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Warner Bros. *FINALLY* does 1.66:1 in 16x9 anamorphic?!?


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#1 of 39 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted March 31 2003 - 01:47 AM

Just noticed this as dvdfile today:

Quote:
In other Warner news, the studio has also announced a June 10th street date for the James Dean classic Giant, which will be released as a double-disc special edition with plenty of extras. The film is presented in 1:66:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio

Ok, either it's misinformation...

OR

Warner Brothers is about to release their first 1.66:1 aspect ratio transfer in 16x9/anamorphic form.

Every studio except Warner and MGM have been 16x9 encoding their 1.66:1 titles for years...many Disney animated classics are examples of this.

For those of you not-in-the-know about the importance of this here's the deal. 1.66:1 titles gain considerable resolution (though not quite the normal 33%) by 16x9 encoding. The slight "pillarboxing" to the left/right of the image is hidden by overscan on 99% of the populations 4x3 NTSC TVs so J6P has no problems watching such transfers on his TV . But even more important is that the transfer now can be PROPERLY viewed on a calibrated 16x9 display...which is something that you just can't do with a 4x3 letteboxed 1.66:1 transfer outside of some fancy scaler with a custom zoom. Movies like Babette's Feast with subtitles benefit significantly on 16x9 displays...as "zooming" such 4x3 lbxed encoded transfers either cuts off heads...subtitles...or both.

Thoughts about "GIANT" and it's 1.66:1 16x9 status???
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#2 of 39 OFFLINE   Randy A Salas

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Posted March 31 2003 - 02:04 AM

The Warner Home Video press release--the one transmitted on news wires and archived at its press web site--says nothing about Giant being anamorphic. This is all it says about the transfer:

Quote:
Giant is presented in a 1:66 aspect ratio as originally presented for theatrical release and the DVD includes Dolby Digital sound.

The same press release also discusses the special editions of The Right Stuff and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and does specifically note that those two will be 16x9-enchanced. Draw from that what you will, but it's odd that it wouldn't note that Giant was anamorphic if it were.

For what it's worth, WHV released the Giant widescreen VHS at 2.35:1 ratio.
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#3 of 39 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted March 31 2003 - 02:29 AM

The Giant VHS in widescreen is NOT 2.35:1. It's 1.66:1.

#4 of 39 OFFLINE   Randy A Salas

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Posted March 31 2003 - 04:03 AM

Quote:
The Giant VHS in widescreen is NOT 2.35:1. It's 1.66:1.


Thanks for the correction. I should have attributed that to WHV.

This shows that WHV does get things wrong on its press site, where the widescreen VHS has two entries--both claiming a 2.35:1 presentation.
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#5 of 39 OFFLINE   Ed St. Clair

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Posted March 31 2003 - 06:52 AM

Four years ago I asked why 1.33:1 were not released with anamorphic transfers.
Someone (my search does not go back that far) said that you would "lose" resolution, in doing so.
Anyone?

Is it 'funny', that anamorphic ( and DTS ) STILL comes up on Spell Check, on this site!?!
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#6 of 39 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted March 31 2003 - 07:15 AM

Everything, anamorphic or not, is contained on a 720x480 canvas.

The point of anamorphic is that there is less void (or black bars) by putting more picture information within the frame.

#7 of 39 OFFLINE   Randy A Salas

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Posted March 31 2003 - 07:30 AM

WHV just moved a new "Giant"-only press release today on Business Wire. Although it notes the 1.66:1 OAR, again it does not contain any language about the DVD being anamorphic.
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#8 of 39 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted March 31 2003 - 07:55 AM

Quote:
Four years ago I asked why 1.33:1 were not released with anamorphic transfers.
As Patrick stated, 1.33:1 video fits perfectly into the frame so there's no need to squish or stretch it (i.e. No black bars needed), so the anamorphic process has no relevance to that ratio.

As far as 1.66:1 anamorphic video:
To illustrate what DaViD is talking about...

If a 1.66:1 frame is letterboxed, there are basically 2 ways to view it on a 16x9 tv. I'll be using a red circle (that touches the top and bottom of the frame) to illustrate -



1.) Windowbox it (i.e. add the grey bars to the sides):
Posted Image
The problem with this is, the image area is quite small.




2.) Zoom into it:
Posted Image
The problem with this is, the top and bottom gets cut off.




