Originally Posted by longhorns
J/W but isn't the whole point of having 16:9 widescreen so that when you watch DVD's there won't be any black bars??
Sort of. Widescreen has many aspect ratios. HDTV is, by definition, a widescreen format with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (16:9). "Regular" (SD or NTSC) tv has an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, or 4:3. Movies are filmed in all sorts of aspect ratios, but two popular ones are called "Acadamy Standard" (or Academy Flat, I forget), which is 1.85:1. When you watch these on a widescreen display you'll see very small black bars at the top and bottom of the screen (or maybe just one or the other); these are barely noticeable. Another common standard used, though, is a much wider aspect ratio, 2.35:1 (sometimes as wide as 2:40:1), often called "scope" films. These films will have significant black bars top and bottom when viewed on a 1.78 screen.
Many modern animated films are actually framed in 1.78:1, so you get no black bars. The aspect ratio of any film can be determined by looking at technical specs in IMDB, Amazon, etc.
The 16:9 was chosen as the HDTV standard as sort of a compromise between 4:3 and scope film. One has black bars on the sides, the other top and bottom, but both have a reasonable portion of the screen in use.