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Discussion Starter #1
Lots of members on this section of the forum are only interested in a 16:9 projector. This post isn't about discussing the merits of either type. I have a 4:3 projector and a 4:3 screen, however, I am on your side in this fight. With the exception of a few 4:3 music DVDs I will not, and I repeat, will not watch 4:3 movies. In fact I am not much interested in watching anything on DVD unless it's anamorphic!


The war has commenced and it's time to mobilize all our resources! The release of dual versions of DVDs - 4:3 and 16:9 is the enemy. The uneducated general public want 4:3 since they think it is "full" screen meaing the "whole" picture. I now find that I CANNOT RENT the 16:9 version of these movies! Why? Because the rental outlets will only carry one format and it's what is in most demand, being 4:3. We may soon be out of luck, at least for rentals. Take this a step further and we may be only able to buy 16:9 as special director's cut editions at higher cost and less availability. The popularity of DVD is now backfiring on us - big time!


Some of the earlier DVDs had both formats - one on each side. This is a very reasonable compromise and one I would be happy to live with. I had high hopes for DVD with the introduction of Superbit - now this?


What's the point of 16:9 projectors or even 16:9 RPTVs if 4:3 takes over? We're in big trouble here!


Cheers,


Grant
 

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I agree, I love widescreen, If that is how the movie was filmed, not all are. Superbits will most likely always be in the ORA of the film, they are geared towards video files. The thing is, 4:3 is not taking over, It does not have to, it was already in the lead. Widescreen is lagging behind in this race, but it's not over yet. I have moved about 10+ people onto widescreen from full screen by showing them pictures of movies that are both pan and scan and widescreen (2.35:1 gives the most dramatic response) And I know of at least 4 of those whom have told their friends and co-workers about the difference and why wider is better.


I think we need to get in on all the spam mail :D start sending people links of the two formats, that may help. :)
 

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You're correct in your thinking, Grant; the DVD companies will be looking to cater to the uninformed masses as was the case with VHS movies.


We must also take into account the devious marketing schemes that major studios perpetrated on the laser disc crowd: the studios made a science of releasing full screen versions of sought after titles, and after time, finally released the wide screen versions so many movie collectors were forced to buy the same titles again. Warner Brothers is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to this type of sham. i.e., Bonnie & Clyde and many other classics are now only being offered in the full screen versions on DVD. But watch what happens over time; you'll see the bogus director's cuts get released. They're all a bunch of snakes who love dipping their hands into our pockets.


Please don't get me wrong, I don't mind paying for honest quality.

i.e., I recently paid a premium for the Criterion wide-screen version of an old '50's sci-fi flick (Fiend Without A Face) and it was worth every penny. The sound and image quality is wonderful, plus it's anamorphic!


Information is our best defense--we should list all we glean on this forum in order to keep ahead of the scheming studios. i.e., the current MGM release of "Thief" is of such horrible quality that it should be avoided at all costs.


Cheers,

Peter Milo:
 

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Frankly, I'm surprised. I have never noticed this to be an issue. My local rental company carries widescreen titles (this is the advantage of not shopping at LackLuster Video), and all the movies I've wanted to purchase have been available in widescreen, and almost always anamorphic.


Is this issue showing up primarily with back-catalog titles, or is it with newer films as well?
 

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I think that the issue has heated back up becuase of something being discussed in another thread, mainly that Hollywood Video has announced that they will only stock P&S versions of DVDs if both versions are available. Pretty sad, and everyone should send them a nastygram.
 

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Don't forget about IMAX. 4:3 and some of the best transfers around.
 

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It's not just rentals. A lot of studios (Disney being a prime offender) are only issuing their "family" films on DVD in 4:3 format or are making the 16:9 versions exceedingly hard to find. I bought Cats and Dogs the other day at Tower Video and didn't even notice until I got home that it was the "Fullscreen Version" (a misnomer if ever I heard one!). I took the DVD back to Tower and sure enough, all of their copies of C&D were 4:3. I traded the disc for It's A Mad Mad Mad World, a far superior film and a WIDE widescreen classic (2.55:1!) that was beautifully done for DVD.


(By the way, this thread really belongs in the DVD Software forum.)
 

