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Why do I still have black bars with a widescreen TV?

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Old 10-01-2006, 05:36 PM   #1
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Default Why do I still have black bars with a widescreen TV?

It was suggested this sticky be put under this title with a link to the Bars, Bars and More Bars post.

As an often asked question because once a widescreen TV is brought home, many people wonder why there are black bars top and bottom or on the left and right sides of the TV screen. These posts and essays delve into this subject.

Here is that link: Bars, Bars and More Bars

An updated version is here:
Bars, Bars and More Bars
Also check out:
HDTV Pictures
DVD Pictures
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Old 05-29-2007, 12:44 AM   #2
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Because different source materials are shot in many different aspect ratios.
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Old 07-08-2007, 02:48 PM   #3
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Why do HD-DVD and BD movies still have bars on the top and bottom? Did they start using 20:9 ratio right after I bought a 16:9 TV?
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Old 07-08-2007, 04:13 PM   #4
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Most movies on any type DVDs are originally shot in 1.85:1 which will result in small bars on the top and bottom of the 1.78:1 HDTV screen. Other widescreen film aspect ratios will result in larger bars. For more information see: DVD Pictures
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Old 07-08-2007, 04:24 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Ntruder View Post
Why do HD-DVD and BD movies still have bars on the top and bottom? Did they start using 20:9 ratio right after I bought a 16:9 TV?
Because the movies are put on the HD-DVDs and BDs in their original theatrical aspect ratios. The MPAA is dead set against the cropping of movies shown at HD resolutions.

Almost all movies today are filmed with aspect ratios of 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 (2.39:1 and 2.40:1 are exhibition variants only). Both of these aspect ratios have been in common use since the 1950's. (It is not something new and it is unlikely to change as far as film is concerned). Both are wider than 16:9 (=1.78:1). 2.35:1 movies will always show bars and only fill about 3/4 of the height of the 16:9 screen. A 1.85:1 movie only fills the screen of most 16:9 TVs because of the overscan built ito the TV. Without the overscan, 1.85:1 movies will also display black bars, albeit very narrow ones.

On older movies you will find many other aspect ratios used, some as high as 2.76:1 (MGM Camera 65/ Ultra Panavision 70).

It is a common misconception that the 16:9 aspect ratio was chosen for TV to match that of movies. It wasn't. It was chosen for technical reasons related to TV broadcasting and data compression requirements.
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Old 07-10-2007, 01:09 PM   #6
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Don't forget the "theater" factor. It used to be that most of the revenue came from theatrical presentation, so it was the major (at the time) distribution channel that had a big say in Hollywood going "wider."

Obviously that is no longer true. Still, I'm pretty convinced that some movies are being released on DVD cropped to 16:9... War of the World's comes to mind. Academy standard in theaters as I recall, 16:9 on DVD and in HD cable broadcast.
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Old 07-10-2007, 09:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbinck View Post
Most movies on any type DVDs are originally shot in 1.85:1 which will result in small bars on the top and bottom of the 1.78:1 HDTV screen. Other widescreen film aspect ratios will result in larger bars. For more information see:
but 1.78 and 1.85 are the ones that play in full screen on my 50" Samsung plasma....

don't confuse me....i just figured out after a week of owning it that anything in 2.34 plays with bars on top and bottom...

you either got it backwards or my tv is backwards cuz aspect ratio of 1.72 and 1.85 fill my screen entirely (going HDMI) without having to adjust anything...
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Old 07-11-2007, 01:06 AM   #8
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but 1.78 and 1.85 are the ones that play in full screen on my 50" Samsung plasma....
Rbinck is not confused. 1.85:1 only fills your 16:9 screen because of the overscan built into your TV. That overscan will also cause your 1.78:1 images to be clipped around the edges rather than fit the screen exactly.

