USA Today article on Widescreen: "Watching Widescreen DVDs on a Square Tube"

David Lambert

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http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/c...23/johnson.htm
I'm surprised noone posted this already. If they did, I missed it and this thread can be closed. But I DID look!
Watching wide-screen DVDs on a square tube
To judge from the hottest current topic in my e-mail, most readers of this column would rather not look at or despise or are made crazy by the black bars that appear above and below a wide-screen DVD picture on a conventional, squarish television screen. But while television manufacturers feel your pain, their cheerful counsel is to bear up, acknowledge that we're in a transition to a wide-screen world and meanwhile try to live with a few Band-Aid solutions.
In case you haven't yet wheeled a wide-screen rear-projection set into your living room, the root of this widely shared consternation is as old as trying to pound square pegs into round holes. Only in this case, it's shoving a rectangular picture into a nearly square frame. It sort of works but not that well.
Post Edited By Administrator
 

Clint B

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Interesting article, and pretty informative, although not entirely accurate. As we all know, anything above 1.85:1 will still have "black bars" on a WS set.
 

Steve Owen

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Lawrence B. Johnson (the article author) is the Senior Contributing Editor at Sterephile Guide to Home Theater. Even though he's writing for USA Today in this instance, I'm dissapointed that he wouldn't come out with a harder-line pro-OAR stance.

"nettlesome black bars"? Come on Lawrence! Why is it so hard for writers to explain that by NOT having black bars means chopping off large portions of the picture, and leave it at that. With statements like that, he's basically agreeing with the J6P's of the world in that the black bars are somehow a problem.

The article seems to indicate that DVDs are widscreen because we're in a transition to 16x9 TVs. That couldn't be further from the truth. Even if 16x9 TVs didn't even exist, widescreen DVDs are still the correct way to view a movie, EVEN on a 4x3 screen. This issue is NOT the aspect ratio of upcoming TV sets, but instead the aspect ratio of movie screens.

-Steve
 

Matt Stone

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I agree...he should have incorporated an OAR explanation into his technical explanation. He's not lying, just not telling the whole truth.
 

Jack Briggs

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It's crucial to bear in mind that Johnson knows all of this, yet he has no choice but to follow his editor's instructions: "Write to our demographic." For members of Home Theater Forum, that's akin to sitting in on a seventh-grade social studies class.

He is writing to the guy on lunchbreak who, to this day, has never heard of the word "letterboxing."
 

Andrew_Ballew

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The most common "solution" for making a 4:3 image fill a 16:9 screen is electronic zoom. In effect, this means the picture is brought forward until it matches up with the screen width. But that means losing a strip off the top and bottom of the image. If you don't zoom a 4:3 image on a wide-screen set, you must content yourself with glowing gray bars on each side of the centered image.
Is this the most common method??? Every Widescreen PJ or TV that I have owned defauted to the "stretch" method, done so well on my current display it is relatively unnoticable.

Andrew B.
 

Matt Wallace

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I think that Jack is right. The article was a stab in a direction, if you will. This is similar to a war, honestly, in so much as the fact it is all about making small moves to educate J6P and I think that the article in the USA Today is a good attempt in a good publication for it. There's no way we can make ONE preemptive strike and do a mass conversion: in religion, that would make you a cult!! LOL ! Seriously, though - you gotta hit J6P and SoccerMom (tm) where their weak spots are, and I believe it's in their technological igorance and in their pocketbook. The way he wrote it, especially with the "nettlesome black bars" was brilliant. It put him on their level to explain to them the fact that it's only a minor irritation on the way to their greater destiny of owning a widescreen set, which makes them feel like they are getting a product that will serve them in the advanced days to come. It's not a perfect approach, but I think it's an effect communication to the majority of those we are frustrated with. More steps, like that one, would be quite effective. The more people are presented with and hear about widescreen, the more it becomes an everyday part of life. I mean, how many people that you thought would NEVER have a home PC in the early or mid 80's own one now? Widescreen TV's aren't nearly as useful, in comparison, but they can still be the equivalent via familiarity and being more common.

Matt
 

Qui-Gon John

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Andrew is right. My Pioneer SD-582-HD does fine in FULL mode with regular TV shows. Nothing is cut off. Some people think it makes things (people) look a little shorter and wider, but I think it's hardly noticeable. It has a 4:3 mode with gray bars on the side, but I never use that.
 

Robert Crawford

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David,
Due to possible legal concerns, please only quote a few of the most interesting paragraphs from an article published in another publication then provide the link for others to read the entire article. Thank you.
Crawdaddy
 
M

MaxY

Yeah and the next most asked question by people that read this article will be...

Why does my Widescreen TV still have black Bars on Star Wars and lots of other movies....

OR Worse Yet....

They will start P&Sing or Croping everything to 16x9 and then we will be asking what the heck happened to respect for OAR.

I mean after all HBO HD has already shown to us they have no qualms with croping to 16x9 their 2:35 movies.

Does the writer support this? What is his stand on this issue? Opps sorry but he did not really explain aspect ratios all that well and kind of sounded like he did not like the little black bars.

Sorry I don't care what the demographic was the guy deserves a good hard kick to the testicular area.

Max
 

David Lambert

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Crawdaddy: I'm sorry; you're correct. I knew this and just screwed up. Thanks for fixing my mistake.

Everyone else: I agree with Matt Wallace. He simply spoke to J6P on a basic level, talking from a viewpoint they can understand without getting too technical. Yes, he left a lot of stuff out...but if they're buying what he says then they will learn it gradually.

Baby steps! Education can't be done as a data dump.
 

Calvin Watts III

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I try to do my part in my own little way...
We actually show my cable access show in letterbox format.
God, I love Apple

Calvin
 

BrettB

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I'm not sure how his final paragraph helps educate Fred Full-Frame one bit:

Perhaps not so far down the road, images and screens will line up once more and we'll all be looking at something like cinema in our living rooms. And nettlesome black bars and quaint old square pictures will have vanished together.
"...line up once more..."??? So after reading this FFF now thinks were in a transition period, but the glorious day will soon come when those hideous black bars are a thing of the past and all movies will fill his 16:9 set?
 

Thomas Newton

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The only way they'll "line up once more" is if

1. All movie makers adopt ONE standard OAR and we all just conveniently "forget" about existing films.

2. People blow off direct CRT sets and projection sets for projectors and blank walls. (That'd work -- for those who had the $$$ and space, until some bozo asked why the whole wall wasn't taken up by the picture every time.)
 

Jodee

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This guy's column appears in my local paper. He once referred to pro-OAR enthusuasts as "widescreen zealots." I can't believe he writes about "home theater."
He once wrote an article about widescreen TVs and how they "get rid of the black bars." The example he used was a movie with a 2:35:1 ratio!
I found the link to this article here:
http://www.detnews.com/2000/techcolu...ogy-127211.htm
He occasionlly reviews new DVDs and he often recommends strange choices: DVDs that have been out for a long time or non-stellar DVD transfers and packages.
I think I know way more than this guy and I'm not even that hard-core in my HT knowledge.
 

MickeS

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Jodee, the movie example he uses in his text is actually "Jurassic Park" and he points out that it's in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

I wouldn't be surprised if the picture examples of "Mask of Zorro" were done by someone else who didn't know better.

/Mike
 
M

MaxY

I still think the guys deserves a good solid kick in the nuts, because he knows better but show little respect for OAR. 16x9 of widescreen TVs is not OAR for all movies or TV shows. So if you support OAR no matter what TV you buy you will not be able to do away with the black bars completely.

Max
 

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