TV shows and TV movies gone W I D E

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by HDvision, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. HDvision

    HDvision Screenwriter

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  2. HDvision

    HDvision Screenwriter

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    The X-Files first seasons could be widescreen:
    I think however, they will go square because of the VFX upscale situation, which is too bad. No one will accept upscaled SFX shots in addition to them being cropped. That would be a bit severe.

    Too bad, because to have all the series in widescreen, including the original 4/3 seasons, would make for one majestic set.

     
  3. HDvision

    HDvision Screenwriter

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    I remembered parts of the X-Files pilot appeared as flashbacks in the season 5 opener (when X-Files started to air in widescreen), so I did a quick check regarding the format, and here are the results:

    xfilespilotwider.jpg

    They indeed, were shot with protection for wide screen, and it looks so much better than the ugly cropped version.

    I would be very disappointed if like ST:TNG, the first four seasons are presented cropped in 4:3 on Blu-ray and not widescreen. I hope Fox doesn't go the way of the internet fans, who barks loud but really do no represent the wider audiences (no pun intended) who will likely, like Friends, pick the widescreen sets to revisit the show again because (and not in spite) of the wider format.

    Take a stand Fox (no pun intended either)!
     
  4. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Clearly, we have differing views on this topic and maybe I'm missing your point but basically, the only thing I'm getting from your posts is that you want to fill your TV screen. The original intent of the cinematographer and director apaprently doesn't matter (you posted Bartley's quote saying that The X-Files was composed for 4x3) and that seeing everything that was shot- even when the extra information was not meant to be seen- is better simply because there's more information. I see no difference between that and wanting to get rid of the 2.35 AR of Titanic or Terminator 2 in order to see more of the Super 35 frame.
     
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  5. HenryDuBrow

    HenryDuBrow Screenwriter

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    I'm not too fond of all this going widescreen for old TV productions, that were broadcast in 4:3, show them as intended and originally presented. Always as a rule. The bits of information it adds to the sides doesn't do much for me, I do prefer more top and bottom picture to be honest and I don't like matted versions of films either. This is older television we're talking about after all, not films since these aren't theatrical productions, and new TV screens these days are large enough so a 4:3 image shouldn't bother too many viewers' entertainment unless you somehow make that particular screen format a problem for yourself deliberately. Slippery slope. I don't want them to start doing this to older shows one day, imagine Fox did this to their Irwin Allen shows just to please today's viewing standards. Meet it on its terms, not what somebody today may want, to me it's a bit like pleasing folks opposing b&w with colorization. That some old movies get modern color gradings is an even bigger problem than going widescreen, I'll grant that.
     
  6. HDvision

    HDvision Screenwriter

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    I think the issue is more complex than at first sight.

    First, it's important not to fall into analogies with movies, which is what people often do: old movies were shot, as I said before, with fixed framings, and made to be projected on fixed (ie controled), high resolution canvas.

    TV was never a fixed canvas in the 20th century, and it was low res. Not one TV showed the same image, due to variations in overscans + TV framings (manufacturers had extra plastic framings that hid x amount of visual information on the actual screen, depending on the sets).

    This had two direct incidents on TV shows presentation, that were imposed on the filmmakers rather than being their original intent:

    1/ they had to shoot with copious amount of dead space on all four sides, so that the show was visible with any variation in framing.

    2/ they had to preserve the essential info center, (or off center, in the case of later shot Panavision shows) knowing that extractions, be it videos or 16mm, could crop any reasonable variable amount of the picture while still making the show work visually.

    Also extractions were often zoomboxed by the studios so that the visuals and actors faces detail was watchable on low res TV. This resulted in ridiculous scenes, even with The X-Files first seasons, where characters sides of heads were half cropped (clearly, the same disastrous result as Pan & Scan) while they talked to another character, one nose talking to another etc.

    Clearly, there was zero purity, unlike film, into these variables. The cropping wasn't an artistic intent; it was technical.

    Now that old tube TV are gone (and good riddance), why should anyone keep bowing to these horrible constraints? Why should the makers keep these horrible, cropped, zoomboxed presentations that make zero sense artistically, when there is enough coverage shot on the negatives to finally have them presented proper?

