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What should I look for? (1 Viewer)


Stunt Coordinator
Jan 24, 2004
I just got my 1st widescreen tv (Sony KDF50WE655 lcd) and I have a question about dvd movies. I own tons of widescreen movies but are there any that will eliminate the black bars entirely? I noticed the black bars are considerably smaller than on my 4:3 RPTV but I wouldn't mind if they were gone altogether but without changing the aspect of my tv to wide zoom or something like that.


Jan 11, 2001
Im sure theres some FAQ around here that explains this, but I'll give you the general rundown.

Most 16x9 TVs offer a zoomed or stretch mode that can completely eliminate the black bars on movies, even in 2.35:1 mode. As I'm sure you've noticed by watching movies on your old set (and by reading the spec list on the back of DVDs) that there are different aspect ratios of widescreen. 1.66:1, 1.78:1, 1.85:1, 2:1, 2.2:1, 2.35:1, etc. The higher the first number, the "wider" the picture and the thicker the black bars. All widescreen TVs are 1.78:1, so any movie that is wider than that, is going to still have black bars. If you absolutely don't want to see them, use your TV's zoom or stretch modes to distort, or crop the picture to make it fit.

Any home theater nut would fall out of their chairs to think that someone would willingly skew their picture just to eliminate black bars, but to each his own. Every TV is different, so read your model's manual for instructions on how to do that.

Lastly, one thing I want to point out, since you sound like a bit of a novice and are just getting your first 16x9 capable TV. Most DVD players by default are set to 4x3 mode, which means that your DVD player is downscaling anamorphic transfers by removing every third horizontal line of picture information. You probably wouldn't even notice this, as your TV is still going to display the picture in its correct aspect ratio, but you are basically losing 33% of your picture information on anamorphic DVDs.

Check your DVD player's manual for instructions on how to get into the player's hardware setup screen (don't confuse this with the software setup that is contained on most DVD discs), and change the player's display output to 16x9. This will ensure that you are getting the most of your picture quality.

Good luck! :D

Lars Vermundsberget

Supporting Actor
Nov 20, 2000
With material with ARs of about 1.66:1 to 1.85:1 you should have practically no "black bars" on a 16:9 TV set. With really wide widescreen (about 2.4:1) or "square" (1.33:1) material there will be bars if you don't compromise the shape of the picture.

You'll have to take one or the other compromise.

Think of fitting photos of various shapes ("aspect ratios") into a fixed frame. This is not a difficult concept.

Jeff Gatie

Senior HTF Member
Aug 19, 2002

He'll not notice this if he is viewing in "zoom" mode. If he is viewing in the proper "full" mode for anamorphic DVD's, he would see bars on all widescreen material (even 1.85:1 or 1.78:1) with the picture squished if his DVD player is set to 4:3. This may be what he is seeing, so checking the following would get his gear setup right:

1) The DVD player is set to 16:9 (widescreen) in the setup menu (often only accessible with no disk in the player).
2) The TV is in "full" mode (or the mode that does a uniform fullscreen with no distortion)
3) The DVD being viewed is "Enhanced for widescreen".

With the above settings, a 1:85:1 film should show very small or no bars (due to overscan, probably no bars at all) and a 2.35:1 film should show small bars. The aspect ratio can sometimes be found on the back of the DVD. If this is confusing, he can list the brand and model number of the DVD player and the DVD being played; we'll try to help with the settings.

P.S. I've looked up the viewing modes of that particular Sony and "Full" is the mode for anamorphic DVD's, "Zoom" is the mode for non-anamorphic. Pressing "Wide" on the remote toggles between the various modes. Make sure you are viewing an "Enhanced for Widescreen" (or "Enhanced for 16:9" or "Anamorphic", they all mean the same) in "Full" mode to do the tests above.


Jan 11, 2001
Good info Mike...it should be required reading for anyone who buys a 16x9 TV! :D

Its amazing to me how many people who frequently go to the movie theater don't realize that some movie screens are wider than others. They just think that all movies are in the same aspect ratio, and when you explain that to them, they think you're crazy when you tell them that theaters have two different screen sizes.

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