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SD DVD Players and Discs A place to discuss DVD players and discs including SD movie DVDs with the emphasis on upscaling to 720p/1080i. Please do not discuss Blu-Ray or HD DVD technology here. RSS - DVD Players

Letterbox vs Widescreen

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Old 01-03-2007, 10:36 PM   #1
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Default Letterbox vs Widescreen

I just hooked up my Samsung V9650, combo DVD upconvertor/VCR. I realized after a closer reading of the manual that I will only get upconverting to 720P, my 26" Sharp's native resolution, with an HDMI cable. So, until I get it, I used some component cables to watch The Pirates of The Carribbean. I watched in 480P.

The DVD was supposed to be Widescreen, and it was, in that it stretched to both ends. However, it was letterboxed, with black bars on top and bottom. So, what is the difference between widescreen and letterbox? Would it have appeared different in sizing with HDMI, other than more resolution? I thought movies were made in 16/9, which is the aspect ratio of flat panels. Is it the case that some films will fill the screen and others won't? If so, what should I look for in DVDs? Seems to me that getting a film in widescreen doesn't take full advantage of my 16/9 flat panel.
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Old 01-03-2007, 11:21 PM   #2
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There is a thread on this site called Bars, Bars, and more bars that you should read. It will exlain a lot more than you ever thought you needed to know about the term "widescreen".

Basically all 16:9 HDTVs are in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Movies generally come in 1.85:1, 2.35:1, or 2.40:1. Any movie with an aspect ratio (AR) of 1.85:1 will usually fill your screen completely because over overscan almost all TVs have so this is what you would look for on the back of the DVD case.

The other two widescreen aspect ratios are wider than your HDTV screen is so you still have bars at the top/bottom but they are smaller than they would be with a 4:3 AR on a SDTV.

Hope this helps!
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Old 01-04-2007, 12:01 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PFC5
There is a thread on this site called Bars, Bars, and more bars that you should read. It will exlain a lot more than you ever thought you needed to know about the term "widescreen".

Basically all 16:9 HDTVs are in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Movies generally come in 1.85:1, 2.35:1, or 2.40:1. Any movie with an aspect ratio (AR) of 1.85:1 will usually fill your screen completely because over overscan almost all TVs have so this is what you would look for on the back of the DVD case.

The other two widescreen aspect ratios are wider than your HDTV screen is so you still have bars at the top/bottom but they are smaller than they would be with a 4:3 AR on a SDTV.
Hope this helps!
Bingo, what the private (first class) said. Van Helsing for HD DVD is 1:85:1 and it fills the screen. A Perfect Storm 2:40:1 you geta bit of bar action. King Kong at 2:35:1, bars. But 1:85:1 does not mean the PQ will be better or even equal.
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Old 01-04-2007, 12:47 AM   #4
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If you buy widescreen movies made in the 1950's and 60's you will find even more aspect ratios that won't match your screen: 2.20:1 (Todd-AO), 2.55:1 (CinemaScope-1) and 2.76:1 (MGM Camera 65/Ultra Panavision 70) to name but a few. All of these will be letterboxed on your 16:9 screen but, as PFC5 mentioned, the bars will be narrower than on a 4:3 set. OTOH, widescreen movies with an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 like "Shane" (1953) and many european-made movies of the era will be pillarboxed (bars on the sides) but will fill the height of your 16:9 screen. Even the older 1.37:1 movies didn't really match the aspect ratio of 4:3 set.

The point of all this is that there is a wide variety of aspect ratios used in the movie industry that do not match the screen shape of either 4:3 or 16:9 TV sets. Don't expect them to. Don't expect the movie industry to change to a single aspect ratio because it won't.
Just sit back and enjoy the movies shown the way the directors intended them to be seen. Even restricting yourself to buying movies with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 because they appear to fill the screen (because of overscan) is silly because it will result in depriving yourself of enjoying some of the best movies ever made.

"But they make DVDs to fill 4:3 screens, so why not for 16:9 screens?", you ask. Those horrible "Fullscreen" (4:3 Pan &Scan) DVDs are a throwback to the VHS era and should be abolished. They were needed in the VHS era because of the low resolution of VHS. However, a DVD of the 1959 version of "Ben Hur" with an aspect ratio of 2.76:1 exhibits higher picture quality on a 4:3 set than any "Fullscreen" VHS movie does on the same set. It looks even better on a 16:9 set.

