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The online article can be read here .


The article is written by an Entertainment Weekly staffer who appears to know nothing about the issues surrounding the transition to digital television and HDTV. He compares the widescreen presentation of The West Wing and ER to the widescreen standard definition presentation of HBO's Band of Brothers. After a lot of inane prose, the author concludes that the NBC shows shouldn't be shown in widescreen.


AVS Forum members, I strongly urge you to read the EW article and politely but firmly critique the author's comments in the feedback section. EW needs to be better educated--not to mention the unsuspecting public that reads this poorly-written article.
 

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I tried repeatedly to post to that topic

and it would never accept anything.


I tried MS-IE and Netscape with no luck.

Maybe the topic is full or locked?


First I tried to post this:

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We are stuck in an icky transition period until everything switches over to 16:9 HDTV some years in the future.


Those of us with HDTVs welcome more programs in the HDTV format.


We are watching them in wonderful high resolution widescreen. Appologies to those stuck watching them downconverted to letterboxed 4:3 NTSC."


A show like "Band of Brothers" looks great on HBO-HD (High Definition 1080i).


The "worst case" now is a show like "Enterprise" on UPN. It is produced in 16:9 with some of the production gearing up for HDTV, *but* UPN does not distribute to affiliates in 1080i so *everyone* is stuck watching it "downconverted" to letterboxed NTSC. Ick.

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Since it wouldn't take I tried much shorter

one line comments but I couldn't get them

to post either. Oh well.
 

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I just read the article and posted a comment without any trouble.


To be honest, the writer did make some good points about the fact that broadcasting garbage widescreen won't turn it into gold. But ER and West Wing are not garbage! They deserve not only widescreen, but also HD!
 

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I posted no problem. Must be a thing about letting fellow moderators post. HA! Or maybe they want me to reinstate the subscription I let expire some years ago!
 

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Went there and posted my response. Most of it, of course is the result of the tower fiasco here.
 

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Added my two cents worth. I too had no problem. Fought to keep it within the ten lines is all.
 

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comments added, and it only took 2 tries.
 

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Would appear they only keep the last six comments on the page; they go off into the ether after that.....
 

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If the author makes a valid point, it's that some TV shows will use letterboxing in hopes of giving themselves a new "classy" image while failing miserably at improving their entertainment value. No argument here.


Entertainment value is the cumulative effect of the writing, acting, direction, production, presentation and display of the material. Any person who complains about the first four is simply a critic. Any person who complains about the last two probably isn't taking advantage of all the options available for home theater.


With the advent of DVD and ATSC digital broadcasts consumers are afforded various options regarding the presentation of certain material via alternate aspect ratios and/or soundtracks. With the availability of widescreen TV monitors and projectors, consumers now have options regarding the display of the material in their own home.


Our hobby is all about acquiring the hardware and software to most effectively present and display material using whatever options are available.
 

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As usual, the media does not know what they are talking about.
 

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While I agree that the EW author seems ignorant about the DTV transition, I think people here are missing a key point. There are clearly a number of people in the industry who believe the most important "aspect" of the new TV system is the wide screen. If others follow the lead of West Wing and ER, we are going to end up with a lot of widescreen SDTV, not HDTV.


It was bad enough that Viacom put Enterprise on UPN, even though it's claimed it's posted in HD. But unlike UPN, NBC has an HD infrastructure. The only conclusion with these shows is that they are not being produced in HD at all, just widescreen.


Worse yet, NBC doesn't even distribute this show in 480P wide, but rather allows its stations to upconvert it to 1080i, with a black border on all sides. Sure you can zoom it, but why in the bleepity bleepin' bleep should you have to? It's ridiculous! And what about those stations that stretch the upconverted image for you? On WBAL-DT in Baltimore, West Wing came out in a 2.35 AR and everybody had a squashed pumpkin head. Even more ridiculous!!


Admittedly, my HD investment doesn't yet include a 16:9 monitor, so perhaps I'm biased. But I have a question for those of you who do have 16:9 monitors. Can 16:9 monitors vertically stretch a 2.35 AR picture to fill the screen, or are WBAL-DT viewers just SOL with shows like West Wing?


In any case, the EW author's ignorance of DTV notwithstanding, I must agree with his conclusion. I don't think West Wing's use of widescreen has anything to do with the future of TV; I think it's just pretentious.
 

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I agree that taking a wide screen approach to a simple minded script will not remove my groans when they find it necessary to mix in canned laughter and canned applause to one liners that are just not at all funny or entertaining to most intelligent human beings.
 

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Maybe I missed it, but this is a commentary article. What's all the hubub?


So the guy doesn't like Widescreen on a 4:3 tv. Is that a national emergency? Is only one type of opinion right on this issue? I don't think so.


This is such a non-issue.
 

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no, I do not know of any HD monitors that stretch a 2.35 AR to fill the screen. This is, BTW cropping and not stretching since HD is 16:9 or 1.78 and not 2.35, so you would need to chop some picture from the sides.


I believe, however, that the intention of your post was whether TVs could stretch letterboxed 1.78 (or 16:9) ARs to fill the screen and the answer is yes, most can. My pioneer calls this "cinema" mode and it works well for "widescreen" TV shows like ER. The problem is you lose resolution over actual widescreen material or even 4:3 fullscreen. Since TV only has 425 usable lines of resolution and some of those lines are wasted to letterbox bars, you end up with less than if they had kept it fullscreen. Anamorphic DVDs and HDTV retain the full number of lines and create the black bars on the fly to create the letterbox effect instead of recording the bars in the program material.



Jake
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by jakehall
Since TV only has 425 usable lines of resolution and some of those lines are wasted to letterbox bars, you end up with less than if they had kept it fullscreen. Anamorphic DVDs and HDTV retain the full number of lines and create the black bars on the fly to create the letterbox effect instead of recording the bars in the program material.



Jake
I think you are on the right track, but you did not explain this very well. What you described is accurate for anamorphic dvd's, but HDTV is a completely different animal. First off, to be able to see the entire 480 lines of resolution in an anamorphic dvd, you need either a widescreen tv, or a 4:3 set that is capable of the anamorphic squeeze. A 4:3 set without the anamorphic squeeze will not reveal any difference between anamorphic and non-anamorphic dvd's.


To view HDTV program material, an HDTV receiver and an HDTV-Ready set (or an HDTV set with an integrated tuner) are required. If your HDTV set is 4:3 (I don't understand why anyone would buy one of these, but apparently some people are just stuck on the 4:3 AR), then theoretically, it is supposed to be able to display all 1080 lines in a letterboxed format. This is much different, and should result in much higher PQ than an anamorphic dvd. Of course, if you have a widescreen (16:9) set, all the lines of resolution (480 for dvd's, 1080 for hdtv) are displayed and no letterboxing is required.


I just wanted to clarify that HDTV is not simply 480 lines broadcast in the same format as an anamorphic dvd (unless you work at FOX).
 
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