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How do I watch HD without black bars?


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#1 of 14 Guest__*

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Posted March 07 2010 - 02:12 PM

So I'm fairly new to the world of HD, as in I just bought my first HD TV a few days ago.

I'm wondering if it's normal, or what I'm doing wrong, but some channels/shows are full screen on HD, but most aren't, they either have black bars on the sides, or top and bottom, or both. So a lot of times there is just a smaller image in the middle of my TV, which leaves me wondering why I purchased a 50" TV if I can't watch 50" of TV.

I've got a Bell 9241 HD PVR, connected to my TV with HDMI, and have some decent HD programming but it's looking like most stuff is "fake" HD to me.

For those who know Bell, the HDTV setup in the receivers menu is set to 1080i/16x9, and my TV's ratio is set to 16x9, but as I said, most stuff I need to stretch/zoom/etc to fill the screen, then it just makes everything look squished and out of place.


I would really appreciate any help getting it sorted if I'm doing something wrong or have some settings not set correctly.


#2 of 14 OFFLINE   GeorgeAB

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Posted March 07 2010 - 05:49 PM

The black bars are normal.  This is due to the fact that not all video programming is produced in HD or a 16 x 9 aspect ratio.  Black bars were also present when viewing the former 4 x 3 aspect ratio TVs for similar reasons.  Not all programs are produced in the same aspect ratio.  In order to display them on any screen without image loss or geometric distortion, the black bars fill in the unused portions of the screen.

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#3 of 14 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted March 07 2010 - 11:01 PM

George is correct, but most "made-for-tv" HD programming should fit your TV perfectly.  When watching movies or watching programming filmed in SD (or 4:3) you are more likely to see black bars.  If you are seeing black bars when watching the news or something like that in HD then you may have some settings issues.


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Posted March 08 2010 - 12:17 AM

heres a for instance, I was watching Secrets of the freemasons yesterday on national geo. IIRC it was black barred all the way around on the SD chan, so I stretched it to fill in the TV, and it looked........"decent" but noticeably stretched.

Then I switched to NatGeoHD, same show, same damn bars, on the HD chan. I think it was black bars on only the top an bottom this time though, and much smaller ones, but still required me to "partial zoom" the screen to fill it totally, which then left just a TINY bit cut off the bottom.

I don't like the black bars, mostly due to burn in, I don't want solid black bars burned into my screen, also, like it said, it kind of sucks having a 50" TV and not being able to watch the "whole" damn thing.


#5 of 14 OFFLINE   Sumnernor

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Posted March 08 2010 - 12:18 AM

I posted sometime ago:

http://www.hometheat...rs#post_3483279

I have a widescreen TUBE TV and the same is true with flat-screen HD TVs. I have found in Germany , 16X9 is only for DVDs and not for TV stations. As far as I know all TV have various settings for picture size which includes 16x9, 4:3 and various zooms which don't distort the picture - a circle remains a circle. I believe that if you choose 16x9 for a TV station that a circle is no longer a circle but an oval: Here is Germany, some stations like the ARD or ZDF have a picture that "fills the screen" but these are not 16x9 ratios .- a circle is still a circle.There are DVD movies where it is normal to have a black bar over & under such as Ben Hur. Films that arenot anamorphic such as the original Star Wars films and the 70's "Taking of Pelham  one two three" will have black bars top and bottom  and left and right.

PS -I believe with LCD (as opposed to PLASMA) doesn't have the  danger of "burning" due to the black bars.



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Posted March 08 2010 - 12:27 AM

I just checked, NatGeo and NatGeoHD both have black bars down the side and both appear to be same quality.

So should I set my TVs ratio "set by program" ?? since it wouldn't make much of a difference when watching TV as my receiver is set to display 16x9@1080i so it will display everything like that.

movies and Xbox may be the only things to set the ratio automatically, and my DVD player is just a basic walmart special with component out.


#7 of 14 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted March 08 2010 - 12:33 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Irwin 

heres a for instance, I was watching Secrets of the freemasons yesterday on national geo. IIRC it was black barred all the way around on the SD chan, so I stretched it to fill in the TV, and it looked........"decent" but noticeably stretched.That

 
That means it was being sent in a 4x3 'shaped' aspect ratio with the black bars at the top and bottom included in the signal.  Your TV or your sat box pillar boxed it to add the bars on either side.  That keeps the 4x3 shape correct.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Irwin 

Then I switched to NatGeoHD, same show, same damn bars, on the HD chan. I think it was black bars on only the top an bottom this time though, and much smaller ones, but still required me to "partial zoom" the screen to fill it totally, which then left just a TINY bit cut off the bottom.
In this case, it was probably filmed in 2.35:1 aspect ratio and the smaller black bars at the top and the bottom were included in the signal as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Irwin 

I don't like the black bars, mostly due to burn in, I don't want solid black bars burned into my screen, also,
 
If you purchased an LCD TV, then there is no chance of it getting burn in.  Even the new plasma technology has limited the chance of burn in.  Only if you bought a CRT do you have a remote chance of burn-in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Irwin 

it kind of sucks having a 50" TV and not being able to watch the "whole" damn thing.
 
On your Nat Geo HD example, you were not missing any of the programming.  In fact on your Nat Geo SD example you were not missing anything either.  Read the missing statement of this forum and you will see that we stress that you watch the show as intended by the director.  We call that Original Aspect Ratio (OAR).  If the director wanted you to see the show in 2.35:1 (really wide) then that is great.  To keep people from looking tall and skinny, bars are added to the signal.  I don't watch the bars, I watch the program content.


