Josh Steinberg

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I think it comes down to this central philosophical difference, as I was mentioning earlier, that’s always been in conflict - whether it’s stereos, cars, TVs or anything else:

Do you use your TV to watch content you enjoy, or do you use content to show off what your TV can do? Are you watching the set, or are you watching the show?

Not much different from those who picked their album listening choices based on what shows off their stereo, as opposed to using their stereo to listen to the music they enjoy.

Do you have a car to take you places that you like to go, or do you go places because you like driving in your car?

Some people want to have every spec maxed out at all times. Their enjoyment comes from experiencing what the tech can do. My brother has a 5.1 system and he forces everything to come out of all channels all the time, whether it’s music or TV or movies. That’s what he wants out of “surround sound” - to be surrounded by sound. Me, I have a 5.1 system too, but I like to listen to things as close as I can to how the people who made them designed them to be - so my stereo music gets played through the L and R speakers, and I don’t force “all channel stereo” so that movie sound plays through all speakers equally.

I’ve always thought HTF was a place where we strive to honor the intent of the content creators - it’s right there in the mission statement. So I have to confess I’m a little puzzled that there are arguments being made in favor of homogenizing content to only one kind of framing that sacrifices artistic intent in favor of “fill my screen.”

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with home users opting to take advantage of the zoom button to fill the screen, or using AVR processing to fill the room with more sound than intended. But I want those decisions to be made on the individual, home user level, and not to be factors in how content is being created and distributed.
 

Mark-P

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Adjustable velvet masking in my projection setup completely eliminates any issues with framing.
Me too. Yeah, that's the hassle that Brian is talking about. Maybe it's because when I was young I fantasized about being a projectionist that I absolutely don't mind the hassles of setting up: adjusting the curtains, dialing in the framing and even adjusting the focus before each and every showing!
 

Josh Steinberg

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I also just don’t care about black bars. They don’t bother me.

When I was a kid - like, single digits of being a kid - there was a special letterboxed version of Star Trek IV on VHS that came with an intro from director/star Leonard Nimoy. My parents must’ve rented it by mistake. I watched with great interest as Mr. Spock-Without-Ears explained that the movie was shaped like a rectangle and the TV was shaped like a square, so they could either cut part of the picture off or have a full image that was smaller than the screen. He showed clips of one scene in both ways and I instantly got it.

We don’t expect paintings to be the same shape. Statues to be the same size. Songs to be the same length. Why on earth should we want or expect filmed content to be the same when we don’t hold anything else to that standard?

Take show like The Mandalorean. You could argue that it’s made for TV, that the vast majority of TVs sold are 16x9, ergo, the show should be 16x9. To me, the more interesting argument (which clearly won over at Lucasfilm) was that all of the Star Wars movies are 2.40:1, and that that wider framing is part of the visual language of the Star Wars universe.
 
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Brian Dobbs

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Some people want to have every spec maxed out at all times. Their enjoyment comes from experiencing what the tech can do.
I hear you, but that's not where my beef is coming from. I'm bothered that the content creators are purposefully masking when they don't need to, like my Black Panther post earlier demonstrates.

I have less of an issue with the black bars if the movie was shot anamorphically, because under anamorphic conditions, the view is literally wider than if it was shot in 16x9 and then cropped to fit the same aspect ratio that the anamorphic image is.

The problem is a home video problem. Give me all the 2.35 at the theater, and I will eat it up. It's just that 99% of the stuff I watch is at home. Anecdotally, aren't theaters having trouble filling seats more and more these days? The shelf-life of a movie in a theater is nothing compared to it's life on home video, so why don't artists (like Gore Verbinski) take that into consideration?

So I have to confess I’m a little puzzled that there are arguments being made in favor of homogenizing content to only one kind of framing that sacrifices artistic intent in favor of “fill my screen.”
I completely understand where you are coming from. But I think content creators are kidding themselves if they think their movies are made for theaters, in this modern day when we are just now beginning to scratch the surface on movies made exclusively for Netflix, for example. Like, why was Bright formatted for 2.39? It will never see the light of day on a traditional movie screen, so what exactly is the benefit of giving us less image knowing it will only be on 16x9 screens at home?

Take show like The Mandalorean. You could argue that it’s made for TV, that the vast majority of TVs sold are 16x9, ergo, the show should be 16x9.
Yes, my point exactly.

To me, the more interesting argument (which clearly won over at Lucasfilm) was that all of the Star Wars movies are 2.40:1, and that that wider framing is part of the visual language of the Star Wars universe.
This is a good point, and it has merit. Jurassic Park broke this rule, and so did Ice Age. I'm sure others did as well.

The *cynic* inside of me suspects that some content creators are framing for 2.39 to make themselves feel better. As if the framing of the movie somehow elevates an otherwise shitty movie because 2.39 is more prestigious.