The great thing about anamorphic 1.66:1 is that you get the largest possible picture on a 16x9 screen WITHOUT losing any part of the picture-
Posted Image


Definitely good news for 16x9 tv owners Posted Image Posted Image

#9 of 39 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted March 31 2003 - 08:15 AM

I think I did these #'s right...

based on a 640x480 frame (I couldn't do the math with rectangular pixels, but it should all work out about the same):
If you take a 1.66:1 frame and letterbox it, you get an image that is 640x386
-640 X 386 = 247,040 pixels

If you take a 1.66:1 frame and put it in a 16x9 (853x480) frame, the image is now 796x480. But after the anamorphic process (squishing the 853x480 frame to a 640x480 frame) you now end up with a 598x480 image.
-598 X 480 = 287,040

and 287,040 / 287,040 = 1.16

So I believe (if I calculated correctly) that's a 16% increase in resolution.

#10 of 39 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted March 31 2003 - 08:43 AM

My Giant DVD is anamorphic 1.78:1, which is probably what the new one will be. I wonder whether they will have the nonskippable opening by Stevens Jr.

#11 of 39 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted March 31 2003 - 08:47 AM

Quote:
Four years ago I asked why 1.33:1 were not released with anamorphic transfers.
Someone (my search does not go back that far) said that you would "lose" resolution, in doing so.
Anyone?
Not just loosing resolution, but literally throwing it away:
Posted Image
Here we have a frame I captured from my Futurama disc. It is presented at exactly half resolution and under GIF compression for dial-up modem accessibility purposes.

Posted Image
Here we have the same image properly stretched to a 4x3 ratio as it would be seen on a standard television.

Posted Image
Here we have the same image placed on a 16x9 canvas, with black pillarboxing filling in the remainder of the space.

Posted Image
Here we have taken the pillarboxed image and reconverted it back to the 720x480 frame of DVD, this time in anamorphic. Not only does that result in black bars on all sides of a standard television, but it throws away a whopping 25% of the resolution.

#12 of 39 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted March 31 2003 - 08:49 AM

Quote:
Four years ago I asked why 1.33:1 were not released with anamorphic transfers.
Someone (my search does not go back that far) said that you would "lose" resolution, in doing so.
Anyone?

You'd lose 33% of the resolution possible if you encoded 1.33:1 transfers in a 16x9 frame...just like you lose 33% when you encode an image 1.78:1 or wider letterboxed in a 4x3 frame.

It's the aspect ratios between 1.33:1 and 1.78:1 that are cause for controversy. But it's really quite simple. See my comments below:

Mark

I think you're about right.

The 720 x 480 pixel resolution of SD DVD represents a "native" aspect ratio of 1.5:1 *if* we think allow ourselves to consider "square pixels" as the mark of a "native" digital aspect ratio (in reality, there's no such thing as a native aspect ratio in the digital realm...and terms such as "anamorphic" have no real meaning but we use them anyway when we talk casually about DVD encoding).

Ok...the point is that Any aspect ratio *wider* than 1.5:1 would GAIN resolution by 16x9 encoding (and loose resolution by 4x3 encoding), whereas any aspect ratio *narrower* than 1.5:1 would LOOSE resolution in 16x9 encoding (and gain resolution in 4x3 encoding).

Since most movies either come 1.33:1 or 1.66:1 or wider...it's a simple answer. 1.66:1, being wider than 1.5:1, would gain resolution by being mastered in a 16x9 frame with 720 x 480 resolution.

The other advantages of being able to properly display it on a 16x9 TV/screen should make it a no-brainer. I just don't know why Warner and MGM seem so backwards on this issue.???? All their rationale we've heard in the past (like "most viewers use 4x3 TVs etc.") are pointless as overscan makes 16x9-encoded 1.66:1 transfers look just dandy on your average consumer 4x3 TV. No consumer has ever complained to Disney about "pillarboxing bars" on their Tarzan DVD!!

-dave Posted Image
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#13 of 39 OFFLINE   Jeff Krispow

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Posted April 04 2003 - 11:07 AM

I'm personally hanging halfway on the fence regarding the issue of 1.66:1 anamorphic transfers. I recently purchased a 4:3 Sony 40XBR800 model (jaw-dropping picture quality!), which has an auto 16:9 compression mode, and spent quite some time examining the differences between anamorphic and 4:3 letterboxing modes.

As we all already know, with transfers at 1.78:1 an above, the anamorphic transfer provides superior resolution. Also, the "frame" content (the entire image you see) is exactly the same whether it is anamorphic or 4:3 letterbox, it's just sharper when viewed anamorphic.

But there IS a noticeable difference in the frame content with 1.66:1 transfers — at least on these 4:3 Sony XBR sets — depending upon whether the player is set to "anamorphic" or "4:3 letterbox" modes. I have spent the past couple of days examining my 1.66:1 16x9 enhanced DVDs, and in every instance, watching the transfer via the "4:3 letterbox" mode yields more picture information on the top and bottom of the frame than watching it "anamorphic." In every instance.

