What's up with widescreen in the USA?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Sean Aaron, Jul 17, 2003.

  1. Sean Aaron

    Sean Aaron Second Unit

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    A colleague of mine just got back from two week's holiday in the States (Ohio and Georgia) and every time he went to a shop and bought widescreen DVDs he got sales staff asking him if he owned a widescreen set (to which he said "yes" like many of us in the UK) because widescreen DVDs required a widescreen set to view them.

    How is it possible that there are still people so clueless?!? I'll have to find out what shops these were, but it's quite shocking they don't know about letterboxing. Anyone else encountering this? I'll be happy to correct these folk if I get similar response, but I never encountered it when I lived in Oakland, California, so I'd be surprised to hear this upon my first visit back in three years.
     
  2. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Well, Ohio and Georgia are not exactly centers of tech sophistication when it comes to the average man. Most people didn't even know what widescreen was until DVDs came out.
     
  3. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Sean, it is not just widescreen about which sales staff are clueless. We have a ggod many in the retail outlets (especially the lower-end, mass-market places) that have not too much an idea about their stock or the general background of what they sell.

    These tend to be low-paying, entry-level or part-time jobs, with very high turnover. Which means that a lot of the staff is new and even with the best intentions, won’t know a lot.

    Of course you can get a part-time employee in a specialty area, who is highly knowledgeable. A lot of incipient filmmakers have taken jobs at video rental stores for example.

    I’m just making sure that you don’t confine your criticism of the state of our retail business to widescreen TV. [​IMG]
     
  4. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Considering the US is perhaps at the forefront when it comes to movie-making, I always ask myself this same question. The ignorance is across the board it seems, from the general public, to electronic stores retail staff. I give up when it comes to stores filling up 4x3 TV's with a 1.85:1 movie and 16x9 TV's filled with a 2.35:1 movie. People seem to be so damned afraid of a couple of little black bars. It is extremely frustrating.
     
  5. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Remember that so many Americans (obviously not all) wear ignorance with a badge of pride. They don't WANT to know, they like maintaining the status quo
     
  6. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

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    Lew nailed it. Most peopel in general retail stores know little about the products they sell. Some stores are better than others, but even at best buy, i've had employees assail me with completely wrong explanations.
     
  7. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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  8. Scott Varney

    Scott Varney Agent

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    A big problem (and I'm sure this is everywhere, not just Ohio where I live) is that the majority of people think they know more than they actually do. And these people are generally not shy, reclusive people. These are the people who try to educate everyone they know. Just spreading misinformation.

    I see this all the time... not just in the retail sector.
     
  9. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Gee guys, who are we defending here - a bunch of idiots?

    The vast majority of the people here do not have a clue what/why/how widescreen is, and don't want want to know.
    Until the TV set manufacturers pull those stupid 4:3 sets off of the store shelves and replace them with 16:9's, they'll remain that way.

    Glenn

    I'm not anti-American, I'm just anti-stupidity!
     
  10. Ryan FB

    Ryan FB Second Unit

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    Going by that reasoning, we'll have another wave of people with 16:9 sets upset because 2.35:1 movies "still have those bars even though the salesperson promised me they wouldn't". Or that older movies not shot with a widescreen OAR look all stretched out or have bars on the sides. Point being, 4:3 aspect ratio displays are not inherently stupid and are not neccessarily the problem, fundamentally the issue is about consumers being properly informed of what OAR is (and actually caring). The people who know about OAR and "just want the screen filled, no matter what", which can also apply to rabid 16:9 owners, will never be fully pleased.
     
  11. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    I've always wondered how many of those people passed high school geometry class??
     
  12. Tim_Prasuhn

    Tim_Prasuhn Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm from Fremont, Ohio, and mentioning widescreen around here gets a blank stare. a lot of the problem comes from people not seeing film as anything but entertainment. Sure, it is this, but its also an art form. Many just dont see that.
     
