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Coyote Waits
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Quote:Note: The TV and DVD settings referred to in this post are from 2003-2004. The general idea is the same for all equipement.

For different takes on black bars you can use several links later in this post and in the rest of this thread.

Explained again, here!


Quote:Almost everything in this post came to me from others here at AVS forums. Any confusion, or errors of fact are entirely my own creation.

I will do my best to improve what's presented here. Feel free to clarify and correct. There are links to other resources for better understanding of aspect ratio, and it's effect on movies, movies on TV and TV at the bottom of this post.

Enjoy.


A Casual History of Black Bars

When movies started being projected on screens across the country the aspect ratio was 4 units wide for each 3 units height.

Decades later the TV industry used the same aspect ratio.

People were so hypnotized by TV in the 1950's that they forget to go to the movies. Hollywood's response was wide screen spectacular epic movies.

Quote:Thanks to weebling1 for further details:
"The movie industry developed "CINEMASCOPE" and "PANAVISION" and other widescreen filming techniques in the 1950's to recapture audiences being lost to TV."


Theaters installed wide screens with masking to reshape the screen when they were showing the standard 4x3 movies. By using masking the fixed size wide screens became adjustable. Unfortunately TV sets are fixed size and will probably stay that way.

Did Hollywood pick one wide screen aspect ratio and stick with it? Of course not. So now, our fixed aspect ratio television sets have to adapt to many aspect ratios. If the original aspect ratio of the film is maintained then black bars are best way to do it.

I'm not sure exactly when "Letterbox" started but it was big when Laser Disks became available. The transfer to Laser Disk, for wide screen movies, was done in 4x3 frames but only a portion of each frame was used. The black bars were included right there in the 4x3 frame. In that way they could create a "wide" image of any aspect ratio. It was an unfortunate trade-off because they were using only a portion of each 4x3 frame. Image information was lost.

As wide screen and HD TVs became a possibility, Letterbox just wasn't good enough. It's hard to find more recent wide screen movies that haven't been "Enhanced for widescreen TVs" -- sometimes referred to as "Anamorphic Widescreen". You will find statements like these on DVD boxes. Short of HD DVD this type of DVD can look pretty good.

Some older movies that have received extensive restoration have also been enhanced for wide screen TV. The older wide screen movies that have not been "enhanced" may be described on the DVD box as "Widescreen version: Presented in a 'letterbox' Widescreen format preserving the aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition."

The Letterbox movies that I have seen tend to have poor PQ because of the methods used and the fact that Hollywood made no effort to preserve their master copies. In many cases it was necessary to search for copies of a film in private collections and then patch together the best pieces.

The last type of DVD that I'm familiar with is the original 4x3 movie. Their DVD boxes will have statements like "1.37:1 Academy Ratio" and "Standard Version: Presented in a format preserving the aspect ratio of the original theatrical exhibition." The number 1.33 is just 4 divided by 3 and is expressing the aspect ratio of a film as 1.33:1 or 1.33 units wide for each 1 unit high. Silent movies were shot at 1.33:1 but when sound was introduce part to the frame had to be used for the sound track which resulted in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Kelpie brough this to my attention today (03/02/2007).

See Wikipedia for more historical information.

Some movies have been "treated" to fill a 4x3 screen and are labeled as "Full Screen", "Pan and Scan" or something similar. I avoid them.

Quote:Don't forget to setup your DVD player for a 16x9 screen:

DVD players seem to be shipped configured to be connected to a display with a 4x3 screen. It is necessary to configure the DVD player to be connected to a 16x9 display. This setup option may be a switch on the back of the DVD player or one or two options in the player's setup menus.


Sample Setup for a Samsung HLP TV and a Component connection to a DVD player.

With a properly configured DVD player connected to a Samsung HLP (2004) set through component you should have these choices if you use the P. Size (Picture Size) button on the Samsung remote.

Quote:NOTE: Each year the names of these options, and the results they produce can change. Check your model's picture size options with other owners.


Wide: for Anamorphic Enhanced Widescreen movies. There will be black bars top and bottom for all films with an aspect ratio greater than 1.85:1.

Panorama: for those who want to force a 4x3 image to fill a 16x9 screen. The image will be stretched more toward the sides than in the middle. Objects on the sides of the image will be fatter than they would be if they were in the center of the image.

