Wrong aspect ratios for TV shows in home media - how much does it bother you?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by 93curr, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. 93curr

    93curr Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Toronto
    It seems as if a lot of what's coming out now is reframed for streaming and they don't seem to care about OAR. They're about to reissue the first eleven seasons of 'South Park' on BluRay and it's all widescreen now. I think that's probably going to be the excuse I need not to buy them again. I didn't buy 'The Wire', despite it being my second favorite show ever, on BluRay just because it was re-framed. I've watched a few episodes on On Demand and it just seems wrong; hardly an improvement over the old DVDs. I guess the least objectionable option would be to do it like 'Freaks And Geeks' and offer both ratios, but that's prohibitively expensive and who needs more double-thick boxes on their shelves anyway? It's times like these I'm glad I'm not a fan of 'Friends.'

    Still waiting to see if 'The Shield' is going to be widescreen-only on the upcoming BluRay box. It looks as if any 'Buffy' BluRay release is dead in the water after the horrible (and accurate) response the new HD broadcast transfers got online. Heck, I still have trouble trying to watch the first season of 'How I Met Your Mother' on DVD at 1.33:1.

    Is the assumption that OAR is just for fussy classic movie buffs and TV audiences just don't care?
     
  2. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    The Shield will be in 4:3 as it was filmed with a handheld for a gritty look. Changing the aspect ratio would take the look and atmosphere of the show. I don't personally think there will be anything to be gained by getting the blu-ray version.

    South Park might get away with it since the show is done with computers and they can probably redo the animation easily for a widescreen format.

    The mentality of most people is where there is black bars is missing information so if something is zoomed in and reframed to take the whole screen, they're happy, thinking they're getting more when in fact, they're getting less.

    That's why open mat movies are almost always welcomed with open arms by those who don't even know what an aspect ratio is.
     
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  3. Bryan

    Bryan Starman Jr.

    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    I wonder if they'll ever release Seinfeld on BD before physical media is even more dead than it is now, and what AR it'll be in (HD re-runs are broadcast in cropped 16x9).

    I still don't get the fuss over The Wire. You were seeing more of the frame. Granted, this changed some compositions, but I think the increased detail and filmic look made it worth it.
     
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  4. agentalbert

    agentalbert Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    Yeah. Gotta take it on a case by case basis. With The Wire, the current widescreen presentation is the best option. It was very well done.
     
  5. agentalbert

    agentalbert Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    I hadn't heard that, but that's good news. I might replace some dvd sets. The widescreen broadcast versions look very good, but of course you have the constant stream of Comedy Central splattering crap overtop of the screen. I think the first season is the only one that would present a problem in the case of South Park. Wasn't it actual paper cutouts rather than computer generated animation?

    UPDATE: and here I see the 1st season blu-ray indicates both 1.78 and 1.33 aspect ratios.
    South Park: The Complete First Season Blu-ray
     
  6. 93curr

    93curr Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Toronto
    I certainly hope you're right, but you are aware the current DVDs are widescreen, yes? The original 20th Fox DVDs were 1.33:1 but when the rights transferred to Sony, they changed the aspect ratio to 1.66:1.
     
  7. Bryan

    Bryan Starman Jr.

    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    I don't think David Simon helped things by being very publicly critical of the switch to 16x9. He's a writer first and foremost, not a cinematographer, and his comments showed a lot of ignorance on the whole thing really.
     
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  8. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Hmmmm,... I haven't watched it in years. Just checked my DVDs and you're right.

    Supposedly, it was shot in 16:9 but reframed as 4:3 to give it a grittier look. Apparently, Fox distributed the series in North-America and broadcast it on TV at 4:3 but internationally, it was Sony who opted for 16:9 and the current DVDs reflect that.

    The sole consolation is the fact that nothing is zoomed in so the already sandy picture doesn't suffer more by being zoomed in in order to provide a widescreen format as it's naturally always been that way. I know, it's not great news but if the image doesn't suffer, it's still better than having widescreen *and* a crappier image as a result.
     
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  9. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Interesting. But not all too surprising considering the fact they can animate an entire episode from scratch in a week. Having the template of the originally aired material and duplicating it would probably cut 1-2 days from the schedule, assuming they had to redo everything. If they still had the material archived somewhere, then it was probably in need of merely a few tweaks to change things around.

    I remember them switching to Maya from CorelDRAW so I wonder if they recreated everything or just reverted back to using the old stuff for the benefit of this package.

    Only the first episode was done with paper cut-outs. The rest of the first season was made by creating the characters in paper cut-outs and then scanning them in. Afterwards, they switched over and started creating stuff from scratch all from within a computer. At least, that's what I've read somewhere. Somebody else might have more complete and accurate info.
     
  10. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    All of the South Park 4x3 episodes were fully re-rendered in 16x9.
     
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  11. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    From a virtually unknown site:
    Screen shot 2017-09-13 at 3.42.59 PM.png
    Re-rendered episodes

    From its debut in 1997 until the season twelve finale in 2008 the series had been natively produced in 4:3 480i standard definition. In 2009 the series switched to being natively produced in 16:9 1080i high definition with the beginning of the thirteenth season.[143]

    All seasons originally produced in standard definition have been remastered by being completely re-rendered scene-by-scene and frame-by-frame by South Park Studios from their original resolution to full 1080i high definition. Additionally, the original 4:3 aspect ratio has been converted to 16:9 as well. The re-rendering process took South Park Studios several years, and resulted in the picture quality being in true HD as opposed to beingup-converted.[143] Several of the re-rendered episodes from the earlier seasons also feature their original uncensored audio tracks, which were previously released in censored form.[143][144][145][146]
     
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  12. 93curr

    93curr Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Toronto
    Yes. That's the problem.
     
