16x9 Mode on Panny 36"

Discussion in 'Displays' started by ChuckSolo, Oct 27, 2003.

  1. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    I discovered something kinda strange on my TV last week. I was playing an anamorphic widescreen disc in my Panasonic DVD player and the black bars were very large on my 36" Panasonic TV. My Panasonic DVD players zoom function is not progressive and only works to fill the screen one time. I rarely use it but my wife said she thought ther picture was just too small on our screen. I have the DVD player set to 4:3 letter box in the setup menu so I went in and set it to 16x9 mode. After reinserting the DVD, I noticed that the black bars were much smaller, but the picture area was the same as in 4:3 letterbox mode. I did some comparisons using still picture mode to confirm that the picture was the same 4:3 Letterbox as in 16x9, and it was, that is nothing was cut off on the sides. However, set to 4:3 pan & scan, a lot of picture was cut off. Since 16x9 mode yeilds the same picture area and quality as 4:3 letterbox, but with smaller black bars, should I leave it in 16x9 mode for all anamorphic widescreen movies? My wife likes the smaller black bars at top and bottom.
     
  2. Michael TLV

    Michael TLV THX Video Instructor/Calibrator

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    Greetings

    Setting the DVD player to 4:3 makes it output DVD resolution at 75% capacity rather than 100%. You get a handicapped signal from the get go ...

    Setting it to 16:9 lets you keep all the resolution and the TV squeezes the scan lines to form the same shape. Difference ... one image is considerably denser than the other.

    Regards
     
  3. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    Do all DVD players behave the same way? I know that I thought my brother's Sony HTiB was playing "28 Days Later" in Fullscreen, but when we went in and looked at his DVD settings his player was set to 16x9 mode setting it to 4:3 letterbox put it into widescreen. I actually thought the store had given me a fullscreen DVD in a widescreen box. His TV is a 30" direct view. Is the screen size the reason his TV displayed no black bars top or bottom on this film while in 16x9 mode on his player?
     
  4. Michael Steven

    Michael Steven Auditioning

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    My understanding of these modes for DVD players has always been this:

    4:3 Pan & Scan Setting: widescreen films will not be letterboxed. The DVD player with stretch the image to fill the 4:3 screen, thereby cutting off some 40% of the picture from the sides.

    4:3 Letterbox: widescreen and anamorphic widescreen films will appear in their correct aspect ratio, but there will be the black bars on top and bottom of the picture because of the shape of the 4:3 TV. This is how many of us have watched our DVDs (at least those of us who want to preserve the aspect ratio of the film). The one disadvantage is that this setting does not give you the entire vertical resolution of an anamorphic DVD. Anamorphic DVDs have all the 480 lines of resolution within the image. In 4:3 Letterbox, those 480 lines include the image and the black bars.

    16:9 Setting: For 16:9 widescreen TVs. However, if you have a 4:3 TV that has a "16x9 mode" and you set 16x9 on the DVD player, anamorphic DVDs will display properly (all 480 lines will be within the image). Some Sony and Toshiba 4:3 TVs have 16x9 mode. You will still see black bars, but the overall image will be sharper.

    Keep in mind that the size of the bars also depends on the aspect ratio of the film itself. A film with a ratio of 2.35:1 will have much larger black bars on a TV than a film with a 1.85:1 or 1.77:1 aspect ratio.

    My understanding has always been that if you use 16:9 setting on your DVD player on a 4:3 TV that does NOT have a 16:9 mode, the image will not display properly -- people will looked stretched out, and you will lose part of the image. If you don't have this problem, I can't really explain why ... but either way, a letterboxed image (unless it is distorted) is better than pan & scan. All Pan & Scan DVDs should be thrown in a bonfire.
     
  5. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    Interesting to say the least. To my knowledge, my TV has no such 16x9 setting in the setup menu that is why I was so surprised to discover this issue. None of the DVDs I tried this weekend distorted the picture or cut it off if I set the player to 16x9. They did in P&S mode though. One thing that is really strange on my Panny DVD player also is that the "zoom" button is only one stage. If I have a severly letterboxed movie and I use the zoom, the picture gets bigger, cutting off part of the sides, but it doesn't fill the screen entirely, I still see black bars top and bottom. My other DVD players have all had a 5 or 6 step zoom which I never use because using it severly degrades the image quality. Using the 1 step zoom on my current player does not degrade the image hardly at all, it just cuts off the sides of the picture somewhat. Strange. I wonder if there may be a special circuit in my Panasonic TV that allows this type of behavior when viewing a DVD on Panasonic player. Don't get me wrong, I like the feature, it's just that I have never seen this on any other TV before.
     
  6. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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  7. Michael Steven

    Michael Steven Auditioning

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    Regarding Jeff's comment, I was just about to ask ChuckSolo if any of the picture looks tall, stretch, or skinny, even as the sides of the picture are not cut-off. With 16:9 set on the DVD player but without a 16:9 mode on the TV, the image should look distorted ... if it doesn't, perhaps the TV has an automatic 16:9 mode that you're not aware of.

    Some Panasonic (and other) DVD players have that zoom feature specifically to reduce the size of the black bars on the screen. The image is larger without noticeable quality loss, but a small percentage of the picture is cut off horizontally.

