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Blockbuster's Widescreen Education Effort for Employees


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#1 of 45 OFFLINE   Steve O

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Posted December 31 2001 - 07:53 AM

I apologize in advance if this topic has been discussed elsewhere, but I couldn't find a specific thread devoted to it. I'd like to pass along an actual dialogue that took place last Saturday between me and a Blockbuster manager (as verbatim as I can recall).

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Me: Do you carry the widescreen version of Jurassic Park III on DVD? I only saw the full-frame version on the shelf.

Blockbuster Manager: Just a minute, ... let me check. {checks on computer} Our computer just says, "Jurassic Park III," ... there's no mention of the version.

Me: I saw at Best Buy that they released the widescreen and full-frame versions on separate discs. With the full-frame version, I'll be missing a lot of the movie.


Here comes the amazing part of the conversation. Are you sitting down? Of course you are, ... you're at your computer. Here goes, ...

Blockbuster Manager: Doesn't your TV allow you to switch between widescreen and full-frame?

Me:Some DVDs will have both the widescreen and full-frame versions of the movie on the same disc and you can select them from the menu. This movie has the widescreen and full-frame versions on separate discs. I only see the full-frame version on the shelf.

Blockbuster Manager: Even though the movie is full-frame, there should be a setting on your TV that allows you to crop the top and bottom for a widescreen presentation.


Posted Image
I stand there dumbfounded for a few seconds, wishing I had a tape recorder running to capture this conversation.

Me:Thank you for checking.

------------------------------------------------

I can assure you that no part of this verbal exchange was made up or embellished in any way. Here are the conclusions that I made about the Blockbuster Manager's understanding of widescreen:

1. Movies are made in 1.33:1 aspect ratio and the tops and bottoms are cropped to make a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation. Hence, the black bars.

2. Large screen TV sets have a feature that allows you to cut off the tops and bottoms to achieve a widescreen presentation.

What he was really saying was that it is acceptable to take a 50% picture loss (with the full-frame version) and turn it into a 75% picture loss (by cropping the top and bottom). Yea, ... that's what I want to see, ... 25% of Jurassic Park III.

Am I missing something? Do widescreen TVs actually have a feature to crop the tops and bottoms of full-frame movies and stretch the remaining image to fill the screen? If so, why on Earth would anybody want to do this?!

After the conversation, I felt like quoting Fred Sanford (from the sitcom, "Sanford and Son"):

'Lizbeth, ... I'm comin' to get ya', ... I think this is the big one! ...

Ahhh, ... the snot-nosed kid wouldn't have recognized the reference anyway.

Question for my home theater brethren:

IS THERE ANYTHING THAT CAN BE DONE TO HELP BLOCKBUSTER GET INTO THE 21st CENTURY?! It seems as if they don't care diddly-squat about movies or film at all -- just the almighty buck. I'm amazed that their employees know so little about their business. What can be done to turn the tide?


#2 of 45 OFFLINE   Scott D S

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Posted December 31 2001 - 11:15 AM

That is so sad! Posted Image

#3 of 45 OFFLINE   Damien Montanile

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Posted December 31 2001 - 11:46 AM

Quote:
Am I missing something? Do widescreen TVs actually have a feature to crop the tops and bottoms of full-frame movies and stretch the remaining image to fill the
screen? If so, why on Earth would anybody want to do this?!


On Toshibas you have 3 different framing choices...Full, Theaterwide (which has about 3-4 subchoices) and 4:3 framing.

The Theaterwide (with subframing choice 2) when chosen with a film with an AR of 4:3, will zoom in the picture so that there is less of a horizontal stretch but while it does this, it sends the top and bottom of the the film out of view, Giving the illusion of an almost proportioned Widescreen presentation.

The only reason I use the above setting is for non-anamorphic titles. This is the solution for displaying non anamorphic widescreen discs in there correct proportion.

When watching TV shows or movies/films in a 1:33/1 - 4:3 OAR I just use full mode, the stretch really doesnt bother me. much. Theaterwide Mode (subframing choice number 1) is also another solution which keeps center of the film correctly proportioned but stretches the outerportions to fill the 16:9 TV frame.

God I hope I explained that correctly (it made sense to me at least)Posted Image

-D
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#4 of 45 OFFLINE   Dmitry

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Posted December 31 2001 - 12:36 PM

My friend has a 34" Sony HDTV (XBR2). There are 4 modes that he uses: Full -- for anamorphic DVDs and 16x9 HDTV, Zoom -- for non-anamorphic DVDs, 4:3 - for Academy Ratio DVDs and Wide Zoom (that stretches edges of the picture more than the center and crops bits off on top and bottom) for watching TV to minimize burn-in on the tube.
My DVDs

#5 of 45 OFFLINE   David Lambert

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Posted December 31 2001 - 12:39 PM

Posted Image
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#6 of 45 OFFLINE   Greg_Y

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Posted December 31 2001 - 12:42 PM

Quote:
When watching TV shows or movies/films in a 1:33/1 - 4:3 OAR I just use full mode, the stretch really doesnt bother me.

