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A question re: fullscreen movies on blu-ray

Old 02-19-13, 02:46 AM
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A question re: fullscreen movies on blu-ray

I was just curious to know how native fullscreen films are handled on blu-ray. The way I understand it, DVD's were sized for 4:3 display and the anamorphic process squeezed widescreen images horizontally to 4:3 with the player then opening that image back up when displayed on a 16:9 monitor (thus retaining the entire original widescreen image without sacrificing valuable resolution to the black bars as with letterboxing). Blu-rays, on the other hand, are sized for 16:9 display thus making anamorphic widescreen an unneccesary concept for display on 16:9 monitors. But then how does it work for fullscreen movies on blu-ray? Does that mean that fullscreen movies are squeezed vertically to 16:9 with the player then opening that image back up for display on 16:9 monitors (sort of the anamorphic process in reverse)? Or are 4:3 films just displayed at a lower resolution on 16:9 monitors with some of the lines of resolution devoted to the black bars on the sides (sort of the letterboxing process in reverse)?
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Old 02-19-13, 03:31 AM
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Re: A question re: fullscreen movies on blu-ray

Blu-rays are natively 1080p, so there are no extra lines of resolution that can be squeezed into the middle 4:3 frame of your screen.
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Old 02-19-13, 07:34 AM
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Re: A question re: fullscreen movies on blu-ray

Originally Posted by joliom View Post
Or are 4:3 films just displayed at a lower resolution on 16:9 monitors with some of the lines of resolution devoted to the black bars on the sides (sort of the letterboxing process in reverse)?
This, it's called pillarboxing in this case (although it's not at a lower resolution, it's still 1080 lines, it's just that some of the 1920 vertical lines are used for black bars)
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Old 02-20-13, 12:36 AM
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Re: A question re: fullscreen movies on blu-ray

Originally Posted by joltman View Post
This, it's called pillarboxing in this case (although it's not at a lower resolution, it's still 1080 lines, it's just that some of the 1920 vertical lines are used for black bars)
I would imagine it's the same process used for 2.35:1 images.
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Old 02-20-13, 05:35 AM
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Re: A question re: fullscreen movies on blu-ray

I prefer that movies be displayed these days in their original ratio. If that's full-screen, so be it. Otherwise, keep whichever it was shot at.
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Old 02-20-13, 07:02 AM
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Re: A question re: fullscreen movies on blu-ray

Originally Posted by joltman View Post
This, it's called pillarboxing in this case (although it's not at a lower resolution, it's still 1080 lines, it's just that some of the 1920 vertical lines are used for black bars)
Well then wouldn't that mean that fullscreen movies on blu-ray are lower res than widescreen movies since a lot of those vertical lines are being used by the pillarboxes? It seems like there should be an alternate anamorphic process for blu-rays that squishes 1:33:1 images down into 1:78:1 so that all 1920 vertical lines can be exclusively devoted to the image (with the player then stretching it back out to 1:33:1 and generating the pillarboxes when displayed). Otherwise isn't it like the reverse problem of letterboxed (i.e. non-anamorphic) DVD's displayed on a 16:9 TV?
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Old 02-20-13, 07:13 AM
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Re: A question re: fullscreen movies on blu-ray

Originally Posted by joliom View Post
Well then wouldn't that mean that fullscreen movies on blu-ray are lower res than widescreen movies since a lot of those vertical lines are being used by the pillarboxes? It seems like there should be an alternate anamorphic process for blu-rays that squishes 1:33:1 images down into 1:78:1 so that all 1920 vertical lines can be exclusively devoted to the image (with the player then stretching it back out to 1:33:1 and generating the pillarboxes when displayed). Otherwise isn't it like the reverse problem of letterboxed (i.e. non-anamorphic) DVD's displayed on a 16:9 TV?
No. It just means those pillarboxes are in hi-def just like the image they surround.
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Old 02-20-13, 07:24 AM
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Re: A question re: fullscreen movies on blu-ray

It is not lower res than widescreen movies, it's the exact same quality, it just happens that part of the image is black bars. You can't put 1920 vertical lines in a 4:3 image on an HDTV, because an HDTV can only show 1440 lines in that space.

