Just why is widescreen not accepted in the U.S.?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jeffrey Gray, Aug 14, 2002.

  1. Jeffrey Gray

    Jeffrey Gray Second Unit

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    Here is something I have always wondered. I have heard stories, but I want to know exactly why widescreen/letterbox isn't accepted by the majority of people in the U.S., and why they are so stubborn that they can understand widescreen but still not switch over. I understood and accepted widescreen the first time I ever saw it...why can't others?
     
  2. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Because it wasn't always that way. In many countries they started showing movies in OAR and that was it

    Many people have never seen a widescreen transfer before DVD (true story!) and think it's something new
     
  3. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    Good question. As a Brit I've always thought that Americans are far more enthusiast about films than people in the UK. There seems to be much more discussion, interest and support of films whether in the theater or on home video than here (few, if any, any of my work colleagues, for example, have any interest in films). So why this lack of understanding about widescreen and the obsession of filling the TV screen?

    Paradoxically, even before the advent of widescreen TV sets, there seemed to be a general acceptance of widescreen here in the UK. Even before DVD came along there were quite a lot of films available in the UK in widescreen on VHS.
     
  4. Patrick Larkin

    Patrick Larkin Screenwriter

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    It's simple. People with 27" sets have to squint to see a 2.35:1 widescreen image. Its hard for them to see and they don't fully understand why its suddenly like that. They've been watching VHS, HBO, and network TV for decades and never seen widescreen on a TV.

    I'm afraid this will be a dilemma for a very long time since a 27" 4x3 TV is an upgrade for most folks.
     
  5. Paul McElligott

    Paul McElligott Cinematographer

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  6. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    This is so "newsgroup."
     
  7. Grinnell

    Grinnell Auditioning

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    Wide screen is not accepted by many because it is smaller; the image is shorter, covers a smaller area and appears "zoomed out". In addition, a letter box image with black bars on the top and bottom can be annoying. For example, I watched the wide screen version of Lord of the Rings on my 61 inch 4:3 RPTV and really noticed that the tops of the actor's heads were cut off in many of the shots. This would have been less evident if the image had extended to the top of the screen, but seeing those black bars above Gandolph's eyebrows was very annoying.

    I realize that this is not a popular viewpoint on this forum, but for many (most?) of the population the preference for full screen is truely a PREFERENCE, and not a matter of ignorance.
     
  8. Bill J

    Bill J Producer

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  9. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast
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    Grinnell - If you were truely watching the widescreen edition, either your RPTV is outta whack or the shots were originally composed that way.

    I also must wonder...why do people bitch a blue streak about seeing black bars above the picture, yet don't complain a bit when they can see their living room wall, photos hanging above the picture, etc...? To me that is more annoying than any black bar could ever be.
     
  10. Larry Bevil

    Larry Bevil Second Unit

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    I was an almost instantaneous convert to widescreen. My first experience was with the laserdisc version of Ben Hur. I originally had the pan and scan version and was really shocked to see the ultra-widescreen version - I believe it was 2.55:1 or so. I had a 27 inch tv and really had to look hard to see the vertically smaller picture. Initially I complained. But someone suggested I compare the two versions. I did and noticed I was missing a great deal of the picture in the pan and scan version. Particularly noticeable was during the chariot race and the dialogue between Esther and Ben Hur. So, I resolved my problem by buying a 45 inch projection TV and have been happy ever since with widescreen, knowing that was, in almost all cases, the way the director wanted us to view the film. I know this may not be practical for everyone, but it worked for me. I ignore the black bars.
     
  11. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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  12. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

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    because it is not mandated/enforced as yet as it is elsewhere ala Europe.

    ps. the VHS Ben-Hur widens out for the race scene.
     
  13. Eric M Jones

    Eric M Jones Second Unit

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    Because the average movie watcher (AMW) doesn't care about the intended aspect ratios. AMW's have been sucked into believing that if the image doesn't fit the TV there must be something wrong. I'm still amazed by the amout of people who still think "those black bars must be covering something up." I use to think it was simply ignorance. But I'm not so sure anymore.

    -EJ
     
  14. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    Grinnell,
    you watched 'LOTR' on a 61" monitor and STILL had a problem with the empty space area's!?
    If one doesn't understand how to drive, they shouldn't own a car. [​IMG]
    Composition, composition, composition.
    You need to re-train your eyes, AND your mind. The 2.35:1 composition is all that counts. Trust me when I tell you that if you embrace OAR (original aspect ratio) you will be in fine company, and you will be among the informed here.
     
  15. SteveA

    SteveA Supporting Actor

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  16. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    I also never bought into that whole theory that those with a 27" or smaller monitor should watch full screen and p&s because the 2.35:1 image would be too small. Hell, give me a magnifying glass and i'd watch a 2.35:1 image on a display no bigger than the LCD screen on my watch!
     
  17. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    He only saw the black bars because his room was not dark enough. [​IMG]
    Now, in Europe, (from what I have read here), all they have are widescreen sets, but they don't have any big ones (over 40" or so.) It is just the reverse here, which is a really good question for the TV manufacturers.
    However, another difference is the size and population of the US. I don't exactly know how to word that to explain it correctly, except to compare the size of England against the US. Maybe they are just closer together? Maybe that what demographics are for.
    Glenn
     
  18. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    I haven't seen anything to support the idea that whatever portion of the population truly understands OAR -- that over 50% of them prefer pan&scan. Or to put it another way, simply saying something doesn't actually make it true [​IMG]
    //Ken
    PS: on second reading, that was not exactly what you said, but my point still stands.
     
  19. Romier S

    Romier S Producer

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    The Empire Strikes Back converted me long ago. I had the P&S version of the trilogy and had watched it that way for years.

    A good friend of mine made the ever so wise decision of buying the widescreen version of the Trilogy. I remember vividly going to his home and watching Empire in Widescreen for the first time on his 27in set. I complained the whole time! I wondered how in the world anyone could watch something that doesn't fill the entire screen. He simply told me exactly what was said above "Take Empire with you Romier and compare it with your P&S copy, call me when you do".

    I instantly noticed how much picture information was missing and how horridly cramped everything looking in the P&S version.

    The one scene that stuck out like a sore thumb was the scene where the Falcon is flying in between the two Star Destroyers while escaping Hoth. Han says something to the affect of "We can still out-maneuver them". You then see a forward view of the Falcon as it does this very cool dip downward with 2-3 tie fighters following it down. Needless to say I called him immediately and apologized.

    That scene is utterly butchered in the P&S version and I never again touched a P&S tape, nor will I ever spend a penny on a DVD that is not OAR. Plain and simple.


     
  20. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    Well, to be accurate, 'LOTR' was filmed in Super 35, so if he watched it in full frame, he would see a little more at the top and bottom. However, this film has CGI out the wazoo, and all of those shots, about 98% of the film, would be absolutly terrible on the full frame edition.

    I am in no way, shape, or form trying to give Grinnell an excuse to run out and buy the full screen edition by telling him this, I just wanted to be accurate is all.

    Full screen, P&S, same shit, different color. They can both go to hell.
     

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