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. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

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    As I understand it, that very first episode was done with actual paper cutouts, so it's kind of "it's own thing," and, I think, should be left in 4x3. It can't really be "re-rendered" from scratch in the same way other episodes can be, since it was not made fully in-computer to start with.
     
  2. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    I think that's the right answer. There's a lot of it depends to questions like these, and sometimes, reframing for 1.78 can work very well, particularly for material shot on film and rescanned for HD. Where it's bad is when you're working with 4x3 standard-def material, and that stuff is always gonna look bad, forever and ever.

    I think headroom is more of an issue than side to side area, and it's not as big a deal as you think it is. I concede it's a matter of opinion, but I don't think they laboriously sweat the framing on cartoon shows like South Park as much as you think they do. I've done a zillion episodic cartoon shows (literally like 250 or more), and anytime I felt like reframing, I'd lean over to the producer and say, "hey, I'm gonna put in a zoom here if that's OK," and I'd show him and he'd say, "sure, knock yourself out." They were mainly concerned with a) ratings, b) time, and c) money.

    I do a lot of remastering from film to HD (or more accurately, 2K), and I do struggle with framing because these are feature films and I do sweat the small stuff. We do some fairly painstaking work in electronically steading shaky shots and all kinds of little tweaky stuff that nobody will really care about, but at the end of the day, I do try to stay on top of all framing issues. In my case, I was a camera operator for five years so I do think about framing in addition to color, brightness, and all the other stuff that goes into mastering. It's not just puked out -- we work this stuff out on a shot-by-shot basis.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
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  3. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    It is well done for what it is, but the full 35mm frame would be incredible for image quality and for the original intent of the DP.
     
  4. Thievius

    Thievius Forum Resident

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    CA
    9.9999 out of 10 its a deal breaker for me. If work has to be done on a movie or TV show, I want the result to be as close to the original intent as humanly possible. I certainly don't need everything in widescreen!
     
  5. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

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    Toronto
    There are other similar videos in the same channel going over several 1st-season episodes' differences.
     
  6. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    I'd argue the original intent's origin could be debated. Is the 4:3 OAR the decision of the director or the studio? If it's the former, OK. If it's the latter and the director wanted 16:9, would you care or is the way it was initially presented regardless of reason the sole thing that matters?
     
  7. Thievius

    Thievius Forum Resident

    Location:
    CA
    Oh come on, whhat an open ended and impossible to answer blanket question. If a director shot in 4:3 but wanted 16:9, he still framed scenes a certain way within those confines. The studio coming back 20 years later and reframing shots at the whim of some random shmuck because modern audiences hate black bars is what I'd call changing the intent and less than ideal.
     
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  8. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    Exactly.

    The framing is key.

    For example, Christopher Nolan often uses shifting aspect ratios. The full frame IMAX scenes are framed such that masking the top and bottom to create 2.35:1 aspect will work. (those of use with wide screens rely on this)

    The Wire, on the other hand, was framed only for 35mm, which is roughly 4:3 in aspect. They could have decided to begin filming at 16:9 maybe around midway through the series (as HD had been introduced), but decided to stick with what they began with. While I wouldn't avoid the current blu-ray set, as it is well done (all things considered), I'd simply make the point that full frame is what we should all demand.
     
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  9. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Lots of stuff was filmed in 16:9 but refrained at 4:3 intentionally. My question was merely whether it mattered to some who's intent it was to reframe it to 4:3 to begin with. To some, the answer might be yes in which case the 16:9 would be welcome whereas in others' opinion it could be no where the initial release's look regardless of reason is what matters most so 4:3 is what they'd stick to in every case.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
  10. 93curr

    93curr Forum Resident Thread Starter

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    I guess what confuses me is that I can never think of a good reason to change the aspect ratio, except maybe to make an old show look more modern. Which, in the case of shows like 'South Park' or 'Freaks & Geeks' kind of ruins the point, as what made them beloved in the first place was how far ahead of their time they were.

