Screen Aspect Ratio

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Darren James, Oct 31, 2004.

  1. Darren James

    Darren James Auditioning

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    I'd like some advice regarding determining a screen aspect ratio. I've searched for and read many posts but cannot quite find the answer to my confusion.

    I am using an HTPC (MSI Mega PC) with an All-in-Wonder 7500 outputting to an NEC LT240K projector. I use PowerDVD to watch DVDs and ATI Eazylook for TV. I intend to use Meedio in the future for both. Currently I project onto a wall.

    I am now in the market for a screen and am considering one of the electric Elite 100" models from Tigerdirect.ca. There is a 4:3 version and a 16:9 version...and this is my dilemma.

    I have read posts that suggest it's a personal decision based on how much widescreen material you view versus TV (4:3) material. However, based on the equipment I have, I wonder if technically I should go with one aspect ratio over the other?

    I believe my PJ is a native 4:3 model. My PC outputs 4:3 to the PJ. PowerDVD/Meedio add the black bars to the top and bottom of the screen when viewing a widescreen DVD.

    The PJ has four aspect ratio options - 4:3, Letterbox, Widescreen and Cropped. When viewing a widescreen DVD, 4:3 and Letterbox view the same, Widescreen shows the same picture but appears to be vertically squashed and Cropped seems to cut the picture (so I think cropped is out).

    Whichever aspect ratio I choose, the PJ seems to be projecting a 4:3 rectangle of light. I am assuming that this is the case because the input is coming from my PC. I have tried to play with the output resolution on the video card but with little success. So does this mean that my PC can only output a 4:3 image?

    If the PC can only output a 4:3 image, and the PJ can only ever project a 4:3 image based on my input, I assume I will always have the black bands projected onto my screen?

    If this is the case, then based on what I've read my dilemma comes down to a question of personal preference, masking the screen and the distance of the PJ from the screen?

    TIA for any answers, sorry for the long post...just wanted to demonstrate that I had tried thinking about this before posting.

    Edit...I've tried Powerstrip, Rage3DTweak and changing the resolution settings in PowerDVD...with no success...must be doing something wrong?

    Darren
     
  2. Darren James

    Darren James Auditioning

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    I found the answer on the AVS Forum....apparently LT240Ks always project the full 4:3 pixel panel regardless of the aspect ratio selected.

    My choice is now a 4:3 screen with top/bottom bars (or masks) when watching widescreen, or a 16:9 screen with left/right pillars (or masks) when watching TV.

    DJ
     
  3. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    When the projector always delivers a 4:3 shaped rectangle, it is easiest to use a 4:3 screen. This is referred to as a constant width arrangement with unused (black) top and bottom strips for wide screen movies.

    Many folks prefer a constant height or near-constant height arrangement. If you can get an anamorphic lens that fits on the projector, you will always get a 16:9 rectangle on your screen while the projector is using all of its pixels. You will have the black side areas for 4:3 viewing (and also some black top and bottom area for movies in the 2.00:1 to 2.66:1 range. Before buying the lens make sure the projector, perhaps with help from the computer, will stretch the wide screen picture to nearly fill the projected rectangle and also stretch 4:3 pictures to look exactly square (subject matter will look tall and thin for the moment). After this is done the lens makes everything look right.

    Video hints:
    http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
     
  4. Darren James

    Darren James Auditioning

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    Thanks Allan.

    Good timing as I was just about to order the 4:3 screen.

    The link looks like there is plenty of great info...have to wait until I get home from work to read though.

    Cheers

    Darren
    (someone else with two first names!)
     

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