OAR vs. Pan & Scan: A call to action

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ryan Wright, Oct 11, 2001.

  1. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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    The other thread has gotten huge and I've noticed many posters say they don't have time to read it all. Here's a quick recap and a call to action:
    The problem
    John Q. Movierenter does not care about OAR. He has a 25" TV and, let's face it, widescreen is basically unwatchable on such a small set - especially for John. Education is ineffective; John doesn't care that he is losing 30% or more of his movie as long as it fills his screen. The Johns of the world have filed enough complaints with major retailers that they are placing pressure on studios to stop releasing OAR material.
    The solution
    The solution to this problem must take a tiered approach. No single action is going to be fully effective. We must combat this as follows:
    1. Appeal to the studios. No director wants his work chopped up. The problem is, we're dealing with marketing people here, and they want to sell as much product as they can. They've heard enough complaints about widescreen material that they're beginning to cave. We need to educate them not on the benefits of OAR, but on how to keep all of their customers happy. This equals more sales and that appeals to them.

    A. Begin a campaign to utilize software based pan & scan. It's in the DVD spec, saves all sorts of space on the disc, and consumers (and studios) get things both ways. Everyone is happy.
    B. Education of John Q. Movierenter through aspect ratio selection. This would be quick & easy to implement, and necessary on a software based P&S solution: After inserting the disc, the user is prompted to select Widescreen or Pan & Scan, with Widescreen being the default selection. Include static pictures beside each selection showing how each option fills the TV. If the user selects Pan & Scan, prompt a warning and explain the drawbacks of this selection in as few words as possible. Force the user to confirm this selection with an "Are you sure?" dialog box.
    This necessitates slightly more work on the part of the studios, so it needs to be presented to them as an incentive to make all of their customers happy, thus increasing sales.
    C. Make it clear in no uncertain terms: NO OAR = NO SALE. Include a large list of signatures. Ask the studios, "Do you want to alienate these people?"[/list]Lastly, I want to add that I see no reason to petition studios who have no (or very little) history of releasing P&S titles. Due in part to the latest Mummy release shipping such large numbers of P&S titles, I think Universal would be a great first candidate here. (Yes, I realize everyone here hated this movie, but the content of the film is not the point: Once P&S sales go through the roof, they will gladly release future discs in this format, including some that you do want to watch.)
    2. Appeal to the retail & rental outlets. I would be willing to draft a nice fact sheet on aspect ratios and post it on a public web site. How many of you would be willing to make a thousand copies and speak to the managers of your local stores? Undoubtably, the managers have had their fill of complaints regarding widescreen DVDs. Perhaps if we presented these managers with a stack of fact sheets, they would be willing to hand them out to customers who complain? They might even be willing to hand them out to every customer who rents or purchases a DVD. This should be presented to the manager as way to educate their customers and eliminate complaints. Give them the fact sheets for free and a phone number where they can call you if they run out. I bet we'd get a lot of takers.
    I am willing to tackle development of this, but I need your help - especially with step 1. How does one go about getting in touch with studio executives? Is there someone who would be willing to setup a meeting with some to discuss this matter? Petitions and letters work well, but nothing beats a handshake and a verbal discussion. Perhaps someone can take one of these guys to dinner?
    Let's keep the discussion of this thread strictly related to organization of these steps. I'd rather not branch out into another version of the other thread, where we all want to complain but aren't getting a whole lot accomplished. Let's accomplish something right here, right now. Who's with me?
    ------------------
    -Ryan (http://www.ryanwright.com )
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
    That way, when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and you'll have their shoes.
     
  2. Robert Ringwald

    Robert Ringwald Cinematographer

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    I have a 27 inch TV and I always watch OAR. And the saddest thing is that is the family TV. My dvd player is in my room, and I still watch OAR, that TV is 13 inches. I just don't understand J6P, we need to really nip this thing in the ass... [​IMG]
    OAR all the way.
     
  3. Martin Fontaine

    Martin Fontaine Supporting Actor

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    Yeah, Robert, you are doing like me I guess, if you can't afford a bigger set, and you have a small one (In my case a 27") just SIT CLOSER TO IT! It's that simple!
     
  4. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  5. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Same here. I have a 27-inch tv and absolutely refuse to rent or buy pan-n-scan dvds. That said, Ryan has some good ideas. Even if implemented though, I don't know if they would work. J6P just does not care. He is not "into" movies as we are. But it's certainly worth a try...
    ------------------
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  6. Josh LeClair

    Josh LeClair Agent

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    Another thing. Instead of going after the retailers that tend to only carry P&S and pressure the studio to put every movie out in P&S why not try getting retailers that would have a vested interest in widescreen DVD's sticking around.
    Best Buy, Circuit City and any other retailer that sells DVD's and widescreen TV's have a vested interest in widescreen DVD's sticking around. Without them they are pretty much stuck with a bunch of stock of widescreen TV's that would be pointless to just about every customer. They would also have the problem of a crap load of customers who already bought widescreen TV's being pissed because they would be pointless on future DVD releases.
    Try sending letters to their corporate offices explaining to them why they would want widescreen DVD's to stick around and ask them to put pressure on studios (like Walmart and Blockbuster are doing) to keep making widescreen DVD's.
     
