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Is it technically possible to have a dynamic widescreen version of 4:3 TV shows (i.e. Seinfeld)?

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Showing 1-25 of 33 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 30, 2012 12:41:37 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 30, 2012 12:59:50 AM PDT
Rock Fan says:
I am thinking of the TV broadcasts of Seinfeld, which were remastered and CROPPED for HD release on television. Is it possible to have a 4:3 Bluray that would adjust to widescreen on the fly (without losing picture quality)? Some people are used to watching the 16:9 Seinfeld (which I admit is pretty good for an after-the-fact edit of the show) But I am against permanently cropping it on the disc to create a "16:9 only" disc. I would be surprised if if wasn't available in 16:9 bluray though, so one could "automatically dynamically zoom" for widescreen mode or would they have to sell 2 different discs? It couldn't be the standard static "zoom" because the top OR bottom of the 4:3 picture could be used, depending where the action is.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 4:37:25 AM PDT
EdM says:
I believe you are confusing issues involving at least 3 different things.

There is the BD disc content - 1 - , which is determined by the studio that produces the disk. This will play as it is designed to play, and the format of the material, 16:9, 4:3, 1.85, 2.40, etc., is as established by the studio.

Your BD player - 2 - will play the disc as it is meant to play. In this regard, there is software control of the player to regulate that the disc will play only as the disc provider established, so there are limited things the player itself can do. These restrictions involve, among other things, copyright protection.

However, your HDTV - 3 - may well have a "wide" button with various modes that allow you to change how the screen looks as you view it. Different HDTV sets will be able to do this in various ways depending on how the individual HDTV set was designed and manufactured.

Often, you can zoom a 4:3 picture so it fills the screen, lopping off the top and bottom. Some sets can stretch a 4:3 show in various ways. This may involve distortion but not cropping, or some distortion and some cropping, etc. In any event, you normally use your remote to make such changes in how the program is displayed. This might be regarded as dynamic as you can change this, but it is at your command using your remote, not automatic.

BTW - all these wide mode changes result in loosing picture quality, strictly viewed, as some of the original 4:3 image is cropped out, distorted, or otherwise changed to do those various transforms. Still, some people prefer a full wide-screen view that distorts the original, while purists prefer the original, as the original author intended.

Can you consider watching Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca" in other than 4:3 and B/W? That's what it was originally intended for, and what the BD of it are/show. Casablanca: 70th Anniversary [Blu-ray]

I suppose that the owner of a production could put out a BD with either aspect ratio choice or perhaps seamless branching so you could choose a specific version to watch based on aspect ratio, but that would be more expensive, and might cost too much. In reality, the show's content owner will make a choice [although some still offer some choice of format via two different versions], and you can choose to buy or not.

As I understand your question, however, what you want is not technically possible at this time, except by getting a 4:3 format version and then using the TV's "wide" button to click for/control stretching and zooming. The remastering that you mention is what the show owner has decided to do to author the show in HD, and that is the content owner's prerogative.

FWIW: Seinfeld - Season 1 [Blu-ray]

Posted on Jul 2, 2012 1:37:03 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 2, 2012 1:37:30 PM PDT
Rock Fan says:
What I meant was there would be a choice on the menu (Edited Widescreen) to take the 4:3 source video and display it with a zoomed vertical pan & scan, instead of doing it manually it would automatically follow the action, from your reply it would seem that it doesn't appear to be possible. I would think some viewers will be disappointed that the show is 4:3 after watching the 16:9 version, even though less is definitely not more IMHO.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2012 6:37:31 PM PDT
An edited widescreen could take into account overscan to crop out less of the picture, but either way it messes up the intended framing of shots. I think, though, that this would only be marginally better than the conversions normally done by your TV. With a combination of pan & scan and cropping, it could even be hardly noticeable, or at least acceptable, to someone that's not too familiar with the source video, or isn't a video-holic. Some video processors have a graduated, non-linear stretching option that allows more stretching at the edges, preserving most of the picture in the middle of the screen where the action usually takes place.