The reason for anamorphic was so that with a widescreen movie would be shown with black bars on a 4:3 TV and shown 'full screen' on a 16:9 TV, so the only advantage to having anamorphic 4:3 films on Blu-ray would be so that they showed black bars on a 16:9 TV and full screen on a 4:3 TV.
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Old 02-20-13, 01:01 PM
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Re: A question re: fullscreen movies on blu-ray

Originally Posted by joliom View Post
Well then wouldn't that mean that fullscreen movies on blu-ray are lower res than widescreen movies since a lot of those vertical lines are being used by the pillarboxes?
In a sense, yes. 16:9 1080p is 1920x1080, about 2 megapixels. A 4:3 image uses 1440x1080, about 1.5 megapixels. A scope 2.40:1 film uses 1920x800, again about 1.5 megapixels. So a 1.78:1 or 16:9 image uses the most available resolution for the image.

Originally Posted by joliom View Post
It seems like there should be an alternate anamorphic process for blu-rays that squishes 1:33:1 images down into 1:78:1 so that all 1920 vertical lines can be exclusively devoted to the image...
There could be such a process, both horizontal for 4:3 and vertical for 2.40:1, but the problem would be what TV would you display it on? The maximum resolution on most consumer TVs is 1920x1080 aka 1080p, which means that in order to display 4:3 in the correct aspect ratio, the player would have to downconvert and pillarbox it as 1440x1080, which is how it's currently stored anyway. In order to received the benefits of anamorphic conversion on a Blu-ray 1080p image, you'd need a TV with a resolution higher than 1080p HD, so something like a 4K TV.

Anamorphic DVDs benefitted people with HDTVs, since 1080 and even 720 HDTVs had higher resolution than the 480 resolution of SDTVs, so the anamorphic enhancement allowed for 20% more image resolution, which when dealing with 640x480, about 0.3 megapixels, was a significant advantage.

Originally Posted by joltman View Post
The reason for anamorphic was so that with a widescreen movie would be shown with black bars on a 4:3 TV and shown 'full screen' on a 16:9 TV...
This isn't strictly true. All WS TVs have a zoom feature, so DVDs where the WS image is letterboxed in the 4:3 frame can be zoomed in to eliminate or reduce the black bars. The problem is that since they're letterboxed in such a low resolution, they can look horrible (see the Star Wars bonus discs of the original trilogy). Anamorphic enhancement, as I explained above, allowed for better resolution on HDTVs, while not adversely affecting letterboxing on a 4:3 TV.

There was also the little-used feature of anamorphic enhancement on DVDs referred to as pan-n-scan on the fly, where instead of letterboxing an anamorphic enhanced DVD on a 4:3 TV, the player would instead zoom in on the image to a 4:3 frame, then use encoded data to pan across the image keeping the pertinent info in frame. Thus the same DVD could be used for "fullscreen" on both 4:3 and 16:9 TVs. This method was only effective for 1.78:1 images though, and studios often preferred creating separate 4:3 DVD releases, which could utilize open-matting and such so that the 4:3 version wouldn't look so terrible.
http://www.avsforum.com/t/171653/pan...n-the-dvd-spec
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Old 02-20-13, 03:00 PM
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Re: A question re: fullscreen movies on blu-ray

It may be worth noting that some Disney titles like Pinocchio have the option to display themed artwork in the black areas.
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Old 02-21-13, 07:49 AM
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Re: A question re: fullscreen movies on blu-ray

Originally Posted by Jay G. View Post
In a sense, yes. 16:9 1080p is 1920x1080, about 2 megapixels. A 4:3 image uses 1440x1080, about 1.5 megapixels. A scope 2.40:1 film uses 1920x800, again about 1.5 megapixels. So a 1.78:1 or 16:9 image uses the most available resolution for the image.


There could be such a process, both horizontal for 4:3 and vertical for 2.40:1, but the problem would be what TV would you display it on? The maximum resolution on most consumer TVs is 1920x1080 aka 1080p, which means that in order to display 4:3 in the correct aspect ratio, the player would have to downconvert and pillarbox it as 1440x1080, which is how it's currently stored anyway. In order to received the benefits of anamorphic conversion on a Blu-ray 1080p image, you'd need a TV with a resolution higher than 1080p HD, so something like a 4K TV.

