# "16:9" and "4:3" - Just HOW Do You Say It?!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by WilliamG, Apr 26, 2002.

1. ### WilliamG Supporting Actor

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I understand that it's a question of simantics(sp?), but as kids in school, we were taught ratios in math class. And in that class would be the ratio "2:1". We said this as "two-to-one." Now, with HDTV, we're presented with 16:9. I have always read that as "sixteen TO nine". But everywhere I go these salespeople are saying "sixteen BY nine."
Just doesn't make sense to me. I mean, it's not 16 feet by 9 feet-it's a RATIO, right?!
I know this is nit-picking, but I just want to know from some who KNOW just how the heck it's really supposed to be!

2. ### Oliver_RN Auditioning

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Actually, you're not that far from the truth. If the screen was 16 feet wide by 9 feet high, the ratio would be correct. 16 by 9.
Why it is the way it is, I do not know, is the correct terminology xx by xx, or is it xx to xx, the answer is...... BY
Incidentally, it's semantics.

3. ### Jeremy Little Supporting Actor

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I say sixteen-nine when talking to friends who are techno-geeks like myself just as I refer to film ratios as two-thirty-five and one-eight-five.
While talking to customers at work I do say the dreaded sixteen by nine. While technically I suppose ratios should be expressed as 16 to nine, people have heard it the other way so much they would get pissed-off, frustrated, or confused if I said it differently than they have heard. Sixteen by Nine does lead people to think in fractions, but if you include aspect ratio afterword it isn't as bad. Saying 16 by 9 aspect ratio lets customers know it is a ratio while not delving too far from familiarity.
After all, is Tomato pronounced Toe-may-toe or toe-mah-toe.
Welcome to the wonderful world of semantics.

4. ### Jeremy Little Supporting Actor

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Damn you Oliver!!:b
If I'd answered the question with less explanation I'd have posted first.

5. ### Richard Travale Producer

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You could always say 16 by 9 and say the unit of measurement is a parsec
by the way, I usually say 16 to 9 or simply widescreen. The latter one usually works for my friends that don't really care.

6. ### Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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sixteen-nine two-three-five and one-eight-five

And NEVER , EVER write 1:1.85. That would indicate a skyscraper shaped screen. Just one of my pet peeves.

7. ### WilliamG Supporting Actor

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Exactly as I thought - as many answers as there are people to answer the question!
So I'll just go around and 'size up the situation' with the individual - after all, it's all Symantecs , isn't it?
(There's a software joke in there somewhere, but I don't have time to explain ..)

8. ### Jeremy Little Supporting Actor

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I've always referred to it as 16 by 9. For the various theatrical aspect ratios, I use two thirty-five/forty to one and one eighty-five to one, so I guess I use both.
I've also always referred to 5.1 as five point one, whereas many (including Tom Holman) use five dot one.

10. ### Jed M Cinematographer

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I've always wondered why they didnt go with 16:9 and 16:12? Its the same thing but doesnt it make it so much easier for people to understand? At least that gives you a clear image of the two sizes as opposed to throwing out random fractions at people. I am probably looking too much into this but after reading this thread I couldnt help but think of that.

11. ### Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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They do use 1.33:1 to stand for 4:3 and some DVD packages are labeled that way.
I am told that the "Academy Ratio" is 1.37:1 but most likely producers interchange 1.37:1 and 1.33:1, trimming off a sliver of picture information or squeezing the picture ever so slightly and nobody notices.
Also there are probably a few producers who trim a tiny bit off 1.85:1 movies to fit 16:9 (1.77:1) and this difference is not very large.
Video hints:
http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
"I was in a furniture store and saw what looked like a 1:1 TV. This was a dummy molded plastic box to display in home entertainment cabinets."

12. ### Rick Radford Supporting Actor

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>Isn't a parsec a measurement of time?<
Actually, a parsec is a distance measurement.
Merriam-Webster defines it as:
"a unit of measure for interstellar space equal to the distance to an object having a parallax of one second or to 3.26 light-years"
Han Solo sorta misspoke there, methinks. That stood out to me the first time I saw that movie.

13. ### Richard Travale Producer

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That's hilarious, I didn't even know a parsec was real. I always thought it was a word made up for Star Wars. That's why I used it, thinking it was fictional.

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15. ### Denward Supporting Actor

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I'm a math guy and I'm going to take a stand here and say that 16:9 should be spoken, "16 TO 9" since it's a ratio of width to height. "16 BY 9" would require specifying some sort of measuring unit (a parsec is probably a tad too large when describing a TV screen). A ratio doesn't have a unit because the units in the numerator and denominator cancel out. Just because "16 BY 9" is common usage doesn't mean it's correct. I think it would all be clearer if the industry just stuck to 1.33:1, 1.78:1, etc.
Don't even get me started on American football announcers stating that a team's turnover ratio is +9.

16. ### Ted Lee Lead Actor

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16 by 9 or 4 by 3...
you say potato...i say spud!

17. ### WilliamG Supporting Actor

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Denward-
Thanks! I was beginning to think that I was in the minority
(Actually, I guess I still am!):b

18. ### AllanN Supporting Actor

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I say sixteen by nine and that could technically true depending on what unit of measurement you are using. But sixteen to nine is probably more universally correct. I have noticed that nobody in this post says two-point-three-five or one-point-eight-five. I also say five-point-one or A-C-three if I'm feeling really geeky and nostalgic.

19. ### Daren Welsh Supporting Actor

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I have it lucky. My TV came with it's own certified unit: The Blarg. According to the certificate, one Blarg is equal to 3.547 inches (approximately). So in my case, my TV actually is 16 by 9 (Blargs). I'm glad I don't have to worry about using the proper technical terms thanks to the Mitsubishi Unit Promise

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