Zoom 1: for older Letterbox wide screen films. The image is "magnified" and equal amount in all four directions until it reaches the left and right sides of the screen. There will be black bars on the top and bottom of the screen because if the "letterboxed" films were created wider than the 16x9 screens.

Zoom 2: it does the same thing as Zoom 1 only it doesn't stop until the entire screen is used to display the image. The ends of an image will be cut off using Zoom2.

4x3: for old films made before wide screen took over. There will be black bars on each side so that the image has a ratio of 4 units wide for each unit high.

Sample Setup for a Samsung HLP TV and a HDMI or DVI connection to a DVD player.

Set the up-scaling DVD player to output either 480p or 720p and pick your own favorite setting.

Wide (TV): use for all Anamorphic Enhanced Widescreen movies. There will be black bars top and bottom for all films with an aspect ratio greater than 1.85:1. There will be some extra overscan.

Wide (PC): don't use this option for anything except personal computer desk top work. There will be enough under scan to make a windows desk top visible.

Expand: provides 1x1 bit mapping and none of the extra "electronic" overscan used in "Wide (TV)". Movies wider than 1.85:1 have black bars top and bottom. SD TV or movies with a 4x3 aspect ratio have black bars on each side of the image.

4x3: it's the same as above for old 4x3 films with black side bars.

If you don't know the aspect ratio or transfer type of the film you want to watch check it out at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).

Examples of Film Aspect Ratios:

Quote:Thanks to Mark Alexander:
"Just be aware that the IMDB is often inaccurate when it comes to the original theatrical aspect ratio."


Some films have been issued on DVD more that once. Some have been issued in Letterbox and then again in Widescreen Anamorphic. When ever I have a choice I get the Widescreen Anamorphic version.

An aspect ratio of 1:78:1 is exactly the size of 16x9 wide screen TV sets (16 / 9 = 1.77. There should be no black bars.

An aspect ratio of 1:85:1 is slightly wider than 16x9 wide screen TV sets. There may be very thin black bars top and bottom. The over scan in some TV sets will make these black bars impossible to see.

An aspect ratio greater than 1:85 will have black bars top and bottom. As the films aspect ratio gets larger (wider) the black bars top and bottom also get larger.

An aspect ratio less that 1.78, which in almost all cases will be 1.37:1 (~4x3), will have wide black bars on each side of the image.

Letterboxed Examples:

Ben-Hur (1959); (Provided by Trent)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052618/dvd
2.76:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Released 13 March 2001
Results: Top/Bottom largest black bars.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062622/dvd
2.20:1 Letterbox
Released 25 August 1998
Box Notes: Widescreen version: Presented in a "letterbox" widescreen format preserving the "scope" aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition.
Results: Top/Bottom black bars.

King and I, The (1956)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049408/dvd
2.55:1 Letterbox
Released 27 April 1999
Box Notes: Widescreen version: Presented in a "letterbox" widescreen format preserving the aspect ratio of the original theatrical exhibition.
Results: Top/Bottom black bars.

Anamorphic Widescreen Examples:

North by Northwest (1959)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053125/dvd
1.78 :1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Released 29 August 2000
Box Notes: Widescreen version: Presented in a "matted" widescreen format preserving the aspect ratio of the original theatrical exhibition. Enhanced for widescreen TVs.
Results: No black bars.

Birds, The (1963)
Collector's Edition
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056869/dvd
1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Released 28 March 2000
Box Notes: No aspect ratio comments on the box, but 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen listed.
Results: Thin black bars but overscan should hide them.

Music Man, The (1962)
Special Edition
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056262/dvd
2.20:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Released 23 February 1999
Box Notes: Widescreen version: Presented in a "letterbox" widescreen format preserving the aspect ratio of the original theatrical exhibition. Enhanced for widescreen TVs.
Results: Top/Bottom black bars.

Academy Ratio (Standard Version) Examples:

American in Paris, An
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043278/dvd
1.37:1 Academy Ratio
Released 2 May 2000
Box Notes: Standard Version: Presented in a format preserving the aspect ratio of the original theatrical exhibition.
Results: Wide black bars right and left sides.

Links To Other Black Bar Information:

Confused about 2.35:1?

Why Don't the Black Bars Go Away?

Understanding aspect ratios for video exhibtion...
 

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Coyote Waits
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Are there any strange aspect ratios out there that you have run into? The Internet Movie Database is a good place to get that kind of information for any film that may interest you.