Here are a couple of 1.66:1 frame comparisons I made. The first example is from "Tarzan," the second from "Horror of Dracula":

Posted Image Posted Image

These two images exactly represent my experiences with 1.66:1 transfer (whoops, just noticed that my images are at two slightly different sizes, but no matter... they are still accurate). Onwards... With my player set to "4:3 letterbox", I see the entire 1.66:1 frame (as shown above). However, when I set my player to the "anamorphic" setting, the image is cropped on the top and bottom to 1.78:1 (the yellow framing line). So my choice is either 1) seeing the proper framing, or a 2) viewing a cropped image with has slightly higher resolution. Using "Horror of Dracula" as an example, the film's framing is already extremely tight - viewing the film in anamorphic mode results in heads being cut off at the top of the frame (it's extremely distracting, and is a very common complaint for those who view the film anamorphically). In 4:3 letterbox mode, this isn't an issue — heads usually remain intact and in frame.

I have seen the references here (and elsewhere) to the windowboxing effect that is supposed to protect the entire 1.66:1 frame, but no such "side bars" appear on my setup (trust me, I checked... very thoroughly). When viewing anamorphic sources, the Sony "ignores" the black bars so that the rasters are assigned solely to actual picture information - it's very possible that this includes side banding as well. But the fact remains, on my setup, every anamorphic 1.66:1 transfer I've examined thus far is being cropped to 1.78:1 (16x9) somewhere along the line.

I have come across postings from other people noticing this identical effect, all of whom have 4:3 setups with a built-in 16:9 anamorphic mode (i.e., the Sony XBR models), wondering why this is occuring. But I have yet to see anybody come up with a proper explanation. Most of the folks coming up with the explanations have been viewing these materials on a widescreen set rather than these 4:3 Sony setups, and are obviously having a difference experience for whatever reason. But what I've been able to determine with MY setup is essentially what I already mentioned — since a 1.66:1 frame is larger than that of the standard 16x9 framing (1.78:1), the anamorphic encoding outputs the image to the "required" aspect ratio by cropping off the top and bottom. A simple comparison between the two modes proves that the cropping is real and occurring... no magic tricks involved.

Still, no matter the cause, that leaves me with the same dilemma... watch a 1.66:1 DVD in anamorphic mode for slightly increased resolution, or switch to 4:3 letterbox to view it with its proper intended framing? Frustrating...

Fun fun fun...
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#14 of 39 OFFLINE   Adam Tyner

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Posted April 04 2003 - 11:33 AM

Quote:
But what I've been able to determine with MY setup is essentially what I already mentioned — since a 1.66:1 frame is larger than that of the standard 16x9 framing (1.78:1), the anamorphic encoding outputs the image to the "required" aspect ratio by cropping off the top and bottom.

...except that your set and DVD player don't receive/output a native 1.66:1 image. If it's anamorphic widescreen, the image is ~1.78:1. It may have slight bars on the sides as is the case for anamorphic widescreen 1.66:1 or letterboxing on the top and bottom (such as 2.35:1), but the image itself is always ~1.78:1.

An example of an anamorphic widescreen 1.66:1 presentation lifted from one of Ron's reviews:

Posted Image

I also have a VVega, and overscan has always lopped off the side 'bars' on anamorphic widescreen 1.66:1 presentations. The only way I see 'em is if I pop it in my DVD-ROM and view the movie on my computer. The VVega's 16x9 mode lopping too much off the top/bottom of the frame is a complaint I've heard made frequently, and it's not limited to just 1.66:1 titles.

#15 of 39 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted April 04 2003 - 12:50 PM

Jeff K, that does sound like a hardware problem with Sony's 16x9 implementation. The pillar boxes will be hidden in the overscan on most TVs.

#16 of 39 OFFLINE   Peter Apruzzese

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Posted April 04 2003 - 03:52 PM

Jeff K - HORROR OF DRACULA is most definitely a 1.78 transfer, not anamorphic 1.66; I confirmed this on my projector as well as two different computer and DVD-ROM drives. There are no pillar-boxes on the left & right and it fills the computer DVD player window perfectly, whereas a 1.66 anamorphic transfer always has left & right pillars.
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#17 of 39 OFFLINE   Bill Buklis

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Posted April 04 2003 - 06:12 PM

What's probably happening is that you are losing a little picture information at the top and bottom due to overscan. Overscan doesn't only occur on the left/right sides. It occurs on all four sides of the image including top and bottom.

