Why gray bars? (An Unusual OAR story)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dome Vongvises, Jan 10, 2003.

  1. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    I can't necessarily say that I'm an OAR (original aspect ratio for the uninitiated) superhero, but I do my best to from time to time to make sure that only an OAR product is sold. For example, I "vote" with my buying dollar by buying OAR products at Wal-Mart (as opposed to not using my buying dollar there, otherwise, they'll keep thinking that nobody wants widescreen movies. People sometimes seem to forget that a lack of sales doesn't necessarily motivate people the way you want it too). And sometimes, as juvenile as this may sound, I put widescreen copies in front of the foolscreen or pan 'n' scam ones. Hey, just doing my job here. [​IMG]
    Anyways, this brings us (you're still reading this? [​IMG] )to the current topic, a widescreen television. My dad's been interested in buying an HD widescreen television, and much like myself, will probably "research" for the first two years before making a final decision.
    I was kind of excited about the prospect until I realized, "wait a minute, how will I watch full frame shows or films with an aspect ratio of 4:3?". So we were in this home theater shop, and the guy demonstrates.
    Ugh, whose bright idea (pun intended) was it to use gray bars to showcase full-frame or 4:3 presentations? So I ask the guy, "What can you do about those grey bars, can you make them black or something?" The guy said something to the effect of "Yeah you can, but screen burn-in ensues. The only way to alleviate this is to stretch the picture." Ugh that was ugly.
    I then began to question my OAR beliefs and found that what I've been advocating may just as well have been a matter of convenience. What I'm I talking about? Let me explain. When I watch movies, I do so at night and with the lights turned either very low or off. This way, I create a semi-theatrical experience.
    I used to hate black bars, and due to some miraculous intervention during the summer of 1997, I started to buy nothing but widescreen movies. I realized now that one of the main reasons I could tolerate widescreen is because of the theatrical setting I made for myself. The black bars blended seamlessly into both the dark and the outer contours of the television set. It would be some two years before I finally embraced widescreen as the preferred way of seeing the movie because that would be the way the artist had intended it. And with some fine examples of what I was missing with a foolscreen or pan 'n' scam presentation (Patton is a great example), OAR widescreen is now the only way I want to go.
    And now there's this problem with gray bars. It's flat out ugly. My theatrical showing is ruined. It just shines at you not like the beacon of hope, but like some police officer wanting to see your registration. In other words, very annoying.
    What am I to do? Please tell me there's another way. Or am I just an OAR poser? I'm probably no better than the guys who just can't stand black bars. [​IMG]
     
  2. Julie K

    Julie K Screenwriter

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    You should adjust your contrast and brightness way down on a new RPTV anyway to reduce burn-in. This also has the added benefit of making the gray bars darker.
    If you still don't like it, then make some mattes to cover the gray bars. Cover some cardboard with black fabric and use velcro to attach to the set. Consider this the equivalent of the curtains in the theater [​IMG]
     
  3. Jagan Seshadri

    Jagan Seshadri Supporting Actor

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    Put some black cardboard over the gray bars.
    The grey bars are only there because most TV shows are in 4:3 and you don't want the screen phosphors on a 16:9 TV to age differently by using black bars.
    So, why not have grey bars when you play back widescreen DVDs on 4:3 TV sets? The average user watches far less widescreen shows than standard 4:3 shows, so the chance of unevenly aging the phosphors is small.
    I know I'm not writing very clearly this afternoon. Read the post again if you are still confused [​IMG]
    -JNS
     
  4. Julie K

    Julie K Screenwriter

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    Hmmm...yes, it would be much easier to start with black cardboard [​IMG]
     
  5. John Miles

    John Miles Stunt Coordinator

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    Here's what I don't get.
    Why are people (RPTV manufacturers as well as the dealers that sell them and the consumers that buy them) worried about burn-in on the sides of a 16:9 TV displaying a 4:3 image, but not on the top and bottom of the same 16:9 TV when displaying 2.35:1 movies?
    I just upgraded my old 4:3 Pioneer Elite Pro-96 monitor to a Pro-630HD, which is a 16:9 set. Now, I don't watch TV at all, and I own very few 4:3 movies. But I do have a growing collection of DVDs, almost all of which are either 2.35:1, 1.85:1, or 1.66:1. If I need gray bars on the sides when watching a 4:3 image, why don't I need the same gray bars on the top and bottom when watching a 2.35:1 image?
    Anyone know what's up with this? I certainly never saw any burn-in on the Pro-96 due to watching letterboxed films, so I'm not overly concerned about it on the new set. The reasoning behind those obnoxious gray bars in 4:3 mode escapes me completely. If burn-in is unlikely, why don't they give me the choice to turn the gray bars off? And if it's a serious danger, why don't I have the option to turn them ON for 2.35:1 films?
    It strikes me that this thread might be better served in the display-devices forum...
     
  6. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Julie K said:
     
  7. Bill Slack

    Bill Slack Supporting Actor

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    The brighter the image the more wear on the phosphors. (I guess black bars are technically 'burnt out' then...) but the problem is uneven wear. The gray is a neutral/average amount of brightness that will hopefully keep things in check.

    I never stretch any of my content. I either zoom it, or watch it 4:3 pillar boxed with BLACK bars. I've watched stuff pillar boxed ever since I got my HD receiver which has been about 1.5 yrs, I think.

    The tv itself generates gray bars if I watch in 4:3 mode with a non-interlaced signal, but I only send progressive/HD signals to it, in which case I use my stb/dvd player/iscan to do the scaling all of which can display black bars instead.

    I usually switch to grey bars on B/W material, and to zoom mode (crop top/bottom) if it's something that isn't effected by it too much (History Channel, news, etc.)
     
  8. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    If I were going to make mattes, I'd use black static-cling vinyl. It's hard to find and I've only found it in rolls for $25, but the "thread," such as it is, can be found here.
    Jan
     

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