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black bars while watching movies on widescreen tv?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
ok, so i just bought a 17 inch widescreen lcd tv for my new apartment, and tried it out last night. while watching movies, it gives two black bars--one above and one below the picture. is there any way to get rid of this so that i can watch w/ the whole screen?
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post #2 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by _ alliance _
ok, so i just bought a 17 inch widescreen lcd tv for my new apartment, and tried it out last night. while watching movies, it gives two black bars--one above and one below the picture. is there any way to get rid of this so that i can watch w/ the whole screen?

There's probably some viewing mode to fill the screen entirely, but at a cost to other parameters, of course. The bottomline is that the "widescreen" ratio that manufacturers eventually adapted has already become "dated" wrt to the widescreen movies that are actually being made now. Movies are being shot at wider and wider ratios these days, thus the appearance of blackbars even on a 16x9 format screen. If you were to show a widescreen movie from the 80's or a "moderately wide" movie from the 90's, that would probably fit a 16x9 screen quite well. Just goes to show that we may never completely get rid of the blackbars due to the mis-sync of hardware and movie software.
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post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Randycat99
There's probably some viewing mode to fill the screen entirely, but at a cost to other parameters, of course. The bottomline is that the "widescreen" ratio that manufacturers eventually adapted has already become "dated" wrt to the widescreen movies that are actually being made now. Movies are being shot at wider and wider ratios these days, thus the appearance of blackbars even on a 16x9 format screen. If you were to show a widescreen movie from the 80's or a "moderately wide" movie from the 90's, that would probably fit a 16x9 screen quite well. Just goes to show that we may never completely get rid of the blackbars due to the mis-sync of hardware and movie software.



yes, that does make sense. thanks.
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post #4 of 21
depends which aspect ratios you're dealing with... DVD (source), Player / TV (supported settings)

Anamorphic DVDs come in "Widescreen", "Letterbox" "FullScreen", and various "Enhanced for blah" sub-versions.

links with graphical comparisons and technical explanations

Widescreen-O-Rama

Widescreen TV settings and their effects on picture

examples of "DVD pixel stretch" seen in user-captured footage
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post #5 of 21
If you're determined to look at the black bars as a "problem" that should be solved, realize that these are your only choices:

(1) Look at the black bars anyway.
(2) Distort the picture so it stretches and fills the black area.
(3) Magnify the picture until it fills the screen, meaning that the edges of the picture are cut off and missing.
(4) Some mix of (2) and (3).

Which options are available depend on the source material, the player, and the display you have.

If you don't want part of the picture thrown away, and don't want unnaturally tall people and extra tall buildings and oval wheels on cars, you'll choose (1).
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post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by Randycat99
The bottomline is that the "widescreen" ratio that manufacturers eventually adapted has already become "dated" wrt to the widescreen movies that are actually being made now. Movies are being shot at wider and wider ratios these days, thus the appearance of blackbars even on a 16x9 format screen.

Actually, newer films are less wide than older films, but still wider than the 1.85:1 (16x9) that was adopted for the next generation of TVs. Panavision was the standard in the 70's, and it's 2.35:1 (21.15x9) and Cinemascope was popular before that with ratios of up to 3:1 (27x9). Standard TV is 1.33:1 (12x9).

In case you couldn't tell, I like the little black bars. And if I could buy a 22x9 TV I would.
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post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by bunge
Actually, newer films are less wide than older films, but still wider than the 1.85:1 (16x9) that was adopted for the next generation of TVs. Panavision was the standard in the 70's, and it's 2.35:1 (21.15x9) and Cinemascope was popular before that with ratios of up to 3:1 (27x9). Standard TV is 1.33:1 (12x9).

In case you couldn't tell, I like the little black bars. And if I could buy a 22x9 TV I would.

Newer v Older? By newer do you mean anything produced after 1959? Because 2.35:1 aspect ratio has been the defacto widescreen/scope/anamorphic format, developed by Fox and standardized by Pananvision, since the 1960's. Sure, there were wider formats experimented with between the late 1940's and early 1970's, but none of them became "standard". 70mm almost took off, but died when grain-free 35mm film emulsions and digital sound killed it.

The united states has been producing ALL of its theatrical productions in one of two formats: 1.85:1 and 2.35:1 for a loooooonnnngg time now. Both of which are always going to be wider than 16x9 and will almost always have some sort've letterboxing on widescreen displays. Why on earth the consortium picked the 16x9 format knowing that it was incompatible with the film industry's narrowest format still confounds me.