In the 4:3 letterboxed version the overscan portion is taken care of in the black bars. While in the anamorphic image there aren't any black bars on the top and bottom. Compare a 1.78 image (not just a 1.66) and I bet you will see the same effect.

If you can reduce the vertical overscan without distorting the image, then hopefully this phenomenon will go away.
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#18 of 39 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted April 05 2003 - 07:14 AM

I'll bet $10.00 to Cancer Research that Warner's 2-Disc of Giant is matted at approximately 1.78:1 and is anamorphic...

Posted Image


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#19 of 39 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted April 05 2003 - 08:40 AM

FYI:
This thread seems to copy (and extend) most of the discussion in this thread, as far as the Giant part is concerned.

I hesitate to merge these two, however, because of the slightly disjunct content.

Cees

#20 of 39 OFFLINE   Jeff Krispow

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Posted April 05 2003 - 08:50 AM

First off, many thanks for all your replies. As you've all figured out, this phenomenon was frustrating the hell out of me, and I thought there wasn't anything I could do to correct it. But thanks to your help, I actually DID come up with a solution — one that completely eliminated the cropping!!! It turned out to be a minor issue with the VVEGA, and not my DVD player or the encoding on the disc. Plus on the side, I learned a few new things about the anamorphic world thanks to your folks! (I may have been an LD/DVD reviewer and consultant for ~20 years and an editor, but there is always room for us "experts" to learn new things — and anyone who knows "everything" and claims otherwise is full of it... Posted Image)

Onwards...

With regard to the "pillarboxing," guys, I do understand that it's generally hidden by overscan on most sets. However, the Sony VVEGA's have an outstanding Service Mode (not accessible to normal users, and not in the manual) that lets you configure 520 different settings/options. Through that, I am able to change the screen geometry in far too many ways: scaling, overscan, etc. I only did this with few random 1.66:1 titles, but I was unable to find ANY evidence of "pillarboxing" in those titles I checked. Of course, it is very possible that the "pillarboxing" is so slight that it can't even be detected when going through the Service Mode and changing the overscan/scaling options, but unlikely. It's more plausible that either a) the few titles I checked just weren't 1.66 pillarbox, but actually cropped to 1.78:1, or b) that the VVEGA just crops them off internally. But as Peter confirmed, "Horror of Dracula" definitely had no "pillarboxing." (I am not able to check out "Lilo & Stitch" since I haven't picked up the title yet... I am still waiting in the hopes that the SE will actually get released...)

As Bill suggested, I compared a 1.78:1 transfer (between anamorphic and 4:3 WS modes), and as he surmised, I saw the exact same effect — on anamorphic mode, the top and bottom of the frame was again cropped. Hmmm... now that's an interesting revelation...

Quote:
If you can reduce the vertical overscan without distorting the image, then hopefully this phenomenon will go away.
Bill, I can't offer you enough thanks for telling me that, as it planted the seed in my mind that helped me to permanently SOLVE my problem. Posted Image That lightbulb went off, gave me an idea, and within 5 minutes I eradicated my problem.

I had already tried manipulating the image in various ways to reveal the additional picture information, but with little success. How does one reduce the vertical overscan without distorting the image? Well, I knew that shrinking the image via the vertical horizontal sizing or position settings wouldn't work. Instead, what suddenly popped into my mind thanks to Bill's comment was "blanking shutters" — and I couldn't believe that I didn't think of them earlier. "Blanking Shutters" work like rectangular black masks that are positioned over your screen to 'contain' the image (a very simplified explanation, but it gets the point across). Theoretically, moving the Top and Bottom Blanking Shutters should "open up the image," allowing me to view the entire anamorphic signal being sent to the set without any cropping. So I went back into the VVEGA's Service Mode, found the Blanking Shutter options, and gave it a shot — and it worked perfectly! My 1.66:1 and 1.78:1 titles are no longer cropped when viewed in anamorphic mode. Heads are no longer missing at the top of the frame when watching "Horror of Dracula" (or other titles), and Christopher Lee's chin is back as well (see my earlier picture). Woohoo! (Just as an FYI, I did this in 960I mode, which is how the VVEGA does its 16:9 anamorphic compression. The shutter values are different depending upon the mode — 480I, 960I, etc. — but thankfully the VVEGA allows you to set these values independently of one another based on the mode.)

Bill — thanks again for the idea! It's very much appreciated!