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The 16:9 format should become popular with the masses when HDTV becomes more widely used. Until that time, most people will be using 4:3 viewing systems.


--sdc
 

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I rented 'The Mummy Returns' the other night, and discovered that it was only 4:3 after I got it home. I took it back to the rental place to exchange it, and it turned out that all they had were the 4:3 versions. A number of other films were the same way.


Not a good sign.
 

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I actually bought 'The Mummy Returns' at a local Costco and didn't notice it was full frame till I got home (and opened it). I immediately returned it and made a point to the customer service rep that I didn't want full frame, I wanted widescreen. When I went back to the DVD section to pick up the widescreen version, I didn't find it because they only got in 4:3! Needless to say I didn't go home with 'The Mummy Returns' that day.
 

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Yeah, I did the same thing as Tactical did. P***** me off greatly. Fortunately, my son who has a 4:3 direct view is going to get this copy of the Mummy Returns. Complained loudly to CostCo about it. That and $1 will get me a cup of coffee in a cheap diner.


Dan
 

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Grant, I agree, and disagree with you.


Where we agree is that HD mastered, 16:9 enhanced, widescreen masters should be the NORM with DVDs, and not the exception.


But where I disagree is in not wanting both versions offered on every DVD.


This is where problems begin.

The problem is that the studios are starting to put out separate P&S-only and widescreen versions of new movies like The Mummy (Universal), and Cats & Dogs (Warner).


Also, Warner wanted to release Lord of the Rings (animated) and Willy Wonka (SE) in P&S-only form :( until online petitions pressured them into releasing separate P&S and WS versions.


The problem is that rental stores cater to the masses, and have always had only P&S cropped movies on VHS, and only recently moved to support DVD in a big way.


Mostly DVDs evolved from the laserdisc and collector's home video market, so widescreen formatting was not an profitable option, and P&S-only DVDs were shunned by us all. :p


But giving the rental stores an option to carry P&S-only DVDs is the true problem. And I think that we should:


A) Encourage studios to carry BOTH P&S (for rentals) AND 16:9 enhanced widescreen formats on each DVD.


B) That we push the studios to include on the main menu a choice of P&S or WS, and importantly a short video explanation of the superiority of the theatrical widescreen version (like in Star Trek IV) so that people have a choice, and can SEE what they have been missing with P&S hacking over the past years.


I don't think that the exclusion of P&S on DVD is the answer, because then people won't understand why there are letterbox bars on their 4:3 TVs (95% of the TVs out there).


I think that if the public is shown both versions and can see a good example of both, that many will move willingly over to preferring widescreen movies, even on 4:3 TVs, and consequently widescreen TV sales and HDTV will succeed more as well as a by product of P&S/WS education.


-Dean.
 

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This is just the latest twist in a long story. For the longest time, studios such as disney had only letterbox for their widescreen versions, no anamorphic. I have been pleasantly surprised the past 6-12 months as virtually every major release came out anamorphic. Just about quit reading the labels. Now the pendelum swings back. At our local blockbuster, so far I've been lucky.


Ultimately, we win when the sales of widescreen TV's outpace 4:3's.


Now for a bit of heresy: who's really is that overjoyed that the majority of filming is still done in 2.35:1, leaving black bars on the majority of DVD's, despite adaptation of the 16:9 format. This is likely to discourage the masses (and me) as they make the switch. I don't want to tromp on artistic expression, but I can't see anything magic about the wider aspect ratio in this regard. I suspect this may be more dictated by the screens currently in use in theaters, although I don't venture out of the home theater enough to be sure :) I know that when I switch from DVD to HD, I'm very happy to see the screen filled. Makes it easy to understand where the fullscreener's are coming from. Can you imagine one of these guys finally getting the widescreen TV, putting on a DVD and then "I thought I got rid of those ^%$#@! bars."


Now before all the OAR folks go nuts, I'm not advocating butchering old stuff (HBO does it for me ;) ), but changing the way new stuff is made.
 

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All the video store owners I know (in my area) are video addicts, and actively hunt down and stock ONLY the widescreen editions, if at all possible.


Thank god for real people. This even includes a owner of a Jumbo video store.
 

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Around here, while the rental tapes are all 4x3, the DVD's are all widescreen (unless filmed 4x3). In fact, I don't think I've come across a pan and scan dvd yet, and can't believe this will turn out to be a real problem.

