How do Blu-Rays treat 4:3 DVDs?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by STLMIKE, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. STLMIKE

    STLMIKE Stunt Coordinator

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    I have an old Toshiba HD RPTV (720P) and use either a Panasonic RP-91 or the one particular JVC 7-disc changer that would keep 4:3 DVDs from getting stretched when the TV is set to 16:9.

    Do any/all/none of the Blu-Ray players do the same function?

    I'd like to go to Blu-Ray, but I don't want to have to watch stretched 4:3 material.

    Trying to search for this is almost impossible.....thanks for any advice!
     
  2. Nicholas Martin

    Nicholas Martin Cinematographer

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    Blu-ray players really aren't that different from DVD players in terms of their basic settings for a TV. They both have the same functions for screen shape, so if you set a DVD player to not stretch 4:3 DVDs, you can set a Blu-ray player to do the same.
     
  3. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    I doubt that many (if any) BluRay players will provide the scaliing/zoom option of your Panny RP-91 for non-anamorphic letterbox DVD material, but most players will provide an option to pillarbox 4x3 material instead of stretching it.

    I've kept my RP-91 in my system for non-anamorphic letterbox material, but my Sony S350 BluRay player handles 4x3 aspect ratio material properly, so watching TV shows and classic films is no problem on that player.
     
  4. STLMIKE

    STLMIKE Stunt Coordinator

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    I've been out of the loop for a long time on A/V equipment, and I'm lacking on the terminology -- so I'm drawing a blank on scaling/zoom.

    But the 2 scenarios would be if I'm watching a letterbox movie that is non-anamorphic, will it have both pillarbox and letterbox -- with no stretch?

    And if it's a 4:3 TV show on DVD, will it show up in 4:3 and not stretch?

    My TV does not compensate automatically for this -- and now that I'm running HD off of Dish, that's my 2nd component video input -- so having 2 DVD players is now not an option...

    I could switch it manually, but then I have the grey pillarbox, which I loathe. Again, the TV is 6+ years old...if it would break, or I had some other place to put it, I'd get a new one...

    Thanks -- Mike
     
  5. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

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    Worst case scenario you have to turn off upscaling on 4:3 letterbox discs in order to allow your TV to stretch it out, if your TV won't do stretch modes in 720p/1080i/1080p mode. Don't worry about it, there will always be some suitable workaround. Certain models may have built-in zoom (I think Panasonic) so you don't have to turn off the upconversion.
     
  6. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    You mentioned you own a Panasonic RP-91. It has a feature where you can zoom the picture without distorting it. The zoom factor is perfect for a non-anamorphic widescreen DVD to remove the side pillarbox bars without cropping any of the picture or distorting the image, and on a good quality non-anamorphic transfer (such as The Abyss) the image was very close in quality to an anamorphic transfer. The player also would automatically add black pillarbox side bars to standard 4x3 material by reading the flags on the disc, allowing you to always leave your TV in 16x9 viewing mode. This feature is what made the RP-91 such a popular player, and is why I still have mine connected to our home theater system.

    You can access this feature by going to the "U" setup menus. I believe the feature is located in "U4". You can scroll through settings such as "shrink" (forcing 4x3 pillarboxing), "auto", "zoom" (for scaling/zoom), and maybe one or two others. I leave mine in "auto", and only switch to "zoom" for those non-anamorphic widescreen discs that are not properly flagged as such.
     
  7. Doug Otte

    Doug Otte Supporting Actor

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    Samsung and LG BD players used to forcibly stretch 4:3 DVDs. I have a 5000 and a BH200, and it's a hassle. However, I believe the newer models do offer the option of not stretching.

    Doug
     
  8. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    Scott knows of which he speaks. I also have the Panasonic RP-91, and the big feature I got it for was the scaling for non-anamorphic DVDs, since my Pio Elite 610 TV locks in "FULL" mode when using progressive scan output. Using interlaced output and the TV's zoom feature is quite inferior to the RP-91's nice scaling.

    When I got an HD-DVD player I was back to having the problem again, since it lacked such a feature for DVDs and I don't have enough TV inputs to have two players hooked up at once. Now there's Blu-ray that I'm finally about ready to jump into (having now purchased a few discs). I really need to get an AVR with switching ability so I can feed all these sources through one connection to the TV. I also have an OPPO 970HD.
     
  9. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    Although what Nicholas says is technically/theoretically true, some early players were flawed in that they did indeed stretch 1.33 content to 16x9 regardless of player settings. My first gen Tosh HD-D1 HD DVD player did it, as did my Pan DMP-BD10A BD player.

    Luckily however . . .


    This is what my HD-XA2 HD DVD player does: you get a properly-composed but small and unsatisfying swath of a rectangular image in the ceter of the screen with black on all sides. The BD55 is the first high def player I've owned of either flavor (and there are four so far) that addresses both of your concerns.
     
  10. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    Glenn, if I'm understanding your hardware situation, it seems like you could benefit from a Monoprice HDMI switcher.
     
  11. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    Thanks, but I don't think so Paul. My TV doesn't have HDMI (only component) and my AVR doesn't either. So HDMI switching won't really help me at this point. New hardware is in my future, I just don't know when yet.
     

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