Question on DVD zoom features for 4x3 HDTV

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by MikeWe, Aug 11, 2003.

  1. MikeWe

    MikeWe Agent

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    I have a Sony 36XBR800 tv. I find the picture annoyingly small when watching DVDs in 2.35 aspect ratio. I have read about new Panasonic DVD players that offer incremental zoom features to enlarge the picture to get rid of black bars. I currently have a Panasonic CP-67 that does not offer this feature.

    Below is an excerpt of a review from Home Theater Spot on the Panasonic DVD-S35.

    This player’s best feature however, is the incremental zooming ability. With a non-anamorphic, letterboxed DVD (or if you just can’t stand black bars on any DVD), you can zoom in 0.01X increments. The degradation in picture quality is fairly minimal and would probably be even less so on a 4:3 direct view TV.

    My question is, has anyone used this feature on the Panasonic (or any other DVD player)? How much picture degradation will there be on a 36 inch tv? Will this feature work with any DVD?

    I would like to zoom the picture to make 2:35 equivalent in size to a 1.85 format, not to get rid of the black bars entirely. I assume this will cut off a bit of the sides but I am willing to make that trade off to have a slightly larger picture.

    Do any other DVD players offer incremental zoom?
     
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Of course you should do what seems best to you Mike; but this site (and the majority of its members) support Original Aspect Ratio (OAR) as the preferred way to view movies. Most of use don’t try to get rid of the black bars, because to do so would result in either distorting the picture (fat or thin faces, for example) or loss of the picture (cropping) that the director and cinematographer intended the audience to see.

    There are TVs that attempt to minimize these two effects by combining a combination of altering the picture and cropping in order to present a picture that is neither distorted nor cropped. The problem here is that you get a bit of both.

    Your comment in bold goes to picture degradation; but this is only one issue. Assuming that when you watch a movie with a 2.34:1 aspect ratio, the edge of the picture goes to the edge of your tube, then invoking a zoom to expand the picture will result in a loss of the sides of the frame of the picture, if the picture is expanded equally (zoomed) in all directions (that is the proportions of the picture are kept the same, the picture is merely magnifies). If the picture is only expanded in the vertical directions, so that the edges of the picture are not lost, the result is that the picture is distorted, as the horizontal and vertical proportions are not expanded equally.

    Put another way, you can choose to see three of the four Ghostbusters if the picture is expanded the same both ways (the sides of the picture are lost) or you can see Bill Murray with a very thin face. [​IMG]

    And by the way, even if you had a 16:9 TV, you would still have some black bars when watching a 2.35:1 movie—they would just be thinner black bars.

    You have the opposite problem with a 19:9 TV—standard TV and classic movies have black bars on the sides of the set—not the top and bottom. With my 16:9 sets I only use the zoom feature when watching ‘talking heads’, such as the news or Letterman.
     
  3. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    I have a Panasonic DVD player and on my 36" Panasonic TV the picture quality is degraged very, very little using the zoom feature. However, my player only zooms 1x from the normal picture and on most heavily letterboxed movies, it still has the black bars, but the picture is big enough that it is pretty much equal to viewing a 27" TV full screen. My Zenith DVD/VCR combo has incremental zoom up to 6x and I very rarely use it to it's maximum prefering 1x zoom on it also. This player is hooked to an APEX 27" TV whose screen is wider than it is tall. I find you loose too much resolution when you zoom past 2x. When zooming on this unit, you can move the picture around the screen from side to side and up and down. Kind of a useless feature, but most multi-zoom capable players have this feature.
     
  4. MikeWe

    MikeWe Agent

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    Lew,

    Thanks for the comments. I agree with you regarding watching movies in the original aspect ratio, and if I had a large widescreen I don't see why I wouldn't.

    However, with my current sized 36 inch TV, I am willing to give up a bit of the sides for more screen size, if the picture signal is not degraded. The zoom my Panasonic has now fills the screen but simply vertically enlarges everyone, so I am looking for an actual zoom that increases size in all directions in the same ration.

    I am willing to give up a bit of left and right, not to get rid of the black bars but just to give a bit more size.