    For some viewers, it takes time to get used to black bars. For myself, I find that I never even notice them -- my eyes stay focused only on the image itself. Getting used to the black bars is important because even with a 16x9 TV, you will still have them. The reason is because filmmakers use different aspect ratios -- 1.33:1, 1.66:1, 1.77:1, 1.85:1, 2.35:1, etc. If you have a 16x9 TV and watch a film like Citizen Kane (which came out before widescreen ever existed), you will vertical bars on the left and right of the image. You can zoom and stretch to fill the 16x9 screen, but I think this is as untrue to the film as it would be to pan & scan a 16:9 film. You lose part of the image.

    Oh well. The question ultimately is what you prefer on your set in your house. If for some reason, the phenomenon you encountered works, then it works.
     
  8. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    Jeff, that is the kicker. The images are NOT tall and thin as you might expect. They are normal in every detail. This is why I find it so weird. I am kinda tending to agree with Michael that the TV may have some kind of auto sensing circuit that allows it to display a 16x9 mode without distortion. It seems so weird because as far as I can see, my Panny's picture tube is square!! I know all about aspect ratios and ALWAYS watch movies in the OAR. I probably would never have noticed this except that I first saw this anomoly on the "28 Days Later" DVD. This is the only DVD that I have ever watched that automatically filled the entire screen of a 30" TV without changing any settings on the TV itself. Like I mentioned in another thread, the DVD player I played it on was set to 16x9 mode and displayed the movie in fullscreen even though the case and DVD both said widescreen. I was gonna take it back until I noticed the players settings and then I switched it to 4:3 Letterboxed whch displayed the movie in widescreen. Oh well, thanks for all the answers. I'm gonna enjoy the TV and DVD player with these features. BTW-Ipersonally don't care about the black bars since I want to watch the movie in the OAR, my wife is getting better about it and only complains when the film appears severely letterboxed as is the case with a film like "The Relic" which I used as one of the test discs. I also used "Saving Private Ryan" and "LOTR:TT" to test the picture.
     
  9. Michael Steven

    Michael Steven Auditioning

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    Chuck -- perhaps (and I'm just guessing here) there's something inherently wrong with the 28 Days Later DVD. What's happening is really odd. Perhaps something in the DVD itself?

    Like I mentioned earlier, if your setup is working for you with the DVD player set to 16:9 mode, then I say by all means keep it that way ... although it would be interesting to find out exactly why it does what it does. Maybe you can shoot off an email to Panasonic and find out if your set has an auto-sensing 16:9 mode.

    You also might want to test with films that have less narrow aspect ratios ... see if you can find DVDs with 1.77:1 or 1.66:1. Put them in and see how the image looks. On a Sony or a Toshiba TV with 16:9 mode in the TV itself, films with these aspect ratios will look squashed because 16:9 mode in those TVs is typically made for 1.85:1 films or narrower because 1.85:1 is the "standard Academy" ratio. I had a Toshiba set for a couple of weeks and had to turn off the 16:9 mode in the TV and the DVD player whenever watching a film outside the 1.85:1 ratio.
     
  10. Michael Steven

    Michael Steven Auditioning

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    Actually, it might very well be the DVD. A member at AVS Forum posted a note about widescreen DVDs showing full screen on his Sony XBR -- and the DVD he mentioned is in fact 28 Days Later!

    I haven't posted here enough to be allowed to post URLs, but do a search for the AVS Forum. Then go to the Display Devices section and click on the Direct View Displays board. Look for a thread titled "34XBR800 16 x 9 DVD's Not Showing."
     
  11. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    Yeah, I am beginning to think that on "28 Days Later" DVD may have a defect, although that still doesn't explain the effect other DVDs have on my Panasonic TV. Not complaining though. I may shoot an e-mail off to Panasonic and ask them about my TV. Thanks guys.
     
  12. Andy L

    Andy L Stunt Coordinator

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    What is the model of your Panasonic TV? The reason I ask is that I have CT36HX41 which does have a 16:9 mode, so the DVD player should be set to 16:9. However, if I recall correctly, some of the newer digital Panasonic TVs don't have this 16:9 mode except for 1080i HD signals.
     
  13. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    Andy, I don't have the model number with me right now, but my TV is about 2 Years old. How do you access the AR menu?
     
  14. Andy L

    Andy L Stunt Coordinator

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    Sorry for the delay in replying. On my TV, you select Picture, then Video2 then Aspect. When displaying a 480i input, I can select Auto or 4:3. With 480p, my choices are Auto, 4:3 or 16:9 and with 1080i, it is locked in 16:9.

    Hope this helps.
     
  15. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    Well, I did a little more testing on this. Andy, it looks like you have a digital TV, mine is not. After testing about 15 DVDs in all, it looks like I do have a small bit of stretching when in 16x9 mode; not much, but it is noticeable, not so it destroys the image though. It does it on some DVDs more than others. On the "28 Days Later" disc it is much less noticeable than on "Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell." On my superbit "Bram Stoker's Dracula" disc it is hardly noticeable at all. On my "The Relic" disc, there seems to be no noticeable distortion at all. Oh well, I guess I will have to go on a disc by disc basis. Thanks for all the input. I have decided to keep my player in 4:3 letterbox mode for now.
     

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