    If you watch the first X-Files first four seasons shows again, the image clearly feel cropped and badly as that. Just the same as Friends feel ultra-cropped too.

    Bartley says he "framed" for 4/3. It means in my opinion they made sure, as still is the case today on HD shows, that nothing vital for the viewer was off the center of the frame.

    It doesn't mean they composed for academy. I don't think it's viable to keep thinking that somehow, because of the format of tube TVs, Télévision series preserved the academy compositions style past the widescreen boom, for all the reasons cited above. They never used the complete top and bottom of the frame, for anything essential on those old shows, unlike anyone shooting academy did.

    I was watching The Persuaders TV crew shooting a scene in the bonuses the other day, they guys did not even had marks in their viewfinder. However, all the episodes of the series crops nicely to 1.66:1 and the framings suddenly make much more sense. Even their opening credits are made with a huge focus on the center of the frame, the rest being dead empty color.

    Thought there was a period of transition probably, I suggest the art of composing for 4/3 was lost some time past 1953, not only in movies (except from some arthouse movies or 16mm movies (movies produced outside of the studio system)), but also on TV shows, and especially from the 60's on.

    If you look at the complete shot frame of any show from the 60's on, the way the actors are set, say for two actors talking to each other, shot from above their shoulder, reverse angle, reverse shots, clearly are just as they are in any widescreen movie shot flat. Only the sides are cropped too tight. You can see it on The Avengers comparison clip posted earlier on this thread.

    So maybe you can find the odd 16mm shot TV where the whole frame is the composition and cannot be altered. This is not the case in most show listed here that have gone wide.

    When you look at the widescreen framing of Mulder in the cap I posted above, the wider one make framing sense. The 4/3 one is tight and cropped.

    I'm not saying the old 4/3 were wrong or invalid. They were presentations optimised for the limitations of the times.
     
  7. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Thanks for taking the time to respond. While I still disagree, I do understand your point more clearly now.
    This might depend on each individual viewer but the 4x3 framing on the first 4 years of The X-Files looks much more correct to my eye than the 16x9 framing on the S5 to 9 DVDs. There's too much space on the sides of the widescreen seasons for my tastes while the information on the early seasons fits right into the square frame.
     
  8. Harry-N

    Harry-N Cinematographer

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    This week saw the Blu-ray release (in Best Buy only) of the theatrical version of the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA pilot from the late '70s. It was all filmed at 4:3, but theatrically it was released 16:9. So while technically it was a theatrical feature, it was cropped from 4:3 to make it wide. Mostly it looks OK with just a few minor instances of chopped heads.

    Harry
     
  9. HenryDuBrow

    HenryDuBrow Screenwriter

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    Matted examples like Harry's I'm not too fond of myself, I'll rather have the 4:3 image. I get it that David prefers a wide TV ratio but it's all a matter of taste isn't it, picking up on something mentioned, I still think a good 50hz tube TV showed a way better clearer and sharper picture than many of the flat screens today. I remember stuff back from 1984 looking fabulous, some of those tapings I still have, like Little Steven's German Rockpalast gig. I'm in PAL-territory, by the way. Most of the plasmas I've seen are crap especially up-close it's dreadful, the old tubes never had the same messy image regardless where you sat.Then there's also the historical time frame aspect of a presentation, it simply betrays an old production, but as long as we're not messing with pre-90s material it's less of a problem for me personally as I hardly ever watch anything after that. Another annoying thing is, the way we most often see old footage for say news or documentaries cropped rather than keep the original image. It doesn't have to be black bars on each sides, the image can be re-used to fill the bars.
     
  10. HDvision

    HDvision Screenwriter

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    Added Battlestar Galactica the movie Blu-ray.

    Here's something nuts regarding the X-Files in widescreen: it looks like Fox sold direct briefly, in both the UK and the US, sets of the first four seasons in WIDESCREEN back in 2007 (apparently never available in stores). I have seen some posts on the web reporting it, and here's a cap: it says "also available full frame" so it's not a listing mistake: could masters already exists in SD widescreen of those first four seasons?!

    x-fileswidedvd.png
     
  11. HDvision

    HDvision Screenwriter

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    Some information on Firefly from producer Chris Buchanan.