We don’t expect paintings to be the same shape. Statues to be the same size. Songs to be the same length.
I see what you're saying, but I feel as though this comparison is mixing apples and oranges.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with home users opting to take advantage of the zoom button to fill the screen
I do, haha. I think this is worse than black bars! Give me the image the way it was intended to be seen for sure, but given the reality of the situation, the idea of movies being made for theaters is antiquated. So therefore, just like the 50 years or so of television that was created in 4x3, content creators should be thinking the same way unless viewing conditions change for the majority of consumers.

I think the exceptions are for movies made specifically for traditional IMAX (Intersteller, etc.) or anamorphic productions (Hateful 8) where there is no other way to experience that movie the way the director intended but in the science museum or with anamorphic exhibition, and maybe for some avant garde experimental movie.

Otherwise it just looks like they hid image and are in denial about current viewing conditions (home video...even phones! EEEK!) for most people on the planet at this point in time.

It's not that I want every movie to look the same. If home video had a way of projecting a 'wider' image on a physically wider screen, without cheating like zooming or digital scaling, etc, then this would be a different discussion.
When I was a kid - like, single digits of being a kid - there was a special letterboxed version of Star Trek IV on VHS that came with an intro from director/star Leonard Nimoy. My parents must’ve rented it by mistake. I watched with great interest as Mr. Spock-Without-Ears explained that the movie was shaped like a rectangle and the TV was shaped like a square, so they could either cut part of the picture off or have a full image that was smaller than the screen. He showed clips of one scene in both ways and I instantly got it.
This is awesome BTW.
 
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JohnRice

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I picture Brian sitting in his HT, mentally counting out and obsessing about how many more pixels there could be in the image, rather than enjoying the visuals and story telling.

To be honest, I watched the entire first season of Handmaid's Tale without even realizing it was 2:1, until I read a comment about that later. That might be a "TV Show", but it's made with a very theatrical approach. I don't even know what aspect Westworld is in.

Just don't ever watch American Gods. Your head might explode.

The more it's explained, the more I shake my head.
 

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The problem is a home video problem. Give me all the 2.35 at the theater, and I will eat it up. It's just that 99% of the stuff I watch is at home. Anecdotally, aren't theaters having trouble filling seats more and more these days? The shelf-life of a movie in a theater is nothing compared to it's life on home video, so why don't artists (like Gore Verbinski) take that into consideration?

It's not that I want every movie to look the same. If home video had a way of projecting a 'wider' image on a physically wider screen, without cheating like zooming or digital scaling, etc, then this would be a different discussion.
I'm quoting these two paragraphs to point out an inconsistency in your argument. You know that a DCP has a resolution of 4096 X 2160 (4K) or 2048 X 1080 (2K) which means that even theaters aren't using the maximum resolution available when projecting a 2.35:1 image, right? So why is is okay for theaters to zoom or digitally scale but not home setups?
 
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Brian Dobbs

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I'm quoting these two paragraphs to point out an inconsistency in your argument. You know that a DCP has a resolution of 4098 X 2160 (4K) or 2048 X 1080 (2K) which means that even theaters aren't using the maximum resolution available when projecting a 2.35:1 image, right? So why is is okay for theaters to zoom or digitally scale but not home setups?
I think I understand what you are asking, but respectfully sir, I never said I was concerned with not taking advantage of the maximum pixel resolution, although I understand it's relevance. Your question did make me think of something though.

Imagine you have a 2.35 screen at the theater. The curtains go in to mask the sides for 1.85 movies, and out to expand the screen to 2.35. 2.35 is supposed to be a 'bigger' (wider in physical size) format.

So what is the 2.39 deliverable to the theaters? Is it a 16x9 formatted image with black bars baked in at the top/bottom that are masked upon projection?

What is the 1.85 deliverable to the theaters? Perhaps it's a 2.35 image with black bars baked into the sides that are masked upon projection?

Or something else entirely?

In any case, this isn't where my main beef is.

It's totally okay to zoom or digitally scale at home or theater (as long as it doesn't crop off part of the image!). I'm totally fine with this. Ideally, I'd do this at home. It's just completely impractical. So why, artistically, are content creators framing in a ratio that can only be experienced for such a short period of time (2-3 week run in theaters vs. the 16x9 standard that most people view things on these days and for the majority of the film's life?

Ideally, I would love for there to be both 1.85 and 2.35, and I would love to do a legit 2.35 screen at home. But home video does a disservice to 2.35, making 1.85 the larger format now.

A big screen TV used to be rare. Now everyone has one, and to an extent, a theater experience in their house. Given the ubiquity of 16x9 screens at home, at the office, on phones, etc., and surround sound at home (including soundbars, ugh), practically speaking, for any given film's existence, why aren't content creators favoring the aspect ratio that is more immersive at home...where most things are watched?