Those of you in other areas experiencing this, please complain loudly!


BTW, I for one am still overjoyed that many films are 2.35. A 2.35 screen is critical, however, as 2.35 format movies are meant to be watched bigger, not smaller. Constant height, variable width is the way!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
What I am advocating is a return to dual sided DVDs. For example the original release of The Fifth Element had the 16:9 version on one side and the 4:3 version on the other - best of both worlds and keeps everyone happy. In fact a superbit version on one side and 4:3 on the other would be even better and would solve the rental problem and the confusion with labelling - the "full" part of Fullscreen was covered by the price sticker when I bought Cats and Dogs.


Those who haven't been exposed to this "change" are in for a very unpleasant surprise fairly soon I would think. Maybe things have to get worse before they get better.


I posted here on this section because some of you may not visit the DVD software section all that often and a switch to 4:3 would sure make a 16:9 projector an embarrassing acquisition (at least for DVD) if things continue to go downhill - "what are those black bars at the sides?" Am I being an alarmist - well, maybe you need to find the enemy in your own backyard - it's a wakeup call, that's for sure!


Cheers,


Grant
 

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Yes, Grant, yes! Dual sided!


It hasn't been a problem for me, getting anamorphic, either. I must say, though, that I prefer pan&scan on a "normal sized" TV - anything less than 35 inches. It's just not worth it to me to have the image shrunk to letterbox it, at that screen size. On my big screen, though, I hate it. I also am usually happy to see when a movie is in 16x9, or 1.85:1 - looks much better on my 16x9 screen. Heresy, I know.


- Dave
 

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A small victory….


Rented Mummy Returns from BlockBuster, and discovered it was full screen only. Returned it to get wide screen version. Found it could be purchased, but not rented in wide screen.


Went to their web customer service site and sent an e-mail complaining. I was polite and explained that my reason for moving to DVDs was to get closer to the theatrical experience and how wide screen format contributed to that experience. Received form letter response saying the studios set content, blah, blah, blah.


Sent new e-mail stating that it was obvious that no one had actually read my e-mail, or whoever did, did not understand format vs. content. Said I would try to find a new rental shop that would be more sensitive to the issue.


That letter was answered by a woman at BlockBuster that cared about the format issue. She called my local store and talked with the manager and worked out a program where if they sell the wide screen version they will open one up and let me rent it. I have not had to test this policy yet, but I was very impressed with the response and service offered.


The war was not one, but perhaps one little battle went our way. Why don’t all of you take the time to write to the big rental companies and point out how important the availability of original format is to you? But don’t quit when the first off topic responses come back. Keep writing until it is read by someone that knows what the issue is and why it is important.
 

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Two things mentioned above that are worth repeating:


1) Given the choice between larger image (P&S) and smaller image (so-called Widescreen), almost everyone will go for the larger image.


2) The presence of bars of any size in any location is more objectionable than the missing content captured in the original version.


Its only on large front projection screens that the these two issues can be addressed and overlooked through the use of variable screen size (matting). I find this to be particularly compelling the way theaters deal with the different size formats. If you use variable width, the larger aspect ratio makes for a larger and more dramatic image. If you use variable height, which is what most of us have, then the larger aspect ratio makes for a smaller image.


I would like "Lawrence of Arabia" to produce a larger image than does the "Teletubbies" on my system, not the other way around.


I'm all for choices, but lets be real about who we are. I would be more than happy to rent from Netflix from a specialty selection of widescreen and superbit editions of movies. Until the day arrives when all movies and television are filmed in the same aspect ratio, I'd be willing to bet some $$ that the public will prefer P&S regardless of the size of their TV if the choice is between content and annoying bars.


Kelly


Kelly
 

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You want a bigger image? Get a bigger display system.


The problem isn't the fact that movies are widescreen, the problem is that people have too small TV:s.


I will never agree that pan&scan is an acceptable way to view a movie, even if it gives you a taller picture. Losing 40% of what was on the sides is absolute butchery of what was initially filmed and I would definitely rather see it narrower but wider.


Look at the images in the link below, I think they are fairly self explanatory.

http://www.widescreen.org/examples.html
 
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