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Why are DVD's still black barred? - Page 3

post #61 of 84
A lot of cinematographers did still photography and paintings so were familiar with a longer landscape canvas. Hence some classic pre-1950s films in academy ratio have dead space at the top or bottom in the composition. I even see this with "Citizen Kane." The cinematographers were doing it subconsciously. In the 1950s the studios suggested that films shot 4:3 should have a safe area for widescreen in case they released them that way.

The Lumiere brothers films were shot with a 1:66:1 aspect ratio I suspect because they used film from their still cameras that were set up for post card 5x3 ratio. But widescreen experiments date even back to the 19th century and some feature films shot that way in the late 1920s.
post #62 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by hitchfan View Post

I'm not sure how an argument that "no TV programs and virtually no movies have ever been composed for a 2:1 ratio" prior to the introduction of HDTV cannot also be applied to 1.78 prior to the introduction of HDTV. Actually, to this very day I don't know of many if any theatrical release movies shot at 1.78, which probably also speaks to the OP for this thread in a way. New HDTV programs would have been adapted to 2:1 just as quickly as they were adapted to 1.78.

As I look at MovieSwede's aspect ratio comparison pic above, I would agree that the 2.1 option would have been "Acceptable" (more acceptable than 1.78) for all three of the most popular legacy and current formats. I submit 2.2 would have been even more acceptable for the wider formats in terms of thinning out the top and bottom bars more effectively and would still not have left Ingrid Bergman more noticeably lost in a sea of gray/black bars than she is today in 1.78.

Essentially, my point is there was apparently NO artistic input on the decision to go 1.78. Was anyone from ASC asked their opinion? Was any film or television director/producer asked his or her opinion? BTW, I honestly don't know the answer to that. Maybe some artist was consulted before the decision was made but if there was I haven't heard a name mentioned or a follow up on what they would have preferred.

Instead, the decision seems to have been made purely on a lazy compromise by technicians and default mathematical equations. Had an artist been asked to contribute, say a few members of the American Society of Cinematographers or a notable film/television director/producer or two, in addition to an argument for better preserving the artistic intentions of virtually every legacy theatrical content of their own and of their mentors going back to the early 1950s, an argument also might...might...have been made that a wider format than 1.78 would have provided a roomier canvas for other artists, like their fellow film directors and cinematographers, on which to make HDTV project decisions on aspect ratios based on artistic reasons rather than mathematical equation reasons.
Some pertinent information:
" There also has been objection from cinematographers to the 16:9 aspect ratio contained in the ATSC DTV Standard. They are concerned that the proposed Standard may limit broadcasters' ability to display the full artistic quality of their work. The American Society of Cinematographers has expressed the belief that the 16:9 ratio would leave digital television unable "to properly display a large portion of the largest existing library of programming." It suggests, instead, that HDTV be displayed in a 2:1 aspect ratio. That standard "would allow previous material to be faithfully displayed in its original aspect ratio with insignificant letterboxing" and is attractive to cinematographers for future feature and High Definition production.
In reply, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) states that the 16:9 aspect ratio was established by the SMPTE Working Group on High Definition Electronic Production in 1985 on the basis of studies of the requirement for both motion picture and television production. All meetings of the group, SMPTE notes, were open and well publicized. Moreover, it states that the value of 16:9 for aspect ratio was decided upon only after long debate and that "due consideration was given to the then current practices both in North America and around the world." That aspect ratio, it continues, has been adopted internationally in the International Telecommunications Union for HDTV and for EDTV in Europe and Japan. SMPTE states that it has been demonstrated that there is no difficulty in accommodating program material or motion picture films of any reasonable aspect ratio within the 16:9 format either for production and post-production, distribution or display. Material originally composed for a 2:1 aspect ratio, it continues, could be accommodated by leaving 11% of the vertical space unused."
post #63 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

Let me add an off-topic bit:

I have seen a huge number of videotape and DVD 4:3 pan&scan versions, but can't remember one where there was any actual panning. That is: where the video authors took any care to move the aperture across the image to frame some important element. Everything seems to be just center cut.

I recall a broadcast of El Cid decades ago where the panning was vertigo-inducing.

-Bill[/quote

Seems to me that Ben-Hur scanned.....Ten Commandments.....
post #64 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by subavision212 View Post

