16:9 or 1.85:1(widescreen)?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Austin R, Feb 6, 2005.

  1. Austin R

    Austin R Auditioning

    Jan 14, 2005
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    I am planning my home theater and have originally thought of putting in a 16:9 screen, but am now wondering if 1.85:1 would be better for my environment. I would rather give preference in presentation to DVD movies(or other digital formats) rather than TV. Does that mean I should choose a widescreen format or what other things should I be considering?


  2. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

    May 10, 1999
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    Point 1 in your consideration: Go to a common denominator:

    1.33:1 - Television
    1.37:1 - SMPTE/Academy Silent Full Aperature
    1.66:1 - so-called 'European' wide-screen, also commonly used by Disney Animation
    1.77:1 - HDTV aspect (also called 16:9)
    1.85:1 - North American spherical wide-screen
    2:1 - common shoe-box compromise screen aspect
    2.35:1 - Commonly quoted, but often refers to 2.39:1 and 2.4:1 aspect, anamorphic wide-screen (aka Cinemascope.)

    Those are the common formats floating around. Yes, you do occassionally get the odd-balls - the super-ultra-magna-MGM-Pana-Scopes(tm) with the 3.2:1 aspect ratios, or some of the really funky Russian 3-D formats that are pretty close to 1:1 (actually, I think they're .9:1 - narrower than they are tall, but I said they were funky.)

    Anyway, back to the original point, there's a lot of stuff in the 1.66:1 - 1.85:1 range. How much would it hurt you to go to a minimum aspect of 1.85:1? I don't really know. Individually, the steps between 1.66 and 1.77, and then 1.77 to 1.85 are fairly small, but if you look at the difference between 1.66 and 1.85, well, now we're looking at real differences!

    Another point is, often, projectors have a 4:3-shrink mode, that'll reduce the 4:3 area into something that'll fit (pillarboxed) into the 16:9 frame. Except with your 1.85:1 screen, it'd be artifically letterboxed on top of that, too.

    In case you're wondering, I'm not really trying to be helpful - I don't know what helpful is in this case.

  3. RickGagne

    RickGagne Auditioning

    Feb 11, 2005
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    I went with a 16x9 specifically because there are so many formats out there and I find it's the best compromise. HDTV is spectacular and is in that format. When there are more movies on PPV in HDTV I can see ordering those instead of going to the video store because until blu-ray or the other HD DVD's come out they offer better PQ.
    Also the new PJ's now do a very good job of renedering the bars to almost black. The bars are simply not as anoying as they used to be.

    Another option for you might be a masking screen, but those are quite costly.
  4. Jack Ferry

    Jack Ferry Stunt Coordinator

    Oct 20, 2003
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    Real Name:
    Jack Ferry

    I made some pretty decent masking using $3 worth of black fabric and some velcro.
  5. Greg_Hammond

    Greg_Hammond Agent

    Jan 31, 2005
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    Personally, I'm glad I went with a 4:3 aspect ratio. I tend to watch a good bit of DirecTV on my projector, and find that the black bars across the top/bottom with 1.66:1 and 1.85:1 aren't bad at all. On extreme widescreen 2.35:1, I've considered making black painted 1/4" plywood masks and hanging them when needed, but honestly - it's not that bad with a 400:1 contrast projector and a grey screen today.


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