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The Time Is Now For A Nationwide Campaign Called "Why Widescreen"

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#1 of 44 OFFLINE   Mark F

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Posted August 13 2001 - 11:52 AM

Please Understand: A flashback is necessary to get my point across. For as far back as I can remember I have loved movies. Be it watching it in the theaters, VHS, or on cable, there is nothing like watching a good movie. I can also remember the first time I viewed a "widescreen" movie on VHS. I said to myself, there must be something wrong, what the hell happened to the picture, it shrunk. I checked the VCR and it was working fine, I tried another tape and the picture was back to normal. So I took the tape back to Blockbuster and told them what had happened, they did not know what I was talking about (you know Blockbuster) but one of them looked at the tape and said "Oh yeah that is Letterbox" And I asked what is that and he tried to explain to me as well as he could, as I am sure many of us on this forum have attempted ourselves. It seems that I by mistake rented out a widescreen copy of a movie. So I said, I don't to watch a movie that looks like that, my TV is already small enough. So I went on for many years to come thinking that those "Black bars" were the devil and I would never watch a movie like that again, so I thought. Fast forward to 1998 and I hear about something called DVD, they say it is like Laserdisc but is much smaller and it has Dolby Digital sound like they have in the movie theaters. Me being a sound fanatic, you know only going to theaters with Dolby Digital, I had to have it. (And for all you Laserdisc people, yes I know Laserdisc had Dolby Digital as well, but I could not afford the price of the discs and I hated having to switch sides) So DVD had the sound and all the rest was icing, things like being able to watch both widescreen and REGULAR versions of a movie, oh sure I said to myself like I'd ever watch widescreen, that's a joke. But it also had Deleted Scenes and documentaries and best of all it looked "TEN TIMES BETTER THAN VHS EVER DID" I was sold, even at the $500 dollar price tag. What can I say I have always liked new gadgets, and I thought to myself this seems to have a future (unfortunately unlike Laserdisc). So I began renting movies, and was discovering that not all of them had a Pan and Scan version and I was getting a little bit vexed. I mean I spent alot of money buying this contraption and now most of the movies have these "black bars" on them. Now some were worse than others. On some the picture was not that small (1:85) and the other it was quite tiny, (2:35). I really couldn't stand watching the one that was miniscule, I just felt like why do I have this large TV when it is just going to show my movies like that. Fastforward to 2001 after having researched and discovered the benefits of widescreen, I now can not bring myself to watch a movie that is not in widescreen. If I can be turned to the WIDE SIDE then I am sure others can too. My suggestion is a Nationwide campaign including magazines, television, and DVD, to help educate the poor unknowing soul who prefers his movie STANDARD. If a movie studio or all studios would finance it, it would surely save them all money in the long run, I mean not having to produce anymore Pan and Scan Versions and also HDTV would be even easier pill for everyone to swalow. TV COMMERCIAL Do you like watching movies at home? But hate those annoying BLACK BARS on the top and bottom of the screen. NOW SEE WHAT YOU'VE BEEN MISSING (TOP) Pan And Scan Version of Film (Both Playing EXACT SAME SCENE) (BOTTOM) Widescreen Version of Same Film "Widescreen let's you see the 2/3s of the movie you have been missing, see movies the way they were meant to be, the way they were in the theater" Widescreen now you know what you've been missing (SLOGAN) Please let me know what you all think. Thanks Mark [Edited last by Mark F on August 13, 2001 at 03:04 PM]

#2 of 44 OFFLINE   wally


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Posted August 13 2001 - 01:34 PM

Good Idea Mark! I'm not sure who would fund a campaign though. I don't think the studios care as long as P&S versions sell. I guess directors and DPs might put some money toward it. I would like to see stickers on P&S discs with a "warning" similar to the one prior to the start of a P&S version about how this disc has been modified from the original. I guess when HDTV becomes widespread this issue will be more or less moot. Will 4:3 have black bars on the side? wally

#3 of 44 OFFLINE   Vince Maskeeper

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Posted August 13 2001 - 01:43 PM

Late last year I designed a 3 panel brochure about widescreen, hoping maybe some folks on the forum would be interested in printing some up and just giving them to curious friends and/or confused shoppers - to save time from explaining the whole thing- rather being able to have a good explaination with pictures.

So far, I haven't found enough people interested in getting copies to make color printing worthwhile (need to do more than 1000 to get decent prices on color).

So I doubt finding money for a TV campaign would be much more successful. I'd love to see it happen, however!


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#4 of 44 OFFLINE   Nick_Gray



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Posted August 13 2001 - 01:50 PM

It should be really easy to sell, so long as you have the right pictures. I used to HATE "the black bars", until I watched John Wayne's "McClintock". The VHS (or maybe cable) version had a scene in which there were two noses talking to one another. That's it, two noses and a bleak background. Show that to someone, and then the widescreen version, and they'll understand...I did, and I've never bought a P&S since - I try not to even watch them.