To this day I have friends who still prefer a cropped and/or distorted image over letterboxing because "I bought a bigscreen tv and I wish they'd fill it" logic. Why would you not want to view a film in its original composition as the filmmaker intended it to be seen? I couldn't imagine cropping off the edges of Peter Jackson's imagery in LOTR so that it "appears" bigger regardless of the fact the the zoomed/cropped image is now softer and fuzzier because it's being forced into something it isn't.
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post #8 of 21
You know what's annoying? I was at a friend's house and he has a widescreen TV. We were watching a movie which was in a widescreen format. The entire picture was vertically squished, with black bars along the top and bottom! Why? I have no idea! Maybe the TV was just a piece of crap? I've seen how some wide TVs treat all pictures as if they're 4:3, therefore squishing the picture vertically (even if it's displaying a movie designed for widescreen TVs).
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Luca Rescigno
You know what's annoying? I was at a friend's house and he has a widescreen TV. We were watching a movie which was in a widescreen format. The entire picture was vertically squished, with black bars along the top and bottom! Why? I have no idea! Maybe the TV was just a piece of crap? I've seen how some wide TVs treat all pictures as if they're 4:3, therefore squishing the picture vertically (even if it's displaying a movie designed for widescreen TVs).


you redescribed my original post...
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post #10 of 21
Basically, it was one of the video modes of the TV that was squeezing a wider widescreen program onto a 16x9 widescreen TV. Personally, I don't know why anyone would ever settle for that mode. If a TV cannot even remain geometrically correct to the original image (meaning a circle appears as a circle, not the effective aspect ratio), what is even the point of high performance video?

Blackbars are the least invasive solution to the problem of nonmatching aspect ratios, IMO. It's just a matter of acknowledging in your mind that you can ignore them. Afterall, the plastic borders of your TV case aren't part of the image, either. So just imagine the blackbars are part of the TV case.

Possibly a good way to alleviate the blackbars issue is if there was some sort of manual or automatic adjustment that could be made on-the-fly to the blackbars, so they weren't so black. Depending on the lighting level in the room, you should be able to adjust the blackness so that it blends away into the local environment. As they are now, they are "fixed" such that they are either "too black" or "not black enough" (depending on where your TV brightness setting is and the ambiant lighting of the room), thus drawing attention to their presence.
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post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by _ alliance _
you redescribed my original post...

That's because the DVD player's setup is set for a 4:3 tv and not setup for a 16x9 tv. If they would setup the player correctly, it would present the widescreen video correctly on a widescreen TV. Otherwise, the player's going to assume it's a 4:3 tv and will "stretch" or "zoom" to fill up the screen.
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post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by Northgate
Newer v Older? By newer do you mean anything produced after 1959? Because 2.35:1 aspect ratio has been the defacto widescreen/scope/anamorphic format, developed by Fox and standardized by Pananvision, since the 1960's.

What I meant was MiBII was 1.85:1 while things after 1959 and before roughly 1980 would have been wider. Since the advent of the VCR, Hollywood has shifted to getting closer to the 1.33:1 ration for a quick and easy translation to traditional TVs.
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post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by Northgate
That's because the DVD player's setup is set for a 4:3 tv and not setup for a 16x9 tv. If they would setup the player correctly, it would present the widescreen video correctly on a widescreen TV. Otherwise, the player's going to assume it's a 4:3 tv and will "stretch" or "zoom" to fill up the screen.

If that were the case, he would be seeing vertical blackbars, not horizontal blackbars. Clearly he is describing a situation where an image that is wider than 16x9 is being shown on a 16x9 monitor, hence getting squeezed vertically. That's going to happen with pretty much any movie made today and likely since the last 8 years or so, until they figure out how to activate a different display mode that introduces the letterbox bars.
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post #14 of 21
Black bars on the TV screen ?
How else is the darkness going to get in ?
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post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by _ alliance _
you redescribed my original post...

You didn't say anything about vertical squishing of the picture.

Anyway, I guess they just set up their DVD player incorrectly. Insolent technology-illiterate fools! I guess it was trying to display a 4:3 image on a 16:9 screen.
post #16 of 21
The black bars are not your enemy!
I love those black bars.

Can you guys even sit through five minutes of pan and scan?
post #17 of 21
FYI, if you're looking on a DVD box, "anamorphic" just means "same shape" as the original film, which as others have said, movies are often shot in a 1.85:1 proportion, give or take. 16:9 is more like 1.78:1. The prefix "ana" means "again," and the word "morphic" means "shape."
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by _alliance_
ok, so i just bought a 17 inch widescreen lcd tv for my new apartment, and tried it out last night. while watching movies, it gives two black bars--one above and one below the picture. is there any way to get rid of this so that i can watch w/ the whole screen?

Unless the image is distorted, then everything is as it should be. If you are watching a 2.35:1 movie on a widescreen HDTV, you will have black bars on the top and bottom. DVDs encoded with 1.85:1 source will fit your TV very nicely. You probably won't even notice any black bars. Most sets still have "safe zones" around the edges.

Your widescreen TV will undoubtedly have multiple viewing modes. My set has a plethora of display modes.

