeable)?

At a viewing distance of 15' (which being a living room I assume is fixed) you are likely better off sticking with a 16:9 screen. It would certainly simplify the setup, especially considering your manual zoom/shift. Even at 116" wide, you would be sitting at 1.55xSW which should be good for comfort and PQ on a 16:9 screen.

Of course you will still have the issue of 16:9 feeling big in comparison to the smaller 2.35 image. Or perhaps a 16:9 screen that size will look too big in the room for some reason. Best way to feel confident is a makeshift screen and try it out...
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by srauly View Post

Yeah, I'm still on the fence about it. And as if I didn't already have enough options to think about, I've also toyed with the idea of going with something in-between (e.g., 2.0:1).

I ended up choosing 2.125:1 aspect ratio, after experimenting with alternative screen size setups on a temporary screen for a couple weeks. When I sized 2.35:1 to where I got the level of immersion that I wanted, the 16:9 felt too small; when I did the same for 16:9, the 2.35:1 was too big. So I settled on 2.125:1, and its just right. Goldilocks would be proud.
post #16 of 22
Wikipedia indicates that the human field of view is rougly 180° horizontally and 100° vertically - approx 1.8:1, which is close to 16:9. That being said, there's some merit to the point that we tend to scan horizontally as we are looking at something, so our static and dynamic FOVs may differ, with the latter being wider. Most humans don't regularly scan vertically as the majority of our world essentially exists as a large 2-dimensional plane.

With respect to screen aspect, I personally like my 2.37:1 screen more than my 16:9 screen that I had previously. However I really think my "ideal" room would utilize a 16:9 CIA 4-way masking screen with an 8K projector and 8K source material with black bars encoded to support CIA, and the first row of seating around 0.8SW. I'd mask everything to CIA except for the rare movie like Avatar that was shown in IMAX, which could probably warrant using the entire screen with no masking. I know some of that is completely unrealisitic and will never happen, but I think the most important aspects (no pun intended) will be achievable some day.
post #17 of 22
One thing that can be an issue is that looking up is less comfortable than looking down or sideways, so even though the overall field of view may be 4:3, the comfortable range is narrower. That's one reason why theatre specs for seating suggest to keep the screens field of view to around 15 degrees, and no greater than 35 degrees vertical.

Gary
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Lightfoot View Post

One thing that can be an issue is that looking up is less comfortable than looking down or sideways, so even though the overall field of view may be 4:3, the comfortable range is narrower. That's one reason why theatre specs for seating suggest to keep the screens field of view to around 15 degrees, and no greater than 35 degrees vertical.

Gary

The FOV of each eye may be 4:3, but we have two eyes that are side by side, and our brains fuse the images together, giving us essentially a 180 degree horizontal FOV. Try closing one eye and notice how much the AR narrows - our total FOV (as I quoted above) is significantly wider than 4:3.
post #19 of 22
We have around 120 degrees of binocular vision horizontally IIRC.

Gary
post #20 of 22
Thread Starter 
So if 16:9 is truly closer to the field of vision, then it makes sense that a propertly-sized 16:9 display would be better for 3D, since the 3D effect would seem most convincing when it fills (or slightly exceeds) your field of vision. If you agree with me so far, then I have to wonder if the success of 3D could mean the death of scope. Traditionally, comedies were always in 1.85:1 and action movies were in 2.35:1. With the advent of 3D, it seems like more and more big-budget action movies are coming out in 3D and, as such, seem to be shown at the theaters in 16:9/1.85:1.

I'm still skeptical that 3D can overcome the gimmick status, and wouldn't be surprised if the whole concept gets scrapped within the next few years, but if I'm wrong, I wonder about how this could impact the future of 2.35:1 action movies.

Thoughts?
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by srauly View Post

So if 16:9 is truly closer to the field of vision, then it makes sense that a propertly-sized 16:9 display would be better for 3D, since the 3D effect would seem most convincing when it fills (or slightly exceeds) your field of vision.

I don't think I've ever read a scientific correlation between 3D and needing to fill your field of vision.

I also disagree with the notion that 16:9 is closer to the field of vision. It seems to me that a variety of people have thrown out a variety of numbers based on a variety of different ways to measure. The extreme vertical edges of our vision are not something that we often focus on, because our eyes have a natural tendency to scan horizontally. Thus, a scope screen is closer to the way we actually look at things.

Quote:


If you agree with me so far, then I have to wonder if the success of 3D could mean the death of scope. Traditionally, comedies were always in 1.85:1 and action movies were in 2.35:1. With the advent of 3D, it seems like more and more big-budget action movies are coming out in 3D and, as such, seem to be shown at the theaters in 16:9/1.85:1.

More and more dramas and comedies are being shot in scope these days. At least half of the 3D movies that have been released to date have also been scope.

Quote:


I wonder about how this could impact the future of 2.35:1 action movies.

Thoughts?

It seems that people have been fretting about the future of 2.35:1 movies for years now (DVD will mean the end of scope! HDTV will mean the end of scope! 3D will mean the end of scope!), and yet the actual ratio of movies produced in each aspect ratio hasn't nudged a bit in decades.
post #22 of 22
Interesting question but IMHO it's based on a bad premise, that you want to build a screen and sit before it at a distance that completely fills your field of vision. Intuitively I think that would be way too close and you would end up missing a lot of the details outside of the center of view, or moving your eyes and head all the time.

Sometimes I think people way overthink this. It really does come down to personal tastes and preferences. For me that was 2.4:1. As previous posters have noted, most (as in more than half) of movies are filmed in that format (I'm grouping everything from 2.35 to 2.4 together for the lawyers out there), and I would rather deal with black bars on the sides than on the top and bottom (not to mention on the sides some of the time vs. on the top and bottom most of the time). I'm assuming of course that you're not using some kind of masking setup to account for different formats. And as someone else said, I haven't heard of anyone going back to 16:9. I still marvel at how good it looks when I'm watching a 2.4:1 movie.

BTW, personally I don't get going the compromise route with something in between the two. It seems to me that rather than optimizing for one format or the other, you end up being sub-optimal all the time. In other words you're cropping content or seeing black bars all the time. Makes no sense to me.
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