A quick Anamorphic, Letterbox, Pan Scan lesson please

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by nigel_jim, Feb 5, 2002.

  1. nigel_jim

    nigel_jim Auditioning

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    Guys,

    Being a new recruit to the world of DVD ( I have owned Marantz 4100OSE and Marantz SR4200 for less than a week), I am only now, as I look to build a collection, becoming aware of the various formats that these films are available in. I had assumed each release was generic across regions.

    Unfortuntely I do not have a wide screen TV (yet!), so i understand that "letterbox" is the best set up for me (as opposed to Pan and Scan). Where does ANAMORPHIC fit into this, and how does it affect me. Also - what is the relationship between these settings and the 1.85:1 and 2.35:1 I see everywhere. Laymans terms to start with please.

    Thanks in advance.

    Nigel
     
  2. Simon Massey

    Simon Massey Cinematographer
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    Simon Massey
    There is a really good link to an explanation which has been mentioned before on this site, but I can't remember what it was. Perhaps someone will chime in with that.

    Don't know how much you know about widescreen, so sorry if this sounds patronizing in any way

    But, IN SUMMARY :

    1.33:1, 1.85:1 and 2.35:1 are aspect ratios of a film. For every 1 unit of measurement in height, there are either 1.33, or 1.85 or 2.35 units of measurement in length (i.e 2.35 being the widest of the 3)

    Films shown at cinema are usually shown in 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 and widescreen versions on DVD preserve that ratio instead of altering it to fit into a square TV. That's why you end up with black bars. The point of widescreen is to preserve the director's vision - most of the time it means that the image is not cropped/cut (or pan and scanned as it is known). You can often lose around 30-50% of the image shown at the cinema. But it is not always the case that widescreen means more picture.

    1.33 : 1 (also known as 4x3) : shape of most standard TV's roughly square. Should fill screen on standard TV's but when on widescreen TVs, you will have black bars down the side. (X files TV series 1-4)

    1.85 :1 (also known as 16x9) : approximate shape of widescreen TV's (1.78:1). Should fill the screen of widescreen TV. (Jurassic Park films)

    2.35:1 : wider format used in many films nowadays. When watched on standard TVs thick black bars are on top and bottom of screen, but on widescreen TVs you should still much smaller black bars (Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings)

    Anamorphic is term used on most DVD's. If you were to watch a non-anamorphic disc (many early DVD's were - The Abyss SE is best example ; and all widescreen videos are essentially non-anamorphic) on a widescreen TV, in order to view the image properly, you would have to "zoom into the picture" to view it properly, losing resolution. Anamorphic DVDs means the image is essentially "squashed" so that when you view it on a widescreen TV it "stretches" back out and fits your TV properly, with no loss of resolution.

    If you still have a standard 4x3 TV, then anamorphic won't really have any effect, but IT WILL when you buy a widescreen TV

    Hope that is ok
     
  3. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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  4. nigel_jim

    nigel_jim Auditioning

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    Simon - Thanks for the explanation.

    Jeff - Thanks for the links.

    It is all starting to come together.
     

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