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A little confused about widescreen tvs

Old 09-22-06, 04:08 AM
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A little confused about widescreen tvs

Hey, I just bought a widescreen tv and think its awesome. Yet I am a little confused about it. I would perfer to watch everything in their intended aspect ratios and not have anything squished or stretched to fit the screen.

A lot of movies are in widescreen but there seem to be a lot of different aspect ratios used. Like, 1.85:1, 1.78:1, 2.35:1, 2.40:1, 1.33:1 etc etc. When a movie is actually wider than the 16:9 of my tv (Like, Fellowship of the Ring, or Life Aquatic), it uses black bars at the top and bottom to fill it out. This looks great. Some movies seem to fit the tv perfectly (North by Northwest) and I wonder if it is being stretched or if it is just a perfect fit?

Also I am not sure what is the best way to watch something like Arrested Development. The way my dvd player and tv are set up right now (both set to 16:9) by default an episode of Arrested Development fills up the whole screen. I know that was a widescreen tv show, but was it really that wide? I don't want it to distort the image to fit the screen, if it is doing that.

Shouldnt it be fairly wide but still have grey bars on the sides of the screen, as if I were watching a standard tv show (4:3) yet with the grey bars just not as big, since it was shot wider?

I hope you understand my question. Right now I seem to either only be able to watch Arrested Development stretched out to take up the whole screen, or watch it in 4:3 where there are grey bars on the side and black bars on the bottom (uuuugly). I don't think it looks bad taking up the whole screen but I really would perfer watching everything as non distorted as possible. Thanks so much if you can offer any advice or help explain this to me.
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Old 09-22-06, 06:42 AM
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Arrested Development was originally shot in 1.78:1, which is the "true" 16x9 aspect ratio. As such, you will see no bars; it's supposed to fill the screen.

A good rule of thumb for discerning whether it's being stretched or being displayed as it should is to check the specs on what you're watching. If it's "anamorphically enhanced" or "enhanced for 16x9 TVs", and it's filling your screen, or filling it partially with black bars on top and bottom, there's no distortion. If, however, it's non-anamorphic or 1.33:1, and it's filling the screen, it's most likely being stretched. Some DVD players do that automatically (Sony's a big "offender"), while others don't.

Does that help?
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Old 09-22-06, 10:37 AM
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1.85 is very close to 1.78. And all TVs have some overscan, which can hide the small black bars and make 1.85 films perfectly fit the widescreen TV. Overscan is like a 2-7% crop on all 4 sides. Some HDTVs allow you to turn it on or off.
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Old 09-22-06, 11:36 AM
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Your way ahead of most first time HDTV buyers.

YOUR QUESTIONS: "I'm wondering about all of these different aspect ratios DVDs have in terms of black bars."

THE AVERAGE QUESTION: "If I just spent several thousand dollars on a widescreen TV, why the hell am I seeing black bars on some DVDs? I got ripped off - should I take it back? I thought the reason I was buying a widescreen TV was to get rid of black bars?!"

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Old 09-22-06, 01:38 PM
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Thanks Those are just the answers I needed. As I was buying DVDs over the years I always made sure I got widescreen but never payed attention to whether it was anamorphic or not. I am pretty lucky that most of my dvds are enhanced for widescreen.
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Old 09-22-06, 01:43 PM
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It's mostly about timing. Early DVDs were non-anamorphic. The last few years almost all are anamorphic. Some have been redone with a 2nd release, but lots of movies are one or the other with no choice.
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