#8 of 14 OFFLINE   CB750

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Posted March 08 2010 - 04:49 AM

It's because of the many different Original Aspect Ratios that most suggest that you buy the largest screen side you can afford and fits into your viewing area.

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Posted March 08 2010 - 11:04 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumnernor 

I posted sometime ago:

http://www.hometheat...rs#post_3483279

PS -I believe with LCD (as opposed to PLASMA) doesn't have the  danger of "burning" due to the black bars.
 
That was a very interesting read, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it actually, but as I understand it, the signal will be sent in one format or another, which may require zooming, but if the signal was sent meant to be zoomed then it will still look proper?? is that right?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert_J 

In this case, it was probably filmed in 2.35:1 aspect ratio and the smaller black bars at the top and the bottom were included in the signal as well.
 
Yeah I figured the smaller black bars were part of the show/signal, it's when the bars are huge and on top and bottom.



#10 of 14 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted March 08 2010 - 03:55 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Irwin 

Yeah I figured the smaller black bars were part of the show/signal, it's when the bars are huge and on top and bottom.
Just remember those bars will get thicker as the film's picture gets wider.

Here's a great resource known as widescreen advocate that will lay out some of the basics for you and point you to other resources as well. 


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#11 of 14 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted March 08 2010 - 04:29 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Irwin 




That was a very interesting read, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it actually, but as I understand it, the signal will be sent in one format or another, which may require zooming, but if the signal was sent meant to be zoomed then it will still look proper?? is that right?



Yeah I figured the smaller black bars were part of the show/signal, it's when the bars are huge and on top and bottom.
 
Sometimes you will see a film on a non-HD channel like Turner Classic Movies for instance. The correct aspect ratio of a non-HD channel is 4x3. If the film showing is a wide screen movie, and it is letterboxed, that letterboxing will be inside the 4x3 aspect ratio that TCM is broadcasting. So what you will see on your 16x9 TV, is black bars on the sides to accurately show the 4x3 TCM feed, and then TCM putting black bars on the top and bottom of the image inside that 4x3 box so that the wide screen movie can be seen with out cropping. In this case using the zoom button of your TV will allow you to eliminate the black bars on the sides of the image. The black bars on the top and bottom will be correct.

I hope some of that made sense.

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#12 of 14 OFFLINE   marcco00

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Posted March 08 2010 - 07:21 PM

i think about 30-40% of the content on hd channels are actually shot with digital cameras set up at 16x9. mostly brand new content like news shows, sports, some prime time series are shot in 16x9 hd. cnn/msnbc will broadcast some news shows in 4x3, but then fill the black bars with decorative borders (like 'CNN HD').

a lot of older shows may be upconverted but shown in its original 4x3 aspect ratio.

during commercials, while one is broadcast @ 16x9, then the next one is @ 4x3.

and i have no idea what KOCE, a public station here in LA is doing-- almost every primetime program there is broadcast letterboxed in a 4x3 format...which sounds like what you were describing. it's like watching a non-anamorphic widescreen dvd on your hdtv--- a small rectangle in the center of your screen. not much you can do if it is being broadcast that way.

what you might be seeing is an older program that is letterboxed, but formatted for standard tvs.... therefore it will take the shape of a rectangle in the center of a widescreen tv. they should be anamorphic, but of course  to re-format these programs for hd would cost some money.

this is a new, larger screen size that has us all in transition. i think , if it ever does happen, it will take many, many years for ALL programming to be presented in a 16x9 format.

while it is cool that cable/ satellite companies are broadcasting each piece of programming in it's correct format, it is jarring to go from 16x9 to 4x3 time and again when you channel surf. sd channels are almost easier to deal with...i just kept my tv in the 'stretch' mode.

to me this points out that while 16x9 televisions are wonderful, the majority of cable programming-including commercials- are 4x3 still, and we're stuck with that.


#13 of 14 OFFLINE   Sumnernor

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Posted March 09 2010 - 12:40 AM

I notice a "Hudler error". My reply should be after the quote - not before it.

I regards to your question - on my PAL Tube non-HD TV, what I refer to was with my TV. In your case, I assume that "zoom" is a zoom that doesn't stretch - which you don't want. It seems to me that I have a US friend whose TV accepts HD and the picture is displayed from the rear - not a flat Plasma/LCD. If I remember some settings will stretch the picture!/img/vbsmilies/htf/furious.gif

I would suggest you get naswers from people in the US.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Irwin 




That was a very interesting read, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it actually, but as I understand it, the signal will be sent in one format or another, which may require zooming, but if the signal was sent meant to be zoomed then it will still look proper?? is that right?
 


#14 of 14 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted March 13 2010 - 12:34 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Irwin 

heres a for instance, I was watching Secrets of the freemasons yesterday on national geo. IIRC it was black barred all the way around on the SD chan, so I stretched it to fill in the TV, and it looked........"decent" but noticeably stretched.

Then I switched to NatGeoHD, same show, same damn bars, on the HD chan. I think it was black bars on only the top an bottom this time though, and much smaller ones, but still required me to "partial zoom" the screen to fill it totally, which then left just a TINY bit cut off the bottom.
There is something wrong with your setup. I looked at the same program on NGHD today, and there are no black bars. I'm not familiar with your receiver, but you may want to check to see if it is set to output native resolution to your TV.

Rich Gallagher