  7. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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    Not to make this issue any lighter, but I spent a few hours watching NBC last night and saw three commercials (not movie previews, but regular old commercials) broadcast at 1.85:1. Makes me think perhaps some of us, myself included, are blowing this way out of proportion?
    Maybe we should simply target P&S only releases, like we did with the Wonka DVD. I bet Wonka is the last non-OAR disc released under that studio...
    ------------------
    -Ryan (http://www.ryanwright.com )
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
    That way, when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and you'll have their shoes.
     
  8. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    While Ryan has some really good ideas, I think it would be rather difficult to implement. Also, we could end up just beating our heads against the walls trying to teach the unteachable. Instead (since this thread is about solutions) I offer an alternative solution. Now I haven't thoroughly thought this through. I'm sure it's full of flaws. That's why I'm presenting it to the group to pick out the problems and perhaps refine it into a workable solution.
    Instead of having two full blown releases, one with P&S and one with OAR. Or having two options on one disc. How about having one bare bones release that is for rental only with P&S and another sell through only release that is OAR only and chalk full of value added content. This would appease the J6P who primarily rents his movies, and it would make us, the buyer, at ease that OAR is here to stay. Now this would only work right if both versions are released and available at the same time. The bare bones disc would be cheaper to manufacture than a second version of the special edition...thus saving the studios money. There would be no confusion at the local Blockbuster. Then when Blockbuster (I'm using the term generically to represent all video rental stores) is ready to downsize the inventory, these barebones editions can be sold to the public at an $8-$10 price tag. The sell through titles can keep their current prices of $15-$25. This would also be good for the local mom & pop rental stores because the investment cost of buying the movies would be greatly reduced. Thus their return on investment time is much quicker.
    In fact with this arrangement there will be no confusion at all. If the widescreen haters want their TV screen filled with chopped up movies then they just need to rent it. Personally, if I have the option of not being able to rent a widescreen or not being able to buy a widescreen, I'd rather pay the higher price of taking my chance with the purchase.
    Well, what do you think?
    ------------------
    Bill [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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    quote: Well, what do you think?[/quote]
    I love the idea. Now we just have to convince the studios... [​IMG]
    ------------------
    -Ryan ( http://www.ryanwright.com )
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
    That way, when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

    [Edited last by Ryan Wright on October 19, 2001 at 12:54 PM]
     
  10. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Screenwriter
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    That is a terrible idea. I'm a huge movie buff and love my dvds. I also don't have a lot of money. I'm usually able to pick up the releases that I really really want, but not always. Movies that I can't afford or can't justify purchasing but still want to see, I rent. I don't think I'm alone in this. I think what we need to focus on is dual availability. If a studio thinks that a title is popular enough to warrant appeasing the unwashed masses, then release both full screen and OAR discs. In the case of lesser known or "niche" discs, release OAR only. Because, let's face it, we movie buffs are probably gonna be the only ones buying it anyway. As long as there is an OAR version available, then I'll be happy. I'm even willing to pay a little more for it. Not a lot more, but some. Petitions are the way to go right now. Show the studios that we spend a lot of money on dvd's and that by completely eliminating OAR, they're going to drive away a large percentage of their income. Money talks.
     
  11. Gavin K

    Gavin K Stunt Coordinator

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    The main problem with all of this is that as long as Pan & Scan exists we will eternally be fighting this dilemna.
    One suggestion was to put both versions on the same side of the same disc - then you run into a/v quality issues. If they are seperate releases, then you run into the problem of rental houses and major retailers oinly carrying the Fullscreen version, just continually creating an ignorant consumer base. If all disks are two disc sets, then where do you put the extras - again an a/v quality issue arises.
    Perhaps I'm greedy, but I love extras AND I expect high quality audio and video.
    Which leaves only one option - Pan and Scan on the fly. We need to focus our efforts on getting studios to implement this. Then when Joe six pack complains about the bars, the retailer can explain to them how this function works.
    Castaway, Die Hard, The Abyss, ID4, The French Connection, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, Episode I, etc. etc. FOX doesn't seem to be hurting, even though they have abandoned P&S. It's time more studios followed their lead.
     