Basically, your asking for the player to do a task that's usually handled by a processor/receiver, or display. A disc doesn't have any computing power, so it must either include a software that allows the blu-ray player to do this conversion (this isn't supported by the blu-ray standard as far as I know), or it must contain 2 versions of the video: a 4:3 version, and an edited widescreen version. This is possible, but up to the studios to implement such a feature. It will take twice as much disc space, so it seems unlikely.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2012 7:51:08 PM PDT
Probably would be easier to release them in 16x9 with an option of adding a matte to the side to make it 4x3 if the user were to choose that option. I remember way back when, Ghostbusters initial release on DVD (not blu), one of the commentary options was to add a matte where you'd see silhouettes of Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman and associate producer Joe Medjuck watching the movie (think Mystery Science Theater 3000). Seems to me if they could do something like that on a DVD, adding a 4x3 matte to content that was produced for tv but shot on film so it can be restored to 16x9 should be relatively easy.

Posted on Jul 3, 2012 9:35:12 PM PDT
Cavaradossi says:
This sort of discussion usually concerns left to right, but what about top to bottom? Do you lose information there on these TV shows that were originally aired in 4:3 when they are released as 16:9?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2012 9:48:06 PM PDT
That's what the OP is talking about. 4:3 movies (or more often, shows) converted to 16:9 will lose the top or bottom.

Posted on Jul 4, 2012 10:05:53 AM PDT
Cavaradossi says:
Jonathan A. Chang

I think I would rather lose the little on the sides than the top and bottom of a picture, but then that's just me.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2012 1:18:48 PM PDT
A M says:
I think what you are asking would only be possible through branching if the 16:9 version was a straight "center crop." And since Seinfeld went off the air around the time that TV networks started protecting for HD, I have a feeling that each shot was adjusted slightly for 16:9. I know later shows like Dawson's Creek were composed while shooting with both 4:3 and 16:9 in mind.

I haven't seen any of the HD versions. But according to one article I read, they went back to the film elements. Which I find flabbergasting. Because that is a huge expense. It means unarchiving all the film, redoing the telecine to HD and then rebuilding each episode. Then it would need to be color timed and have the composition tweaked.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2012 10:14:11 PM PDT
EdM says:
"converted to 16:9 will lose the top or bottom."

Or in some cases, will be stretched so people look "fat", e.g. Especially on cable, a number of originally 4:3 aspect ratio shows are presented that way. In one sense, when most TVs and a few HDTVs were still 4:3, some people got upset about letter-boxing, with the black bands on top and bottom to play [movies especially] at the original aspect ratio. Now, with 16-9 HDTVs, people complain about pillar-boxing or the black bars on the sides. In other words, these people who insist on the superiority of the device aspect ratio, notwithstanding the director's or author's original vision, put the cart before the horse, IMO. BTW - The stretch for a wide-screen movie on a 4:3 TV made people look unnaturally tall and skinny, when [usually cable channels again] did that type of stretch. I prefer people to look natural - regardless of the black bars.

Posted on Jul 9, 2012 11:25:06 AM PDT
you can adust your tv to fill the screen. which doesn't look as good for sure. but with a plasma it's a good idea. it will always look not as good though as it does straight 4:3.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 10, 2012 11:09:05 PM PDT
Rock Fan says:
"This sort of discussion usually concerns left to right, but what about top to bottom? Do you lose information there on these TV shows that were originally aired in 4:3 when they are released as 16:9?"
That was my point, it appears that there is no technical way to release a 4:3 blu-ray and to have a menu option of a cropped widescreen that had a stored script that would direct which part of the picture to keep and which part of the picture to crop. For every frame of the video, I think the space required to direct the action would be infinitesimally small (one vertical position number per frame), the problem is that such a thing is not built into the Blu-Ray standard.
My original post was about NOT cropping the picture on the disc, just displaying it two different ways.

Posted on Jul 13, 2012 1:15:19 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 13, 2012 1:16:11 PM PDT
Cavaradossi says:
Rock Fan

Re displaying the picture both ways on the BD.

Sadly, that's not likely to happen. The fans who insist that everything be 16:9 and that no 4:3 material be available to anyone who wants it would storm the studios with pitchforks and burning torches if that were to happen!

Personally, I'm sticking with my Friends DVDs, 4:3 and all. For one thing, and it's no small thing, I don't want to spend the money to replace it. I'd rather use the money to buy material I don't already have. That's the principle reason I haven't replaced most of the movies and operas I have on Laserdisc with the DVD version. There are only so many dollars one can spent on this hobby in the course of a working life.

