How Widescreen Won - New Artcile on Slate

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Joshua Clinard, May 30, 2004.

  1. Joshua Clinard

    Joshua Clinard Screenwriter

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    There is an excellent article that appeared on Slate a few days ago, entitled How Widescreen Won. It’s a great read, and the writer really hits the nail on the head, on all accounts. It explains why widescreen DVD’s outsell their full screen counterparts by such a wide margin these days, even for family oriented titles. It’s a long article, and it really goes in depth on the whole widescreen vs. fullscreen issue, and it also explains why mainstream consumers have embraced DVD’s so wholeheartedly. I stongly encouarge everyone to read this excellent article.
     
  2. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Well, I'm still disappointed when an article like this doesn't take even one line to explain that widescreen is only better when that's the OAR. It's nice that the public is embracing widescreen over pan & scan, but if it leads to more faux widescreen (drop & crop) like Kung Fu, then it's one battle won and another battle lost.
     
  3. Joshua Clinard

    Joshua Clinard Screenwriter

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    You do have a point there. But I think a better analogy would be that we are winning the "war", even though we may not win every "battle". Overall it was a very positive, accurate article.
     
  4. AaronMK

    AaronMK Supporting Actor

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    Extra features making people more discerning and therefore giving them a preference toward widescreen is something I hadn't thought of. Strange since most of them don't have the film clips in their OAR.

    I don't think the war is as won as the author of the article does, however. It will be won when MAR versions are no longer realeased on any format.

    Although there is no denying that the word is getting around.
     
  5. Nils Luehrmann

    Nils Luehrmann Producer

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    With all the focus on "Widescreen" and not on "OAR" all you are doing is moving the battlefield from a market place of cropped full screen DVDs to cropped widescreen DVDs.

    With all the emphasis of being a 'Widescreen Advocate', all the JSPs, especially those buying 16x9 TVs are going to demand that studios release "widescreen" DVDs no matter what their OAR was - which in their minds will also mean 1.78 and so even "widescreen" DVDs may be subjected to cropped versions if they have OARs greater than 1.78:1.

    Until the emphasis is focused away from being a Widescreen Advocate and instead focused on being an OAR Advocate then we most certainly are not winning the "war". Instead, we are just helping to create a whole new problem in which even OAR Widescreen films may suffer from being cropped. [​IMG]
     
  6. Joshua Clinard

    Joshua Clinard Screenwriter

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    My analogy is ABSOLUTELY correct. There are many battles that take place in a war. On the whole, we are winning the war, because we are able to get OAR on almost every DVD, with the exception of about 200 P&S only Discs. There are far fewer that are released in quasi-widescreen. In fact, I dare anyone to name more than 5. Out of 33,000 DVD's released, that is an excellent perchentage. It is just not a problem folks. Virtually ALL DVD's that are released in widescreen, are OAR. The war is not OVER, but we are well on the way to winning it. And by the way, my site does advocate OAR, but the fact of the matter is, that it usually happens to be widscreen. Also, every other widescreen education site out there focus' mainly on widescreen. For those who want more technical information, there are places that provide that too.
     
  7. Jonathan Dagmar

    Jonathan Dagmar Supporting Actor

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    I think it was a very good article. While I don't think The War has actually been won (was there really a war anyway? Must have been a cold war), it's quite obvious that Widescreen is dominant.

    Still there are plenty of morons left. Like the other day when I witnessed a guy buying return of the king in blockbuster. he had a widescreen version, and when he got to the counter the girls advised him to swtich it for the fool screen version so he wouldnt get the "black bars" and he dutifully complied.
     
  8. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Joshua,

    My primary point wasn't so much that there currently are a lot of faux-widescreen dvds (though Kung Fu still galls me), but that all of the "mainstream" (read newspaper) articles about aspect ratio all mention widescreen and never mention OAR, and that this might very well lead to more and more of a demand (or at least a percieved demand by the studios) for drop & crop titles.

    It looked like Germany had won the war against Russia at one point, and then the tide turned. If Hitler had had more time to develop the V-2 and atomic weapons, our victory in Europe might have turned into defeat.

    Yes, we're currently winning the war. But if the mainstream education efforts turn out "widescreen advocates" instead of "OAR advocates", we could be in serious trouble later.
     
  9. Jonathan Dagmar

    Jonathan Dagmar Supporting Actor

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    Frankly I think it's inevitable than when Widescreen TVS become the norm rather than the exception there will be a whole new bread of black bar fanatics, and sadly, we will see the odd 4:3 material cropped. Honestly though I doubt it will be all that common. Much easier to lop the sides off than the top and bottom, where heads tend to be...
     
  10. Joshua Clinard

    Joshua Clinard Screenwriter

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    George,

    I was going to make a nasty comment about the Gnome Mobile being in your collection, but since I apparantly misread your last post, I won't.

    I'm sorry if I got a little snippy. I didn't mean it. I felt as if a few of you guys were blaming my site for turniing out peope who are only widscreen advocates. I really don't think that is the case, as I point out the importance of OAR on several pages. Also, my site is not aimed at the studios, it is aimed at mainstream consumers, and those trying to help them figure out what widescreen is. It is important for us not to bombard them with information about technical things when they haven't even switched from fullscreen to widescreen yet. Once they have switched, then we can educate them a little further about OAR. And I even have several links on my site about more technical info such as aspect ratios.

    I also agree with Jonathan. I don't believe that it will be at all common for fullscreen movies to have black bars added to them. There may be a few released, but I believe we'll be so used to having different aspect ratios, even on widescreen TV's that very few DVD's will be released in a cropped form.
     