It bothers me that it doesn't bother you. Posted Image

Why is 1.33:1 OAR material less important to maintain than 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 material? Do the gray bars on the side in Normal mode bother you? Maybe you could try black mattes...

I know this has been debated ad nauseum here at the HTF and across the Internet and I'm not looking to start a flame war, but I did a double-take after reading your good description of viewing anamorphic vs. non-anamorphic on the Toshiba, then you proceeded to say you stretch 4:3 material.

#7 of 45 OFFLINE   Damien Montanile

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Posted December 31 2001 - 01:23 PM

YEah Id say Id have to agree with you on that.

Let me reword what I said...It doesnt bother me AS MUCH to watch a 4:3 stretched than to watch a P&S which isnt even the entire picture. The reason I dont use 4:3 mode right now is because the annoyance of the Grey Bars outweigh the annoyance of the stretched picture.

Its really just a matter of me being busy and laziness. There is a way to turn the Grey Bars Black which I really havent gotten around to yet...And even lazier to make Mattes. Once I get my rp-91 (ordered in a few days after Christmas) I will be doing a huge recalibration and then probably go about making mattes (along with a lensehood and what have you)..

Hope that better explains why am doing things this way at the moment. Posted Image See Im not so bad Posted Image

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#8 of 45 OFFLINE   David Lambert

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Posted December 31 2001 - 01:37 PM

I'll just say this about the concept of a 4:3 image stretched to fill up a widescreen TV:

No, it doesn't bother me as bad as P&Sing of a WS image. It's not watching something in OAR, and I would never do it, but it doesn't bother me nearly as bad.

[rant]BECAUSE AT LEAST THE WHOLE FRIGGIN' IMAGE IS STILL THERE TO BE SEEN!![/rant]

Posted Image
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#9 of 45 OFFLINE   Steve O

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Posted January 01 2002 - 04:20 AM

Damien,

Thank you very much for the thorough explanation! I can't believe that there is actually a feature that allows us to voluntarily lose even more image from the already massacred pan and scan presentation. If I had that "feature," I suppose that I COULD have watched a fraction of the actual film (OAR --> P&S --> Cropped P&S).

So perhaps the Blockbuster Manager actually knew what he was talking about. Wow.

Or, to extend the thought of the Digital Bits' spoof logo, ... the "ckbu" manager (that's "Blockbuster" -- missing a LOT of the sides). Since I'm not about to buy "Jurassic Park III" sight-unseen, I guess I'll never get to see it. I just can't bring myself to rent "sic Pa" (that's "Jurassic Park III" -- missing a LOT of the sides).

Ok, ... I've used that analogy one too many times.

:b

Thanks again for the help!

- Steve

#10 of 45 OFFLINE   Justin Lane

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Posted January 01 2002 - 06:14 AM

Quote:
Ahhh, ... the snot-nosed kid wouldn't have recognized the reference anyway.


Why insult this guy who was obviously uninformed. Educate him instead, as to what OAR really is, and if he takes, he might just educate the next person who asks for a widescreen DVD in P&S.

Poking fun at ignorance is never a solution, it makes you just as ignorant.

J

#11 of 45 OFFLINE   Steve O

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Posted January 01 2002 - 11:03 AM

Justin,

Thanks for the jab (*ouch*), but as you can see from my post, I wasn't quite sure myself if he was correct or not. As it turns out (see subsequent posts), he was quite correct regarding the cropping feature on some TVs. Furthermore, from your computer terminal, you can't see the ten people who were in line behind me. Had I given him an education on widescreen in that circumstance, I wouldn't have been ignorant, but I would have been an arrogant, inconsiderate ass.

Trust me, I would have loved to play Ross Perot and give him a good lesson, but the situation didn't present itself. I sort of think that Blockbuster's Managers should know better anyway.

- Steve

#12 of 45 OFFLINE   Justin Lane

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Posted January 01 2002 - 11:39 AM

Quote:
Thanks for the jab (*ouch*)


Huh, what are you talking about? I mearly stated an opinion about ignorance. The only jab thrown was at the Blockbuster employee who is not here to defend himself.

Quote:
Furthermore, from your computer terminal


Maybe you should have made your jab to him in person instead of behind your computer terminal. Or maybe that would be just as ignorant as making a jab here. Hmm.

