Originally Posted by IntelliVolume
In my BDP-83's setup menu, under "Aspect Ratio," I have it set for "16:9 Wide" because (as I understood it in the manual) I prefer my full-screen DVDs (I still have a few in my collection from before I got into widescreen HDTV) to stretch and fill the 16:9 display without pillarboxing. When full-screen discs play, the '83 automatically stretches these films with a bit of "elongated fatness" in the characters (which I can deal with) to fit my screen. However, when full-screen BLU-RAYS play, the '83 does NOT stretch these discs to fit the screen, instead leaving the side pillarboxing; I confirmed this by watching such full-screen 1080p material as Casablanca, the original Omega Man and my Season 1 set of Star Trek: The Original Series. What's weird is that with certain titles like Casablanca, I can't even use the Oppo's zoom function to "blow up" the film to fit the screen -- it's locked in with the pillarboxing. But just last night, I experimented with an episode from the Star Trek: The Original Series Blu-ray set, and when watching this episode I used the remote to engage the zoom mode's "FULL" setting...and this DID blow the Trek episode up to fill my screen. However, because I noted that the top and bottom of characters were chopped off during key sequences, I didn't care for the zoomed-in Star Trek episode, and just went back to watching it with the pillarboxing to preserve the original 4:3 presentation...
Why is this happening, does anyone know? Why does the '83 automatically stretch full-screen standard definition (DVD) material when the aspect ratio setup is on "16:9 Wide" but not native 1080p Blu-ray full-screen material? And why would I be able to manually zoom in on full-screen Blu-rays to fill the screen but not on all discs? Is it because of the way some Blu-rays are authored?
SD-DVD is a transitional format between original, 4:3 TVs and widescreen 16:9 TVs. The content on the DVD is made up of frames which are 720x480 pixels. THIS IS TRUE WHETHER YOU ARE WATCHING A 4:3 MOVIE OR A WIDESCREEN MOVIE.
If you do the math you will find that 4/3 is 1.333... and 16/9 is 1.777... But 720/480 is neither of those. It is 1.5, exactly. Kind of in between.
So, umm, how does this work? It works with magic called "non-square pixels". Each pixel off the SD-DVD disc is INTERPRETED -- when the image is being rendered for your TV screen -- as either a rectangle which is taller than it is wide or a rectangle that is wider than it is tall. Non square.
The disc includes a piece of data telling which to use. If you are playing a 4:3 movie, then each and every one of those 720x480 pixels is interpreted as a rectangle which is taller than it is wide. If you are playing a 16:9 (or other widescreen shape) movie, then each pixel is interpreted as a rectangle which is wider than it is tall.
Set that fact aside a moment, and lets look at the output video from the player. 1080p output is made up of a matrix of 1920x1080 pixels. Which, if you do the math, is the same shape as 16:9. Since these pixels are destined for a 16:9 display, that means each of those HD pixels is SQUARE.
When you play an SD-DVD, the 720x480 NON-square SD pixels coming off the disc for each frame get rendered into those 1920x1080 square HD pixels for output. Using that flag I just mentioned, and also using the aspect ratio setting you've selected in the player.
The setting "16:9 Wide" means treat the SD pixels as if you are playing a widescreen movie. The setting "16:9 Wide Auto" means treat the SD pixels according to the aspect ratio flag from the disc.
So if you play a 4:3 SD movie using 16:9 Wide, the upscaling to 1080p treats each of those pixels as wider than they are tall, meaning they fill the 16:9 output frame. They aren't "stretched". Rather, nothing is done to them except rendering them into the more pixels needed for the HD output.
If you play the SAME 4:3 SD movie using 16:9 Wide Auto, the upscaling to 1080p sees the 4:3 flag for the disc and renders each of those SD pixels as a rectangle that is taller than it is wide. The result is that the SD image fills the output from from top to bottom, but does NOT fill it left to right. Instead, you get a 4:3 image embedded in the 16:9, HD output frame. The space on either side is output as black pixels -- called "pillar box bars".
So 16:9 Wide does nothing to the data but scale it to 1080p. But 16:9 Wide Auto adds pillar box bars to preserve the 4:3 aspect ratio of the original content frame.
If you play a 16:9 SD movie then 16:9 Wide and 16:9 Wide Auto do the same thing. They both upscale that to 1080p output interpreting each SD pixel as a rectangle that is wider than it is tall.
Now suppose you are playing a blu-ray disc. The content coming off the Blu-ray disc is already 1080p. It is made up of frames that each have 1920x1080 HD -- square -- pixels. If you happen to be playing a Blu-ray disc of an older, 4:3 movie, that means the folks who authored that disc have to build pillar box bars into the data for each frame on the disc. The image coming off the disc is a movie frame that fills the 1920x1080 from top to bottom, but does NOT fill it left to right. Black padding pixels are added to the content -- ON DISC -- to account for the rest of the pixels on either side.
The point being, what's coming off the Blu-ray disc is 16:9, even if it happens to contain an embedded 4:3 movie.
And as stated above, 16:9 Wide and 16:9 Wide Auto both do the same thing when playing 16:9 content. Nothing whatsoever.
As Bill pointed out, disc authors have the option to author their discs in ways that prevent you from accessing certain player functions. These are called Prevented User Operations or PUOs. One of the operations they can prevent is the Zoom function. Disc authors probably believe they have a good reason when they prevent access to the Zoom function. Perhaps they want to overlay graphics on the image -- part of the "BD Java" programming of the disc -- and that won't be visible (properly) if the user has Zoomed in on the content. Nobody really knows what drives disc authors to do what they do. But there it is. Some discs won't let you Zoom.