Posted on Jul 14, 2012 2:07:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 14, 2012 2:19:28 AM PDT
Alan says:
Cavardossi says:
Personally, I'm sticking with my Friends DVDs, 4:3 and all. For one thing, and it's no small thing, I don't want to spend the money to replace it. I'd rather use the money to buy material I don't already have. That's the principle reason I haven't replaced most of the movies and operas I have on Laserdisc with the DVD version. There are only so many dollars one can spent on this hobby in the course of a working life.
Boy, you got that right.
I loved my beta tapes (and the ghost lines from on-air antenna recordings) of shows that never made it to VHS or laser disc when they took over.
I loved my VHS tapes (and the ghost lines from on-air antenna recordings) of shows that never made it to VHS or DVD's when they took over.
The video tapes were stored correctly for 30 plus years and taken out twice a year just to fast-forward and rewind them to prevent too much (if any) information transfer from one layer of video tape to the next (as it is magnetic).
Over several years, I have slowly transferred beta and VHS recordings of shows that never made it to DVD, onto SP or higher speed DVD.
Now we have Blu-ray.
When I finally get things set up, everything will eventually get transferred to blu-ray (as that will, especially in NFL Football games recorded since 1981, make the recording from two disc 4 gb single layer recordings into one disc and open up storage space).
It won't raise the quality, but the nice part of it is - it won't lose what quality it had, either.
The price of blu-ray gets reasonable during sales and that's when my top 100 movies or so are purchased.
Those old DVD recordings, however they were first recorded, become even more of a relic as again, many TV shows are movies will still never make it to blu-ray.
The funny part of my recordings vs things out on DVD: an example would be the "Hawkeye" TV show review I wrote, where Mill Creek Entertainment used feed tapes and transferred them to DVD (never using master program tapes, never remastered them).
Echo Bridge and other distributors pull the same crap - and I think of how many thousands or millions I could make because I have tons of old shows on tape (many are feed tape recordings).
Hell, I could license a progam, do a low quality to medium quality transfer of feed tape material to DVD, then replicate them just like the cheap distributors do.
And dumb people will buy them (for the same reason they buy DVD-R formatted programs...because it's finally on DVD).

Posted on Jul 14, 2012 2:29:09 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 14, 2012 2:32:04 AM PDT
Alan says:
I wonder if this is true...
If you went out and purchased a huge widescreen TV, like 46 inch to 70 inch size...
would older 4x3 programs become less interesting to watch because you just seem to love that full 16x9 picture, no matter what show or movie is on?
Is there some kind of psychology in that thinking - and why Hollywood and distributors around the world are willing to test market TV shows like (example) Star Trek: The Next Generation in a zoomed in look, properly tilting the screen up and down to prevent heads getting cut off, thus making the picture 16x9 in high def as you play the blu-ray.
Are they thinking that you big screeners would be more willing to buy the shows again as now they would be 16x9 and properly framed (tilted)?
Note I did not say pan & scan as that wouldn't be needed on a show originally in a 4x3 aspect ratio.
At home, when you zoom in a 4x3 show, you really just need to tilt up or down as you aren't losing the picture on the left or right.

Posted on Jul 14, 2012 6:15:22 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 14, 2012 6:19:11 AM PDT
Cavaradossi says:
Alan D. Fraser

I, too, have over thirty years of VHS tapes recorded off cable and have transferred a lot of them to DVD. Especially treasured are the scores of operas and concerts that were aired on PBS, A & E, and Ovation in the golden years of great music on TV, the 80s and early 90s, when there would be many on each season, not the few that appear now. I also have something of a subset hobby in that I like to record sit-coms I think aren't going to make it. Those can often be surprisingly entertaining after they are cancelled!
Thank heaven for DVD recorders.

I wonder, though, if we are ever going to get Blu-ray recorders here in the U.S. I understand they are big in Japan, but the studios have an ever tighter strangle hold on the American home recording enthusiast. They have been steadily eroding the gains for us made in the groundbreaking Sony v. Beta case of decades ago by shoveling money at their supporters in Congress. As a result, our ability to record has been severely eroded for several years now. For instance, only if you have pre-2007 DVD recorders can you record something from HBO, or even channels like USA and TNT because of collaboration between broadcasters and hardware manufacturers. Of course, if you still have working VCRs you can record anything! So much for progress.

Hollywood is determined to keep Blu-ray recorders out of the U.S. There are programs available that let one record on BD on one's computer, I understand, but that has always seemed like such a torturously difficult process to someone like me who is less computer savvy than others. As a result, I'm not holding out much hope of ever having a stand alone BD recorder.