  12. Mark Bendiksen

    Mark Bendiksen Screenwriter

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    quote: FOX doesn't seem to be hurting, even though they have abandoned P&S. It's time more studios followed their lead.[/quote]
    Amen, brother.
    [​IMG]

    [Edited last by Mark Bendiksen on October 19, 2001 at 02:23 PM]
     
  13. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    Ryan, in theory it seems like a good idea, but I doubt it would work.
    If I was John Q. Movierenter and some geek was standing outside the videostore handing out papers, I probably wouldn't be really interested in whatever he/she had to say... and forget about managers or other employees handing out papers, they would get in trouble.
    And the "P&S for rental, WS for owning" idea isn't good either, I rent most of my movies, but still hate P&S.
    I think your suggestion later on, to just fight individual P&S-only releases, is a better way of doing it.
    Of course, like someone pointed out with Fox, studios could just skip P&S altogether. If WS was the only version available, people would buy it. Most P&S "lovers" don't even give a damn.
    /Mike
     
  14. Robyn Young

    Robyn Young Stunt Coordinator

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    Question:
    Don't the television companies that manufacture Widescreen Televisions have a vested interest in ensuring that programming that was produced at a different aspect ratio than 1:33-1 hit video/dvd in thier OAR? If Pan and scan or some variation thereof is adoped as the standard, why would people purchase widescreen tv's? There is such a limited HDTV broadcast area, and as many people say, the 2006 deadline will come and go, without really much issue.
    So, my thinking is we should contact companies that mfg widescreen tv's, and see if they have a stance. Lack of widescreen programming or programming alterd from OAR could damage sales. Maybe people will think it's cool to have a widescreen tv, but only for about 2 seconds if everything is going to have the "black bars" on the side. They're going to wonder why they didn't use the extra money on a bigger 4:3 display.
    Maybe this isn't a good approach, but it can't hurt to have support from an entirely different angle.
    Robyn
     
  15. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    I saw something very good in some MGM releases. A small one sided piece of paper comparing WS vs P&S, with info talking about the difference and how much of the picture is missing from P&S.It was simple and effective as a few "J6Ps" sitting on the couch were looking at the flyer while I was farting around with the DVD.
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  16. Mark_TS

    Mark_TS Screenwriter

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    I am ALL for 'software-based WIDESCREEN' on flat films; ie
    a movie is default full screen, with the option to make it matted;
    -this is in the DVD spec.
    That way all discs could be single-layer and single disc editions, with silkscreen faces.
    I dont know if you can make a Scope, or hard matted film Pan & Scan with this software-and these films should be left as they are, anyway- tough titties if J6P cant handle it-but the other option seems like a nice idea, and is a bone thrown to those that dont like WIDE, or those of us who DO.
    Why the studios dont use this aspect of DVD is a mystery...
    We could all be watching LAMPOONS VACATION, FULL METAL JACKET, EWS and THE SHINING etc. right now in the Original *Theatrical* ratio....
    [Edited last by Mark_TS on October 19, 2001 at 03:07 PM]
     
  17. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    1) Last year a few friends and myself created computer animated cartoon explainations of widescreen. 3 different versions were created, one at 60 second, 120 and a Full 3 minute version.
    These 3 animated shorts were made available (or specifically OFFERED) to every studio producing DVDs free of charge to offer as a menu option explaining widescreen. Letters were sent to every studio, to date no one has every replied.
    2) Last year I designed a color 6 panel brochure regarding the benefits of widescreen and looked to put together enough HTF interest to have them printed and split the cost/output. This would give everyone a simple, clear written example to give to friends or even stranges in the store.
    After mention it more than 5 times on the forum, I have gotten two emails from people interested in the brochure idea.
    I really believe education is the first step- a large number (even if not a majority) of widescreen haters would be more accepting if they understood it. I think winning over a percentage right now is the first step, and pushing pan and scan on the fly is a second step.
    But, again, I've been trying for more than 2 years and it seems that everyone is complaining but nothing is really happening.
    -Vince
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  18. Ryan Spaight

    Ryan Spaight Supporting Actor

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    The trouble with player-generated P&S is that with 2.35 stuff, there will still be black bars. It should work nicely for 1.85 movies, though.
    Ryan
     
  19. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    quote: I've been trying for more than 2 years and it seems that everyone is complaining but nothing is really happening.[/quote]
    I think as with a lot of other things in life (the terrorist attacks are a dramatic example), people aren't really all that motivated to do something until the reality of the situation "slaps them in the face", as it were. The fact is that there's a lot of talk about loss of widescreen, but practically ALL new releases ARE in widescreen.
    It's only when a title ACTUALLY ISN'T available in widescreen (as opposed to a "threat"), that you REALLY see people up in arms. For example, look at how people mobilized, harangued, and planned increasing escalation when Warner initially wasn't going to release Willy Wonka in widescreen.
    I think you'd see that on a much wider scale if a studio ACTUALLY announced it was no longer releasing in widescreen (studios, PAY ATTENTION here).
    [Edited last by RobertR on October 19, 2001 at 04:21 PM]
     
  20. TheoGB

    TheoGB Screenwriter

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    Personally (flame suit on here) I object to the agressive way in which people are campaigning for an end to Pan & Scan.
    I hate watching P&S movies but that's beside the point. A lot of people don't, and as freedom of expression is important, they have the right to want an image to fill their TV (IMO). It's not about art or anything like that - the original movie looks just the way it always did - this is merely a copy we're butchering.
    The point is that P&S will die out because 16:9 screens are going to take over, even in the U.S. as you're going straight to hi-def (as I understand it).
    In the meantime let's fight for OAR but only where there is no OAR version being released. Let the P&S/open matte versions exist for as long as they have to as long as we get an OAR version of every movie.
    Theo
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