Has Anyone Else Noticed The Aspect Ratios Of Many DVDs Are Not As Advertised?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by David Von Pein, Jan 21, 2003.

  1. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    This is kind of odd, I thought.....

    Upon viewing my Saturday Night Fever DVD, I noticed that the AR didn't seem to be quite what it's advertised as being (1.85:1). To me, it looked more like 1.66:1. The black bars on my set didn't seem thick enough for a 1.85 ratio.

    And, sure enough, upon whipping out the old tape measure and doing some figuring, I find that SNF isn't even as wide as 1.66! My copy measures only 1.59:1!

    Then I got to checking some other films...and sure enough, these ratios are not correct either.

    My Jaws DVD is framed at 2.07:1 for some reason, instead of the OAR of 2.35:1. Same with Jaws 2 (mine's 2.07 on that too).

    Apparently all my 2.35 material is coming across as 2.07:1 on my 36-inch set (29 inches of width vs. 14.0 inches of height).

    It begs the question: Has anyone else bothered to physically measure any of their widescreen DVDs, to see if you're getting the proper framing?

    I know I've seen the "Widescreen Reviews" on Amazon.com that many times shows that XX film is being displayed at a slightly different AR than what is listed. Usually quite minor differences, like 1.87, instead of 1.85, etc.

    But I consider a difference of 0.26:1 (on my SNF) to be a bit TOO much far afield from the intended OAR. And I doubt this can all be explained away by "overscan". Overscan surely wouldn't chop this much off horizontally. Which also begs the Q: Am I missing any picture on the sides, due to this odd framing?

    Can someone else measure their SNF (and other DVDs) aspect ratio on screen, and see what you come up with?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Andy_MT

    Andy_MT Second Unit

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    there's a review of "the great escape" on dvdtalk that pointed this discrepency out quite a while ago. apparently the transfer on this disc is 235, but the reviewer initially thought it looked much wider than most other 235s. turns out it was 235 and all the other discs were cropped to around 220 (or less).

    quite funny really. everyone complains how they want OAR, yet it seems many discs (like the ones you mention) slip under the radar. (200-220) and 235 are quite a big difference. personally i like the (wide) ratio of the great escape disc and wish all 235s looked like this.

    i suppose one explanation might be that studios are scared to put out real 235s incase of upseting those that don't like black bars. 200-220 obviously have smaller ones, so it might be a compromise.
     
  3. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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    My Jaws DVD looks like it's right at 2.35:1 to me. I know it sounds unlikely, but overscan does cover up quite a bit sometimes. There also might be some slight distortion on your monitor. It may be horizontally "squeezed" just the slightest bit; not enough to notice, but enough to account for the narrower-seeming ratio.

    All that's just guesswork, though; I really don't know for sure.
     
  4. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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  5. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    Unless you are measuring the A.R. on a calibrated PC monitor or FP with NO overscan, you are not getting a true measurement and cannot accurately make any statements regarding the true aspect ratio of any source material.

    If I am not mistaken, Rear Window is 1.66 16x9 enhanced, which means it has black bars on the SIDES.

    GIGO as they say [​IMG]

    Ted
     
  6. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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  7. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    How about a couple more (just for the statisticians). [​IMG] ......

    My Ben-Hur measures only 2.37:1 on my screen, rather than that ultra-Wide 2.76 it's supposed to be. So I'm losing 14.1% of that one.

    Minority Report = 2.09:1 for my disc. A loss of 12.55% of the horizontal image (supposed to be that unusual 2.39 AR).

    Oh, My Goodness! Now I've got to check hundreds more!

    The Humanities! (Should I now trash my whole library, and wait for the "TRUE-Ratio" discs to arrive in 2011? [​IMG])
     
  8. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    I think your set (or DVD player) is at fault. Ben-Hur measures around 2.60 or so on my front projector (which has a little bit of overscan).
     
  9. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    Hi Todd H.!

    Thanks for the info.

    I have a 4:3 TV, with no "squeeze" capability.

    These varying ARs really don't bother me too much. It's just something I happened to notice while watching SNF recently. It just didn't seem to be a true 1.85 AR.

    If what you say re. Overscan is accurate (about up to a 10% image loss), then I guess these odd ARs would be approx. correct, when accounting for the overscan. (Although I'm losing up to 14% on some titles.)
     
  10. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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  11. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Don't forget, many (most) DVD players also have "pixel cropping", where the edges of the picture are trimmed off. Secrets of Home Theater has reports on the different levels of cropping.
     
  12. Edward J M

    Edward J M Cinematographer

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    My HDTV has four aspect ratios that can be altered on the fly during playback. FULL, FILL, NORMAL, SMOOTHWIDE.

    The FULL setting is the proper one for a "true" widescreen DVD, horizontal bars not withstanding.

    Some DVD's of older movies that are advertised as "widescreen" are anything but. The image is horizontally stretched in FULL mode, and instead requires FILL mode, which is simply the expanded version of the 4:3 NORMAL mode.

    Changing the aspect ratio is not a big deal, but I feel a little ripped off when I buy a DVD of an older movie advertised as widescreen and I am forced to play it back in what is essentially an expanded version of the 4:3 aspect ratio.

    Regards,

    Ed
     
  13. Andy_MT

    Andy_MT Second Unit

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    i use an HTPC [no overscan] and there was a noticeable difference between "the great escape" (listed as 235 in that DVDtalk review) and other 235 DVDs. i've done no measuring so i could be talking rubbish, as is usually the case.
     
  14. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Aspect ratios on jacket copy have varied from what's on the disc ever since letterboxing first appeared on home video. There were plenty of examples on laserdisc, and I'm sure there are plenty on DVD.

    But David, your measurements are unreliable until you've eliminated the overscan on your set (if you can; many sets just don't allow it). And you'd be amazed at how much overscan exists on consumer sets.

    M.
     
  15. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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  16. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    I've noticed that the DVD reviews at WIDESCREEN REVIEW magazine's website give the disc's actual AR rather than repeating what is printed on the package.
     
  17. John Stone

    John Stone Supporting Actor

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  18. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    The aspect ratio you measure the DVD at will obviously be affected by whether or not you are taking overscan into account.

    The Great Escape without overscan actually measures about 2.70:1 according to most sources I've seen.

    I would recommend checking out the actual measured aspect ratios over at www.widescreenreview.com. As I've said before, I'm not exactly sure of their methods. It was explained to me once by Mike Coate, but it went over my head.

    They seem to be pretty meticulous and accurate in the majority of cases. I think you will find most DVDs do measure correctly....or at least within a reasonable margin of error.
     
  19. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    David,
    Checking a windowed version of Minority Report on my PC does give me 2.40:1 (give or take with an eyeball on a ruler), so it does sound as though you have the level of overscan or geometry distortion that you're seeing.

    Check for yourself
     
  20. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Overscan aside, some DVD's are off yes. A good example os Lilo & Stitch which is advertised as 1.66:1 but is much much closer to 1.85:1.
     

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