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Old December 20th, 2003, 05:05 AM   #1
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Question about widescreen


OK, this might be a dumb question, but i really am not sure about it.. When you look at a DVD that is a "Widescreen" DVD on a 4:3 video screen.. Does it crop of some of the footage, or does it know it is 4:3 and squeeze the picture to 4:3 ??

And what happens if you watch a 4:3 produced video on a 16:9 type tv? I am assuming you will get black bars on the right and left sides??

mike M.
Mike Moncrief
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Old December 20th, 2003, 08:42 AM   #2
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Not a dumb question! If a DVD is anamorphic and properly made then the player squashes it vertically and inserts a black bar above and below it on a 4:3 screen. But that same DVD will fill the screen on a 16:9 TV. However the user needs to properly configure their DVD player through a menu item that tells it whether the TV is 4:3 or 16:9.

Cropping wouldn't accomplish this. It could put the black bars above and below the image, but everthing with still appear stretched vertically. Remember, the actual image on the DVD is 480x720 regardless of whether it's widescreen. The widescreen version is just compressed. So on a widescreen TV the image gets stretched in the horizontal dimension to bring it into proportion. On a 4:3 screen it's compressed in the vertical dimension to give the correct proportion, with a loss of vertical resolution however since not all 480 scan lines are used.

Now that's a good question about the letterboxing of 4:3 DVD's on widescreen TV's. I just tried one with my 16:9 screen and it didn't seem to letterbox (with the widescreen monitor set to "full" mode). However it's a simple thing to fix by using the remote to switch wide modes, but this is a property of the monitor and not the DVD player.

Now in the case of this particular DVD, it was actually be letterboxed to the proper proportion in a 4:3 frame (eg: cropped 4:3, not anamorphic widescreen). If I set my monitor to "normal" it became correctly propoprtioned, but actually had a black border on all sides. If I set the wide mode to "zoom" it filled the entire screen width and put a very narrow black band above and below. So if this had really been a straight 4:3 DVD without the letterbox cropping, part of the image would fall outside of the screen at the top and bottom.

So the answer (at least in my case) is that the DVD player itself isn't doing anything to adapt the 4:3 image to my widescreen TV, I'm doing this myself by switching modes on the TV itself.

Maybe someone else would like to give this a try and see if they get similar results. The various widescreen modes can get confusing at times, but basically all you have to do is keep pushing the "wide mode" button on the remote to cycle through them until it does what you want :-)
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Old December 20th, 2003, 10:35 AM   #3
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your observations of what your DVD player does to its output signal are generally right. I say "generally" because I am sure there's a DVD player out there that breaks any rule you care to create!

Anyway, for some reason lost in the minutes of committee meetings, the DVD spec only provides for manipulating how 16:9 material is output from the player, and does not provide for any manipulation of 4:3.
If the DVD material is 16:9 then, depending on how you set the DVD player, it will output as 16:9, as 4:3 pan and scan, or as 4:3 letterbox. The DVD author will sometimes have done some legwork to support the pan&scan option. If the DVD material is 4:3, then that's it, you get 4:3 output.

My Thomson 16:9 tv unfortunately does not understand pillarboxing, so 4:3 material is either stretched sideways, or cropped top and bottom depending on the tv settings. Ho hum!

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Old December 20th, 2003, 11:28 AM   #4
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<<<-- Originally posted by Julian Luttrell : My Thomson 16:9 tv unfortunately does not understand pillarboxing -->>>

Aha! Pillarboxing... I knew there was a name for that.
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