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Why the Black Bars?

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41 replies to this topic

#1 of 42 OFFLINE   GusinCA



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Posted January 04 2008 - 07:33 AM

Why do so many movies (BD or HD) have black bars at the top and bottom? I want my whole TV used, not just the middle section. I understand they want to provide the original theatrical aspect ratio, but I want a 1080p movie, not 3/4 of that.

#2 of 42 OFFLINE   Craig Beam

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Posted January 04 2008 - 07:41 AM

So.... you'd like the sides of the film chopped off to fit your TV? How is this any different from pan-and-scan? You may want to read the HTF mission statement:


#3 of 42 OFFLINE   PaulDA



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Posted January 04 2008 - 07:53 AM

You've answered your own question--original aspect ratio. With OAR, you are getting the WHOLE movie, though you are not using your whole screen. If the image is manipulated (either by you with player/display settings or the studio when they transfer the film to disc), then you may get to use the whole screen, but you will no longer get to see the WHOLE movie. While it appears that the majority of the population favours your position (which explains "full screen" editions of SD DVDs--something I personally wish had never happened, but there it is), you'll find that on dedicated fora like this one, the reverse is true. Personally, I prefer the WHOLE movie, even if I don't use the whole screen. When OAR first became reasonably accessible, it took me a few movies to get used to it but it wasn't long before I stopped noticing the "bars" and just watched the movie. If TV stations had not cropped movies from the beginning, then no one would complain about it because everyone would understand that movies (those made after the early 50s, anyway), generally speaking, are not the same as TV programmes. But it didn't work out that way. Thankfully, OAR is readily available today. You have a variety of ways of coping with the situation--there are many settings available in your player and/or display that will allow you to "fill the screen". What I do NOT want to see is public pressure to bastardize OAR releases with "full screen" HDM. Let the individuals decide on their own gear rather than taking away OAR from those of us who want it.
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#4 of 42 OFFLINE   Dave>h


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Posted January 04 2008 - 07:58 AM

You seem to be making a flawed assumption that 1080p means "fill my TV screen" aspect ratio. In fact, 1080p is the resolution output by your HD DVD or BD machine and received and reproduced by your TV. Aspect ratio is the solely dependent on the type of film and framing used by the filmmaker. I believe standard 35mm film is 1.78:1 but can be framed such that it is a wider field than that. 70mm is 2.25:1 (or something like that) and again can be framed to be even wider. Thus, even with a widescreen TV (1.78:1) you are going to get black bars on some presentations because not all films are framed to 1:78:1 aspect ratio. I suppose at some point some marketing genius will create the "full screen" HD DVD or BD that crops anything wider than 1:78 to 1 back to 1:78:1 so that people who don't like black bars can use all the space provided by their new TV. You may also be able to zoom the picture to get rid of the black bars yourself. However, I don't think you will find much sympathy from people on this forum about your black bar complaint. Dave

#5 of 42 OFFLINE   Shane Martin

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Posted January 04 2008 - 08:34 AM

Some folks believe that HD = 1.78 and that's wrong. Nothing has changed since DVD. HD/BR is nothing new.

#6 of 42 OFFLINE   Jacob McCraw

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Posted January 04 2008 - 09:05 AM

Someone used their first post - and created a whole new thread - to ask that?

#7 of 42 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted January 04 2008 - 09:43 AM

35mm academy aperture is actually 1.37:1. It has been since the advent of sound. Since about 1954 however some filmmakers have cropped the top and bottom of this frame to get the 1.66:1 or 1.85:1, 1.85 being most popular in America and 1.66 being popular in Europe. 70mm as formulated by Todd A/O was 2.20:1, but could be wider with for instance MGM Camera 65 AKA Ultra Panavision which I believe was 2.55:1, but could be as wide as 2.76:1. Doug
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#8 of 42 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool



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Posted January 04 2008 - 01:08 PM

My thought exactly though I didn't want to be the first to mention that. Posted Image Posted Image


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#9 of 42 OFFLINE   TonyD


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Posted January 04 2008 - 04:58 PM

welcome to the HTF gus.but... this just isnt the place to suggest cropping movies to fill your screen.

#10 of 42 OFFLINE   DanielKellmii


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Posted January 05 2008 - 08:21 AM

Gus, welcome. In short, not all movies are created with the 16:9 aspect ratio that your TV has. Typically, in order to see the full frame of a movie, the black bars are necessary. To get rid of the black bars, you would have to zoom in, but that would cut off portions of the sides of the movie. (blech) If this doesn't make sense, let me know when you reply and I will try to find some links that explain with pictures.