    Maybe you can make 'The Wire' look wider without doing too much damage, but; why? What's the point? One of the examples that really bothers me is season two of 'Angel.' I have the DVD set, but it's distracting to watch, because nothing ever happens on the sides of the screen. All the action takes place right in the middle and the sides are practically dead space. Even if you didn't know the season was originally framed and broadcast 1.33:1, it wouldn't be hard to guess. Yes, it was filmed with 16:9 equipment but, in post production, they clearly knew they were working with a square frame and the blocking shows it. It's not as bad as if they cut off the top and bottom of the screen, but it's still unnecessarily distracting. I'd gladly buy another DVD set today if they reissued it properly. I can't imagine adding anything to the sides of 'South Park' could possibly make it look better. Just different.
     
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  11. Cerebus

    Cerebus Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    I have mixed feelings on this. I've got the South Park sets on DVD and would love to see them in HD, but the altered ratio isn't a must-have for me. I'm much happier watching it as it was originally broadcast, but in HD. The clips in the previous post look like they've reanimated the show in the "spirit" of the original episode but with "improvements", which I'm not happy about.

    But then I'm a completest and it is South Park...

    I picked up the HD Battlestar Galactica set from a few years ago, where the old 70s episodes were reframed but they also had the option of watching them in 4:3. I still haven't watched the set, but the few episodes I sampled in 16:9 seemed tolerable, but then it's a cheesy kids SF show and not Citizen Kane.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
  12. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    Well, you get less, but more. Fills everyone's panel (no "black bars"). Oh well. That's the point though. Avoid complaints that tv screen area is being wasted.
     
  13. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    One reason the studios want all future syndicated shows formatted for 16x9 is that older 4x3 shows look old, and it immediately dates the show to younger audiences. Another reason is that 99.999% all new TV sets sold in the last 7-8 years have been 16x9 sets, and ordinary viewers complain when a show does not fill the screen.

    If you look at a lot of 1.85 comedies and traditional theatrical dramas, often not a lot happens on the extreme edges of the screen and the majority of the action tends to be towards the center. That's just the nature of life. There are always exceptions.

    BTW, Angel was one of many 35mm film shows shot in 3-perf 35mm negative and actually transferred in 16x9. What the general process has been -- I cite Friends (WB 2004) as the first successful show to shoot in 3-perf and broadcast in 4x3 but archive 16x9 -- is to shoot 16x9 and "protect" 4x3. That means they keep the majority of the action and all the titles in 4x3 Safe Action:

    [​IMG]

    You're basically getting an extra 12% of image area on the left, and an extra 12% on the right. It's not massive, but I think it can work most of the time. Again, headroom is the biggest consideration, and that does not change between 4x3 and 16x9.

    In the case of The Wire, I don't think it's a real issue and I think viewers will relate better to the increased clarity of HD and not have a problem with the 16x9 frame, provided it's balanced and tells the story in a reasonable way.

    I think you're worrying about a very, very trivial problem. What is a major issue is when they blow up a show that was only made in 4x3 and then chop the bottom 1/3 off in order to artificially create faux 16x9. The first 19 years of The Simpsons is a good example of this problem. There is no real solution except to go back and re-animate all the shows from scratch and extend the backgrounds... but even though The Simpsons has grossed more than $10 billion, Fox will not spend the money.
     
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  14. Deesky

    Deesky Forum Resident

    Yes it dates it, as did B&W shows going farther back. But so too would be smartphones, or lack thereof...
     
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  15. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    And hairstyles and music and fashion and a lotta other stuff. I had a conversation with a colorization exec in the 1980s who was convinced that more people would watch old movies if they were just in color. That experiment didn't work: people didn't like to watch the old movies because they were old. The color didn't make a lot of difference in the ratings.

    But I think for old TV shows, if you have the choice between a 1990 TV show in 4x3 standard-def or a 1990 TV show in 16x9 HD, you'd choose the latter. Seinfeld (as one example) is not that dated, once you avoid the lack of cell phones and the presence of old computers.

    In the case of cartoon shows (where this debate started), I don't think the audience gives a crap about the little details. They're much more concerned about whether the show is funny or entertaining. But I think the lack of a 16x9 image could push the audience further away, particularly for new viewers.
     