  13. jonathan_little

    jonathan_little Stunt Coordinator

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    Not helping things is that one of the largest DVD retailers in the country, Wal-Mart, is very pro-fullscreen. For new releases which have both fullscreen and widescreen versions, Wal-Mart will typically stock both versions initially. However, it seems once the widescreen version is sold out it is rarely re-ordered. Catalog titles like Sound of Music and Office Space are stocked fullscreen only.
     
  14. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Jeff is probably right. It also explains the failure of the metric system and the dollar coin (see thread in After Hours).
     
  15. JosephVales

    JosephVales Auditioning

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    Its gotten so bad at Best Buy that they tried to sell me a THX certified receiver because that would be the only way i could play THX dvds. They informed me that "THX was this great new sound system that created the BEST in sound quality" I had to look away from my friend because we were both in fear of laughing our butts off at hearing this. And its also surprising at Best Buy that the ones who walk around thinking of you as mindless, when they try to get you to buy a fullscreen dvd because they say it offers greater picture quality.
     
  16. Chet_F

    Chet_F Supporting Actor

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    Most people are sheep and just walk through life without really thinking about anything. Thus you have ignorance. All of my friends could give a rip about OAR. I've tried explaining it but they just stare with a blank look on their face. They just don't get it.
    Now talk to them about the header I put in my Jeep and their all EARS!!
     
  17. Aaron Cohen

    Aaron Cohen Second Unit

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    Joseph, the employees at Best Buy told me the same thing! They always spout out all sorts of random crap that is COMPLETELY wrong and it just upsets me. There is NOT ONE employee at my Best Buy who knows what anamorphic widescreen means, they all tell widescreen tv buyers that there will be NO black bars and don't explain anything about varying aspect ratios such as 1.85:1 and 2.35:1 and between or greater, and seemingly know absolutely nothing.

    Real conversation:

    Customer: This says widescreen. I'm interested in that but have thought that you need a widescreen television to watch it. Am I right?

    Employee: You are correct! You sure know your stuff. Let me show you where the full-screen dvd's are, those are the ones you want. Myself, I can't even see the difference between widescreen and full-screen only that full-screen is MUCH bigger and has wayyyyy more picture while widescreen cuts off heads with bars! (They both laugh uproariously and start making jokes about heads being cut off)

    I had to restrain myself from punching the employee from completely misleading the customer. He is a moron either way it goes though. If he is purposely misleading the customer he is a moron AND liar while if he is merely that unbelievably ignorant then he is simply a moron.

    The sad thing is that this guy WAS NOT a part-time worker. He has been there for at least 4 years, is always there, and is in his 40's.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Aaron,

    be sure to carry some print-outs from the widescreen avocate web site and hand them out to help bring santiy to those being led astray. I've often found that if I'm *polite* and *calm* and don't come accross as passionate or emotionally involved, that other customers are willing to listen to my explaination of "widescreen" after having been bam-doozled by a looser employee (or fellow customer). In almost every case where I've excercised care in maintaing an objective-persona, the other customer has expressed gratitutde for the clarification and walks away informed.

    important:

    be prepared for the customer to 100% understand everything you say, and then turn to you and say "Thanks! now I understand what widescreen really is...that it's showing you the whole picture without the sides cut off, but I *STILL* prefer to watch full-screen since I don't like looking at the black bars on my TV screen". If you press them they'll often say "For me, movies are just entertainment...not art".

    You have to be contented with that possible outcome ahead of time...everyone has a right to his/her preferences and you'll *really* piss folks off (as I have) by implying that they're "wrong" or "not as sophisticated" for prefering P/S as those who prefer OAR.

    Just be glad that at least they *know* what it's all about and hope that maybe next time they end up with a WS-only DVD and watch it...that maybe at some point it will "sink in" just how much better it is to see everything the director wanted them to see.

    BTW, I've had success educating sales-staff as well. It's worth a try and can often help raise the bar if even just a notch or two.

    Ok...getting off my soap-box now!

    dave [​IMG]
     
  19. Mark Bendiksen

    Mark Bendiksen Screenwriter

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  20. GrantM

    GrantM Stunt Coordinator

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    I guess i've been pretty lucky. I've bought many a widescreen DVD in Georgia without ever once being questioned or told I need a widescreen tv (which I have anyway).
     

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