Confused about widescreen TVs

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by VinnieJC, Nov 21, 2003.

  1. VinnieJC

    VinnieJC Extra

    Oct 23, 2003
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    I was reading the Master burn-in thread under display devices and found I knew less than I thought I did about widescreen TVs. I was hoping I could find answers to a few questions.

    Am I to understand that if a movie is in widescreen format, be it 16:9, 2.35:1 or 1.85:1 aspect ratio, there is still black bars at the top and bottom of the screen on a widescreen TV? I thought that anamorphic DVDs covered the whole viewing area of a widescreen TV (hence the phrase 'enhanced for widescreen TVs').

    I have some of my DVDs here as I type this, and I'm looking at the AR of them. Some samples:

    Traffic- Widescreen 16:9 (but then it also says 1.85:1)
    LOTR The Two Towers- 2.35:1 (Enhanced for Widescreen televisions)
    Terminator 2 Extreme DVD- 2.35:1 (enhanced for 16:9 televisons)
    Minority Report- 2.39:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)
    Jurassic Park- 1.85:1 (Anamorphic widescreen)
    Finding Nemo- 1.78:1 (Enhanced for 16x9 televisions)

    I thought anamorphic DVDs would, if viewed on a widescreen TV (which I'm assuming is synonymous with a 16x9 TV), cover the whole viewing area without black bars. Is this correct?

    And non-anamorphic, but still widescreen DVDs (1.85:1, 2.35:1, 1:78:1) still show black bars, unless a zoom feature on the TV is used, correct? If this is true, then my understanding of 'enhanced for widescreen TVs' does not mean the whole viewing area of the TV will be used, right?

    I'm thinking of buying a widescreen TV sometime in the near future, but I want to fully understand what I need to know (the basics) before I start worrying about burn-in.

    Sorry to be so long-winded.If this was already mentioned on another thread, my apologies.


  2. WayneO

    WayneO Supporting Actor

    Nov 10, 2003
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    A 1.78, which is 16x9, movie should use the whole screen because there is some overscan present in almost all TV's, I think LCD's or something similar can show the entire image. Overscan means part of the image is "off" the screen. Most TV's never show the entire picture even if it is made for that format(i.e. 1.78 for 16x9). It's usually around 5% of the image cropped with a good set. I think any DVD that is "enhanced for widescreen" pretty much in general means it's not 4:3. And the burn-in issue is over-stated. Just get a calibration disk like DVE and set your colors right and you'll be fine. You might also think about factoring in professional(ISF Certified) calibration of your TV as part of the cost. Info on the Imaging Science Foundation can be found at Take your time and read as much as you can before your purchase. Good luck!
  3. Brian.S

    Brian.S Auditioning

    Nov 19, 2003
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    I know ALOT less than most ppl do on this forum but I recently asked a simeler Q. From what I understand 1.85:1 and 1.78:1 aspect ratio films will be full screen with no black bars. However, 2.35:1 and 2.39:1 aspect ratio films will have a small amount of letterboxing(the black bars) about 1/2 what they are on 4:3 tv's and you hardly notice it on big screens because the image is so large, especialy in the dark(as movies should be watched). I don't know from 1st hand YET but my Sony 51" will be ariving on Wed and I may be of more help then. [​IMG]
    Hope this helped a bit. And I am sure someone with much more knowledge will enlighten us both more soon.

  4. adamKI

    adamKI Stunt Coordinator

    May 10, 2003
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    Check out the explanation of anamorphic DVD in the HTF Primer. There's more to it than the aspect ratio alone, with a widescreen TV, you'll get more horizontal lines of resolution playing an anamorphic DVD than a letterboxed DVD of the same film.

    It's difficult to put the difference into words, but the second link at the end of the HTF Primer's explanation has some helpful diagrams.

    Hope this helps,

  5. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Feb 12, 1998
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  6. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Jun 3, 1999
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    Please click on the link Michael kindly provided in his post.

    Two things:

    • Films come in several width-to-height ratios while televisions/monitors come in only two. Neither of those two will accommodate perfectly all film aspect ratios (some of which are almost three times as wide as they are tall).

    • So-called "anamorphic enhancement" has nothing to do with the above. The word "anamorphic," in fact, is misleading. An "anamorphic" DVD is simply one that has been encoded to output a native 16:9 image. There is no "enhancement." A 4:3-encoded DVD contains the same amount of resolution, but it outputs the image in the more traditional squareish shape of conventional TVs. In either case, a widescreen film transferred to either a 4:3-encoded disc (and therefore letterboxed-only) or a 16:9-encoded DVD will present the very same dimensions ("aspect ratio") in its active picture area; the film itself will take up the same amount of real estate on the screen.
  7. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

    Mar 5, 2002
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    An "anamorphic" or "enhanced for widescreen TV" will not have a different shape than a non-enhanced DVD but if shown on a 16 by 9 TV, there will be less resolution lost in the black bars.

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