Narrow - scaled 1.33:1 (4:3).
Standard = 1.78:1 (16:9).
Expand = 1.33:1 zoomed in.
Zoom = 1.78:1 zoomed in.
Stretch = 1.33:1 stretched sideways to fit the screen

Narrow is great for watching traditional full-screen television without distorted images.

Standard is what you'd watch DTV broadcasts and DVD most of the time. Whatever the image, it'll be made to fit the screen.

Expand is great for watching 1.33:1 letterboxed TV shows like ER, 24, etc. but without the black bars on top and bottom.

Zoom will get rid of the black bars when viewing 2.35:1 content, but since it maintains the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, some of the sides will also be cropped.

Stretch will distort a 1.33:1 image to fit the 1.78:1 screen.

Modes by resolution:
480i: Narrow, Standard, Expand, Zoom, Stretch
480p: Narrow, Standard
720p: Standard
1080i: Standard

When I watch cable on my HDTV, I use Narrow most of the time. Very rarely will I use Expand since most worthwhile primetime network TV is broadcast in 1.78:1 over the air here. I get FOX, CBS, ABC, NBC, the local PBS affiliate, and about a dozen DTV channels over the air (antenna) here. When I watch DVDs, I use the Standard setting mostly. I don't think I own and "letterboxed" 1.33:1 DVDs. Zoom is mostly useless because of the cropping. There's basically no reason to use Stretch unless you have 1.33:1 content that has been squished horizontally.

Quote:
Originally posted by Luca Rescigno
You know what's annoying? I was at a friend's house and he has a widescreen TV. We were watching a movie which was in a widescreen format. The entire picture was vertically squished, with black bars along the top and bottom! Why? I have no idea! Maybe the TV was just a piece of crap? I've seen how some wide TVs treat all pictures as if they're 4:3, therefore squishing the picture vertically (even if it's displaying a movie designed for widescreen TVs).

Your friend probably failed to set his DVD player to 16:9. If your friend's DVD player was set to 4:3 mode and you were viewing a true widescreen DVD on his 16:9 set, then the DVD player would have added black bars to the top and bottom while the TV would have scaled the image to its standard 16:9 image ratio.

OR

You were watching a letterboxed 4:3 DVD (which has the black bars actually in the image/signal) on the 16:9 TV without having chosen the right display format. In the case of my TV, it would have been either Narrow or Expand.

Quote:
Originally posted by Cake
Can you guys even sit through five minutes of pan and scan?

Sometimes you have to. There is no widescreen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang DVD, so I'll gladly settle for P&S over nothing. Ironically, ABC aired that movie tonight, in HD, and it's original widescreen glory.
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post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by Randycat99
If that were the case, he would be seeing vertical blackbars, not horizontal blackbars. Clearly he is describing a situation where an image that is wider than 16x9 is being shown on a 16x9 monitor, hence getting squeezed vertically. That's going to happen with pretty much any movie made today and likely since the last 8 years or so, until they figure out how to activate a different display mode that introduces the letterbox bars.

I think Northgate is correctly identifying _alliance_'s problem, although the part about "stretching" and "zooming" doesn't quite make sense. With an "anamorphic widescreen" DVD, the footage is the same 720x480 pixels as a full-screen DVD, except it will tell the DVD player that it needs the formatted to 16:9 or 4:3 while also maintaining scale. In order to scale the image to fit a 4:3 display, substantial black bars will need to be added. In order to fit it to a 16:9 screen, only slight black bars will be added. 2.35:1 and 1.85:1 DVDs both use the same scaling, except the 2.35:1 DVD will have black bars built into its footage already.

I'm not sure what you mean by "squeezed vertically," but my hunch is you're wrong. To me squeeze means the image is narrower than it should be. On a widescreen set, the image will likely NEVER be narrower than it should be unless you set the display format to a Narrow setting.

On the other hand, flattening is very common due to the reasons Northgate explained. A DVD player needs to know what kind of TV it's going to display a widescreen DVD on. It needs to know whether it should add its own black bars or not.

Several things can happen if you incorrectly set-up your home theater.

A. DVD Player set to 4:3 on 4:3 TV = OK
B. DVD Player set to 4:3 on 16:9 TV = substantial black bars added by DVD player; image flattened.
C. DVD Player set to 16:9 on 16:9 TV = OK
D. DVD Player set to 16:9 on 4:3 TV = no bars added, squished full screen image
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post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by BuonRotto
FYI, if you're looking on a DVD box, "anamorphic" just means "same shape" as the original film, which as others have said, movies are often shot in a 1.85:1 proportion, give or take. 16:9 is more like 1.78:1. The prefix "ana" means "again," and the word "morphic" means "shape."

Actually, anamorphic refers to images that are stretched vertically when encoded so that the entire 720x480 is being used, rather than just cutting off the top and bottom. The DVD player, TV or projector then stretch it out horizontally when in 16x9 mode.
post #21 of 21
Sorry, brainfart. I don't know what I was thinking.
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