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Old January 7th, 2008, 02:38 PM   #1
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What's so great about widescreen?

I have seen posts on various message boards where people are trying to achieve 16:9 ratio with masks, or saying how they can't stand it when folks still shoot in 4:3. But I really don't know why widescreen is supposedly better. I'd rather see an image larger than with black on top and bottom. Help me see the light - what's the deal?

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Old January 7th, 2008, 03:04 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Diane diGino View Post
I'd rather see an image larger than with black on top and bottom. Help me see the light - what's the deal?
The deal is *wider* as in any HDTV (or a proper widescreen display in standard definition).

See the attached image (click it to see the full size version). See how much wider the 16:9 aspect ratio is compared to the standard 4:3 aspect ratio? An HDTV display or a proper widescreen SD display has a screen that wide, so there are no "black bars" (commonly referred to as letterbox) above and below the image.
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Old January 7th, 2008, 03:10 PM   #3
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I know what it is. But what makes it more desirable? I personally don't enjoy watching widescreen, but if most people prefer it, I'll start shooting in 16:9 even though it doesn't thrill me - but I'm curious why people like it. Thanks!
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Old January 7th, 2008, 03:17 PM   #4
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Because it's a good step in the direction toward how we actually see things in real life (the field of view for a pair of human eyes is more like an oval shape, not a rectangle, but the increased width of 16:9 is a decent compromise).
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Old January 7th, 2008, 03:25 PM   #5
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I think its something only us film orientated folks obsess about, of all the people i know not one of them (outside the film/video world) have ever said "damn its 16:9" or vice versa. In fact most people i know like the screen to be filled. By watching a 16:9 image you are seeing more information but still regular folk think they are beeing cheated out of the top and bottom of their screen, I guess its one of those occasions the film world does it for the people cause they know whats better for them.

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Old January 7th, 2008, 03:29 PM   #6
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what is irritating is watching the wrong size, either 16:9 on a 4:3 tv, or watching 4:3 on a 16:9 tv
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Old January 7th, 2008, 03:32 PM   #7
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Andy and Chris make two points that are the most obvious. Wide screen comes closer to simulating our actual field of vision, and the ratio actually delivers more 'information' in terms of aspect ratio.

Unfortunately, in a glass half full/half empty world... when people see black bars on the screen they paid good money for, they feel 'cheated'. (Either letter boxed on 4:3 or pillar boxed on 16:9 screens) Doesn't matter if the presentation is 'cinematically correct', doesn't matter if its 'the way the director intended it'... they paid good money for that screen dammit, and they want it filled up! Such are the obstacles to change.
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Old January 7th, 2008, 03:37 PM   #8
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Andy and Chris make two points that are the most obvious. Wide screen comes closer to simulating our actual field of vision, and the ratio actually delivers more 'information' in terms of aspect ratio.

Unfortunately, in a glass half full/half empty world... when people see black bars on the screen they paid good money for, they feel 'cheated'. (Either letter boxed on 4:3 or pillar boxed on 16:9 screens) Doesn't matter if the presentation is 'cinematically correct', doesn't matter if its 'the way the director intended it'... they paid good money for that screen dammit, and they want it filled up! Such are the obstacles to change.
I don't feel cheated when I see the black bars on top and bottom - I just feel frustrated that the image is smaller and makes me have to squint! I wouldn't mind black bars on the sides - at least the faces are bigger.
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Old January 7th, 2008, 03:40 PM   #9
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The deal is *wider* as in any HDTV (or a proper widescreen display in standard definition).

See the attached image (click it to see the full size version). See how much wider the 16:9 aspect ratio is compared to the standard 4:3 aspect ratio? An HDTV display or a proper widescreen SD display has a screen that wide, so there are no "black bars" (commonly referred to as letterbox) above and below the image.
What do you look for when you buy a TV so that it will display properly?
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Old January 7th, 2008, 03:42 PM   #10
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Personally, I would rather see the feature as it was shot and intended to be seen than the "modified to fit your screen" version. I do not buy a feature in "full screen", and it has nothing to do with what display I'm watching it on.

The widescreen version isn't cutting anything off of the top and bottom, it's the full screen version that is cropping the left and right.

The fact that the widescreen version of anything contains more data, more story, more visuals, more of the action, cancels out the want to fill the screen.

4:3 displays are slowly going away, and while it may be a long process, I would rather shoot more and crop it if I need to than shoot too small and look awkward later.

Again, that's just me personally. Your aspect may vary.
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Old January 7th, 2008, 03:47 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Diane diGino View Post
What do you look for when you buy a TV so that it will display properly?
most TV's and projectors can change their aspect ratio to suit the film your watching so its not that big of a problem any more.

Andy
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Old January 7th, 2008, 03:56 PM   #12
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Can you even buy a 4:3 TV anymore?? Other than some 13" TV/VCR combo thingy?

Widescreen is here, 2009 is the mandated switch over for digital, and there's nothing that will alter that. But I did really like my old rotary dial phone...

The first time I saw how much is chopped out of a "wide screen" movie to make if "fit" a "full screen" presentation, I vowed not to rent or buy "full screen".

You don't see a movie at a theater in 4:3, and the director and the crew didn't produce it in 4:3...

The only ones who intended a 4:3 presentation were the guys who had to move the crop box around the scenes and decide what was most important in each frame (characters which were placed by "golden thirds" are typically centered for instance). Once you realize how much is chopped out, you won't mind "black bars". You lose a lot of the "feel" of a movie from my perception. That doesn't mean to say you can't have excellent content in a 4:3 format (or B&W for that matter!), but it's going to look and feel "retro".
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Old January 7th, 2008, 04:03 PM   #13
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and the converter box to use the old televisions are under 50 dollars. 2009 will have no affect on what type of tv people own. most people I know refuse to buy a new tv until the old one dies. most people I ask can only see the difference between HD and SD when they are side by side. yes new sales are 16:9 and becoming predominately HD, but what percentage of the people in the united states are buying a TV in the next 5 years?
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Old January 7th, 2008, 04:17 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Andy Graham View Post
most TV's and projectors can change their aspect ratio to suit the film your watching so its not that big of a problem any more.

Andy
But, as long as some producers use 4:3 and others use 16:9, there will still be black bars on any kind of tv.

What it really comes down to is personal preference. If I watch a theatrical movie at home, I want to watch it in widescreen.

Others seem to prefer the 4:3--go figure.

Also remember, older theatrical movies, mostly b&w era, were shot in 4:3. Citizen Kane for instance.
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Old January 7th, 2008, 04:33 PM   #15
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Also remember, older theatrical movies, mostly b&w era, were shot in 4:3. Citizen Kane for instance.
hey, if it's good enough for Orson Welles, then it's good enough for me.

But seriously, when I watch Citizen Kane, I want to watch it in 4:3 because that's how Mr. Welles framed it and intended it. And if I want to watch Saving Private Ryan, then I'll want to watch it in 1.85:1 which is the way Mr. Spielberg framed it. I would certainly miss something if I didn't.

But you're right Andy, it comes down to personal preference and necessity. I bought a new tv recently and 4:3 looks out of place on it, but 16:9 and alike looks great.

Look at Chris Hurd's illustration and know that 16:9 is not a sliver of 4:3, but 4:3 is a part of 16:9
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