Watching silent films on a widescreen television

Technically-oriented discussion of classic films on everything from 35mm to Blu-Ray
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Nick_M

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PostSat Apr 10, 2010 1:39 am

I cannot, will not, run films with the wrong aspect ratio.


Oh, come now. Surely, you know that HDTVs are 1.78, not 1.85? Just about everybody crops 1.85 down to 1.78.
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Mark Pruett

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PostSat Apr 10, 2010 9:05 am

Christopher Jacobs wrote:
It may take 10-20 minutes or so of playing around with both your player and TV settings so you can come up with settings that will automatically show everything at the correct ratio.

--Christopher Jacobs
http://hpr1.com/film
http://www.und.edu/instruct/cjacobs


Or, in my case, 30-40 minutes. But this is sound advice, as attempting to read more than one user manual at a time will make you feel like a chimp wandering the aisles of the Sartre Reading Room.

My Sony Bravia LCD widescreen distinguishes screen settings from picture settings. Screen settings govern stretchiness, allowing you to turn Charles Lane into Edward G. Robinson if you so desire. The choices are anything but intuitive, but here are the settings that allow me to preserve the original aspect ratio when I watch movies on DVD:

Wide Mode: Full
Auto Wide: Off
Display Area: Normal

Don't ask me why this works. I use two DVD players, a Sony Bravia for region 1/NTSC discs and an Oppo for region 2/PAL discs. Both players upscale to 1080p. The TV screen settings are the same for both. I had to readjust picture settings for the Oppo, however, to avoid ghosting and jerkiness (juddering?) when playing PAL discs.
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Claus H.

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PostSat Apr 10, 2010 11:20 am

Nick,

Yes, I know HDTV is 1:1.78, so that couple of % on the sides I have no choice but to live with.
There are small compromises you can't get around yet, but the idea is: be truthful to the film, as much as you possibly can.
Claus.
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kndy

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Re: Watching silent films on a widescreen television

PostSat Apr 10, 2010 11:46 am

WaverBoy wrote:You're watching SAFETY LAST! and IT in the wrong aspect ratio; they should be 4x3 as well, not stretched and squeezed in 16x9.


I reuploaded the images with the correct ratio. Thanks for letting me know.

Claus H. wrote:I cannot, will not, run films with the wrong aspect ratio. If the DVD is pre-masked incorrectly, I won't watch it.
I have lived through the mutilations done by commercial tv when it was 1:1.33, and the 'pan-and-scan' butchery done on VHS tape copies. That was enough. (The only, inevitable, exception is running 'Scope in 16mm as the 1:2.66 ratio is fixed in that format, nothing doing.)


Hehe... I'm afraid to ask what you think of director's who change the aspect ratio for the Blu-ray releases (ala "The Last Emperor") but not appropriate for this forum.

Going back to the original post, there's nothing wrong with watching silent films on a widescreen television especially when watching these films via HD.

As we have more and more silents coming to Blu-ray, I can't wait for "Battleship Potemkin" and the restored "Metropolis". Kino did a fantastic job with "The General" and MOC with "Sunrise" and "City Girl".
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Christopher Jacobs

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PostMon Apr 12, 2010 12:31 pm

Oh, come now. Surely, you know that HDTVs are 1.78, not 1.85? Just about everybody crops 1.85 down to 1.78.


Actually, on 16x9 TV sets it's far more likely that films shot for the 1.85 format are showing a little bit EXTRA image above and below what was originally seen in theatres, rather than cropping the sides to fit 1.78 (which is the new "full-screen," rendering that term on DVDs completely meaningless and downright misleading -- possibly accounting for people stretching their "full-screen" DVDs to fill their new widescreen TVs and thinking that's actually the way they're supposed to look).

As a post noted earlier, silents and other 1.33 or 1.37 films on BluRay seem to be pre-pillarboxed so they'll look correct on a 1.78 monitor. This is akin to the original letterboxed DVDs to show various widescreen formats within the 1.33 image before the "16x9 enhanced" anamorphic encoding became customary to make use of every available pixel. It would be nice if all aspect ratios from 1.18 through 2.55 could be likewise anamorphically encoded to use all of the available 1080x1920 pixels instead of merely cropping them on the top/bottom or the sides. The picture in the cropped image area is still so much sharper than what people are used to on standard TVs and DVDs, that I guess the distributors and manufacturers don't think it's worth the extra effort at this point, but if digital cinemas ever get their act together and upgrade to only 4k, 6k, 8k, or higher resolutions instead of the typical 2k (nearly identical to home HDTV), then home viewers will appreciate the extra quality because the softness difference comparison with commercial theatres would then be more obvious. Right now, BluRays deliver essentially the same quality you can see in your local digital multiplex, giving no pressing reason to go out to see anything in a commercial theatre when you can watch the same thing looking as good or better at home.

(We really need a new forum category called "Tech-talk" or something for these threads!)

--Christopher Jacobs
http://hpr1.com/film
http://www.und.edu/instruct/cjacobs
Last edited by Christopher Jacobs on Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Arndt

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PostMon Apr 12, 2010 12:37 pm

Christopher Jacobs wrote:(We really need a new forum category called "Tech-talk" or something for these threads!)


And I need a brain transplant to understand them.
MELIOR
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Frederica

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PostMon Apr 12, 2010 12:49 pm

Arndt wrote:
Christopher Jacobs wrote:(We really need a new forum category called "Tech-talk" or something for these threads!)


And I need a brain transplant to understand them.


I'm with you, cookie. All this, just to watch television?
Fred
"Screw the men. I've got the horse."
Helen B. (Penny) Chenery
http://www.nitanaldi.com"
http://www.facebook.com/NitaNaldiSilentVamp"
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Jim Reid

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PostMon Apr 12, 2010 4:13 pm

Frederica wrote:
I'm with you, cookie. All this, just to watch television?


Watching tv is not as easy as it used to be. When my family comes to visit, they have no idea how to just watch tv on my set-up.
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Jack Theakston

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PostMon Apr 12, 2010 5:13 pm

FYI, most 1.85-1 films are letterboxed that way in a 16x9 area, but the black bands are so thin that you don't see them on most sets.
J. Theakston
"You get more out of life when you go out to a movie!"
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Frederica

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PostMon Apr 12, 2010 5:18 pm

Jim Reid wrote:
Frederica wrote:
I'm with you, cookie. All this, just to watch television?


Watching tv is not as easy as it used to be. When my family comes to visit, they have no idea how to just watch tv on my set-up.


In the long run, I think that's a good thing.
Fred
"Screw the men. I've got the horse."
Helen B. (Penny) Chenery
http://www.nitanaldi.com"
http://www.facebook.com/NitaNaldiSilentVamp"
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