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davorg (18)

Yahoo! ID: daveorguk (Add User, Send Message)

Hacker, author, trainer

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Journal of davorg (18)

Saturday March 23, 2002
04:21 AM


[ #3739 ]

Why don't people understand widescreen TV? Is the concept just too difficult for the general public?

It seems to me that most people buy a widescreen TV and then expect to watch every programme in widescreen. They don't seem to understand that most TV shows weren't made in widescreen and therefore you can't watch them in widescreen without doing something nasty to the picture. To watch a standard (4:3) picture on a widescreen (16:9) screen you have three options:

  • You maintain the aspect ratio and expand the width of the picture to fill the screen. This truncates the top and bottom of the picture.
  • You expand the picture to fit the screen in both dimensions. This distorts the picture making everything wider than it should be.
  • You use some sort of "intelligent" resizing algorithm. The one in my TV keeps the centre of the picture at the right size, but gradually expands stuff towards the edges of the screen. This means that as people walk to the edge of the screen you see them getting fatter.

In all of these cases you get to see the picture distorted in horrible ways that the director never envisaged. I can't believe it doesn't annoy people to watch characters who are 30% wider then they should be.

And do you know where people get these bad habits from? Most of the shops selling widescreen TVs have them on display in one of these distorted modes. Surely if you're trying to display a TV to its best advantage ("see how it enhances your viewing pleasure") you'd go to the effort of tuning it to a channel that was actually broadcasting in widescreen.

They say that the camera adds 10 pounds. An actress friend once told me that widescreen TV makes it even worse. I now realise she was right. but it's nothing to do with the technology - it's down to the stupidity of the audience.

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  • Well, I was quite miffed the first time I tried a proper cinema dimensioned movie on a widescreen TV. 'Normal' tv is 4:3 (1.33), a widescreen TV is 16:9 (1.77) but a movie in cinema widescreen can be 1.85 (normal 35mm film, simple movies), 2.35 (35 anamorphic, more elaborate movies) or 2.76 (70 anamorphic, not often used) to one (amongst others). So watching a movie on a widescreen TV will almost always get you black bars top and bottom, if you don't want to crop or stretch. Nobody explains that gotcha in t
  • ..And I claim my five pounds.

    Personally I can't stand anything in any format than what it was originally broadcast in. My 4:3 TV does quite well at putting black lines on 16:9 programs. And when I move to widescreen I'll have nice black lines down the left and right hand side whenever I watch something that's 4:3.