    I believe that with many films, slight cropping would not detract from the enjoyment of the film at all. With others, it may make a big difference.
     
  5. MikeWe

    MikeWe Agent

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    Chuck,

    Which Panasonic DVD player do you own? I believe the S35 zooms in .01x increments, which would seem to give a ton of flexibility.
     
  6. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Those aren't "bars." They are dead space. If you're using the Sony properly, you are letting it auto-detect the DVD player's 16:9 signal (assuming your player has been set to "16:9" in its set-up menu, which it should be).

    We have members who are content to watch even a 2.76:1-framed film on 20-inch 4:3 displays, and, as Lew indicates, Home Theater Forum is dedicated to viewing films in their original theatrical format. It's in our mission statement.

    And a 36-inch direct-view set with a functioning 16:9 mode is a decent size. Try to get used to it. Try to watch the film and not the letterboxing effect.
     
  7. MikeWe

    MikeWe Agent

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  8. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Can't you sit a little closer to the Sony and maybe reduce the lighting in the room? By reducing the lighting you become less aware of the letterboxing effect.
     
  9. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    WE ARE THE OAR BORG. YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!

    Sorry, could not resist.

    Mike, on a serious note, it took me a while to learn to appreciate the benifits of an OAR presentation. I got into HT via VHS tapes rented from Blockbuster, so obviously they were P&S.

    When DVD came around, I would often NOT pruchase a title unless it had a P&S (or full frame) version as well as a wide screen transfer. But as more and more titles were WS only, I had to make a choice; buy it in WS or don't buy it.

    I recall one evening watching a film with my wife (Crimson Tide, I think). It was one of the 1st WS DVDs we bought. At first we thought we would find the black bars distracting, but the film was so engorossing that we didn't even notice (it helps to have the display calibrated correctly so the bars are black, and not grey).

    But the point is, the more we watched WS fims, the more it seemed like something was wrong if there were no bars! It became such that when we play a WS movie, we were watching a FILM, while P&S stuff was just watching TV.

    I don't take a hostile attitude towards anyone that chooses to watch a P&S film, or zoom the film their TV. Its your own choice.

    But in 1997 when I got my first DVD player, I would have been likely to post a question exactly like yours. It just takes a little time to fully appreciate the benfits. Its not, IMHO, something that you will do because someone tells you you have to do it.

    BGL
     
  10. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Mike—I’m not being aggressive, but actually you would be better off to get pan and scan DVDs, rather than cropping the picture via a zoom feature. This is because (in theory) the guys behind the P&S versions have applied some intelligence to their editing, so although the composition is altered, it is at least done so with intelligence, rather than an arbitrary cutoff based solely on a hardware feature.

    For an example of why I believe this to be true, the Criterion edition of Breathless has an extra where some scenes of the P&S version are overlaid on the 2.35:1 format. You can see the choices have been made with some thought—although they do seem to lose Bardot’s bare bottom—but that is a price to be paid for full screen advocates. [​IMG]
     
  11. MikeWe

    MikeWe Agent

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    I don't mind the black bars, I don't mind the black bars, I don't mind the black bars. Really, I mean it. The issue is overall screen size, not what is on top and below the picture. I promise, once I can fit/afford a 50+ inch widescreen, I will never mention the z word again.

    I have been watching DVD's for three years so I don't think it is a matter of getting use to it. Used to watch DVD's on a 27 inch Toshiba, which was even smaller. I would just like the option to zoom it a bit if I want.

    I guess I will just have to buy the DVD player with the zoom and check it out for myself and see if I feel the way all of you do and if it is a worthwhile feature. If it detracts from the cinematic experience, I am sure I won't like it anwyay.
     
  12. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    Mike, I will check the model number of my DVD player and will let you know. Don't get me wrong, I watch all my movies in the OAR intended. However, my wife, severly dislikes the black bars when viewing wide screen movies. I understand that this forum is "dedicated" to the destruction of Pan & Scan (which I support). However, there is the adage that states "to each his own." I for one would never consider putting down someone in this hobby because he/she wants to watch a movie "zoomed." C'mon guys give the guy a break.[​IMG]
     

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