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Old 01-04-2007, 07:53 AM   #5
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OK. I think I got it. Don't bother fretting over the aspect ratio of the DVDs; whatever it is, it is. Some will give me no bars, and others the bars will be smaller.

As for the 480p scan! It seems I only get upconverting with an HDMI cable; not sure I understand why as my component cable from the cable box gives me full 720 HDTV. In any event, if I upgrade to the HDMI, whatever aspect ratio the film is in will be the same, but with more resolution.

I may stay with the component cables for awhile. At 26 inches, the screen is kinda small. I quite enjoyed the clarity of Pirates, so I'm not yearning for more. When I get around to ordering generic HDMI at a reasonable price, I'll do it. My 3.3 foot component cable was only $9.95 from the RadioShack web site, shipped for free to a local store.
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Old 01-04-2007, 11:52 AM   #6
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HDMI will not (with most HDTVs) give you more resolution except for the SD DVDs will be upconverted by the player if connected via HDMI. Because you have a LCD panel it is a fixed panel display the display is currently upconverting the 480p to probably 1368x768p (HDTV's native resolution.

The DVD forum limited upscaling to only the protected digital connections VDI/HDMI) at the urging of the studios to better protect their movies from piracy.
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Old 01-04-2007, 12:58 PM   #7
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When I reconnected the component cables to my Samsung, after using composite, I had to set the proper output in a settings panel. It appeared to me that with the component, the setting was 480P and only with HDMI could I set 720 or 1080. So, my conclusion is that regardless of the source, my viewing will be no higher than 480p unless I use HDMI, and then it can go up to 720 or 1080i.
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Old 01-04-2007, 01:29 PM   #8
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That's about right. There aren't many upconverting players left that allow you to upconvert via component. It has to do with DVD licensing restrictions.
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Old 01-04-2007, 01:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by borromini
That's about right. There aren't many upconverting players left that allow you to upconvert via component. It has to do with DVD licensing restrictions.
Yes the logic being that someone is going to copy the DVD via component video...... HA.

I guess the powers that be have never heard of DVDShrink, DVDDecryptor, etc.
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Old 01-04-2007, 01:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GovtLawyer
I just hooked up my Samsung V9650, combo DVD upconvertor/VCR. I realized after a closer reading of the manual that I will only get upconverting to 720P, my 26" Sharp's native resolution, with an HDMI cable. So, until I get it, I used some component cables to watch The Pirates of The Carribbean. I watched in 480P.

The DVD was supposed to be Widescreen, and it was, in that it stretched to both ends. However, it was letterboxed, with black bars on top and bottom. So, what is the difference between widescreen and letterbox? Would it have appeared different in sizing with HDMI, other than more resolution? I thought movies were made in 16/9, which is the aspect ratio of flat panels. Is it the case that some films will fill the screen and others won't? If so, what should I look for in DVDs? Seems to me that getting a film in widescreen doesn't take full advantage of my 16/9 flat panel.
Sounds like a setting, Pirates of the Carribbean is an anamorphic DVD and should therefore scale itself properly. You also need to tell teh DVD player that you have it connected to a 16x9 TV. Otherwise it will think it is connected to a 4x3 display.
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Old 01-04-2007, 03:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stchman
Sounds like a setting, Pirates of the Carribbean is an anamorphic DVD and should therefore scale itself properly. You also need to tell teh DVD player that you have it connected to a 16x9 TV. Otherwise it will think it is connected to a 4x3 display.
I found a link in these forums to another site where a fellow wrote and illustrated the bar effects on a 16/9 widescreen. It clearly explained what happened to the Widescreen copy of Pirates on my system. It seems about right. I saw the full width of film as seen in the movies, without any zooming or squeezing. This caused small black bars on the top and bottom. Different original aspect ratios will be simialrly vieweed on my LCD.
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Old 01-13-2007, 08:17 AM   #12
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Oppo 970 has a hack to allow component upscaling.
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