This wasn't always the case. The distinction between film and TV used to be quite clear. Now? The lines are blurred. Movies formatted for a screen that really doesn't exist at home just stopped making sense.

I think all of this could have been remedied had manufacturers just simply released anamorphically enhanced blu-rays/UHDs, like was once done for DVDs, back when 16x9 TVs first started coming out but made non-anamorphic DVDs look like complete garbage and windowboxed!

But then there's still the problem of Dark Knight getting cropped during IMAX scenes and subtitles as well. So practically speaking, I understand why they did it that way, baking in the black bars.

Would anyone hear advocate for purchasing a 21:9 TV?

Maybe it's because when I was young I fantasized about being a projectionist that I absolutely don't mind the hassles of setting up: adjusting the curtains, dialing in the framing and even adjusting the focus before each and every showing!
I thought I would be into it as well, just like you describe here. I thought about this for YEARS. Do I go with 2.35 or 16x9? At the end of the day, I figured adjusting would get old quick. And when you have young children, the amount of time you get to yourself is practically nothing compared to what life once was like. I get about 1 hour a day to myself to watch something, and every so often 2, and every second of that hour or two counts big time. Binge watching? I don't have time, nor will I for years, possibly decades. So really I just gotta fire everything up really quick and press play.

Cameron puts it best, at the end of the episode. ;-) 2.35 Avatar is less image than 16x9, even theatrically.

I've been thinking about this for years, starting around 2003 when I was making my own film in college. I had a DV camera, and the only way I could achieve 16x9 was by cropping the 4x3 image. It made me feel better superficially (Look Ma, it's widescreen!), but it wasn't real.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
 

JohnRice

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...heading for the liquor cabinet.

Sorry to be snarky, but I'm simply at a loss for more ways to explain.

I had a DV camera, and the only way I could achieve 16x9 was by cropping the 4x3 image. It made me feel better superficially (Look Ma, it's widescreen!), but it wasn't real.
OK, maybe this is the best place to come from. They're movies. They're... not... real. There is no such thing as what's "real". (can we not throw in a pointless wrench such as documentaries?) There's only what the creators of each fantasy choose to create and how they choose to present it. It's not about hardware. It's not about the machinery used to make the sausage. It's about the sausage.
 
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I think I understand what you are asking, but respectfully sir, I never said I was concerned with not taking advantage of the maximum pixel resolution, although I understand it's relevance. Your question did make me think of something though.

Imagine you have a 2.35 screen at the theater. The curtains go in to mask the sides for 1.85 movies, and out to expand the screen to 2.35. 2.35 is supposed to be a 'bigger' (wider in physical size) format.

So what is the 2.39 deliverable to the theaters? Is it a 16x9 formatted image with black bars baked in at the top/bottom that are masked upon projection?

What is the 1.85 deliverable to the theaters? Perhaps it's a 2.35 image with black bars baked into the sides that are masked upon projection?

Or something else entirely?
So here is what is delivered via DCP. As I stated before, the full resolution is 4096 X 2160 (cut those numbers in half for 2K). A 2.39:1 image is letterboxed on that DCP with a resolution of 4096 X 1716. A 1.85:1 image is pillarboxed with a resolution of 3996 X 2160. Digital projectors have two presets 2.39:1 and 1.85:1 each of which shows the resolutions stated above and crops out the black bars. IMAX theaters have a third setting known as "full container" which projects the full 4096 X 2160 resolution which is why Digital IMAX has an aspect ratio of 1.9:1.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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I don’t understand the comment that cropping the captured image makes the final product not real.

Since the popularization of widescreen in the 1950s, widescreen ratios have commonly been achieved by shooting film negative of one shape and then using aperture plates in the projector to crop the image, so that only the picture image the filmmakers intended would be seen. This has been a standard production method for three quarters of a century. I guess all of those widescreen movies I own aren’t real either.

I don’t mean to be negative but this sounds like a lot of the old pan and scan argument in fancy new clothes.

Not every bit of information that’s picked up by a camera lens is intended to be seen in the final product. And movies, like it or not, come in a variety of shapes. And since movies are evolving into prestige television, expect those shows to come in a variety of shapes as well.

Just because a technical capability exists doesn’t mean it always has to be used to its fullest. Asking all content to come formatted to 16x9 because the TV is that shape doesn’t seem any more logical than asking all new albums to run 80 minutes because that’s how much music a CD can hold.

Comes back to that basic point I keep bringing up: are you putting on movies to watch your TV, or are you using your TV to watch movies? I’m in the latter category.
 

