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Jim Cornell

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Here is some info about Aspect ratios and Letterboxing, Its a cut and paste.

Aspect ratio

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Aspect ratio is the measure of a visual images width against its height. It is an important concept to understand, as it helps determines what we see on a display.

Most standard TVs have an aspect ratio of 4:3 (or 1.33:1). If you were to look at a regular CRT TV set, you will see that the screen is only slightly wider than it is tall. This aspect ratio works fine for most of the shows that we watch. We are used to seeing our favorite TV programs on a screen like this, and weve been perfectly content with this for several years.

Now, go to a movie theater, and wait for the show to start. As you look at the screen, you see that it is much wider than it is tall. The aspect ratio of most movie theaters is 1.85:1. This is close to what most films are shot in, although the exact ratio is determined by the artistic vision of the director and cinematographer. We dont have a problem with this when we are sitting in the multiplex, eating our popcorn and getting gum stuck to the bottom of our shoes. But, what happens when you want to watch the DVD of this movie in the cozy comforts of your home theater? How can we fit the image from the movie theaters screen onto our TV?


One solution that movie studios use is called letterboxing. When a film is transferred to video, black bars are added to the top and bottom of the image. These bars fill up the empty space above and below the widescreen image. This will allow a film to be shown on a 4:3 aspect ration TV set, and maintains the widescreen quality of the original work

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Some good visuals here to explain the differences between Movie screen aspect ratios and Televisions in both standard and widescreen formats.


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My brother just purchased a LCD display and in playing around, I found a ZOOM setting that filled in the black areas without distorting the image.

i.e everyone looking like oompa-loompas or Lurch (tall and skinny)

Not sure if every model or manufacturer has this feature.


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I didnt find zoom on the pioneer remote, not a big deal, I did learn the widescreen ratio more than before. A full screen movie stretches the picture a tad, the widescreen ratio does not, even though the bars are on the screen, also progressive scan only works with widescreen movies, I learned that to. Regards Jim

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I found a ZOOM setting that filled in the black areas without distorting the image.

Yes zoom is the word my plasma uses also. I picked up 2 32" LCD TV's last week for a lawyer buddy to use in his office lounge. The dish network remote has a format button that cycles through 4 aspect ratios.

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