OAR...Letterbox...Compression...Huh?

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by JeffPh, Apr 16, 2003.

  1. JeffPh

    JeffPh Agent

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    I've read through the primer regarding letterbox and widescreen and original aspect ratio, but I still don't have a good grasp on it. I bought a 36" Toshiba HDTV recently (3:4 right?). I choose it over a widescreen because for now we watch more TV than DVD and since I don't get HD televison right now (and the lack of channels putting out HD), I don't want the "bars" on the side of TV watching.

    I realize this means "bars" on the tops of many movies. My question is, what should my TV pic size be set to? I have three choices, Normal, Letterbox, and Compression. If I choose letterbox, I get gray "bars" above smaller black "bars". So I normally use compression, but aside from the bars, I'm not sure I know what the difference is. I've been buying all my DVDs in Widescreen...should I be doing this? And if so, what pic size is appropriate for watching these movies?
     
  2. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Jeff,

    1st, yes you should be buying all widescreen DVD's, unless theywere filemd in 4:3 to begin with (i.e. pre-1950 or so). 2nd, you should be using the "compression" setting with "enhanced for widescreen / enhanced for 16x9 / anamorphic" DVD's, which are most DVD's these days.

    The grey bars are something else. Some widescreen movies are wider than others (usually 2.35:1 vs. 1.85:1). Think "Star Wars" (2.35:1( vs. "Jurassic Park" (1.85:1). The wider movies have small black bars encoded into the movie itself. To display them correctly, your TV has to add it's own black bars to the ones encoded on the disk. What you are seeing with the grey bars is the difference in black level between these two bars. This is a good indication that your TV needs to be calibrated. Not only does this improve your picture, it helps to extend the life of yout TV. Most TV's come from the factory on "torch mode", set at the highest level of contrast. This is why the bars are depicted as grey. Do a search on "calibration" and you will find a wealth of info.
     
  3. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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  4. JeffPh

    JeffPh Agent

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    Thanks for the replies guys.

    Regarding the gray bars, I don't think it's calibration, but rather an option Toshiba offers to reduce the chance of burn-in. At least that's what the guy that sold me TV said.

    I'm beginning to get it (great link!), but I've come upon another question. If I set my DVD player to "letterbox" (rather than wide), that tells my DVD that I have a 3:4 TV correct? So the TV recieves the appropriate signal from the DVD now. Now when I put my TV in "normal" pic size, I get small black bars, and when I set the TV to "compression" I get larger black bars. Do I still want to use Compression? I tried both ways on a DVD and I can't tell which looks normal (I seen so many sizes now, I'm not sure if the actors are short and fat or tall and skinny[​IMG] ).

    My guess is the DVD should be set to letterbox and TV to compression...Right? Please understand that I'm not concerned with the black bars, I'm concerned with watching the Movie in it's OAR.
     
  5. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  6. JeffPh

    JeffPh Agent

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    Michael, that hit the nail on the head. I tried it and noticed a definate improvement in picture quality. Baby steps....

    It's great to have a forum like where the "pros" still take the time to help out the "rookies". When I left the house one day to buy a DVD player, I never imagined the path it would take me on. When I decided I wanted HT, I never imagined the scope and complexity involved.

    Thanks a ton to all you guys out there lending a helping hand to us newbies!
     
  7. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Any time, kind sir!
     

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