Do a search for the movie you are interested in and then under "Other Info" click on "DVD details".
 

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Les,


Impressive. I hope people read it, especially newbees.
 

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Coyote Waits
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Quote:
Originally posted by manpig
Les,


Impressive. I hope people read it, especially newbees.

Thanks.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by htwaits
.. the 931 somehow fools the HLN into thinking any DVI signal is HD.

Have you confirmed this? I think the actual issue may be with the HLN, not the 931. It seems that if the HLN receives a 1080i/720p signal, it automatically assumes widescreen and doesn't allow normal. A 480p signal, however, can be viewed in normal mode on the HLN.


I was just experimenting with this using my STB over dvi. The downside (maybe benefit for SD) of sending a 480p signal via dvi is that the picture is letterboxed on four sides.


I'll experiment with the 931. Any specific title you think I should use? Maybe I will try my non-anamorphic "nightmare before christmas" since that is an unusual aspect ratio (1.66).
 

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I tried the full-screen version of Babe. Sending a 480p signal over dvi does allow normal mode to work but no zooms. The very odd thing ( I mentioned this to you in another thread) is that the aspect ratio is off. The picture is displayed in approxiamtely a 1.5 AR. I measured the picture at 30.75"x20.75". I tried switching the display option in the menu of the 931 but that seemd to have no effect.
 

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Coyote Waits
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Quote:
Originally posted by NikePenguin
Have you confirmed this? I think the actual issue may be with the HLN, not the 931. It seems that if the HLN receives a 1080i/720p signal, it automatically assumes widescreen and doesn't allow normal.


Owners of the Bravo D1 DVD player say that it doesn't have this problem when connected to the Samsung HLN sets with DVI.


A 480p signal, however, can be viewed in normal mode on the HLN.


I have tested that myself now (12/05/2003).


480p in "Normal" aspect mode via DVI is strange and not normal at all. The alternate path for 4x3 and Letterbox that give me good results is component 1 with Normal (4x3) and Zoom (Widescreen Letterbox).

Edited: 12./05/2003



I was just experimenting with this using my STB over dvi. The downside (maybe benefit for SD) of sending a 480p signal via dvi is that the picture is letterboxed on four sides.


I'm going to stick to DVD for now. That's confusing enough for me.



I think you should only see "Letterbox" if the material is wider than 1.33:1, but I've never seen "Letterbox" in person with aspect ratios less than 1.78:1.


Come to think of it, in January when I had the Samsung 160 STB using OTA input and DVI set to output 720p, I watched HD programs in wide mode and SD programs in Normal mode. That leads me to think the the problem is the HD_931's behavior.


I'll experiment with the 931. Any specific title you think I should use? Maybe I will try my non-anamorphic "nightmare before christmas" since that is an unusual aspect ratio (1.66).



You need Zoom1 to display any "Letterbox" material in it's correct aspect ratio. I know Component 1 will allow you to do that. I don't think (not tested) DVI at 480p will let you use Zoom1.


If you do try "Nightmare" on Component 1 with Zoom1, I would like to know if the black bars are on the sides instead of the top and bottom. If Zoom1 works the way "I" would like it too then that's where the bars should be. Otherwise it seems to me that Zoom1 would be stretching the 1.66:1 "Lettterbox" image's width.

Good luck testing. I don't want to wear out my welcome or I would go back again for more tests.
 

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Previously I had tried "Nightmare..." on component1 using zoom1. The image filled the entire screen with the top of the picture being cut off. I do not know if any picture was cut on the sides. My impression of zoom1 is that it zooms enough for a 1.77 non-anamorphic picture to fill the screen.
 

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Coyote Waits
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Quote:
Originally posted by NikePenguin
Previously I had tried "Nightmare..." on component1 using zoom1. The image filled the entire screen with the top of the picture being cut off.



I was afraid of that. Zoom1 probably doesn't work correctly once the aspect ratio gets below 1.78:1.


I do not know if any picture was cut on the sides. My impression of zoom1 is that it zooms enough for a 1.77 non-anamorphic picture to fill the screen.



Right, and then you start seeing back bars as the aspect ratio gets wider. Well, most "Letterbox" DVD's have pretty bad PQ to begin with so I'm off to buy the Anamorphic "Nightmare Before Christmas".
 

