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Pan and Scam, The UK situation..


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#1 of 51 DannyS

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Posted August 15 2001 - 11:57 PM

Anamorphic Widescreen is huge in the UK. Very, very few movies are released in Pan and Scam. Widescreen TV sets can go for as little as $500, most TV shows here are in widesceen, and people are buying the correct OAR. Columbia Tristar have questionaires in nearly evry DVD which you send back with feedback. They DO LISTEN.. at least in the UK. Pan and Scam has almost died out.. Thank god. Silence of the lambs is only avaviable here in anamorphic widescreen. JSP's have only one choice WIDESCREEN. SO that's what they buy. I wonder why the USA hasn't wised up yet.

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#2 of 51 James Costin

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Posted August 16 2001 - 12:46 AM

Danny

I think one of the reasons we are treated better in the UK is that in terms of television and films on television there has always been a greater emphasis on quality in the UK (except on ITV).

The fact that the BBC does not have adverts and that those channels that do tend to to ease the audience in and out of the film/programme with picture idents, as opposed to cutting straight into adverts makes a dramatic difference.

Whenever I have been in America and myself and the rest of my family have tried to watch a film we have given up due to the frequency of adverts often at the most critical point in movies (A 2 hour film takes 3 hours to show in general).

I also think that the treatment of films on American TV correlates to the overall low expectations of what J6P expects from home video, hence pan and scan's seemingly rising success in the market.

Also in the cinema Americans (in general) treat the film viewing experience differently to the British. When I saw 'The Matrix' in America other members of the audience whooped and hollered when the Warner logo came up (why?). This trend continued often during the least exciting parts of the film for apparently no discernable reason.

In Britian we tend to sit back and watch the films and take more in, as opposed to making it some kind of interactive audience participation game.

I know that most members of this board see films as a great art form that is also very entertaining. However, the dominant view in America from J6P seems to be a opposite to this, hence their attitude to DVDs.

I would welcome responses from both British and American members on this issue.


#3 of 51 richard plumb

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Posted August 16 2001 - 12:55 AM

I would say it is down to two things:

1) Digital TV. The BBC are pushing very hard with Digital TV to broadcast in Widescreen. This is most likely due to its remit as a public service broadcaster. Even ads are now broadcast in widescreen. It also helps that digital STBs can convert anamorphic widescreen into letterbox for 4:3 owners.

2) The seemingly random acceptance of Widescreen TVs in the high street. The UK, and a lot of Europe seem to have accepted widescreen sets into their hearts and wallets. Difficult to predict, but welcome.


So the position for DVD producers in the UK and Europe generally isn't one of releasing OAR to pander to the perceived hardcore, but consumers are demanding them in order to make the most of their Widescreen sets.


I don't even see evidence of 16:9 pan and scan, so hopefully people won't mind small bars on 2.35:1 material (the black bars are much less obvious when viewing on a widescreen set)


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#4 of 51 mark_d

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Posted August 16 2001 - 01:06 AM

Quote:
I don't even see evidence of 16:9 pan and scan, so hopefully people won't mind small bars on 2.35:1 material (the black bars are much less obvious when viewing on a widescreen set)

That's true with DVDs, but BBC and CH4 are both guilty of 16:9 cropping 2.35:1 material. Thankfully, Sky's one (and, bizarrely in this day and age, only one) widescreen channel has not started this practise. Yet.

Does Film Four still crop to 16:9? I'm sure I heard that they did and that's why I don't subscribe...

Mark

#5 of 51 Frank L

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Posted August 16 2001 - 01:08 AM

Ok bare with me as I'm trying hard not to get too anti-uk here (my ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend is brit).

What I want to say is that this applies to most of Europe, not just the UK. Countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France, etc., are all very much into Widescreen.

I think it has VERY little to do with the quality of television programs (and, quite honestly, british TV is not what I'd call top quality).

In my view it has to do with one very simple fact: widescreen TVs in Europe are cheap. Someone already mentioned this, and it's true, the prices on Widescreen TVs have been dropping steadily for the past 2 years, I can pick up a good 32" widescreen TV with 100 hz digital scan for about 1200 USD, and an entry level 28" widescreen TV (50 hz) for as low as 500 USD.

So, it's not JUST in the UK where this is happening, but in most of Europe.

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#6 of 51 Paul_D

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Posted August 16 2001 - 01:21 AM

Even though Widescreen TVs are MUCH cheaper here in the UK, the reason there are virtually no panscan problems is because the DVD boom has only just started here. In America its in full swing, and all these panscan releases in the US have only really just started filtering through.

There are still some odd OAR issues here in the UK. On the UK's main Satellite TV provider BSkyB, there are 12 main film channels and only 1, broadcasts films in widescreen. As strange as this, from an apparently 'OAR tolerant film-market', stranger still is that they're still rarely broadcast in their theatrical aspect. 'The Matrix' is shown in 1.85:1!!!