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@Josh Steinberg , I suspect you’d agree that most of us occasionally play something to “show off” our system’s capabilities, but your point is so valid. The one you keep trying to make. I’m in the same boat as you. Yeah, “show off” stuff is fun, but I buy the hardware to enjoy movies... and music. That’s the core motivation for me.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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Oh absolutely, we all have our demo discs. And I’m thrilled to use something that looks extra great to show off what my stuff can do.

But it’s at least as important, if not more so, that my system can display my favorite movies as they were meant to look. Which means that not everything I watch takes full advantage of what my stuff can do. But that’s okay.

It’s kinda like, you want your speakers to be able to go really loud for that sudden explosion in the movie, but you don’t want to watch the entire movie at explosion volume.
 

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I’ve always thought HTF was a place where we strive to honor the intent of the content creators - it’s right there in the mission statement. So I have to confess I’m a little puzzled that there are arguments being made in favor of homogenizing content to only one kind of framing that sacrifices artistic intent in favor of “fill my screen.”
You only have Brian and maybe a few others making that argument while the rest of the us are still in agreement with our mission statement. A vocal minority shouldn't allow you to be puzzled in this type of discussion because there will always be minority and majority opinions in any discussion, no matter the subject matter. Without differing opinions there wouldn't be much of a discussion.;)
 
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JohnRice

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I keep pondering the concept of "anamorphically enhanced", and it seems nonsensical for BR and completely absurd for 4K. It made sense for DVD, since the resolution is only 640x480, TVs were mostly CRT, which are not fixed pixel (as I understand it), HD TVs were on the horizon, and there was a genuine need to squeeze every possible bit of image out of a very limited format.

The best I can figure it out, an anamorphic 4K would require a projector or TV of greater than 4K resolution to achieve any benefit. Or even more absurd, it would only have any benefit with projection systems using an anamorphic lens, which seems, to be honest, insane. In the real world, especially at home, 4K already has far more resolution than than can actually be used, so there's plenty of room to vary the AR. As I tried to figure out the logic, it occurred to me that maybe it's not fully understood that the "black bars" on modern formats, in essence, don't exist in the compressed digital format that's contained on the disc. Yeah, there's an unused black area, technically, but in the digitally compressed format, that area doesn't exist. It doesn't take up any bandwidth, which allows for less compression to be applied to the image area that is used. If it was anamorphic, the image area used would be larger for the benefit of the .0001% of people who might conceivably have a system capable of taking advantage of it. That larger image area would mean more compression would need to be applied, resulting in lower image quality for the other 99.999% of viewers.
 

Brian Dobbs

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So here is what is delivered via DCP. As I stated before, the full resolution is 4096 X 2160 (cut those numbers in half for 2K). A 2.39:1 image is letterboxed on that DCP with a resolution of 4096 X 1716. A 1.85:1 image is pillarboxed with a resolution of 3996 X 2160. Digital projectors have two presets 2.39:1 and 1.85:1 each of which shows the resolutions stated above and crops out the black bars. IMAX theaters have a third setting known as "full container" which projects the full 4096 X 2160 resolution which is why Digital IMAX has an aspect ratio of 1.9:1.
Thanks for the explanation.

I think, in order to advance this discussion, it would be nice to understand what each of your opinions and thoughts were on the Black Panther example. Otherwise, I accept that I'm in the minority on this, but please don't assume that all I'm thinking about are numbers and specs. I'm seeking the most immersive experience possible.
 

JohnRice

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I suspect I’m the last opinion you want, but my perspective is that movies like Black Panther, Interstellar and a few other similar examples are so unusual and extraordinarily unconventional that they shouldn’t be used for general arguments regarding the home presentation of the other 99.99% of movies.

just to add, if a movie is presented theatrically in multiple ways, I don’t see how there can be a simple answer regarding how it should be presented at home.
 

Brian Dobbs

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I suspect I’m the last opinion you want, but my perspective is that movies like Black Panther, Interstellar and a few other similar examples are so unusual and extraordinarily unconventional that they shouldn’t be used for general arguments regarding the home presentation of the other 99.99% of movies.

just to add, if a movie is presented theatrically in multiple ways, I don’t see how there can be a simple answer regarding how it should be presented at home.
Good points. :)
 

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The problem is a home video problem. Give me all the 2.35 at the theater, and I will eat it up. It's just that 99% of the stuff I watch is at home. Anecdotally, aren't theaters having trouble filling seats more and more these days? The shelf-life of a movie in a theater is nothing compared to it's life on home video, so why don't artists (like Gore Verbinski) take that into consideration?
If I understand, you’re asking, “why don’t TV and movie creators sacrifice artistic visual creativity to have more pixels used on home TVs?”

Is that the gist of it?

If so, the answer is, I think, “because they’re artists and they’re making art and filling all the pixels is not always in service to the art.”
 
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