Pan and Scan vs Letterbox question for all studios

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Nelson Au, Dec 28, 2001.

  1. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

    Mar 16, 1999
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    I was curious if any studios or DVD authoring houses has ever tried experimenting with the idea of replacing the black bars on Letterboxed film presentations on DVD with another color. It occurred to me that all this uproar for pan and scan for the average consumer and preserving OAR for the purists who are the core of this site can be made to feel that the needs of both sides can be addressed.

    I know as long as I've been an avid videophile from the mid 80's, I've always seen the letterboxed films with black bars on those early laserdiscs. And I wondered today if anyone has experimented with a 50% grey or other color to help reduce the feeling that those black bars are somehow removing picture information for the less HT inclined audience. I know that this will not address the issue of HDTV in the very near future when this issue will hopefully no longer be such a big topic of debate on this site.

    This is just a question. As a designer with some experience with CRT display design, I know from a design exercise that the European specs ask for a percentage of grey color for the screen bezel that will surround the screen. The idea is that it will reduce eye strain from the color shift of the bezel and the screen. This is a very old spec and I don't know it it still remains, but a very neutral color might make the black bars seem to go away if the black bars are that nuetral color.

    Just a thought, trying to be constructive here. This is a big issue and this one suggestion by no means has any allusions that it can solve all the problems. The widescreen presentation may still be viewed by many consumers as a negative I'm sure.

    Thanks, Nelson
  2. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

    Apr 24, 1999
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    One of the first-ever letterboxed movies, "Manhattan", was shown with gray bars. I personally don't like this, in fact I will not buy a widescreen TV until they make one that shows BLACK on the sides of 4x3 material instead of gray. I've seen a few older videos where the credits will be letterboxed with blue or red borders; "Three Days Of the Condor" has a funky 70's line design during the letterboxed opening credits. This is just too distracting while watching a movie though, the screen should be black because there isn't any picture there!
  3. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    May 16, 2001
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    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    I think black is the best color for letterboxing or windowboxing.

    Black is used not just for the hell of it, but for a very scientific reason. Your eyes are not attracted to black, so "black bars" become less noticeable.

    If you were to stare at a large sheet of black posterboard and then remove it, your irises will expand because the vision part of your brain detects black (or very dark) space as "not important" information.

    The black color of the "voided" space keeps your eyes drawn to the picture between them.

    Think of it as if you were in a theater...there would be mattes on a 2.35:1 screen for a 1.85:1 movie. The black mattes make your eyes focus on the image, thus you don't notice the mattes on the side. You would notice the blank white space on the sides since white is more attractive.
  4. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

    Jan 16, 1998
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    Real Name:
    Neil Joseph
    Well I agree with both comments. Any other colour would not work for me.

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