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Columbia (& other studios!), please have consideration for those with mattes! (1 Viewer)

Dan Brecher

Senior HTF Member
Jan 8, 1999
Real Name
It's come to my attention that yet another 2.35:1 release from Columbia that features subtitled scenes (Black Hawk Down) sees player generated subtitles cross the lower half of the film frame and into the lower widescreen bar when viewed in Anamorphic. This creates real issues for those who matte their screens via vertical masking schemes, be it their TV monitors or, as in most cases, their front projection set ups.

The Lucasfilm/Fox release of Phantom Menace had player generated subtitltes for the scenes of alien dialogue, yet when viewed in anamorphic the subtitles remained firmly within the film frame. Please, if you truly MUST do player generated subtitles, follow their example.

Many are no taking an example from most movie theatres and adopting the constant height approach to their front projection screens, just masking the left and right to change from one aspect ratio to the other.
Those who do this in their home use software enabling them to phase out the bars on 2.35:1 material in order for the film frame to fill the width and height of their screens whilst retaining the original aspect ratio. When discs like Crouching Tiger come along however, they are stuck if they wish to watch it in it's original language with subtitles on such a screen. They are required to reframe their set ups just for these specific releases.

Sony is probably the biggest offender of this practice, but others have been known to do it from time to time. Please, ensure subtitles remain within the film frame in anamorphic playback. I'd hope there is time to fix this on the upcoming SE of Black Hawk Down.



Stunt Coordinator
Aug 9, 2001
I have ... rarely ... received a DVD with subtitles over the black masking at the bottom, which my Panasonic HDTV cuts off. If I can't read the subtitle, I consider the DVD defective and it goes back to the point of purchase. Period.

I have had no problem with anyone giving me a refund.

Jesse Skeen

Senior HTF Member
Apr 24, 1999
I won't buy any discs that have subtitles re-done for video as I consider it an alteration of the original movie- I didn't even buy Star Wars on laserdisc because of this. I have one DVD (Tomorrow Never Dies) which replaces the film subtitles with player-generated ones, but that one is kept in my section of "messed-up" discs; if I know a disc has done this I will NOT buy it!

Jay Sylvester

Supporting Actor
Jan 27, 2002
I don't really understand the point of software-generated subtitles when there were opticals in the actual film. I just got a projector, and while I'm running a constant width setup, I still use masking for anything wider than 16:9. Subtitles out of the frame just don't work.

Martin Fontaine

Supporting Actor
Aug 15, 2001
I recently did the tweak and now have velcroed Black Cardboard bars on my screen. So now, this is an issue for me, at worst for foreign films, I could just matte the top but being able to have everything in the film frame would be great.

The way I understand it, subtitles are sort of like a Transparent GIF image that is superimposed on the image. It would already be an improvement if a DVD player could perfrom the Anamorphic Downconversion AFTER superimposing the subtitle image. Or have a subtitle shift option so you can either position it entirely in the black bar (Not being into the film frame can actually be a good alternative for someonw without mattes) or entirely in the film frames. (Make that configurable)

I sometimes rewind a DVD a few seconds, turn on the subs if I didn't get what he said, not having to remove the matte when doing that would be good.

Dan Hitchman

Senior HTF Member
Jun 11, 1999
The subtitles should remain in the film frame, absolutely!

I too want a front projection home theater some day and will use mattes as well. I don't want to lop off the bottom portion of the subtitles if they're improperly placed.

Heck, what if I want a 2.35:1 (2.40:1) constant height, variable width front projection screen design? Then I'd really be screwed!

Think about us home theater afficiandos besides those with small TVs when you create the videos in the future.

Thank you.



Stunt Coordinator
Mar 16, 2000
I absolutely agree that subtitles for foreign *passages* of dialog in a native language film should appear as "burned in" subtitles displayed within the frame of the movie, as was displayed in the theatrical presentation.

As far as subtitles provided for full language translations of films..... I'm not trying to play dumb here, but if the software (dvd) is using space allowed by the hardware (your player and tv system that has a 1.33:1 or 16:9 "canvas"), how is that the responsibility of the dvd manufacturer?

Anamorphic widescreen DVDs position the subtitles in different locations depending on the display you are currently using. The DVD player places text in a *relative* position-- assumingly, as far out of the way as possible. Unfortunately, too far out of the way if you are projecting to a screen you have set up for the aspect ratio of the film you currently watching.

So wouldn't the *proper* way to fix this problem be with a DVD player manufacturer to produce a player that expects a custom "canvas" aspect ratio (equal to that of the film)? The subtitles would then display relative to the allowable "canvas"?

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