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Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Bryan^H, Mar 9, 2008.
The Babylon 5 Widescreen Conflict
Wow. That's dumb.
Many thanks. I was pleasantly surprised when I purchased the DVD set and heard the difference. No more muffled sound was quite a treat.
I believe that E.R. season 1 on DVD is "fake" widescreen. Correct me if I'm wrong here.
What about Stephen King's It and Lonesome Dove?
There are two different versions on DVD of the HBO series, FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON. Initially released in a 1.33:1 standard TV ratio, the set was later reissued in a 16x9 enhanced version.
The story is that it was shot with both ratios in mind, so that either is correct. Some viewers have complained that certain shots look cropped at the top and/or bottom.
Yes, very annoying that, Season 2 was released widescreen in the UK and is now (mostly) out of print, for very complicated reasons, each season is almost a seperate show with all the rights and producers, and has held up series 1 and 3 getting released
Arild, not really. The format was fairly new during the eighties when the format was first presented to DVD. You'll find that every movie that was released up to the mid-90's had the 'matted' version, more widely known as the letterbox/matted format.
Nice explanation, but it has nothing to do with the discussion in this thread.
I picked up a copy of "Mistrial", an HBO TV movie from 1996, that starred Bill Pullman, Robert Loggia and James Rebhorn (who all coincidence be dammed, starred in "Independence Day" together the same year) on DVD and it was 16x9 enhanced and while it was a good looking presentation, it did look cropped a bit too much, especially since the overscan of my TV covered some of the bottom opening credits. I saw the movie many times on TV back when it aired and I doubt it was shot wide.
HBO Home Video is horrible with many of their TV movies. The Josephine Baker Story looked horrific in its cropping (and the transfer sucked, too), and I refuse to buy The Late Shift because of the MAR.
Mistrial is the only HBO movie I have, and I had no idea they cropped their films for DVD.
I will say that when I first put the disc on, I was very pleasantly surprised at how good the film looked considering it was not only made for TV, but a relatively obscure film from 1996. The transfer was great - sharp, nicely captured both the dark, blue-tinted abandoned buildings and the generic-looking courtroom setting that the majority of the film takes place in. I wish more TV shows looked as good as this DVD, regardless of the faux-16:9 enhancement. The Dolby 2.0 surround audio was great too, quite discrete.
Actually it does. To boast the idea of 'fake widescreen' associating it the topic with 'matted' format is totally relevant.
As I said, up until the mid-90's, while hollywood used the 'letterbox' or matted' format, studios were experimenting with a way to transfer that format to home video, thus began the beginning stages of the widescreen format.
For this topic to be created and to infer that it's fake widescreen is totally incorrect and you guys are just compounding the issue with false assumptions.
As the indicia on the Babylon 5 Boxed DVD Sets indicate:
Widescreen Version: Presented in a "Matted" Widescreen format preserving a theatrical exhibition aspect ratio. Enhanced for Widescreen TV's.
The format is not, as everyone keeps saying, "FAKE." Babylon 5, was indeed, originally filmed in the 'matted' format. It was just reformatted for television broadcast.
I just didn't see how it was relevant. Your post only explained letterboxing. We all know what letterboxing is - that wasn't the issue.
The issue was... what instances were some DVD releases of some shows being mastered in widescreen 16x9 when they were originally shot and shown 4x3. Obviously the answer is not all that cut and dry - and the case of "Babylon 5" was just totally all over the place... live action was filmed to protect the 16x9 frame while effects were zoomed and top/bottom cropped.
Letterboxing only came into the picture when discussing how some of these shows in question were originally broadcast (were they or were they not), and obviously in SD.
Ones off the top of my head...
Dragon Ball Z - Funimation's recent reissues of the series are cropped to 1.78:1.
The Sopranos - Some sites claim the first season was shot full frame and the dvds are matted.
Kung Fu - Season 1
V - Shot full frame but composed for a European theatrical release. The dvd is widescreen at director Kenneth Johnson's request.
V: The Final Battle - DVD: 1.78:1 Originally full-frame
And The Band Played On - DVD: 1.78:1 Originally full-frame, dvd represents European theatrical ratio
The Second Civil War - DVD: 1.78:1 Originally full-frame
Joel, that's the problem. Just because they were originally broadcast in full frame doesn't mean that's how they were produced.