#5 of 44 OFFLINE   cafink



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Posted August 13 2001 - 10:41 PM

Vince — What program did you use to make the brochure? Could you e-mail it to me (mrabout@aol.com) or post a link to it? I'm interested in seeing what you've come up with.


#6 of 44 OFFLINE   Carson E

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Posted August 14 2001 - 12:59 AM

I've been trying to educate the public for ten years. Most people want their 27"-32" Tv full screen. They dont understand or care that they are losing up to half of the movie. We like to see both actors face to face so as to read the expressions of one while the other is talking. But most are satisfied with a pan to each actor as each one speaks. We might as well face it. There are people who watch movies for a couple hours of amusement (P&S lovers). And there are people that really watch the film, that want to see everything the director intended, and prefer (WS).
To be fair...maybe your average Meg Ryan/Julia Roberts romantic comedy is not a "must" have in Ltrbx. But we still want (WS) if available.
You cannot convince most P&S viewers. Period.
I used to buy ltrbx VHS and people would bring them back saying that half the movie was missing. Yea, ok. I would setup two VCRs or LD and show them how much was missing with P&S.
(The Abyss comes to mind)...Their response..."Well I still want the one that fills up my TV".
Ok, I'll exchange it......
People will have to come to this on their own. Maybe if HDTV ever becomes a reality. 2010 or 85% HDTV ownership, I think is now the accepted time when TV stations will have to convert.
Also since 99% of satellite and local stations are in stereo and some DPL...DPL-2 is very relevant. And since the same is true with 4x3 pictures; buying a standard 4x3 RPTV is relevant. Especially how easy burn-in will appear with watching extended 4x3 on a widescreen TV.
It will be a LONG time before widescreen tv's and ltrbx movies are accepted as the norm. So we who like them should just enjoy the ride and hope the rest catch up at a rest stop.
BTW, I love my VCR. I'm not going to pay $20-$25 for every movie I like. I'll tape it from HBO or one of the other movie channels and watch it whenever. Yes the quality lacks, but my billfold likes paying a dollar for a blank tape instead of 25 for a DVD. Thats why most of my DVDs are concerts. And the standard Sci-fi must haves. The ones I bought on VHS then LD then DVD Posted Image
One note: Video stores and some retailers are pushing the studios hard to put both P&S and WS on the same disc to please their customers and build the DVD base. Studios claim this will lead to fewer extras due to space provisions. However, I recently read somewhere that some company had a maybe 3" disc that would hold six movies. So we never know. Maybe both sides will be satisfied.
Again, we can enjoy the WS versions now. The rest... in their own time.
Happy viewing,

[Edited last by Carson E on August 14, 2001 at 04:05 AM]

#7 of 44 OFFLINE   Edward Mann

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Posted August 14 2001 - 04:22 AM

As I was reading this thread I thought of a good image to use for promoting widescreen. Picture 1: What appears to be a midriff with the bottom of a bikini bra showing on the left side and the top of the bottoms on the right side of the screen in 4:3 format. Label = Pan & Scan or Standard Picture 2: A widescreen image of a gorgeous model smiling at you and laying on her side at the beach with a come hither look in a 2:35 format. Label = Widescreen, Letterboxed, or evil black bars Picture 3: The widescreen picture is opened at the top and bottom and you can see she is lying on some sand that was put on a sidewalk with trash in the foreground and cars going by in the background. Label = Full Screen The tag line = What do you want to see? Original Aspect Ratio, see what you've been missing.

#8 of 44 OFFLINE   Jay Villero

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Posted August 14 2001 - 05:09 AM

There's a good article in the Sept '01 issue of "Home Theater" magazine titled 'Scorsese and Philips Hit the Campaign Trail for Widescreen', with Philips being the electronics company. The campaign is called "See What You've Been Missing". If only J6P would open his eyes, what a beautiful world he would see.

#9 of 44 OFFLINE   Mark F

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Posted August 14 2001 - 05:49 AM

Thanks for the replies everyone. I appreciate you taking the time to read it. And your feedback has been helpful. Personally I just want to have my movies in OAR and not have to sacrifice anything in the way of picture or sound quality or extras for the addition of a PAN AND SCAN version, that is primarily my only concern. Now it would be great if every DVD came with the option of either DTS or Dolby Digital, but that is another crusade entirely Posted Image

#10 of 44 OFFLINE   SteveGon


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Posted August 14 2001 - 06:04 AM

It really shouldn't be that hard to educate J6P. After all, as much as we enjoy poking fun at them, the masses aren't that stupid. I figure a brochure like Vince's, included with a dvd, would go a long way towards solving the problem. Heck, I'm hardly smarter than the average person and letterboxing never bothered me! BTW, the first time I experienced letterboxing was in a commercial for laser discs. I thought to myself, "Now that is a cool idea...". Perhaps some of the studios that really seem to care about their product (Anchor Bay, Criterion, Dreamworks) would be willing to help cover printing costs for a brochure?

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#11 of 44 OFFLINE   Vince Maskeeper

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Posted August 14 2001 - 06:38 AM


I figure a brochure like Vince's, included with a dvd, would go a long way towards solving the problem.