As I stated in my previous message, I've heard this complaint from other VVEGA owners, and Adam also mentioned this in his message. But at least it can be easily corrected, just like we correct the Red Push and other items. To be honest, the VVEGA is about a perfect a set (for a 40" tube) as I ever could imagine, and the default factory settings were remarkably good out of the box. (And it looked even better once I tweaked it). But I'm not even going to try and guess why Sony set up the Top & Bottom Blanking Shutter defaults (under 960I) the way they did, since it obviously crops the 1.66/1.78 anamorphic framing a slight amount. Whatever their reasons — or even if it's just some weird oversight — thankfully the VVEGA's allow you to adjust every option so you can configure your set to your exacting specifications.

For those of you with VVEGA's, here's the exact steps to fixing the cropping issue (it's easier than it looks, but maybe that's just me). Be warned that this requires going in to the VVEGA's Service Mode menu and changing the options there. Don't do this unless you really know what you are doing — changing the wrong values and/or settings can really screw up your set. Also, these changes apply specifically to the current XBR800 models, but will also likely work for all earlier models that have the auto 16:9 mode:


1) The VVEGA's use the 960I mode for 16:9 anamorphic compression, and you need to be in this mode while making the correction. The easiest way to do this is to play a 1.66:1 (or 1.78:1) anamorphic title. Just put in the disc, find a scene you like, and pause the image (you'll want a static image later on when making the actual change, so you can see what it does).


2) Enter the VVEGA's service mode by pressing: "PowerOff, DISPLAY, 5, VOL+, PowerOn"

Don't push them all at once — just push them consecutively. This must be done within 5 sec., or you'll have to start over. If done correctly, your set will have a heads-up display featuring a bunch of text and number entries. The important ones to know are as follows...
  • The first three items on the top line: "Category - # - Value"
  • The first item on the second line: "Item"
3) Remote Control Functions:
  • Press "1" to move to the Next Menu item.
  • Press "4" to move to the Previous Menu item.
  • Press "3" to adjust the Value Up.
  • Press "6" to adjust the Value Down.
4) Press "1" to move through the Category and Item listing until you find...
  • Category: "2170D-3" #: "4" Value: "8"
    Item: "TBLK"
    (This is the Top Blanking Shutter)

    - followed by -

    Category: "2170D-3" #: "5" Value: "13"
    Item: "BBLK"
    (This is the Bottom Blanking Shutter)
Please note that your "Value" settings might be different than mine. (It'll take a short bit to find them... these are settings #209 & #210 out of a total of 520. And no, they are not numbered).


5) Before making any changes, write down the "Value" settings as listed for your set. It's a good thing to have just in case you with to return it back to the factory default. (Always write down the original values/settings for any option you change via the Service Menu! For some settings, it would be close to impossible to figure out what the origiinal value was just by eyeballing the screen...)


6) Use the "3" and "6" keys to adjust the "Value" setting for both TBLK and BBLK. In my case, I set TBLK to "0", and BBLK to "1".

If you have a 1.66:1 or 1.78:1 anamorphic disc paused in the background, you'll instantly see the effects of any changes you make to the Top and Bottom Blanking Shutters. By reducing the values of these two settings, you'll should see the image area "opening up" to reduce the cropping. Please note that this does not stretch, resize or distort your image in any way - it just eliminates the cropping on the top and bottom of the frame.


7) If you are satisfied with your new settings, press "MUTE - ENTER" to save them, then press "POWER OFF" to exit the Service Mode. (Press "POWER ON" to resume regular TV viewing and functions.)

If you wish to exit Service Mode WITHOUT saving your changes — or if you think you screwed something up and want to start over — just press "POWER OFF" to cancel out of Service Mode (i.e., DO NOT PRESS "MUTE - ENTER" to save your new settings).


8) And there you have it... all 1.66-1.78 anamorphic DVDs can be viewed without any cropping, and the framing exactly matches their 4:3 LBX counterparts.


9) Attention VVEGA owners: You should only attempt these changes if you are familiar with tweaking your set, know what you are doing, and/or are comfortable entering the Service Mode to go exploring. Please note that you could potentially damage your set or seriously mess up your screen image if you start randomly changing values. If you have trouble setting your VCR's timer or properly adjusting your color/brightness/contrast settings, then please do not attempt this!!! (And just as a precaution, I take no responsibility whatsoever for people attempting to make these or any other changes to their VVEGA — anything you do is done at your own risk. You have been duly warned — if you mess something up, it's your own fault, so don't blame me.)


In any event, thanks again for everybody's quick participation — you all played a part in helping me figure out exactly how to fix my little problem. Hopefully my finding will help out other VVEGA owners with the same dilemma. (Hmmm... does anyone know how I can get this added to the HTF's FAQ section so it CAN help out other VVEGA owners?)

Regards to all!
Jeff
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