The last time full frame aspect ratio was used was back in the 1950's. I suspect that the widescreen/letterbox-Matted Format was used for television production during the late eighties to mid-nineties. Babylon 5 was such a show that was so barely seen on broadcast television that most stations didn't carry it.
With such broadscoped television shows such as Andromeda and Babylon 5, they were probably the first television shows to emply this type of aspect ratio. Everyone assumes that Babylon 5 was filmed in full frame because that's how it was broadcasted but the truth of the matter is that widescreen presentation on television broadcasts wasn't used back in the eighties and nineties. matter of fact, I believe that later seasons of the X-Files might have been the first employment of widescreen presentation shown on network television.
Most television studios resisted the aspect ratio because, on smaller television set, most families wouldn't care too much for it because they lose a lot of the viewing area and, to be frankly honest, on a 15" or 17" television set, it really isn't practical.
Babylon 5 was filmed in the widescreen format, but J.M. Straczynski along with Joss Whedon often fought with network executives on the way they handled their television shows. It wouldn't be until after the Sci Fi Channel acquired the broadcast rights to Babylon 5 that Stracynzki decided that it would be a good time to release the series in the format it was originally filmed in and it was this version that would be released to DVD.
There's nothing fake about it. By 'formatting' it to the television sets, you wouldn't notice the difference, but when you compare a full frame version of a television series or a movie after a widescreen version of the same, and if you saw the full frame version first, you're definitely going to notice a difference.
It's generally accepted that a vast majority of television show fans think that just because a show was broadcast in full frame that that's how it was produced.
I would like to give everyone the fine example of some of the following:
Stargate SG-1: This show was originally broadcast in full frame, yet was produced in widescreen and released to DVD in widescreen.
Andromeda: Same thing here, the series was produced in widescreen yet broadcast in full frame.
There are countless others that I can remember but can't remember offhand but you need to remember that most consumers when presented over a choice of full frame or widescreen choose full frame. Full frame is still a bigger seller of home entertainment video than widescreen is because nobody likes those black bars that appear at the top and bottom of their television sets.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that theatrical release never happened, it was just a "what-if" that never materialised. Presumably, Johnson thought (or got wind of) Warner having plans to try to sell it theatrically overseas, and therefore composed it "safe" for both aspect ratios, so that what happened to Battlestar Galactica (horribly cropped from the original 4:3 composition) wouldn't happen to his project.
I still wish WB had included the originally-televised 4:3 ratio as an alternative, as I prefer it in its originally-shown aspect ratio, but I understand them bowing to Johnson's wishes, as he was the director.
There is really no excuse at all, though, for The Final Battle being widescreen (other than a really lame one: so it "matches" the other mini-series).
Guess I'll hold onto my studio VHS releases of the two minis (don't have a laser, or I'd have bought the lasers). Thank goodness they didn't think to crop the one-hour episodes!
And I totally agree (and I know all about the widescreen processes - that, and I say yet again, was not the question).
The question was about TV shows made all the way up to the late 80s that obviously was never intened to be matted for any other presentation outside of TV let alone be seen beyond it's original run on TV and maybe for a time during it's hoped-for syndication. Except for maybe a few examples of shows that were also intended to be seen in some theatrical releases like the pilot of "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" (seen first theatrically), the 2-hour cut of the '78 "Battlestar Galactica" (seen later theatrically), and the pilot for "Twin Peaks" with the re-edited ending (seen theatrically in Europe first then released here on video). So far it seems to me that the previously mentioned "Kung Fu" Season 1 would be such an example - and maybe the only one. I mean, who at the time would have thought that "Kung-Fu" would be seen so long after it's original run, much less be released on any kind of home video format.
The question is similar to how "Gone With The Wind" was matted for (yes) "fake" widescreen during later theatrical re-issues in the 50s and into the 60s. You can't tell me that was okay or that it was ever intended to be seen that way back in '39. That's the kind of thing that's being asked here. Babylon 5 was brought up, but I think we've established that it was not "faked", or really, "forced". Only that the effects shots had to be forced not having the time to redo them as was intended.
There was one episode in the sixth season that was broadcast in widescreen but the rest of the episodes were all shown at 1.33. Although the last 5 seasons of the show were indeed shot 1.77.