My infamous unanswered question

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Huntsman1230, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. Huntsman1230

    Huntsman1230 Auditioning

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    Howdy folks!
    First off, I'm an HT junkie and consider myself an experienced user and DIYer. No expert, but a pro tinkerer and self-taught Googler. I learn more and more everyday. I do believe this is the most appropriate place for this question so I'll jump right in.
    Allow me to preface this by saying I have been wondering this very question for years. Ever since I received my first $400 DVD player as a gift in 8th grade. It has always bugged me, stumped me, irritated me and followed me like a scowling rain cloud every time I watch a new Blu-ray.
    I have never actively sought out an answer to this untill now. Why? Because its really not that big of a deal. But this time, after just purchasing the Hunger Games, I happened to have my iPad in my lap. I told myself that, for the very first time, "I'm gonna Google this..."
    Would you believe - NOTHING. Not a single answer. I have browsed page after page and forum after forum. I have cached all of my 9 Safari iPad tabs over and over again dozens of times with promising pages that might just hold the answer - and Nothing. With a capital N.
    So, after scouring this very forum, here is my question:
    How come on premium movie channels (epix, stars, Cinemax, even your on-demand feature on your cable box), cable tv, and even movie previews on A blu-ray disc, the movies are shown in full screen, 1.78 aspect ratio while I own these exact same Bly ray movies and they are 2.35 with the bars on the top and bottom? For example, I have Captain America, Super 8,, Zombieland, etc. and ALL of these movies are in 2.35. Yet I just sat here and saw them in an "UltraViolet" promo before my Hunger Games film and there they are all in gorgeous full screen. What is going on here? Also, to test that I wasn't crazy, I rented Super 8 via Charter on demand and - sure enough - 1.78 beautiful full screen 16x9 whereas my Blu ray copy is 2.35 with bars.
    Now please understand, I know all about aspect ratios and it's not a problem for me, but surely you can see my confusion.
    One of two things is going to happen; I'm either going to get pwned on this board with a simple common sense answer while I get some sympathy shoulder taps OR I am going to be genuinely enlightened.
    I have my theories for why this may be, but I will not disclose them to ensure I don't accidentally prime your responses.
    OH, and I don't even feel like watching a movie anymore. It's been over 2 hours and I'm going to bed.
    Thanks for reading!!
     
  2. Jim Mcc

    Jim Mcc Producer

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    A lot of the channels/sources showing the movie alter the aspect ratio. I'm not sure why they do it, but they do.
    Do I win a prize?
     
  3. NY2LA

    NY2LA Screenwriter

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    I'm a bit of an old-timer from the pan-scan to fit old 4x3 TV era, and have actually sat in and consulted on some actual panning and scanning (the process of making wider movies fill the height of a TV screen) so I'll take a try at this. Please forgive me in advance for covering anything you already knew.
    The bottom line is panning and scanning a movie to chop off what won't fit a square TV was routinely done for decades because it was felt that the majority of the public did not understand or like those black bars on their screen. "What's wrong with the teevee? Why's the picture so small?" Filmmakers like Martin Scorcese have done Public Service shorts explaining, and even showing exactly how much of Ben Hur's chariot race (and other wide movies) is lost when cropped to fit an older TV, so people will learn that Letterbox gives you the whole picture where "full screen" cuts some of it off.
    As you know, today's 16x9 sets are still not wide enough to carry the full width of some movies, and the feeling is that there are still many folks with cable movie channels that don't like the black bars. So even now, studios are still doing a less severe version of the old Pan/Scan to make wider movies fill today's 16x9 screen, so they can offer cable channels (and often Netflix) an alternate "full screen" version.
    Did that help?
     
  4. Huntsman1230

    Huntsman1230 Auditioning

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    Oh yes, very much. My though was the cropping was done to make the viewing experience more cohesive. I'm actually relieved to hear a similar answer from a professional that had experience doing this.
    Now I know why it s done. Next time I see it, I'll understand. And that's all I wanted.
    Thanks a bunch. To both of you :)
     
  5. NY2LA

    NY2LA Screenwriter

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    Pleasure to have helped. I might add that in the 4x3 TV age, not all Panning and Scanning was well done. A hack who likes to put in extra pans where they weren't necessary can make a transfer that induces motion sickness. (shudder)
    A picture cropped to fit old square screens used to be called "Full Screen" - now that screens are wider, (16x9) a 4x3 image flanked by vertical bars (pillarbox) couldn't accurately be called Full Screen.
     

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