I still don't understand why yourself or anyone else here feels they should put others down for not knowing any better. Educate or let the situation be, plain and simple. (IMHO of course)

J

#13 of 45 OFFLINE   george kaplan

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Posted January 01 2002 - 01:19 PM

Well, I don't think I'd give this guy credit for being right. I suspect he thinks you can get a correct OAR version of a picture by a tv set doing some magic to a pan & scan version, which ain't gonna happen.
"Movies should be like amusement parks. People should go to them to have fun." - Billy Wilder

"Subtitles good. Hollywood bad." - Tarzan, Sight & Sound 2012 voter.

"My films are not slices of life, they are pieces of cake." - Alfred Hitchcock"My great humility is just one of the many reasons that I...

#14 of 45 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted January 01 2002 - 01:21 PM

Quote:
Let me reword what I said...It doesnt bother me AS MUCH to watch a 4:3 stretched than to watch a P&S which isnt even the entire picture. The reason I dont use 4:3 mode right now is because the annoyance of the Grey Bars outweigh the annoyance of the stretched picture.
Just like the loss of picture outweighs the the annoyance of the Black Bars for J6P, I guess...

#15 of 45 OFFLINE   Damien Montanile

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Posted January 01 2002 - 02:24 PM

Quote:
Just like the loss of picture outweighs the the annoyance of the Black Bars for J6P, I guess...


A..My viewing habits are not in support of P&S obviously
B..You don't have to like my substitution viewing habits, ...you dont have to watch em that way either.

-Damien
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#16 of 45 OFFLINE   EricK

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Posted January 01 2002 - 03:04 PM

That manager and Blockbuster's education about OAR and widescreen (anamorphic) is just one reason I HAVE NOTbeen to Blockbuster in over 3 years!

Eric.

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#17 of 45 OFFLINE   Henry Carmona

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Posted January 01 2002 - 07:24 PM

Quote:
Blockbuster Manager: Even though the movie is full-frame, there should be a setting on your TV that allows you to crop the top and bottom for a widescreen presentation.


Quote:
So perhaps the Blockbuster Manager actually knew what he was talking about. Wow.

Posted Image None of this matters! So what if the TV lets you"crop the top and bottom for widescreen presentation."

I would have said, "Well, i dont want to crop anything. I want to view the movie as presented at the theater, and that is something only the widescreen version can give me."

He may have known what he was talking about (doubt it), but he surely doesnt understand widescreen.

"Charlie don't surf."

#18 of 45 OFFLINE   Colin O'H

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Posted January 01 2002 - 11:19 PM

Blockbuster isn't even an option! Besides their evident lack of regard for how cinema is meant to be seen, please remember that it is those same bastards that decided just what is right for you to see in the tapes they would stock. Unedited? Forget it!
Don't give those rat bastards a dime of your hard earned dollar!Posted Image

#19 of 45 OFFLINE   Steve O

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Posted January 02 2002 - 12:32 PM

Talk about false advertising! I just received my Blockbuster Rewards mailing for January. Guess what?!, ... they have a picture of the WIDESCREEN version of JP3 -- you know, ... the one they DON'T CARRY!!!

Aaaarghhhh!

Here's the advertisement, for those of you who don't receive the mailings:

Posted Image

Apparently, even Blockbuster is ashamed to put the butchered version of the film in their literature.

Posted Image

Justin --

Go easy dude. Once again, if you read my post, I didn't confront the Blockbuster Manager because:

1. I was dumbfounded and confused by what he said,
2. I wanted to get more information from this forum so that I cleared up my own understanding on the subject,
3. I had about 10 people in line behind me, and
4. I expected that he knew more than me, because that is his business.

I would never be so inconsiderate and arrogant as to hold up a line of people to argue philosophy or provide "free education." Letting him know that I would only rent the original aspect ratio (i.e. widescreen) version was sufficient and appropriate under the circumstances. If I was more sure of myself and we were next to the shelves (rather than at the checkout line), it obviously would have been a longer conversation.

Although I have a great home theater setup and love film, I am by no means a technophile. I'm quietly but steadily growing in my understanding of the subject. My wife and I enjoy DVD because we rarely get to go out (with two toddlers in the house) and it affords us a "theater experience" in our home.

#20 of 45 OFFLINE   Ken Chan

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Posted January 02 2002 - 03:48 PM

If my guess is right, the manager exemplifies that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Yes, widescreen TVs have several modes to make 4:3 material fill the screen. The implication is that the only reason you'd want the widescreen DVD is that you have widescreen TV and you want to fill the screen. And of course chopping off the top and bottom of the already-chopped picture is acceptable to do it.

I could be totally wrong, but it seems as if he doesn't even consider the possibility that you'd want to watch widescreen on a 4:3 set.

//Ken


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