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Is the word "Letterbox" officially dead?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Gary->dee, Jun 27, 2003.

  1. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    Are movies even referred to as being in letterbox anymore? I get the impression that the term "widescreen" has been more widely accepted(no pun intended) in favor of "letterbox" when describing aspect ratio.
     
  2. Artur Meinild

    Artur Meinild Screenwriter

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    Yes, I believe "letterbox" is still used.
    For instance, a 2.35:1 movie is still "letterboxed" within the 16:9 DVD frame, since there are still black areas above and below the picture.
    Likewise, a 1.66:1 movie is "windowboxed" within the 16:9 frame, since there is a small black band on the sides.
    Correct me if I'm wrong...
     
  3. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    I view it as "widescreen is anything which, when displayed on a 4x3 set, contains black bars on the top and bottom; there are two types of widescreen: anamorphic, and non-anamorphic; for simplicity's sake, non-anamorphic is refered to as letterbox".

    That is how the online DVD community at HTF and other sites has "raised me" to use those terms.
     
  4. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    'Letterbox' is not dead. It's that aperture through which a gynecologist paints his hall.

    Cees
     
  5. Mark_vdH

    Mark_vdH Screenwriter

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  6. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    "Letterbox" is the process by which the matted film is shown
    on a non AR matching set

    "Widescreen" describes the process used for theatrical presentation
     
  7. Ali B

    Ali B Second Unit

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  8. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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  9. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  10. Aaron Cohen

    Aaron Cohen Second Unit

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    Warner uses the term Letterbox all the time on the backs of their dvd cases. They use it to differentiate between whether or not the movie is "matted" or "letterboxed" in it's original aspect ratio. They then have "enhanced for widescreen tv's" follow that.
     
  11. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    And who coined the word 'letterbox' for CinemaScope movies on a telecine?! [​IMG]

    It was... some guy in the late 50s. [​IMG]


    Gordy
     
  12. Paul Linfesty

    Paul Linfesty Stunt Coordinator

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    I thought LETTERBOX originated as a derogatory term coined by a British film critic describing the CinemaScope when it debuted in theatres. He had said the process was like watching movies through the slot of a mailbox.
     
  13. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    Well this has become an interesting thread. [​IMG]

    Warner Bros. has it as either Standard Version for full screen or Widescreen Version and then goes on to describe it being presented in a "Letterbox" widescreen format. Excalibur is the only one I have missing the word letterbox in the description.
     
  14. Mike Graham

    Mike Graham Supporting Actor

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    I'm probably mistaken, but films shot with anamorphic lenses for 2.35:1 are to referred to as scope, but if you shot the film on Super 35 then matted it to 2.35:1, wouldn't that just be referred to as 'flat', like 1.85:1
     
  15. Kramer Lowry

    Kramer Lowry Second Unit

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    [​IMG]
     
  16. Grant H

    Grant H Cinematographer

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  17. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    I'll go you one better, I never use the word 'Letterbox' OR 'Widescreen'. Over the years i've found that both of those words are too limiting when discussing the subject, I always use the term 'OAR' as it covers everything.

    For instance when you say to someone "I want X film in widescreen." they might take it to mean that you want it with black bars despite the fact that said film was composed for 4x3. But if you say "I want X film in it's OAR." then you've effectively stated that you want said film in the ratio for which it was intended to be viewed by the filmmakers.
     
  18. Nathan V

    Nathan V Supporting Actor

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  19. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  20. Grant H

    Grant H Cinematographer

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    Warner often uses "widescreen" (though I think they usually say "matted" whether or not that's truly how they got the image) to describe 1.85:1 transfers and "scope" to describe 2.35:1.

    As far as layman's terms go, that's probably the best way to go about it, regardless of technical accuracy. Most people recognize the shape of a widescreen TV now, so to them "widescreen" means it will fit the TV, and "scope" tells them it's even wider than the TV, hence the thin black bars. Warner was using the words "enchanced for widescreen TVs" very early on, eliminating the confusion caused by "anamorphic." Though some (like MGM and Universal I believe) often used both terms on the boxes. Of course, Universal still has a habit of putting inaccurate information on the boxes.[​IMG]

    But, sadly, yes, "letterbox" took on a negative meaning with many DVDs, as it often indicated a non-anamorphic transfer. But at least it could be used as an indicator (many times anyway) since no one says "NOT enhanced for 16x9 displays."
     

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