You said you have Beta as well as VHS. I have always read that Beta produced a better picture than VHS, but I've never been in a position to see for myself. I never owned one or knew anyone who did. Did you see the superiority or were the two formats pretty even in PQ? I've wondered this since the beginning of home video.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2012 12:14:19 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 14, 2012 1:15:55 PM PDT
Alan says:
I even laugh at old newscasts recorded at the end of the programs from years ago that have about 5 to 10 minutes of news before the tape would rewind.
Amazing, the reporters and anchors are different, the people in poliitics are generally different - same crap, problems, countries causing trouble, inflation or economy gone flat, high gas prices, no gas available and gas stations closed, etc, etc, etc.
Nothing ever changes... so why are we paying huge paychecks to the young political faces and retirement to old political faces?
They did what?
The solved what problem?
Drill, Baby, Drill... thirty years later?
Blu-ray stand-alone recorder and / or a stand-alone High Def DVR (without paying some lousy company a fee to make the record button work).
I believe it'll happen someday as the market is perfect to sell 500,000 units during the first week or two...
- as long as Sony and their chips stay out of the way,
- and Sony and Panasonic doesn't flood the market with cheap parts and units that can do everything from flushing your toilet to starting your car while recording.
Just record - that's it - just record - a "simple" blu-ray recorder or a simple HD DVR - that you buy, take it home, hook it up and it works.
So you know, it was Sony who started adding the chip to stop you from recording copy-guarded material within the digital data steam (after they already had the masterpiece series of DVD recorders on the market).
I still have one operational but use it very little, just because Sony got one model out of a hundred right (with digital noise reduction built into the analog tuner).
Every Sony DVD recorder after that masterpiece series (RDR GX-300) had the chip installed, as I said, but people stopped buying them because the recording would stop / shut down while recording a simple newscast on your local station the moment they went to commercials and had something like a movie trailer aired (coming soon to a theater near you...) - chances are the commercial contained copy-guard, thus shutting down your DVD recorder.
Imagine that - they wouldn't let you record a commercial, yet the companies sue each other over a button that allows you to skip a commercial.
Is somethng backwards about this thinking?
The Toshiba DR-430 is tunerless and available at stores, and does not shut down during recording.
The Toshiba DR-570 (with a digital tuner) is available as of last month yet.
The Panasonic EZ28 (with digital tuner) is no longer made, but thank God it is as it was crap - and this unit would stop recording certain channels if recorded from it's own digital tuner, but not stop recording if you recorded those same channels using a cable / satellite box and a line input connection.
The Panasonic EZ48 is still available (with VHS recorder built it), but it was targeted at the VHS user and the DVD recorder part of it is as lousy as the EZ28 model.
Most owners of the EZ48 will tell you how they love the VHS part of it though.
Note: Keep in mind that a DVD recorder with a digital tuner may not be the garbage people say they are if hooked up to cable as a slight drop in digital signal from the cable company will screw up digital tuners.
If the signal strength stays high, DVD recorders with digital tuners don't crash (unless you have a bad disc).
Most people don't have my background as a TV engineer and master control operator, so I look at electronic problems as a puzzle and look at all the pieces - and found that the majority of the time, digital tuners get a bad rap due to the cable company.
Beta had a slightly higher lines of resolution record rate, as well as a slightly better output of resolution due to the electronics differences.
But when dubbed to DVD, you're at the mercy of the ability of the DVD recorder regardless of the source tape.
S-VHS was a Beta rip-off.
Beta also gave the clues how to develope hi-fi audio in the VHS market.
I loved either as now you had CD quality near 90db recording ability at SLP / EP speed (6 hours) of audio playback in VHS (but many of us figured that out with Beta long before that).
It's been a long time but I think Beta II speed gave you 4 1/2 hours of hi-fi audio playback (and ate fewer tapes than VHS).
Ah! To have those noise-reduction tuners vs the cheap ones...that's when anolog was sweet (and never locked up / crashed - like digital does due to a 5 or 10 db signal drop from the cable company.

Posted on Jul 15, 2012 6:40:06 AM PDT
Cavaradossi says:
Alan D. Fraser

The home recording hobby - always fun, always frustrating.