Some pertinent information:
" There also has been objection from cinematographers to the 16:9 aspect ratio contained in the ATSC DTV Standard. They are concerned that the proposed Standard may limit broadcasters' ability to display the full artistic quality of their work. The American Society of Cinematographers has expressed the belief that the 16:9 ratio would leave digital television unable "to properly display a large portion of the largest existing library of programming." It suggests, instead, that HDTV be displayed in a 2:1 aspect ratio. That standard "would allow previous material to be faithfully displayed in its original aspect ratio with insignificant letterboxing" and is attractive to cinematographers for future feature and High Definition production.
In reply, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) states that the 16:9 aspect ratio was established by the SMPTE Working Group on High Definition Electronic Production in 1985 on the basis of studies of the requirement for both motion picture and television production. All meetings of the group, SMPTE notes, were open and well publicized. Moreover, it states that the value of 16:9 for aspect ratio was decided upon only after long debate and that "due consideration was given to the then current practices both in North America and around the world." That aspect ratio, it continues, has been adopted internationally in the International Telecommunications Union for HDTV and for EDTV in Europe and Japan. SMPTE states that it has been demonstrated that there is no difficulty in accommodating program material or motion picture films of any reasonable aspect ratio within the 16:9 format either for production and post-production, distribution or display. Material originally composed for a 2:1 aspect ratio, it continues, could be accommodated by leaving 11% of the vertical space unused."

Thanks for info, subavision212. Where did you find that article? Do you have a link? Hard to tell from the limited context if the ASC objections to 1.78, support for 2.1, and why, was logged early enough in the discussion to matter or if 1.78 was a done deal in every way but a final rubber stamp.

Interesting that most of us on these forums had supported, defended and pushed passionately for letterbox vs pan&scan for years, many in the industry famously so like Siskel & Ebert, others on that still broadcast TCM short with industry biggies like Martin Scorsese and Sidney Pollack defending and explaining how letterboxing preserves the full width of the image intended by the filmmakers and so on, yet none of them or us (as far as I know) also acknowledged at the same time the inevitable downside to getting what we wished for on a narrower canvas than, say, 2.0+. That downside being letterboxing, while sure enough preserving the wider/larger format image horizontally, would on a much narrower canvas also necessarily lose all intended impression of greater size relative to other material projected on that same canvas because it would leave, at least, "11% of the vertical space unused" while material made to better fit that narrower canvas would not.
Edited by hitchfan - 3/28/13 at 11:18pm
post #65 of 84
Here is the link:
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=251986
If you go to post #4 they have links to the actual FCC paperwork and discussions. They are labeled "here" and "here" though I don't think the second here link works. Very long but interesting.
post #66 of 84
The background on the choice of the 16x9....aka 1.78:1 aspect ratio is enjoyable history, just like the history regarding Academy ratio, and the 'widescreen revolutuon' in 1953-54.

Even though I only have a 40 in. HDTV, the presence if any black bars is not a concern for me.....I simply want to view the film as originally intended by the director and cinematographer. Certainly, if one can afford larger displays or projectors, the image will be larger.
I accept the various widescreen AR's as part of cinema history, and embrace it, just as I embrace the Academy ratio of 1.33:1/1.36:1 aka 4:3.
post #67 of 84
I certainly agree. Having been a professional photographer for 36 years I find it fascinating how cinematographers and directors take the various aspect ratios and use them to create their compositions on the screen. It has aided my work immensely.
post #68 of 84
Being a pro photographer, you also have the superb knowlege of the importance of lighting for color as well as b/w.
post #69 of 84
post #70 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by subavision212 View Post

Here is the link:
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=251986
If you go to post #4 they have links to the actual FCC paperwork and discussions. They are labeled "here" and "here" though I don't think the second here link works. Very long but interesting.
Thanks for the link. Also in your quote from it:
Quote:
SMPTE states that it has been demonstrated that there is no difficulty in accommodating program material or motion picture films of any reasonable aspect ratio within the 16:9 format either for production and post-production, distribution or display.

I suppose theater owners in the mid 1950s could have argued and won the argument that widening their screens to accommodate 2.0+ was an unnecessary waste of time and money since "it has been demonstrated that there is no difficulty" in shrinking and masking down the image of Around The World in 80 Days and Bridge on the River Kwai to fit the same screen size that worked so well for The Lost Weekend and All About Eve. Thankfully, they didn't. I don't think the artistic participants in the discussion were caught as flat-footed on the longer term implications of settling for such an easy default solution back then. The powers that be wanted bigger and wider to be, well, bigger and wider. And I don't think anyone was willing to be dissuaded from that obvious artistic discretionary goal by even a very convincing mathematical equation.
Edited by hitchfan - 3/29/13 at 6:03pm
post #71 of 84
Nice link, Kevin.
post #72 of 84
Agree, hitchfan....we will have 'black bars' for as long as we choose to view any film in their original aspect ratio, be it Academy ratio (1:37:1) or any of the various widescreen presentations.

One interesting note is that during the transition to widescreen, many theaters, yet to make the change, were allowed to show the film with the Academy ratio....which adds to the confusion as to the director's and cinematographer's artistic intent.

There is a colorful debate happening now over the soon to be released bluray of Shane. Originally filmed with Academy ratio, the studio presented it as a widescreen film in order to push the new 'bigger, wider' theater experience.

The recent Criterion bluray of On the Waterfront, sports three different aspect ratio presentations.
post #73 of 84
Regarding the comment about no films being shot in 2:1. Techniscope had that aspect ratio. It used regular 35mm but essentially two frames on the one. That would be two-perf and cameras were easily converted for it. It was developed by Technicolor. "THX 1138" was one of the films shot with it.

