What was your initial reaction to a widescreen presentation?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by SteveGon, Oct 8, 2002.

  1. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    On a standard tv, that is...

    For the life of me, I still can't figure out why so many people have an aversion to letterboxing. Growing up, I saw hundreds of movies cropped on VHS and yet when I saw my first example of a widescreen presentation, I grasped the concept immediately and thereafter made a point of searching out widescreen tapes. Now I'm far from being a genius so if I can understand aspect ratio, you'd think it wouldn't be a problem for anyone else!

    So what was your first reaction to letterboxing?
     
  2. Bernhard

    Bernhard Stunt Coordinator

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    My first contact with widescreen was my Terminator2 VHS. Here in Austria we only got the widescreen version on VHS and it wasn't even indicated as such.
    So I threw it in with much anticipation and after watching some of it I thought there was something wrong with the picture.. it was so small... but somehow it felt right, it didn't really bother me. Some years later I found out about widescreen and what it was and suddenly it occured to my why I always thought there was something wrong with my movies, they always looked and feeled different from what I remembered from the theater. With the exception of Terminator2 [​IMG]
    I haven't bought a single MAR release since then.
     
  3. Matt Pelham

    Matt Pelham Screenwriter

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    That about sums up my experience as well. Back in middle school days I started visiting the newsgroups and other movie related websites, and was introduced to widescreen as the superior format. Of course, I couldn't afford a laserdisc player, so I had to settle for hard to find and often overpriced widescreen VHS tapes. It was magical, something special to watch movies that were in this "widescreen" format, and I'd buy movies I didn't even like just because I was so excited they were in OAR. Of course, VHS widescreen isn't always OAR. (as is the case with my Last of the Mohicans tape which I discovered in horror was still slightly panned/scanned [​IMG] ) How with DVD I'm so stingy I expect OAR for every title, but I do remember what it was like back in the day.
    Ah, the memories.....
     
  4. Vickie_M

    Vickie_M Producer

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    My first exposure was unfortunately Woody Allen's Manhattan. As far as I know, it was the first movie to be released in the US in letterbox, but the "black bars" were actually grey, and were very distracting and annoying. I still understood and agreed with the concept, but just had a bad taste in my mouth because of it.
    We just bought a DVD player for the bedroom, where we have a 25" TV. The first DVD we put in to test it was Gattaca and I was shocked at how much of the screen was empty, and our bedroom is fairly small. I could imagine how tiny the picture would look in a large living room. At that moment, I really could understand J6P's bitching. Again, not *agree*, just understand.
     
  5. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I’ll probably have to turn in my art-house card after this, but; it was Star Wars. Years ago, I rarely watched movies on TV (mostly I thought due to commercials and cuts) and almost never rented a tape. We used the VCR to time-shift TV.

    My son was a big Star Wars fan and his grandfather got him a boxed set on VHS for a Christmas present. Was he disappointed that it was not letterboxed. I was unaware that you could purchase any movie (other than 1.33:1) in OAR, but quickly returned the present for the letterboxed version.

    When we watched that at home, I began to take a different view on watching movies on TV.

    Fast forward to today and the combination of OAR DVDs and quality displays has resulted in my seeing most movies at home—though I still love the theatre experience.
     
  6. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

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    Back in the early/mid 80's whenever I'd watch a film on Cable or VHS that I'd seen numerous times in the theater I noticed something was not quite right. I could never put my finger on it though.
    It wasn't until I watched a Siskel & Ebert show (back in 89/90/91?) in which they promoted the laserdisc format and explained the use of letterboxing the image. The examples they showed were Blade Runner & Indy Last Crusade.
    I grasped the concept right away. What a revelation. [​IMG] I finally got the answer to what was nagging at my mind. [​IMG]
    Then my mood swung to [​IMG] for all the films I'd seen at home which could've looked so much better.
    Needless to say I got interested in Laserdisc's but at the time could not afford it so started moderately collecting Letterbox VHS (the few titles available).
    When I got ready to take the plunge into Laserdisc 6 years ago I heard about a new format on the horizon so I held off & waited for DVD. The rest is history.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    My first reaction: "It's about time."
     
  8. Steeve Bergeron

    Steeve Bergeron Cinematographer

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    My first reaction: "What the hell is wrong with this thing?" [​IMG]
     
  9. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I thought it was weird, but I found compositions to look "cool."