    As one can see, the process is the exact same as the X-Files caps posted above. 4/3 extraction is off center, and to the right.

    widefullexample.jpg
     
  12. HDvision

    HDvision Screenwriter

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    Added Angel season 1 (widescreen on Netflix) and Entourage season 1 & 2 (widescreen on iTunes).

    Both of these do not exist in widescreen on DVD.
     
  13. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    I have no doubt that Firefly is intended to be seen at 1.78 but that has absolutely nothing to do with The X-Files.

    I don't have the Blu-ray series set but I assumed that the first two seasons of Entourage are 1.78 (which is likely incorrect) on that set.
     
  14. HDvision

    HDvision Screenwriter

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    Yes, I updated it (don't own the set yet, and had to go online to find a review acknolewdging the first two seasons on the Blu-ray set are widescreen).

    Re: Firefly, it just illustrates the extraction for 4/3 is similar (and thus, the only real difference is whatever format preference the producers make at any point in time). This also kills all the "extra empty room destroys the compositions" argument.
     
  15. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    It kills that argument only if someone is making it for Firefly. He says "Firefly was always conceived as a 16:9 show..." so he's clearly speaking about his show only and not every show aired by Fox.
     
  16. HDvision

    HDvision Screenwriter

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    It speaks for any show with the same off center 4/3 extraction that does a widescreen version after the fact (or at the same time). If the makers of Firefly don't mind their widescreen set up being with a focus off center and to the right, (and probably not one viewer ever noticed...) the other makers shouldn't mind either.

    As long as the extra info is there, and a wider master is done that way, the presentation is as legitimate as the 4/3 one. This is the producers decision and hopefully, the x-files producers decide all the series can now be wide (since seasons 5/9 probably were shot with the same off center focus for 4/3 protection).
     
  17. Clyde's Place

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    I'm not one to argue much about purity. For the most part I prefer it. And normally I wouldn't think of disagreeing with Josh Whedon who produced, wrote, and directed much of the series.

    But the way I understand it, from Season 3 onward, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was actually shot in widescreen, but framed for 4:3, meaning the information was there whether it was intended to be or not. On both Amazon Prime and Netflix, Seasons 4 thru 7 are shown in 16X9 Framing.

    This has led to a few things appearing in shots that weren't meant to be there. But honestly, until some of these were pointed out to me, I never noticed them and came to prefer the wide screen versions. Still do despite the glitches.

    It gave the series more of a cinematic feel to it which I think serves it well in the final four seasons. I believe the UK DVD's do have the 16X9 versions on the final four seasons while all of the U.S. discs have the 4:3 versions. Any of these glitches people mention could be fixed very easily digitally for a blu ray release.

    Here is a capture from Season 4 Episode 15, This Year's Girl as seen on Netflix. Notice the cameraman off to the left.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. HDvision

    HDvision Screenwriter

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    Whedon says Buffy should be seen 4/3. He prefers the 4/3 framings, but I suppose he could redo in high def the transfers, and fix those flubs either by digital touch up or by reframing them if he chooses to go wide for seasons 3 and above remasters.

    It's funny no one has issued a Blu-ray of a TV show with both framings, simply by allowing the "purist" viewer to switch on mattes on both sides of the picture. I have seen many people suggesting it on forums. It could work thought only on shows with a center 4/3 extraction.

    Here's what DVDfile said upon reviewing the widescreen season 4
    And here's what Whedon said back in 03. One should note those were times where there wasn't a lot of widescreen TV in the US. Putting out a show in a wider format meant a smaller image on most sets, with black bars. Not as efficient viewing for the masses back then. I'm guessing Whedon would have a different stance today because if he did remaster those shows, he would want them to look the best on current TV sets, which are all widescreen.
     
  19. HDvision

    HDvision Screenwriter

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    By the way, I loved that argument:
     
  20. HDvision

    HDvision Screenwriter

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    Added The Sopranos in honor of the late James Gandolfini. Both seasons 1 & 2 were initially 4/3 on DVD in some countries, now replaced with correct 16/9 versions.
     

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