On a 16:9 TV with no overscan, 1.85:1 movies will exhibit thin black bars.
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Old 07-11-2007, 10:31 AM   #9
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Which is exactly why I HAD to have piano black bezels... and watch only at night in a pitch black room. Only if I actually look for it can I see the bars. Like I've said countless times, the human eye is one hell of an instrument. Focus yourself on what is going on in the movie and issues around the periphery tend to recede into the background.

I figure those complaining about the bars are just bored with what they are watching!
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Old 07-11-2007, 12:15 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by BrianO View Post
Because the movies are put on the HD-DVDs and BDs in their original theatrical aspect ratios. The MPAA is dead set against the cropping of movies shown at HD resolutions.

Almost all movies today are filmed with aspect ratios of 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 (2.39:1 and 2.40:1 are exhibition variants only). Both of these aspect ratios have been in common use since the 1950's. (It is not something new and it is unlikely to change as far as film is concerned). Both are wider than 16:9 (=1.78:1). 2.35:1 movies will always show bars and only fill about 3/4 of the height of the 16:9 screen. A 1.85:1 movie only fills the screen of most 16:9 TVs because of the overscan built ito the TV. Without the overscan, 1.85:1 movies will also display black bars, albeit very narrow ones.

On older movies you will find many other aspect ratios used, some as high as 2.76:1 (MGM Camera 65/ Ultra Panavision 70).

It is a common misconception that the 16:9 aspect ratio was chosen for TV to match that of movies. It wasn't. It was chosen for technical reasons related to TV broadcasting and data compression requirements.
Oh my god, how annoying. Why can't everyone just use the same format, and I'll buy a TV in that size. It sucks that you buy a widescreen TV only to still have letterbox.
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Old 07-24-2007, 04:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianO View Post
Rbinck is not confused. 1.85:1 only fills your 16:9 screen because of the overscan built into your TV. That overscan will also cause your 1.78:1 images to be clipped around the edges rather than fit the screen exactly.

On a 16:9 TV with no overscan, 1.85:1 movies will exhibit thin black bars.
i have no thin black bars on 1.85 movies....so i assume my tv has overscan?
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Old 07-24-2007, 05:19 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Big Pauly View Post
i have no thin black bars on 1.85 movies....so i assume my tv has overscan?
Yes, that is a valid assumption. Almost all TVs have overscan built in. However, on a 16:9 monitor with no overscan a 1.85:1 movie will only fill 96% of the height of the screen, so the two bars will total 4% of the screen's height.

Last edited by BrianO; 07-24-2007 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 07-24-2007, 05:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Pauly View Post
i have no thin black bars on 1.85 movies....so i assume my tv has overscan?
And I would add that all TVs have overscan built in unless there is a menu method of getting rid of it. Unfortunately the broadcasters are still sending video noise at the edges of some video so the TVs still need to overscan. When I watch NBC late night there is a green vertical line on the left side of the screen unless I turn the overscan back on. But with it on the picture is not as clear because of the scaling used to add the overscan. So I just watch it with the green line.
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Old 07-24-2007, 06:40 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbinck View Post
And I would add that all TVs have overscan built in unless there is a menu method of getting rid of it. Unfortunately the broadcasters are still sending video noise at the edges of some video so the TVs still need to overscan. When I watch NBC late night there is a green vertical line on the left side of the screen unless I turn the overscan back on. But with it on the picture is not as clear because of the scaling used to add the overscan. So I just watch it with the green line.
Do you have a hortizontial stretch adjustment on your display? If yes you can stretch the image just a hair - just enough to get rid of the edge of the image - doesn't affect top and bottom
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Old 07-24-2007, 07:09 PM   #15
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Do you have a hortizontial stretch adjustment on your display? If yes you can stretch the image just a hair - just enough to get rid of the edge of the image - doesn't affect top and bottom
No this is on my 1080p LCD panel so the only way to get any overscan is to scale the incoming signal. On my CRT based display, I just live with the overscan because it does not impact the picture quality and once I started adjusting the height and width, the geometry started to go to crap, so I hit a decent overscan, fixed the geometry, re-converged and called it a day. I haven't been back into the service menu since.
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