Wide screen TVs are cheaper and more available this is producing a dangerous trend towards cropping 2.25:1 films down to 1.85:1, allowing them to FIT the wideTV aspect ratio, and not to preserve the OAR. JUST as bad as panscan in my book. Ludicrous.
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#7 of 51 DannyS

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Posted August 16 2001 - 01:22 AM

I agree frank. It is the good prices of the tv sets. It's not really a question of programming at all. And thanks for the info about the rest of europe..I don't really have any info or insight other than UK and USA so frank..TELL ME MORE! I'd love to know more about europe, the quality of distribution., viewing habits etc...

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#8 of 51 Paul_D

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Posted August 16 2001 - 01:25 AM

I've just read above and noticed that I've contradicted what someone else has said. SKY do 16:9 pan and scan. They don't ALWAYS do it, which is admittedly strange, but many and most 2.35:1 films get the chop. I can think of some: Austin Powers 2 DOESNT get cropped, but The Mummy, Matrix, Payback and countless others do. Watch out for it next time you tune in!
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#9 of 51 Frank L

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Posted August 16 2001 - 01:32 AM

Well I can tell you of places that I am familiar with, namely the nordic countries.

As I said widescreen TVs are cheap (and getting cheaper all the time) here in Sweden and in places like Denmark and Norway.

When it comes to viewing habits, there are a couple of cable networks which broadcast through most of Europe, on such network is Canal Plus. While you do get a P&S movie now and then, many of them are in widescreen letterbox format, and one specific channel (Canal+ Blue) even broadcasts in anamorphic widescreen.

Local channels that show movies (TV3, TV4, Kanal 5) also show movies in widescreen, although not all the time.

But like I said, the biggest change that I have seen after living here for 5 years, is the adoption of widescreen TVs and how cheap they are getting.

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#10 of 51 Roland G

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Posted August 16 2001 - 01:32 AM

I live in Vienna and when i went out to buy a new TV last month and i noticed that Widescreen TVs are really what people here are buying, Widescreen is cheap here and people really go for widescreen....well maybe people here in europe are really different...i once visited the USA..and..i guess i better shut up Posted Image



#11 of 51 James T H

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Posted August 16 2001 - 01:32 AM

Film Four sometimes show films in 2.35:1, they are few and far between though....

There is another strange thing in the UK - apparently BBC guidelines disallow a format change mid-programme, so for example during sports programmes where some parts are broadcast in anamorphic widescreen, you then have bars either side when the source material is 4:3!


#12 of 51 Don Myles

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Posted August 16 2001 - 01:37 AM

I think there has been a bit more acceptance of widescreen televisions in the UK because the public have been better educated about it.

I remember watching the biggest soccer game of the year in Scotland about 5 years ago which was broadcast in widescreen. At the end of the game they discussed the matter and showed people what they would not have seen if the game was broadcast in 4:3.

I also recall an episode of 'Watchdog' (consumer affairs show fronted by Anne Robinson of the Weakest Link fame) when the Titanic VHS tape had been released. Some members of the public had complained that they had bought widescreen televisions and the widescreen tape (even though widescreen tapes were a bit more expensive for some reason - as was the practice of the day) and on watching the movie there were still black bars.

The show devoted about 15 minutes of prime time to explain aspect ratios which I thought at the time was rather commendable.

It's true that widescreen televisions are cheaper in Europe than in the States. The net effect is that the studios cannot use the 'consumers want P&S releases' trump card as they can in the States. This has meant a huge leap in the quality of R2 product. Now if only they could banish the BBFC then I might actually buy some of it!!

Don

p.s. I do not think that television in the UK is as bad as some have stated on this topic. The BBC's unique status does allow it to produce some excellent shows and there have been a lot of successes in the past 20 years.

#13 of 51 Frank L

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Posted August 16 2001 - 01:44 AM

Quote:
p.s. I do not think that television in the UK is as bad as some have stated on this topic. The BBC's unique status does allow it to produce some excellent shows and there have been a lot of successes in the past 20 years.

Oh hey absolutely... I'm not saying that the UK TV is bad, just that I don't think the quality has anything to do with widescreen being more widespread in the UK, or in Europe for that matter.

Some of the best documentaries I've seen come from the BBC.

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#14 of 51 Dan Brecher

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Posted August 16 2001 - 02:22 AM

It makes me laugh when Channel 4 boast so much about their treatment of films and then crop 2.35:1 stuff to 1.78:1, it's not a channel I am fond of at all for various reasons. If we're going to look at how good British TV is, C4 are rather guilty of pushing eternaly cheap to make "retrospective" top 100 or whatever programmes along with on (even cheaper to make) Ibiza/clubbing series after another, whilst at the same time importing the majority of the goo stuff they show (ER, various sitcoms, NYPD Blue..etc...etc). They get a lot of praise and I don't know why.

