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Old April 5th, 2005, 12:37 AM   #1
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anamorphic vs widescreen?

Few real quick questions for clarification:

Whats the difference between anamorphic and widescreen lens'...DVDs... etc.?

Also, is it possible to shoot widescreen/and or anamorphic and have it automatically letterboxed to fit on a 4:3 tvset?
If I buy a widescreen DVD, it doesnt automatically shrink the letterbox for me to see the full shot on my 4:3? Or does it crop the edges? If so, whats the point of buying widescreen dvds and/or shooting widescreen if most people have 4:3 sets? (I know its a changing trend, but still...)

thanks~!
~jeff
www.j-geissler.com
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Old April 5th, 2005, 02:02 AM   #2
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Jeff,

If you poke around in your DVD player menus, you should find a display setup. That's where you tell the player what aspect ratio your tv is. If you select 4:3, it should letterbox the widescreen stuff automatically when it sees the anamorphic flag bit set on the DVD. Had to correct this on a client's dvd player recently. For the most part, anamorphic and widescreen are used interchangably.

BTW, the player should give you a choice of letterbox or pan and scan for widescreen dvds played on your 4:3 set. I prefer letterbox.

regards,

-gb-

p.s. many Hollywood releases can be bought in both standard and widescreen versions. Be sure to check the jacket when you buy.
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Old April 5th, 2005, 02:17 AM   #3
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Jeff,
It seems a few people are having this problem. I think Greg is on thee money, you need to tell the dvd player you have a 4:3 tv, but would prefer it to letterbox (4:3 LB) rather than crop part of the picture to fill the screen (4:3 PS).

While Anamorphic and widescreen mean different things, they are often used interchangably and when speaking about store bought DVDs it usually means the same thing.

Widescreen usually means anything wider than 4:3. eg 16:9, 1.85:1, 2.35:1, etc

When you are talking about acquiring video (I assume that's the reason you posted in the XL2 forum) the distinction must be made between 'anamorphic widescreen' and 'letterboxed widescreen'

My 2c: always buy the widescreen version!!
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Old April 5th, 2005, 07:47 AM   #4
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Well there are actually a number of "widescreen" DVD's that are just letterboxed 4:3, although they're mostly older ones. Look closely at the fine print on the back of the case. If it doesn't say "anamorphic" or "enhanced for widescreen TV's" then it's probably just letterboxed. What you *don't* want are what they now seem to call "full screen" versions; these are non-widescreen pan and scan DVD's.

To answer your original question, "anamorphic" originates in the Greek words which mean "reshaped." In the early days of widescreen movies there were a variety of frame sizes, some of which used exotic cameras and projectors. Then someone got the idea that widescreen could be acheived with standard 35mm 4:3 cameras and projectors by using special lenses. The lens on the camera squeezed the widescreen image into the 4:3 frame, and the projector lens unsqueezed it.

So basically it was a "hack" to get the widescreen proportion with existing equipment instead of investing in expensive 70mm cameras, film and projectors which had a native widescreen format and higher resolution. Since it was cheap, and provided acceptable quality, it became a standard.

If you're interested in the whole topic of widescreen films then be sure to visit one of my favorite websites, The American Widescreen Museum.
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Old April 5th, 2005, 07:33 PM   #5
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wow. you guys rock! Thanks for all the info!

"When you are talking about acquiring video (I assume that's the reason you posted in the XL2 forum) the distinction must be made between 'anamorphic widescreen' and 'letterboxed widescreen'"

letterboxed would just be normal footage with the black bars right?
Anamorphic would be the true 16:9 footage?
Not quite sure if I have that right... Correct me if I'm wrong.

"
p.s. many Hollywood releases can be bought in both standard and widescreen versions. Be sure to check the jacket when you buy."

Yeah, I figured that out awhile back--It just makes me cringe to think people prefer full screen over the widescreen versions!

I bought the HBO series Six Feet Under, and I didnt see a widescreen available, but when I watched on HBO it seemed letterboxed... wonder if I screwed up and bought the full screen version... (though I didnt see any boxes saying 'widescreen' at the store)

Thanks for the clarifications/notes. This board is extremely helpful!
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Old April 5th, 2005, 07:42 PM   #6
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Some movies may not be available in widescreen. I know the recent "King Arthur" movie (2004) was only released on DVD in fullscreen for the standard edition (which pissed me off) and widescreen for the directors cut.
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Old April 5th, 2005, 07:44 PM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Jeff Geissler :letterboxed would just be normal footage with the black bars right? Anamorphic would be the true 16:9 footage? -->>>

You got it right :-) Well, actually people use the term "true 16:9" interchangeably with "anamorphic 16:9". If you wanted to be picky you could argue that anamorphic isn't "true" 16:9 like HD which is natively in that format...

You have to look very carefully at the back side of the DVD case to see if it's a widescreen edition. Some of the newer ones are better and will say widescreen on the front, but more often than not it will be in tiny print on the back. There are also a number of dual sided DVD's with widescreen versions on one side and full screen on the other.
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Old April 5th, 2005, 07:47 PM   #8
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its funny how often we interchange terms to mean the same thing when they really arent! but then they are...
oh, the ever present duality.
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Old April 6th, 2005, 08:59 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Boyd Ostroff : Well there are actually a number of "widescreen" DVD's that are just letterboxed 4:3, although they're mostly older ones. Look closely at the fine print on the back of the case. If it doesn't say "anamorphic" or "enhanced for widescreen TV's" then it's probably just letterboxed. What you *don't* want are what they now seem to call "full screen" versions; these are non-widescreen pan and scan DVD's.

To answer your original question, "anamorphic" originates in the Greek words which mean "reshaped." In the early days of widescreen movies there were a variety of frame sizes, some of which used exotic cameras and projectors. Then someone got the idea that widescreen could be acheived with standard 35mm 4:3 cameras and projectors by using special lenses. The lens on the camera squeezed the widescreen image into the 4:3 frame, and the projector lens unsqueezed it.

So basically it was a "hack" to get the widescreen proportion with existing equipment instead of investing in expensive 70mm cameras, film and projectors which had a native widescreen format and higher resolution. Since it was cheap, and provided acceptable quality, it became a standard.

If you're interested in the whole topic of widescreen films then be sure to visit one of my favorite websites, The American Widescreen Museum. -->>>

Boyd,

Thanks for that well written explanation. I was sure there was some distinction but never bothered to track it down myself. Although HD is native 16:9, there are apparently a few HD broadcasts in 4:3. The 'David Letterman Show' is one such example. I can see the quality in the picture, but I also sometimes catch a glimpse of one of the studio cams with the letters 'HD' prominently displayed on the lens hood. I don't know why they do this since Jay Leno's show is HD and is shown in 16:9.

Anyway, thanks again for that info.

-gb-
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