  13. agentalbert

    agentalbert Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    I don't see how that's a problem at all. That's the RIGHT way to do this. They were originally shown in standard definition. So if you insist on only viewing them as they were originally shown, there are the dvd's. Why is the increased resolution that comes with blu-ray acceptable but the increased picture from the re-rendering not?
     
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  14. Bryan

    Bryan Starman Jr.

    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    It's South Park, not Citizen Kane.
     
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  15. 93curr

    93curr Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Toronto
    Shot in 16:9 and reframed in 4:3 just means that they originally wanted it to be seen in 4:3. They knew it was going to be shown in 4:3 when they were in post-production. There's no shortage of 4:3 shows ('Buffy' comes to mind, naturally) that were shown 16:9 outside North American territories (and appear as such on foreign DVDs) that just look bad widescreen. I'd gladly re-buy season two of 'Angel' even just on a plan old DVD if they'd restore it back to its proper ratio.
     
  16. agentalbert

    agentalbert Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    South Park is MORE imporant (to me) than Citizen Kane. I don't accept the premise that a show isn't important enough to warrant care. I just don't see how one can object to how this is being done, from what we know so far. I'm more worried about things like the season 5 episode "Super Best Friends" being monkeyed with or left off the new set altogether.
     
  17. 93curr

    93curr Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Toronto
    Because they're changing the frame. Improving the quality of the picture and altering the sightlines of the image are two entirely different things, I found the pan & scan on old Betamax and VHS tapes distracting and I find adding more space on the sides distracting. Often, the cinematographer WANTS the image to be claustophobic or intense - those intentions are abandoned when the image is altered.

    From an audio perspective, it's like Frank Zappa justifying adding extra musicians to the 1980's 'Ruben & The Jets' because it "improves" the album. NTSC/PAL wasn't something anyone wanted; it was just as good as broadcast TV could get in the past. They didn't CHOOSE to have the image low-resolution, they just accepted it as a necessary evil. Just like, from an audio perpective, recording engineers knew that the record would have surface noise.
     
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  18. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    The Wire should be full frame and it's a shame that the wrong decision was made with the blu. I'm still enjoying the series nevertheless. My 4:3 diagonal is 75". Man, would full frame look AMAZING! Maybe we'll get a 4K scan and UHD someday.
     
  19. agentalbert

    agentalbert Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    I don't think its like that at all. But if it bothers you, that's your prerogative.
     
  20. Deesky

    Deesky Forum Resident

    Yeah, I agree - it sounds like rationalizing an ideological position. If you've got access to a wider picture with more detail (ie, no cropping!), then I can't see any reason why it shouldn't be used. Sight-lines & claustrophobia? Seriously?
     
  21. Classicolin

    Classicolin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ohio
    Sheesh...for so brutally (yet brilliantly) excoriating Lucas for his Special Editions, I'm shocked Matt and Trey have allowed so many alterations to be made to the early episodes (including entirely revamped, new CG character designs and movements, et al.). They even parodied having themselves make a 'Special Edition' of the pilot way back in the 5th or 6th season!



    What's interesting is that they've actually removed CG effects used in the pilot to cut-outs. However, the colouration changes are duller and less interesting, and the widescreen look is pretty unsuited for the low-fi content and classic look of the early episodes. Furthermore, Matt or Trey's hands are even visible in 16:9 for brief moments!

    Ugh...
     
  22. 93curr

    93curr Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Toronto
    Well, yeah, that's pretty much the whole point of the thread. Clearly it doesn't bother you, or agentalbert.
     
  23. Deesky

    Deesky Forum Resident

    Perhaps we're talking about two different things. I most certainly do have a problem when content originally shot for 4:3 is converted to 16:9 by zooming and cropping. That's an abomination because you actually end up with less picture content (as shot in 4:3) as well as degrading the picture somewhat by scaling (zooming in).

    That's why I was happy they didn't butcher the TNG remastering and left it at 4:3 AR. However, if the original content was shot with widescreen in mind, but originally broadcast in the 4:3 AR era, then I have absolutely no problem with that content now being presented in widescreen 16:9 AR, as was the case with say Babylon 5 (though a small number of scenes weren't available in WS).

    To sum up, if widescreen is available without zooming & cropping, I'm all for it. Otherwise, not at all.
     
  24. minerwerks

    minerwerks Forum Resident

    I would be more interested to know how the rest of the first season South Park episodes fared in the HD conversion, since "Cartman Gets An Anal Probe" was made on film in 4x3 and we don't know if the original film still exists to be scanned in HD. Based on the video you linked, they appear to have re-created the entire episode in the computer just to get an HD version. Since South Park completely switched production methods after the pilot episode, they may have also decided to change some backgrounds or other elements in the conversion to make the pilot more consistent with the rest of the series. Or maybe they decided against making unique computer models of items they later changed in order to recreate the differences of the construction paper pilot (aka it would have been too much trouble).

    Not that I don't disagree with the point that the HD re-rendered South Park should be as accurate as possible to the original version, but personally, I am willing to be a little forgiving on the pilot.
     
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  25. tone ded freb

    tone ded freb Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Arizona Snowbowl
    I always want the option of viewing in the OAR. But I often zoom in (on TV, but never film) to fill the screen to avoid uneven wear on my plasma. Like when I started watching Star Trek TNG on Blu-ray. I didn't want to watch hours and hours of 4:3, so I zoomed. I know it looks worse. But not worse enough that it bothers me much.
     

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