On the DVD of "The Interpreter", Sydney Pollack has a featurette explaining his preference for 2:35:1. He thought that 1:85:1 was "square."
post #74 of 84
Invasion of the Body Snatchers....the original....was shot in Superscope, 2:1 AR, if not mistaken
post #75 of 84
Here...let the late great Sidney Pollack explain:
post #76 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSUL View Post

Invasion of the Body Snatchers....the original....was shot in Superscope, 2:1 AR, if not mistaken
This is true. Here is a link to the films shot in Superscope 1. And yes there are multiple Superscope formats if you can believe it.
http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/sslist.htm
Widescreen museum.com is the definitive website for all things widescreen if you are interested in this subject. Simply fascinating.
post #77 of 84
post #78 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSUL View Post

Agree, hitchfan....we will have 'black bars' for as long as we choose to view any film in their original aspect ratio,

Well...not all of us. biggrin.gif
post #79 of 84
Yes, if you use the 'zoom' feature you can eliminate any black bars, but will result in poor picture quality.
post #80 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSUL View Post

Yes, if you use the 'zoom' feature you can eliminate any black bars, but will result in poor picture quality.

That's only if you have a regular TV/flat panel.

Many of us here have home theaters featuring projectors. One of the benefits of a projector, aside from providing the most cinematic experience at home, is that you can employ screen masking so you are not stuck with one screen shape. In a constant image height set up. that usually involves simply employing curtains or masking to the sides of the image to make any "black bars" disappear, effectively changing your screen shape.

I went a bit further. Using 4 way masking my screen changes shape to perfectly fit any movie aspect ratio. My movie collection features every AR under the sun and I haven't seen black bars in years. smile.gif

That's what I was getting at.

Cheers,
post #81 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSUL View Post

Yes, if you use the 'zoom' feature you can eliminate any black bars, but will result in poor picture quality.
And if the picture is zoomed in on the Blu-Ray, you have destroyed the film. rolleyes.gif

The zoom function on my last plasma was exceptionally good and the zoom on my DLP is so good that my wife cannot even tell the difference.

For the record, i never EVER crop content. I find that to be madness.
post #82 of 84
IMOH Matt, it is madness....but I have relatives that insist that the picture fill their HDTV screen.

I gave up trying to explain the differences in network programs and motion pictures w/different AR, a long time ago.
post #83 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by hitchfan View Post

I'm not sure how an argument that "no TV programs and virtually no movies have ever been composed for a 2:1 ratio" prior to the introduction of HDTV cannot also be applied to 1.78 prior to the introduction of HDTV. Actually, to this very day I don't know of many if any theatrical release movies shot at 1.78, which probably also speaks to the OP for this thread in a way. New HDTV programs would have been adapted to 2:1 just as quickly as they were adapted to 1.78.

As I look at MovieSwede's aspect ratio comparison pic above, I would agree that the 2.1 option would have been "Acceptable" (more acceptable than 1.78) for all three of the most popular legacy and current formats. I submit 2.2 would have been even more acceptable for the wider formats in terms of thinning out the top and bottom bars more effectively and would still not have left Ingrid Bergman more noticeably lost in a sea of gray/black bars than she is today in 1.78.

Essentially, my point is there was apparently NO artistic input on the decision to go 1.78. Was anyone from ASC asked their opinion? Was any film or television director/producer asked his or her opinion? BTW, I honestly don't know the answer to that. Maybe some artist was consulted before the decision was made but if there was I haven't heard a name mentioned or a follow up on what they would have preferred.

Instead, the decision seems to have been made purely on a lazy compromise by technicians and default mathematical equations. Had an artist been asked to contribute, say a few members of the American Society of Cinematographers or a notable film/television director/producer or two, in addition to an argument for better preserving the artistic intentions of virtually every legacy theatrical content of their own and of their mentors going back to the early 1950s, an argument also might...might...have been made that a wider format than 1.78 would have provided a roomier canvas for other artists, like their fellow film directors and cinematographers, on which to make HDTV project decisions on aspect ratios based on artistic reasons rather than mathematical equation reasons.
I believe the issue was CRT design capabilities. When HD was originally designed, the vast majority of TVs still used CRT displays and it is difficult to design and build very wide aspect ratio glass. Convergence becomes a major headache.
post #84 of 84
I do recall some articles back in the early 1990s when widescreen CRT sets were released including a 42" (largest allowable CRT) RCA set where engineers claimed it was difficult to do a widescreen CRT.

For a good background on when widescreen, stereo sound and 3D started to be pushed by Hollywood check this site:
http://www.3dfilmarchive.com/home/widescreen-documentation

Actually 1.66:1 was around even with the Lumiere brothers camera/projector system in the late 1890s which used film probably set up for shooting postcard 5x3 stills.
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