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail was my first exposure and I loved it. I rarely watch pan & scan...and if I do, it's usually open matte stuff. I won't watch an actual pan & scan transfer (like from hard-matted film, etc) if I can help it.
     
  10. Bjorn Olav Nyberg

    Bjorn Olav Nyberg Supporting Actor

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    I may be outside the intended area for this poll, as I more or less grew up with it in Europe (Norway) I was used to seeing both and I didn't really care one way or another.
    The movie that actually turned me over was actually Young guns II, which was one of the first movies I saw after I turned 16 and was allowed into cinemas with movies with that particular age restriction. At the time I was also very much into the western genre, and Young guns II hit all the right buttons for me. A little while later I saw a featurette (probably the same that is on the R1 dvd) that had the scene where Emilio Estevez shot out candles out of the seven armed candelabre, only on tv only four arms were showing. This was the watershed moment for me where the difference really hit me. As I was just a poor kid economics and availability restricted me from going widescreen only as I couldn't afford to import WS VHS, but Young guns II I actually never saw again as the local VHS was P&S until I got the widescreen DVD.
    And yes, I still like Young guns II [​IMG]
     
  11. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

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  12. Jan H

    Jan H Cinematographer

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    Like others, my first exposure to letterboxing came in the late '80's, and my reactions were (and are) the same. On a big-screen TV (45 +), it made sense, the picture looked and felt like the cinema. But on a small screen (27 and under), I'd still rather watch a full-screen picture (cropped and all) rather than a 2:35 letterboxed movie, especially from long viewing distances. The Great Escape on a 27-incher just didn't (and doesn't) do it for me.
     
  13. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    I thought, "I hate black bars."

    I can remember saying that. What I can't remember is when I was able to accept them. Again, I'll tout that magical summer I had after I graduated from High School where I saw Lawrence of Arabia, Chinatown, and The French Connection.
     
  14. Stacey

    Stacey Stunt Coordinator

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    I believe my first experience with wide sceen was Blade Runner (VHS) and I was in AWE of how great the picture looked and the movie just "felt" right. Therafter I always got the Letterbox version of all my movies on VHS then "glory be DVD!"...lots of titles previously in Pan-N-Scam now in eyepoppin wide. [​IMG]
     
  15. Graeme Clark

    Graeme Clark Cinematographer

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    I found out what widescreen movies were for somehow, and always sought them out, but never actually bought any (just looked at the boxes for movies I already had for the most part) since they were quite a bit more expensive.

    I finally got the THX Widescreen set for Star Wars and I think I must have said to myself "I don't remember that before" about 100 times. That and "Oh, there's sand people alright, I CAN see one of them now".

    Overall it just felt like a much more cinematic experience, even on a terrible 20" TV. I loved it!
     
  16. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    I often have more fun watching widescreen films, including extreme stuff wider than 2.35:1, on my three-year-old bedroom set, a Toshiba CZ27V51. And I would never countenance the idea of watching an MAR presentation. The 27-inch size seems just fine. (I once watched Ben-Hur in widescreen on a 20-inch Panasonic CT-20G11, and marveled over the photography rather than look at the black bars.) There are no circumstances in which MAR is acceptable.

    As for my first encounter with letterboxing for presentation on a 4:3 set, it was the same as Vickie's: My then wife and I were watching the network broadcast of Manhattan in 1981, and we both immediately grasped what was going on and were quite pleased with the presentation.
     
  17. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

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  18. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I'm pretty sure my first had to be Manhattan on VHS probably in college in the mid '80s, or on broadcast TV in the early '80s. It was different, but I knew why it was better. You have to admit, it takes a little getting used to at first. Still, even on my 20" bedroom TV, I still prefer OAR, even at 2.35. Ben-Hur might be a little difficult on that size screen, so I just don't watch it on that TV.

    I guess I jumped into LD in late '89. I remember the thrill I would have as movies like Fiddler on the Roof and The Deer Hunter were finally released widescreen, as well as the anger over how much some studios charged for those versions, particularly in the earlier days.
     
  19. Evan Case

    Evan Case Screenwriter

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    Most likely a Star Wars broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel back in the early/mid 90s.
    Understood it immediately and never bought a P&S title again (except for some OOP titles in a 2-for-$1 bargain bin--and even that stopped once DVD showed up).
    Evan
     

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