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  16. 93curr

    93curr Forum Resident Thread Starter

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    But which audience? I can see the appeal for streaming or broadcasts in syndication but, with home video - you know, for the people who would actually consider paying $40 (x 11 !) a pop for BluRay sets of DVDs they most likely already own - isn't offering an accurate representation of the original show a more serious consideration? These might be little details for people who are just casually watching but, with fewer people than ever willing to actually purchase full-price discs, presentation might be a serious consideration. I know, personally, I wouldn't even consider buying a movie without going on DVDBeaver and checking comparison screencaps and reviews to make sure which edition to get.

    This is exactly the kind of thing that people who care about this kind of thing care about, I say.
     
  17. Shawn

    Shawn Forum Resident

    I watched the re-framed Cheers a year or two ago on Netflix (or it might have been Amazon Prime). I got a kick out of how frequently studio lights - particularly those above the 'bar' - came in to the shot.
     
  18. OldSoul

    OldSoul Forum Resident

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    Oberlin, OH
    I was watching Cheers on Netflix this summer in 4:3 and that was still a problem. Cameras on the sides too.
     
  19. OldSoul

    OldSoul Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oberlin, OH
    A lot of people notice animation style changes. May not be so much the case for South Park, but something like SpongeBob or The Simpsons, the difference is clear and people talk about it a lot.
     
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  20. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    I believe that's because they used the overscan of the picture. During its initial broadcast, you wouldn't have seen that.
     
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  21. OldSoul

    OldSoul Forum Resident

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    Oberlin, OH
    Most likely. I also have my TV set to full pixel. The cameras that were seen on the sides, though, I think were actually seen. They were pretty far in.
     
  22. antoniod

    antoniod Active Member

    I used to be annoyed that people always watched a stretched "fattened" image on their widescreen TVs(when it's not on the HD station)but since I went though 10 hour surgery it's not a big deal.
     
  23. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    I had a heart attack and was in the hospital for 48 hours sometime back, and I was in even more pain when I realized that the hospital set (in a $20,000/day room) was stuck in "fattenized" mode. I kept the set off and read eBooks and listened to music. I still hate aspect ratio mistakes -- it's an insult to the people who made the show and to viewers.

    This was heavily discussed by the CBS people in charge of the old Star Trek show reissues. After feedback from Trekkies, the shows that were released were 4x3, to preserve the original aspect ratio, but they did simultaneously create a 16x9 version for potential future syndication. And all of the new VFX done at CBS Digital were intentionally created in 16x9; what's been shown is a center-extraction from the 16x9 material. A 16x9 version of a full-ap 35mm negative can be acceptable to a point:
    [​IMG]

    If you ask me, the aggressive surround remix (music way too hot) on Star Trek (the old show) is a lot more antagonizing than any aspect ratio considerations. And there's nothing you can do to avoid that other than just reverting to the original mono mix.

    They do definitely consider what the "collector" audience wants when it comes to DVDs and Blu-rays. I can argue either way on 16x9 vs. 4x3 for that audience; if it were up to me, I'd release it both ways in the same package and let the viewer decide. The bigger problem with (say) The Simpsons in 16x9 is the 525 standard-def source material, which is woefully soft and ugly. No matter how much processing you do, it's still not a great-looking image. The original films would look 10 times better, but Fox was unwilling to go back and rescan everything, which would have probably cost on the order of $1M per season (roughly $20M) including HD mastering. I know Fox got some bids on the project, but it was all scuttled in favor of just uprezzing the old master tapes.

    What I generally tell studios in terms of aspect ratio is, if we're going to reissue a feature film, nobody is going to object if you see a little bit more in the new transfer. For this reason, I usually try to make the argument that 1.78 makes more sense for a modern HD release than 1.85; seeing an additional 2% image area top and bottom is not going to ruin any movie (roughly 20 lines). What does become problematic is when you have a 2.39 theatrical film and the studio wants to do a 1.78 release for streaming and home video... and this happens quite a bit, particularly with Disney. Again, the key to me is starting with a larger camera image and then compensating with headroom (and showing more foot room). It's a compromise, but then, so is everything in show business.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017
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  24. except the OP apparently

    :p
     
  25. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    Well, I'm talking mainly of features. And when I say "a little," I mean like 1/4" or 1/2" on one side or the other, not like half a foot above actors' heads or something stupid like that. But if you cut a little piece of the picture off, believe me, the studio will get a thousand emails and/or letters about it.
     

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