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March 23, 2009


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Chris Carlin

There are many, many different aspect ratios that a movie can be filmed in. What did you expect the HD standard to do, require a shape-shifting screen? :)

Anyway, one consideration is that plenty of standard definition content still exists and will continue to exist, including all TV shows produced in the past. A slightly narrower aspect ratio will show these more effectively.

The HD standard was a compromise intended to show a wide variety of content as effectively as possible. They certainly considered the aspect ratios of movies, but they also considered the very different ratios of television.

Stephen Skarlatos

I agree, the standard was a compromise, but I would have thought that the studios would have put some thought into providing content that uses 100% of the real estate on an HDTV panel.


i just purchased a sony blu-ray. the first movie i watched was in full screen. i then rented three movies in letter box. i an very dissapointed.i would never have bought this product if i was aware of this.


I'm not sure what your complaint is. Are you saying that all content should use only one ratio? The only solutions are:

1. Insist that all content creators use only one ratio. 4:3 or 16:9, etc.
2. Accept that multiple ratios exist and either letterbox or stretch the picture.


Also, many TVs will stretch a picture past the screen borders. This will let you stretch the 2.4:1 letterboxed top and bottom to the real top and bottom of your TV. The left and right sides will be cut off, but they would be cut off anyway if the material was filmed in 16:9.

Stephen Skarlatos

My complaint is that content originators should take into consideration providing an aspect ratio which makes full use of screen real estate available on HD panels.

Stretch is an unworkable option because of the distortion. You should have the choice to view the content in your HD panel's native aspect ratio or better yet since the bulk of a motion picture's profits are made by disc sales, they should shoot in the original content in 16:9.


It's possible there are a couple of issues here. Perhaps you've never seen Lawrence of Arabia in it's native 70 MM, 2.55 to 1 aspect ratio. The directors intent is to provide you with a sweeping panorama of the desert in a way that you will be breathtaken by the cinematography. To play this on your 1.78 to 1 TV will mean nothing exists above and below the scene if you set it to meet the edges of the TV. If you want the TV filled, set it to hit the top and bottom and cut off the ends. But you will be missing almost half the shot. Instead I suggest you buy a TV with a black frame, play the widescreen movie, turn off all the lights in the room, and you won't see the dark part of the screen where no image exists. Beyond that, you may be suffering some form of obsesive compulsive disorder if you are truly upset that panavision movies don't "fit" on your TV.

Stephen Skarlatos

You are missing the point. Lawrence of Arabia was produced in 1962, HD was developed in the 1990's. All I am saying is that Directors should be taking the HD aspect ratio into consideration when shooting a new movie since the bulk of their revenue is coming from DVD sales. Also the IMAX format which is today's Panavision the HD aspect ratio.

bob sauce

Next time you rent a movie.Watch the aspect ratio behind the box if you can't endure the supplice of letterboxe.Or stretch the image so you lose 20 % of the image.

And yes Imax Camera record in 1:78:1 .. Some shot in the Dark Knight are in 16:9 and the image = fantastic.


I agree. It is ridiculous that the entertainment industry touted 16:9 1080i/p HDTV as a way to watch movies in there same format as in the theatre, instead of a "thinner" movie that reduced the effective or equivalent TV screen size making it harder to see. So you have to buy the widescreen 16:9 TV in a much bigger sizethanh the old 4:3 screens to get the same horizontal height. In otherwords a 48" 16:9 replaces a 36" 4:3 if you want to see the same fullscreen height. Fine, I have a bigger TV and for a few years I got to watch all my movies and TV covering a much bigger screen and it was cool.

Problem is there are a bunch of asshole directors who think the letterbox look of a 16:9 appearing on a 4:3 screen is artistic. One makes a movey like that, then another, now they all do it.

Then the movie theatres build even bigger to accomodate wider movies, by artisitic assholes who have a "vision."

So you buy a 48" 16:9 HDTV and you have to watch movies that are now even skinnier in what appears to be something like a 20:9 ratio. This makes the effective horizontal height of the movie the same as a 28" old standard 480p definition box from 1990.

So how am I advantaged now? When do the 20:9 screens come out? Right after everyone has upgraded to HD3DTVs?

It drives me freaking nuts.

Jack Dawson

The movie industry should put a widescreen( 2:40) and a fullscreen( 1: 78) on a bluray disc. What is the point of all that storage, for crappy extras?

Jack Ryan

a 1080p movie with black bars on top and bottom of the screen looks horrible, whats the point of 1080p when half the screen is gone? at least put two versions on a bluray disc? What the point of 50 gigs of space when half the screen is gone? otherwise I will not buy bluray movies.


funny how so many commentators have a "just deal with it" attitude. they are getting fleeced and are just as happy. these are the people who are okay with price fixing just because they think "supply and demand, if it is too expensive, dont buy it, it is okay!" they miss the issue at hand. proponents of HDTV did argue 16:9 as the perfect solution to eliminate letterbox. they lied and changed the game. shame on them!


Yes! It is Bull $hit! It's a way to continue profits though. And that my friend is how you get screwed and Jewed!

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