#11 of 42 OFFLINE   GlennH



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Posted January 05 2008 - 08:42 AM

It's been awhile since I read that mission statement. I think it's about time for an update to the part about DVD being the pinnacle of quality, etc.

As to the OAR issue, please see this information to be educated on the subject. Cropping to 1.78:1 would be just as wrong as cropping to 1.33:1.

It's the same as it ever was, DVD or HD. If your 16:9 screen is filled vertically, with no black bars, on a movie with an OAR greater than 1.78:1 (or thereabouts due to overscan), then you are being cheated. I personally love seeing those top and bottom bars on a 2:35:1 movie. Very theatrical, very appropriate. I view the frame of the movie as intended, not the arbitrary boundaries of my TV screen.

#12 of 42 OFFLINE   Ray_R



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Posted January 05 2008 - 11:26 AM

Here's another very helpful link:

High-Def FAQ: Why Don't the Black Bars Go Away? | High-Def Digest

#13 of 42 OFFLINE   Gabriel.H


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Posted January 05 2008 - 11:52 AM

HD panels are 16x9 so the only aspect ratio that will take the whole screen is 1.85:1. Most HD DVD/Blu-Ray discs are 2.39:1 or 2.40:1 so yes they are a little bit wider and yes you will have black bars on the top and bottom but at least you are experiencing the film as it was intended to be seen. If you were to have a 2.39:1 film fit the entire screen then the picture would either have to be stretched and distorted or you would not see the left and right side.

#14 of 42 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted January 05 2008 - 02:24 PM

1.85:1 does not fill the 16x9 screen. The aspect ratio of HDTV is 1.78:1, slightly narrower than a film shot at 1.85:1. A 1.85:1 properly presented on HDTV will have very small, but defiantly there, black bars at the top and bottom. Doug
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#15 of 42 OFFLINE   TonyD


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Posted January 05 2008 - 03:03 PM

true but many tvs have overscan so no one sees the small bars on the top for 1.85 or the small bars on the side for 1.66:1 movies.

#16 of 42 OFFLINE   mike kaminski

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Posted January 05 2008 - 03:57 PM

Posted Image

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#17 of 42 OFFLINE   Jari K

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Posted January 05 2008 - 08:49 PM

Posted Image Indeed.

Gusin, films has different aspect ratios. 4:3 (1.33:1), 1.66:1, 1.78:1, 1.85:1, 2:35:1..

With 16:9-TV (1.78:1), you´ve always black bars somewhere, IF the film has any other aspect ratio than 1.78:1. Even 1.85:1-films has a minor black bars on the top and on the bottom (often not visible due the overscan of the TV, though).

In another words; Get used to the "black bars". They´re more or less here to stay if you want to enjoy the Original Aspect Ratio. And that should always be the main priority.

(with SD DVDs you also have the "Anamorphic" vs "non-Anamorphic"-issues, but not with HD-films anymore)

#18 of 42 OFFLINE   troy evans

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Posted January 05 2008 - 09:00 PM

Gus, give yourself time to get used to them. What they give you is well worth what not having them would take away. If you really can't stand them try using your tv or dvd players ZOOM function. That's if filling the screen is your sole priority. As time goes by your expectations will be more demanding as far OAR. Take Care.Posted Image
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#19 of 42 OFFLINE   Jari K

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Posted January 06 2008 - 12:22 AM

Sorry Troy, but that is one bad advice! Posted Image

By "zooming", you´ll lose all the intended compositions/framing and make the film literally unwatchable. Let alone the fact that with this "zooming", you´ll lose resolution - one of the major advantages that you have with 1080p HD and one of the reasons why you probably bought the HD-player in the first place.

So: Don´t "zoom". Enjoy the OAR, whether it has some black bars or not. You´ll get used to them. At least I don´t even notice them anymore.

#20 of 42 OFFLINE   GusinCA



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Posted January 06 2008 - 03:23 AM

Okay, okay, sorry, I didn't mean to offend the purists here.
My point was severalfold:
One, if a movie has the black bars on the top and bottom, then you are not getting a full 1080 (or 720, if that's all your TV is capable of, as is mine) lines of picture. I'm not sure of the actual number, but the black bars take up maybe 1/5 of the total screen. Now, it still looks great, but I prefer when the whole TV screen is used, but I guess that's just me... Posted Image

The second point is, if theater movies are wider, then why aren't HD TV's in that same ratio? I guess I just wish that they had made the TV's a little wider to match the movies, or the movies narrower.

But thanks, that's a lot of (mostly informative, except for the people bashing my first naive post) really good answers!

I promise not to ask any more dumb questions...

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