Sure, but even better would be a "why widescreen" feature on every disc released. To be honest- a few friends and myself did a little 2 minute animated widescreen featurette explaining letterboxing. We offered this free of charge, royalty free, on digital master to every major studio for inclusion on their DVD titles- but no one has ever been interested.

So I still think the key is grassroots education like from members of the forum, which is where the brochure idea came from. Figured it would be nice to ahve a handy, simply written brochure to just hand to people confused (or complaining) about letterboxing.


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#12 of 44 OFFLINE   Joshua Clinard

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Posted August 14 2001 - 07:01 AM

Vince, I am interested. My e-mail is joshuaclinard@hotmail.com. Anyone else who is interested in the brocure post your e-mails, or send one to Vince.

#13 of 44 OFFLINE   Greg_M



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Posted August 14 2001 - 07:09 AM

Boy, I hate to have to say post this but some people prefer a full screen. - I am not one of them, I usually won't watch a film if it is not in it's OAR. When a film starts out in widescreen it gets my attention, but the minute the opening credits end and it reverts to Pan & Scan, I sigh and change the channel. I am for letterboxed films. I was working in Home Video when the first letterboxed apes/laserdiscs (mostly Laserdiscs) were pressed and explained to co-workers the benefits of letterboxing. I have a lot of friends in the industry, people who actually understand letterboxing, but some of these people STILL want to see their TV screen filled - even if it means cutting off the sides of the picture. They understand, but they say - the picture is too small, they rather have the screen filled etc. Educating the public is necessary, but there will always be those who want Pan & Scan. Of course they will probably want the top and bottom cut off the of image on non-widescreen product when HTDV comes along.

#14 of 44 OFFLINE   LarryDavenport



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Posted August 14 2001 - 07:14 AM

Tonight I have to go buy a new TV (my housemate moved out and took our TV with her). I have $750 to spend (which took me a couple months to save). The cheapest wide screen TV (that even isn't HDTV compatible) is $2000 (I can't wait and save for a couple more months, the M's play the Red Sox and the Yankees this week). You guys need to understand that owners of wide-screen or HDTV TVs are a minority and until widescreen TVs are widely available for under $500 you won't convince the rest of America that wider is better. Even though I agree with you. ------------------ These chicks know how to party! - MoJo JoJo

#15 of 44 OFFLINE   Scott Wong

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Posted August 14 2001 - 07:23 AM

I don't have Pagemaker, but I'd be interested in seeing that brochure. or least what's been made thus far.


I do agree with everyone here. An informational campaign, so to speak, regarding the why's of widescreen would prove to be helpful. I think a pamphlet inside of the DVD case would be a good way to go...


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#16 of 44 OFFLINE   Jan Strnad

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Posted August 14 2001 - 07:39 AM

I agree about the need for cheaper widescreen televisions!

I think that widescreen devotees are in an increasingly precarious position as more J6Ps buy into DVD and begin influencing studios with their fill-my-TV-screen attitude.

We have to get J6P a widescreen TV...and he ain't a'gonna spend $2000 for it.

I also think that we need to proceed with an educational campaign just to establish one very basic point: The black bars are not just covering up part of the picture. (Okay, with open matte they are, but that's a subtlety we don't need to go into at first.)

The number of people who think that "letterboxing" means that the studio has just covered up the top and bottom of the picture is staggering. This is a fundamental bit of ignorance that we need to dispel.

Also, you can (and should) skip the talk about "director's intent" and "original aspect ratio" and "the art of the cinema" with most people. You'll just get branded a nut or an intellectual or something. Concentrate on "you're missing a big chunk of the movie with pan-and-scan."

But the real selling point will come when J6P can buy a widescreen television. The sooner the better.

Jan Strnad
author of Risen and
"The AtomBrain Guide to Letterboxing"
Jan Strnad

aka J. Knight,
author of Risen and Boo.

#17 of 44 OFFLINE   Bill Crosthwait

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Posted August 14 2001 - 08:03 AM

Hey, Vince I'll like to check out your brochure. wcrosthwai@aol.com Hopefully other studios will take after FOX's Die Hard Trilogy's "Why Widescreen".


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#18 of 44 OFFLINE   Mark_Wilson



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Posted August 14 2001 - 08:12 AM

Mark F, is that the commercial that DirecTV runs on the PPV preview channel? Its good, I'm glad their trying to educate J6P. Vince, how much is that Pagemaker plugin?

#19 of 44 OFFLINE   Mark F

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Posted August 14 2001 - 08:15 AM

Actually I've never seen a commercial showing the benefits of Widescreen, what I show in my post I created myself. Hey as long as the word is getting out there in some shape or form I am happy.

#20 of 44 OFFLINE   William Ward

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Posted August 14 2001 - 10:25 AM

Anybody have any bumper stickers??? That would be cool. It's easier to advertise something on your own car than to try and get retail stores to let you pass out flyers...Maybe just dump lots of them in the parking lot??


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