Aspect Ratio and Widescreen TVs
It seems like everyone is excited about widescreen TV.
Really, who wouldn't be-especially if you are someone who loves movies? But
things get complicated when you start to hear talk of anamorphic formats and
aspect ratios. What if you just want a great big picture?
What is Aspect Ratio? Aspect ratio refers to the relationship between
the width and height of the viewing screen. A standard TV is 4:3, which means
that it is four units wide by 3 units high. This breaks down into 1.33 inches
of width for every inch of height, calculated by dividing 4 by 3. (You may see
standard TV referred to as 4:3 or 1.33:1. Widescreen TV has an aspect ratio
of 16:9, or 1.76 inches wide for every inch high (referred to as 1.76:1).
How Aspect Ratio Affects the Movies. If you are a film buff and want
to watch movies at home that are in the same format that was shown on the big
screen, consider this: movies made for cinema screens are filmed with an aspect
ratio of between 1.85:1 and 2.4:1, and the director consciously uses the entire
screen to tell you the story. So when a movie is re-packaged for television
broadcast, various editing methods are used to try and make everything on the
large movie screen fit onto a 1.33:1 TV. That means that 40-50% of the movie
Letterbox Format. Another way to get cinema-sized films onto a TV is
using the Letterbox format. Most people have heard of this. Letterbox means
that no editing was done to the film, but rather the way that the TV screen
is manipulated to match the aspect ratio of the film. By adding a black area
along the top and bottom of the screen, often referred to as "black bars,"
the TV screen is able to mimic the aspect ratio of the movie screen. While you
don't necessarily miss out on any action, this is not always an ideal solution
because on smaller TV sets, the narrow strip where the movie appears is even
smaller, making it hard to see all the details. The bigger the TV screen, the
less problematic the letterbox will be.
Widescreen to the Rescue. Perhaps the greatest thing about widescreen
TVs is that they mean an end to the need for action-eliminating
edits. Since the aspect ratio is of widescreen is closer to that found in movie
theaters, there is plenty of room for the whole picture. However, because the
aspect ratios do not match exactly, there may still be black bars around the
movie (making it either letterboxed or sideboxed or both), but they will be
narrower and therefore won't affect the image area as greatly.
And since more and more people are buying widescreen TV's
producers are filming specifically for widescreen formats. That means that there
is more widescreen content available than ever before. Since more and more TV
stations are expected to be broadcasting digitally and the top digital format,
HDTV, can supply an aspect ratio of 16:9, widescreen will soon be everywhere.
It is likely we will see the ubiquitous 4:3 TV slowly replaced by widescreens.
Philips has a large selection of widescreen tvs available online.
View them now.
All that new HDTV widescreen content will be nirvana
to widescreen owners. But there still be 4:3 content. What does 4:3 content
look like on a widescreen TV? Anything you watch can be presented in multiple
ways on widescreen because almost all sets feature different viewing modes that
you can choose from. People develop their preferences. The modes generally include:
· Normal: When watching 4:3, you will see black bars on the sides to
match the 4:3 aspect ratio.
· Zoom/Enlarge: This mode magnifies a 4:3 image, crops the top and bottom
of the image, and removes the sidebox.
· Wide or Full: The mode most preferred for native 16:9 content, like
DVDs, but when selected while watching 4:3 content, stretches the image horizontally,
making people look shorter and fatter.
· Panorama (a.k.a. Theater or Natural): A combination of stretching and
zooming to fill the screen. Manufacturers use different approaches to present
this mode. Some TVs stretch the sides of the image more than the middle, so
most people look normal, and some might crop just a little off the sides and
not stretch as much.
Again, after experiencing all the modes, most people develop a preference depending
on what content they are watching.
No matter what, having some understanding of aspect ratio and widescreen TVs
can help you make the most of whatever type of TV you have and allow you have
the best at-home movie watching experience possible. Philips has
a large selection of widescreen tvs available online. View them now.