I have one of those Sony DVD/VHS recorders. I use it mainly for the VHS and to upconvert DVDS as its DVD recording aspect is next to useless. As you say, it shuts down for for seemingly no reason at all. Since there is no discernible pattern to the problem, I written that part of the machine's usefulness off as a lost cause.

Re the high fidelity audio recording of VHS machines......

I have long used those machines for audio only purposes. They are great for recording very long radio broadcasts like the Saturday Met Opera in sound indistinguishable from the original.

I love the S-VHS format and only wish I had known when it was on its way out. I would have bought another two machines to add to the two I have. I have built up a large library of S-VHS tapes. Fortunately, they copy to DVD very well.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2012 8:56:47 AM PDT
There are to many moving parts and confusion of 4:3 vs. 16:9, zooming, etc in your question. You mention you're 'against cropping to create a 16:9 only disc'. Sinefeld, for example, was shot on 35mm film in a 1:85:1 aspect ratio. You would only crop to 4:3 not 16:9. 16:9 is very close to the actual 1:85:1 aspect ratio of motion picture cameras (non-anamorphic). The show would have been framed for "4:3 safe" meaning all the action of the actors is within the 4:3 frame yet the 16:9 frame could be used for DVD release, for example since HD was becoming more common as the show was on TV. So there is the cropping- 16:9 is not cropped 4:3 is.
Pan and scan is a fix used in video releases of movies/TV shows shot in 1:85:1 or 2:35:1 for 4:3 release where you could not see the action on a 4:3 TV because 4:3 screen isn't physically wide enough to show the image. Pan and scan is done during the 'telecine' transfer process. It's a process where the technician actually uses a joystick to move the image within the 4:3 screen size. So Pan and Scan really has nothing to do or could have nothing to do with Zoom on your TV. Zooming while watching pan/scan doesn't fix anything. Replacing brakes on your car doesn't fix the transmission. One thing simply has nothing to do with the other.
Let me close with this. Enjoy 16:9. forget about 4:3. Don't ever use zoom on your TV. There are industry professionals (I'm a cameraman myself) that work to give the audience the best experience possible. Whatever is on the disc is more often than not the best viewing experience available. There is no need for audience intervention of a technical nature to 'correct' or 'alter' for a better experience.

Posted on Jul 17, 2012 8:44:16 AM PDT
M. Gariti says:
Here's the simplest possible answer: Look at your TV remote. There should be a "format" (or something along those lines) button. It probably stretches the screen 6 ways: Normal, taller, tallest, wider, widest, full expand. However, G. C. Tesouro is correct when he says that the original size provided is how the show/movie is intended to be viewed; as in, most director's KNOW that you've probably got a 16:9 TV (esp. if you have a blu-ray player), so the additional cut-off is probably intentional.

Posted on Jul 17, 2012 9:20:42 AM PDT
Tyler says:
I believe the new Friends Boxset on Blu Ray will be presented in 16:9 somehow instead of 4:3 for the blu rays unlike the fullscreen DVD's, this is to mention a show shot the entire run in 4:3 and shown 4:3 on the DVD;s yet now available for the first time in a forced? widescreen for its blu ray release. It mentions it here in the specs. This is just one example though.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 17, 2012 4:51:30 PM PDT
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Posted on Jul 18, 2012 6:27:20 PM PDT
Cavaradossi says:
Jonathan A. Chang

"While Seinfeld may have been shot in 35mm, the director framed the shots for 4:3."

Does this mean, then, that when the show is seen in 16:9, presumably in the 35mm width, that the sides will have large areas of unused space on both ends? If so, I think this might be distracting for the viewer.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 18, 2012 7:11:21 PM PDT
According to Wikipedia, they had to crop out some of the top and bottom, and include more of the sides. Presumably not all of the 35mm aspect ratio is usable, because the material on the sides were never intended to be used in the final broadcast.

I'm not sure how distracting this would be since I haven't actually seen it. But I probably wouldn't characterize it as "large areas of unused space". Even if they did use all of the space, 16:9 widescreen only has 33% more area on the sides over 4:3 (or another way to look at it as 4:3 has 75% of the width of 16:9). That's only 16.5% on each side.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 25, 2012 5:57:01 AM PDT
Framed 4:3 safe- meaning 16:9 is usable. I shoot like this for networks that have both an HD and SD channel.
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Initial post:  Jun 30, 2012
Latest post:  Aug 4, 2012

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