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Aspect ratios aside, when is the proper time to watch "Nightmare Before Christmas"? Since Halloween seems too early and Xmas too late, I watch it at Thanksgiving.
 

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Coyote Waits
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If you are "personally" cooking a turkey then Thanksgiving Eve is the perfect time.
 

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Thanks for the nice primer.


If I recall correctly, TV's 4:3 aspect ratio originated when Thomas Edison's assistants asked him what proportions his new inventions screen should have. He thought about it for a minute, and came up with 4:3


Best,


Dr. D
 

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I'd like to add to the history side:


The movie industry developed "CINEMASCOPE" and "PANAVISION" and other widescreen filming techniques in the 1950's to recapture audiences being lost to TV.


(sorry to drop names on you guys)
 

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Coyote Waits
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
DrDeville, thanks I needed that!



Thanks weebling1. How about Michael Todd's "Around The World In 80 Days"? Wasn't that done in something called Todd-AO?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by htwaits
Are there any strange aspect ratios out there that you have run into? The Internet Movie Database is a good place to get that kind of information for any film that may interest you.


Do a search for the movie you are interested in and then under "Other Info" click on "DVD details". You have just been subjected to an informative "bump".

Just be aware that the IMDB is often innacurate when it comes to the original theatrical AR.
 

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Coyote Waits
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

Quote:
Originally posted by Marc Alexander
Just be aware that the IMDB is often innacurate when it comes to the original theatrical AR.

Thanks Marc. I should have pointed that out too. My wife has actually sent in a couple of corrections relating to other types of information.



I've just been trying to find any other sources for detailed information about films. So far I haven't had much luck.


Anyone know of a detail oriented film history site?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by htwaits
People were so hypnotized by TV that they started forgetting to go to the movies. Hollywood's response was wide screen spectacular epic movies. Theaters installed wide screens with masking to reshape the screen when they were showing the standard 4x3 movies. By using masking the fixed size wide screens became adjustable. Unfortunately TV sets are fixed size and will probably stay that way for a long time.

I always thought that during those years, the theaters were trying to get screens as large as possible. Their screen size increased as optics improved, until theaters hit the practical limit of the screen reaching from ceiling to floor. Once they hit that hard barrier, the only thing left, was to go wider. And wider they went.


For TV's, even the largest RPTV's, ceiling height isn't a limitation in most homes. At least not yet.


Masking at theaters really just involves moving the curtains back and forth. So, just about any width was easily achievable. No standard was needed by anyone.


However, just how "widescreen" the movie got, was a trade off in clarity since, I believe, all still used 4:3 film stock. They just used different techniques of "squeezing" the picture down.


My prediction, which could very well turn out to be wrong, is that with HDTV "blessing" the 16:9 ratio, and home video becoming the major market (read "$$$") for movies, new productions will attempt to target 16:9 framing. Except, of course, for those few maverick directors who always refuse to conform.
 

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Coyote Waits
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·

Quote:
Originally posted by WaltA
I always thought that during those years, the theaters were trying to get screens as large as possible. Their screen size increased as optics improved, until theaters hit the practical limit of the screen reaching from ceiling to floor. Once they hit that hard barrier, the only thing left, was to go wider. And wider they went.

Those years (when TV became the big new thing) were the fifties. The very big movie houses were built in the thirties. I think that any increase in 4x3 screen size would have gone along with the big theater boom of the thirties.


This is where a good history of the movies would come in handy.



I don't think in 65 years (allowing five years for minimum growth
) that I've ever seen a 4x3 screen that stretched floor to ceiling.


The purposes of this thread is to help in getting as close as possible to the original aspect ratio of theatrical presentation of any film or other material on DVD. Of course, the best we can do is display the DVD aspect ratio image without unnecessary distortion.


I wouldn't expect the "blockbuster" films to ever come back to a "narrow" 16x9 ratio.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by DrDeville
Thanks for the nice primer.


If I recall correctly, TV's 4:3 aspect ratio originated when Thomas Edison's assistants asked him what proportions his new inventions screen should have. He thought about it for a minute, and came up with 4:3


Best,


Dr. D

Some of us are old enough to remember watching Howdy Doody on our brand new 7" round TV. I think 4:3 TV standard came from the fact that round picture tubes couldn't do much better. Plus that was the ratio of the movies too. I also remember our first color TV which also had a round tube masked to a 4:3 rectangle but the corners of the screen were cut off.

Rock
 
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