  11. John CW

    John CW Supporting Actor

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    Again, I think you're overreacting badly to a piece of excellent news. I understand what you mean, but you have to remember the "war" was between releases that offered both Fullscreen and Widescreen releases - not between old movies that had been "dropped and cropped". When THAT happens, then it's time to panic, but considering how long it took for people to warm to widescreen I don't think it's going to be anytime soon! [​IMG]

    I certainly hope not, anyway! :/

    Also, Joshua made an excellent point: It's hardly time to panic or even pause for concern. 99.999% of movies released on DVD are OAR. That includes Widescreen AND Fullscreen movies/TV. Go back 10 years and look at the video selection available to you: OAR was a rarity.

    Until Futurama or the next season of the Simpsons is announced in a new "Widescreen" version, I don't think there's anything to worry about unless you want to be very pessimistic.

    Anyway, just my 2c on an interesting issue. [​IMG]
     
  12. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Well even though you didn't, I'll respond. [​IMG]

    It is, unfortunately, damned difficult with Disney titles to even know what the OAR (or OARs as it often turns out) is, and also very difficult to tell their pan & scan from full frame (which can be cropped to the OAR). You can in some cases, after buying a Disney dvd (such as A Goofy Movie) tell that it's pan & scan, but thankfully in that case I have the OAR laser disc.

    I am certain that 99.99% of what I expose my 3 year old son to is OAR, but with children's dvds being one of the worst offenders of non-OAR, it's hard to be 100%, especially with the uncertainty about Disney titles.
     
  13. Joshua Clinard

    Joshua Clinard Screenwriter

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    I know what you're saying, George. I have to try to figure out the best way to let my readers know that we cannot be 100% sure of what the intended OAR is, especially when it comes to old Disney Classics. It's sometimes difficult to figure out what the OAR is, even after the DVD is released. Guess it comes with the territory of DVD reporting, eh? But no matter what the "intended" aspect ratio actually is, I would rather have the original THEATRICAL aspect ratio, rather than a Pan & Scan or an Open Matte Transfer, except in the case for animated films animated at 16x9.
     
  14. Johnny G

    Johnny G Supporting Actor

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    The war against MAR has not even begun!

    I see a time will come when 16:9 sets are the norm & studios choose to release virtually all movies in 1.78:1, afterall it would still allow them to label the box as Widescreen and would save them making dual releases on 2.35:1 films.

    I have my projector set with absolutely no overscan & anyone else who has the same will know that some films have a sliver of black around the film to allow for overscanning which is acceptable.

    What's not acceptable to me is when a 1.85:1 film fills the whole 1.78:1 frame and even though the amount of film that's missing is negligable, it's still missing and they still label the box as 1.85:1 rather than it's actual 16:9 ratio.

    I feel this is due to the shape of the display it will be shown on and think the same thing will happen to 2.35:1 films & occasionally 4:3 material once 16:9 sets are the norm.
     
  15. Aaryn Chan

    Aaryn Chan Supporting Actor

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    Well, I went to my video club storeS to rent ROTK and they all have 10 copies FS, 2 WD.
     
  16. Joshua Clinard

    Joshua Clinard Screenwriter

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    Johnny, that downconversion only occurs with Anamorphic discs on a widescreen television. If you have a fullscreen television, you will get the entire 1.85:1 image.
     
  17. Jeff Swindoll

    Jeff Swindoll Supporting Actor

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    Nice article, but the rise in popularity of WS hasnt stopped Walmart from demanding FS only releases. I bought Moscow on the Hudson and Suspect from the $5.50 bin (both had dual FS and WS on one disc releases) and opened them before I noticed that they only been modified to include a FS ONLY transfer. I guess I'm only out the $11, but it irked me that Walmart did that. Oddly, they didnt alter the copy of the Bride I picked up in the bin. I had a WS only release and the Walmart copy was the same WS only release.
     
  18. Johnny G

    Johnny G Supporting Actor

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    Joshua,

    All that setting your player to say you have a 4:3 display does is take every 4th line out so the image is made up in the middle three quarters of the screen & generates black bars for the top & bottom eighths.
     
  19. DouglasRobert

    DouglasRobert Second Unit

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    A good source of DVD sales is in Entertainment Weekly Magazine.

    In the June 4, 2004 issue the chart reads as follows.

    1. Scary Movie 3 (Wide)
    2. The Last Samurai (Wide)
    3. Friends: The Series Finale
    4. Big Fish
    5. Kill Bill - Vol. 1
    6. Chappelle's Show: Season One
    7. Shrek/ Shrek 3-D
    8. Peter Pan (Wide)
    9. Master and Commander (Wide)
    10. Calendar Girls

    In the May 28 issue No Full Screen was in the top 10 sales chart.
    In their Summer Movie Preview issue.

    Matrix Revolutions was #1 and the Full Screen version was #3.

    The chart is composed from information obtained from Video Business/ Rentrak.

    So it would indeed appear that the Widescreen versions are selling more than their Full Screen counterparts.

    Of course if you went to Wal-Mart it wouldn't look that way.
     
  20. Reagan

    Reagan Supporting Actor

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    In almost all cases, none of the picture is "missing", the matting has just been opened a little at the top and bottom, giving more picture than was there for a 1.85 presentation.

    I'm not saying it's a good thing (at the end of the day, it makes a trivial difference), but it's not nearly as bad as you think.

    -Reagan
     

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