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Aspect ratio, size and black bars?

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Mirko, Sep 1, 2003.

  1. Mirko

    Mirko Agent

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    I just fired up my new Panasonic TH-42PWD6 plasma.

    I have watched three films on it and I'm surprised that they all occupy different amounts or screen real estate.

    Gangs of New Yourk is very extended in horizontal dimesnsion with fairly large black bars at top and bottom. Shanghai Knights is also horizontally elongated with smaller black bars. The Perfect Murder fills the whole screen.

    I bought this monitor thinking that since it was bigger horizontally than vertically, it would be the right ratio for movies. Why the discrepancy in the three films and why the black bars?

    Thanks,

    Mirko

    PS: I am very new to all this
     
  2. David Abrams

    David Abrams Stunt Coordinator

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    Mirko,

    The 16x9 standard (also known as 1.78:1) came about as a happy medium between most 2.35:1 and 4x3 (also known as 1.33:1). Basically, when television came about movies went widescreen in order to help compete with the television. We have also learned a great deal more about how we see since the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Because of this the developers of our HDTV system decided that an aspect ration of 1.78:1 would be the best way to go. Movies are still shot in wider aspect ratios such as the "Gangs of New York", but the black bars are smaller than they would be on a 1.33:1 display.

    Movies are actually shot in many different aspect ratios. Some are shot in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio which will fill the screen on an HDTV set exactly, other movies may be shot in 2.35:1 leaving small black bars, ect...The only black bars you should see on the side are when watching some foreign films or 1.33:1 standard def material.

    Congrats on the new display! [​IMG]
     
  3. Paul Pratt

    Paul Pratt Stunt Coordinator

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    Paul Pratt
    Mirko,

    Movies are shot in two different "aspect ratios" the first is called academy flat which has an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This means that the screen is 1.85 times wider then it is tall. Usually your lower budget films are shot like this but in recent years even some of the larger budgeted movies are filmed in this manner (I.E. Spider-Man, Sixth Sense).

    The next is Cinemascope which has a ratio of 2.35:1 (Star Wars, Titanic, the Thin Red Line).
    Cinemascope was invented in the late twenties and was originally projected onto three different screens by three different projectors all at once. Each one showed 1/3 of the picture. It would partially wrap around the audience while they were enveloped by the experience (Similar to todays IMAX experience).

    This was mainly used for your older westerns that are out there now and like I said is still used today. It is the "artists" format because of it's wide viewing angle it can show larger fields of view (Like in Last of the Mohicans) to get some great cinematography.

    Academy flat was developed in the forties and fifties to be a standardized screen size, but with the technological developments in cinemascope, Academy flat never became the standard and both lived in harmony with each other from then on.

    Because of the limited space available on your television the pictures have to be shrunk down in order to fit your screen to maintain all of the picture. That is why you get black bars. On an older 4x3 (1.33:1) television it would take one and half TV's to display flat and anywhere between two and two and half screens to get all of cinemascopes picture.

    Now along comes HDTV with it's all new aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is called HDTV Standard. Everything that is shot digitally including Star Wars episode 2 is shot in this HD Standard, but for films it is matted out to give the effect of cinemascope filming because again it is an artists format, and to me, looks better. If you notice on some TV shows they are now in widescreen, that is because they are being shot digitally (Enterprise, ER, my beloved Firefly).

    When watching movies on HDTV's people were assuming that the bars would go away, but this is obviously misinformation. People assumed that because they were generally uneducated about widescreen and assumed all picture formats were alike, not noticing the larger and smaller ratios. So when you watch a cinemscope movie on HDTV your still going to have bars, but because of the advancements in DVDs and HDTVs we have anamorphic widescreen, they are not as big, don't actually use up lines of resolution to draw the bars, and, in some cases, will fill the HDTV completely.

    I hope this helped you out. If you have any more questions please don't hesitate to e-mail me or visit http://www.widescreenadvocate.org/ to get some more info.
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  5. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    I remember years ago when I asked a salesman about black bars on 4x3 TV's. He said "you won't have black bars when you use anamorphic dvd's on a widescreen tv". He was partly right and yet partly wrong too.
     

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