Anamorphic DVDs benefitted people with HDTVs, since 1080 and even 720 HDTVs had higher resolution than the 480 resolution of SDTVs, so the anamorphic enhancement allowed for 20% more image resolution, which when dealing with 640x480, about 0.3 megapixels, was a significant advantage.


This isn't strictly true. All WS TVs have a zoom feature, so DVDs where the WS image is letterboxed in the 4:3 frame can be zoomed in to eliminate or reduce the black bars. The problem is that since they're letterboxed in such a low resolution, they can look horrible (see the Star Wars bonus discs of the original trilogy). Anamorphic enhancement, as I explained above, allowed for better resolution on HDTVs, while not adversely affecting letterboxing on a 4:3 TV.

There was also the little-used feature of anamorphic enhancement on DVDs referred to as pan-n-scan on the fly, where instead of letterboxing an anamorphic enhanced DVD on a 4:3 TV, the player would instead zoom in on the image to a 4:3 frame, then use encoded data to pan across the image keeping the pertinent info in frame. Thus the same DVD could be used for "fullscreen" on both 4:3 and 16:9 TVs. This method was only effective for 1.78:1 images though, and studios often preferred creating separate 4:3 DVD releases, which could utilize open-matting and such so that the 4:3 version wouldn't look so terrible.
http://www.avsforum.com/t/171653/pan...n-the-dvd-spec
Thanks for the explanation, Jay. It makes complete sense to me now. I guess the problem would be for folks with projector systems that utilize screens wider than the HDTV standard of 1.78:1. Without an anamorphic feature for wider aspect ratio films, they wouldn't be able to take full advantage of every blu-ray (especially films like How the West Was Won or Ben-Hur).
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Old 02-21-13, 11:57 AM
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Re: A question re: fullscreen movies on blu-ray

Originally Posted by joliom View Post
Thanks for the explanation, Jay. It makes complete sense to me now.
I'm glad I was able to help. I worry sometimes that I get too technical.

Originally Posted by joliom View Post
I guess the problem would be for folks with projector systems that utilize screens wider than the HDTV standard of 1.78:1. Without an anamorphic feature for wider aspect ratio films, they wouldn't be able to take full advantage of every blu-ray (especially films like How the West Was Won or Ben-Hur).
Those that use anamorphic lenses on 1080p projectors to display on 2.40:1 shaped screens for a Constant Image Height (CIH) have wished for this feature (both before and after Blu-ray was launched), but are a bit of a niche within a niche, and thus not really sizable enough to get studios interested in anamorphic enhancement for Blu-ray.

Keep in mind that when the Blu-ray spec was first being designed, the highest resolution of 1920x1080 was six times the resolution of DVD, and used new, more intensive compression codecs, and even a more expansive color scheme. The video processors designed for Blu-ray players had to handle an exponential leap in resolution and graphic fidelity. Remember that players launched at $1000 or more. Trying to squeeze even just a little more resolution could've raised costs significantly.

Keep in mind that even letterboxed, a 2.35:1 film on Blu-ray still has six times the resolution as on anamorphic DVD. Partnered with the better codecs and color space, it seems silly to quibble about losing an incremental increase in resolution.

As for 4K TVs, while they're being released now, meaning some people could benefit from an anamorphically enhanced Blu-ray, I think studios and manufacturers are more interested in finding a way to deliver full 4K content instead of worrying about squeezing a little more resolution out of the Blu-ray spec.

That said, people have looked into it. I found an article written by our own Josh Zyber about a technology that could add backwards-compatible anamorpic enhancement to Blu-ray:
http://www.highdefdigest.com/blog/folded-space/

That article is from last year, but the company is apparently still working on presenting this to companies and the BDA, presumably to get it approved as part of an updated Blu-ray spec, similar to Blu-ray 3D. Here's a thread where a representative from the company discusses the tech and their progress:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1436729/an...on-the-horizon
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