Letterboxed Commercials on 16x9 tv rant

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by MarkHastings, Feb 2, 2004.

  1. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    First off, I am pro-OAR and this has nothing to do with me hating black bars - it's more of a rant about practicality...

    That being said...Do any 16x9 tv owners hate these letterboxed commercials as much as I do? I just don't see any point to it...why are they shooting 16x9 video that is going onto a 4x3 medium?

    We're not talking about movies that take advantage of the wide format (up on the big screen). They're just being letterboxed, then shown on 4x3 tv's. And if you have a 16x9 tv, there is no advantage of this format either...unless you have your tv set to crop the top and bottom off and fill the screen with the image, but who does that!???

    The worst is when you watch these letterboxed commercials on HDTV and you get black bars on all 4 sides!!!

    I guess I can see if you are filming the commerical in 16x9, but if the commercial isn't ever presented anamorphically, why do it?? Why wouldn't an advertiser want to use the entire screen? Are they trying to be "Hip" and make their commercials look like DVD's??

    Ok, Rant off - this is meant as a fun thread and not a bitch fest (by me) - I'm not really pissed off (I'm more perplexed), it's just been a pet-peeve of mine and thought I'd start a conversation to see if anyone else is bugged by it as well.
     
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    OK, in the spirit of fun:

    The first goal of an advertiser is to get your attention. Looks like the letterboxing worked. [​IMG]

    M.
     
  3. Michael St. Clair

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    I've seen them all.

    In fact, since I have a 4:3 TV with true 16:9 squeezed HD mode, I see a letterboxed commercial inside of a 4:3 windowbox inside of a 16:9 HD squeezed window inside of a 4:3 passive rear-projection screen.

    Doesn't bother me at all.

    They are just commercials, after all.
     
  4. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    I once read an article that said one advertising exec asked another why they chose a letterbox image for their ad and they said it seemed classier. personally I think this is a good thing, if people in advertising see it then perhaps others will too.

    It would be nice if they'd blow them up for the HDTV feeds. I was a little disappointed that the Super Bowl still had SD commercials. You'd think that at some point they'd start filming everything in HD. They should be able to format the commercial for HD better. But oh well, it's just a commercial.
     
  5. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    That's probably it. Although, if the advertisers are saying the ads look 'classier', then they are obviously looking at them on a 4x3 screen. If they ever saw them on a 16x9 tv, they wouldn't think they looked 'classy' at all. [​IMG]

    I guess I'm reading too much into this, but HDTV is SUCH a step forward that whenever I see a letterboxed image on an HD channel, it just seems like such a step backwards.

    Just my paranoid 2 cents.
     
  6. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Like I said, the first goal . . .

    On a serious note: Letterboxing of commercials didn't start with DVD. It started with music videos and then spilled over into commercials. I'm sure that part of the initial impetus was to create a visual "difference" between the commercial and the regular 4:3 material, at a time when letterbox bars were a rare sight on TV. Today, it's just part of the visual mix.

    M.
     
  7. Marc_Sulinski

    Marc_Sulinski Supporting Actor

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    I personally think that this is a good thing. The more the general public becomes accustomed to seeing black bars on their TVs, the more likely they are to accept them when watching their movies, which only forwards the OAR cause.
     
  8. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Or, when they see black bars on commercials (which have no practical purpose), it will support their paranoia that they're trying to take away their screen space and/or force them to buy expensive widescreen TVs.
     
  9. Qui-Gon John

    Qui-Gon John Producer

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    It bothers me to the extent of the fact that I think they are doing it just to be 'hip'. You're absolutely right, there is no need for them to do this. Especially when they are typically non-anamorphic and at least on 16x9 TV's this makes a tiny picture.

    I have a better idea, just make the frickin' commercial a thumb-nail sized image, then we won't have to even see it. [​IMG]
     
  10. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Sure there is. It's a matter of framing the image. Perhaps the director of the commercial feels a wide aspect ratio works better for the commercial. There's no harm in that. It's all about showing what you want to, not filling the space on a 4:3 TV. If you really think they should be full screen to show more image, shouldn't that apply to all movies that are matted? They may just be commercials, but sometimes there's still artistic intent. And it's not the director's fault that it's not shown anamorphic, it's the broadcasters who can't get their acts together and figure out how to do this.

    One day, hopefully, everything will be in 16:9, let them get their practice in now.
     
  11. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    But commercials are meant for 4x3 broadcast, movies aren't. This is why I can accept black bars on a matted movie. The other reason is, if I am watching a 1-2 hour movie (or tv program) in a letterboxed format, at least I can readjust my widescreen tv for that length of time to make crop out the black bars and fit my screen, but when you are watching a 4x3 program (with several 4x3 commercials), (IMHO) it looks awful when a letterboxed image shows up in a commercial on my 16x9 tv.

    I guess my gripe has is more with the evolution of widescreen formats. I've had my WSTV for almost 3 years now and whenever I am watching 4x3 material in 'stretched mode' (where the image fills the 16x9 area) and a letterboxed commercial comes on, it bugs me to know that the commercial was filmed in 16x9 (which would fit my tv) then it is shrunk to be placed on a 4x3 area of broadcast, and then stretched back out (vertically) on my 16x9 tv.

    It just gets under my skin that the beginning and end stages are 16x9, but it's that damn middle part that needs to convert it to 4x3 [​IMG]

    Yes, I'll agree that it's probably good to get people used to the black bars, but still...[​IMG]
     
  12. John S

    John S Producer

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    Doesn't bother me near as much as when some presentation is output on the HDTV feed, and it is obviously NOT HDTV.

    Various stretch'd and crop'd crud on an HDTV feed, really gets me bith'n, Commercials never bother me though.
     
  13. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    The fact is that people with widescreen sets are still such a small minority it doesn't make sense for the commercials to be aimed to that market.
     
  14. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i hear ya. it cracks me up too. i think, boy ... here i went and spent all this money on a 16x9 ... and lo-n-behold, *more* black bars! wtf???

    aarrggghhh!!!!

    i can't get away from them. the ghosts of the black-bars have cursed me forever more.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    So why is anyone paying attention to commercials? I pick up a book/newspaper and read when they come on.
     
  16. Wayne Bundrick

    Wayne Bundrick Cinematographer

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    I already started a thread about the stupidity of stacked letterboxing and windowboxing creating black bars on all four sides. And it wasn't just a 30 second commercial, it was an hour-long program during the six hours of Superbowl pregame coverage.

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...hreadid=182198

    I think when the source video is letterboxed 4:3 SD, the network's HD upconverter should automatically switch from "common top and bottom" (i.e. put the 4:3 image in the center of the 16:9 rectangle and put bars on the sides) to "common sides" (i.e. crop the top and bottom of the 4:3 image to fill the 16:9 rectangle, which in this case loses no content because it was letterboxed). The networks and TV stations use very high quality upconverting hardware made by companies such as Teranex or Snell & Wilcox which use powerful algorithms to deinterlace and scale the video. It would be trivial for them to make an aspect ratio decision based on detecting black bars. Making the decision would be child's play compared to what they're already doing to deinterlace and scale the image.
     
  17. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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    I think it was the 'kids with soap in their mouths' commercial during the Super Bowl that was actually 16x9 HD. If I remember correctly it was the only commercial that was, but all of the movie trailers during the Super Bowl were 16x9 HD.
     

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