I'm still very much fond of the BBC. Looking at their terrestrial output, BBC2 is very strong, good source of strong British comedy in the 90s to present day and is great for non prime time, British drama. A lot of people critisise the BBC, but if you take a step back, they're still actually putting out the best stuff and catering well for all tastes, even BBC1 is now starting to move away more from the, what I like to call, tabloid television that fuels ITV.

If we're going to discuss the availablity of widescreen tv sets here, it's odd because, while indeed true (they're everywhere), we're still left behind in some way as the US heads into exploring HDTV and Progressive Scan in greater depth and pushing those formats to the consumer, formats that are unheard of here and now that a set of standards has been made for our own Digital broadcasts, possibly always will be.

One thing worth noting is a lot of these "anamorphic" movie broadcasts on some of are channels simply use a vertical scaling trick (as some R2 DVDs did) pulling of a fake anamorphic presentation.

Who knows if the UK is really becoming more welcoming to widescreen as a format? Yes, they are to the TV sets because it's sort of that "well everyone else has one so I should to" kind of thing, so they get the TVs, but do they welcome the actual movies presented in widescreen? The fact that channels crop anything above 1.85:1 back down to 1.78:1 I think would perhaps suggest no, and there is still a bit of hostility from viewers toward cinemascope presentations. Just a thought...

Another thing worth noting is that, in England, DVD is still very much in its infancy. You wait a few years when more players get into more peoples homes as is now the case in the US, THEN see what the approach is in offering P&S over widescreen.

Dan (UK)

[Edited last by Dan Brecher on August 16, 2001 at 09:24 AM]

#15 of 51 DannyS

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Posted August 16 2001 - 02:42 AM

I still can't believe the speed it's all going at. I bought my first DVD for my little brother. It was The Lost Boys. And I got it for him because we had a DVD ROM drive in our new PC. I got it from a small cardboard stand in the corner of our local WHSMITH. That little stand is now an entire side wall of the store. Sheesh, time flies. I can still remember seeing racks upon racks of 7" records. The top 40 took up an entire wall!

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#16 of 51 richard plumb

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Posted August 16 2001 - 02:53 AM

Quote:
we're still left behind in some way as the US heads into exploring HDTV and Progressive Scan in greater depth and pushing those formats to the consumer
formats that don't seem to be being taken up in huge numbers, unlike in Europe. I agree that HD would be great, but one step at a time.


Quote:
One thing worth noting is a lot of these "anamorphic" movie broadcasts on some of are channels simply use a vertical scaling trick (as some R2 DVDs did) pulling of a fake anamorphic presentation.
But if they are using high quality scalers, from broadcast sources, then its much better than me zooming a letterbox broadcast to fill my screen.

Quote:
The fact that channels crop anything above 1.85:1 back down to 1.78:1 I think would perhaps suggest no, and there is still a bit of hostility from viewers toward cinemascope presentations. Just a thought...

To be fair, broadcasters were always doing this down to 4:3 before, so at least its a step up from that. They never showed OAR before, and I don't expect anyone except dedicated film channels to do it anytime soon, but 1.78:1 is better than 4:3 for most wide aspect movies. If you like the film you'll watch it on DVD anyway.

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#17 of 51 Glenn Overholt

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Posted August 16 2001 - 03:17 AM

Ok, we're starting to wake up here in the US! I don't get the lack of widescreen tube either. However...

First, the logistics of marketing (which I do not understand most of) must include the difference of size & population. We need a someone in sales to chime in here, but I think that overall, a marketing manager in the US would find that if they were to move to GB, it would be considerably easier just because of the size.

This still does not forgive the TV manufacturer's. Ok, it is really dumb, but maybe they have an excess of 4:3 tubes in their factorys that they don't want to scrap! (Does anyone have any better excuses?)

But I would like to pose this question to all of our members back east. What ran through your head when you saw your first widescreen TV?

Glenn

#18 of 51 DannyS

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Posted August 16 2001 - 03:22 AM

OH MY GAWD!!!! That's HHUUUGE! I want I want I want! and 11 years later, I'm still wanting! :-)

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#19 of 51 James T H

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Posted August 16 2001 - 03:27 AM

Is that a TV or a fish tank Posted Image

#20 of 51 Garry Cowell

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Posted August 16 2001 - 03:35 AM

What I've just noticed - having finally got a region 2 compatible player - is that quite a few UK DVD's are flagged for P&S on the fly (well cropping the center of the image to make it bigger) i.e. 2.35:1 become 1.85:1 and 1.85:1 becomes 1:33.1

I've never found a r1 disc that does this! Shame as it would please the Joe Six-Packs immensely.

Of the top of my head the following DVD do this...

Most of the Hong Kong Legends DVD
FilmFour's Gangster No.1 and The Straight Story

Note: Your DVD must be outputting 4:3 (Pan & Scan) and the DVD must be compatible for this to work.
Last films I watched (TV/VHS-DVD-Cinema)

A Nightmare On Elm Street - Le Professional - Notes On A Scandal


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