From: Randolph Jordan (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Sep 15 2006 - 07:10:40 PDT
"From what I know you can make a disc anamorfic at 1.66 : 1 too. But somehow
companies chose not to. Lazy? Or maybe problems with equipment for viewing?"
A 1.66:1 film CAN be stored anamorphically (16:9) on DVD. There are a number of
films available on Criterion (i.e. In the Mood for Love) and elsewhere that
present this aspect ratio in anamorphic transfers.
"Of course if it was stored as anamorphic 16:9 then it
will end up being both letterboxed and pillarboxed on
4:3 sets which might be kind of nasty! Especially as a
lot of 4:3 sets are kind of tiny."
When watching a 1.66:1 film stored anamorphically on DVD it will NOT appear as
both pillarboxed and letterboxed on a 4:3 TV. If your DVD player is set to
output to a 4:3 screen then for anything wider than 4:3 you will simply have
letterboxing introduced into the image. The width remains constant; it is the
height that fluctuates from one aspect ratio to the next. If you're getting both
pillarboxing and letterboxing on a 4:3 set when watching anamorphically stored
material then there is something wrong with the way your equipment is configured.
Where you WILL see both pillarboxing and letterboxing at the same time is when
trying to watch 1.66:1 films stored as 4:3 on a 16:9 TV. From my perspective,
the REAL problem with storing 1.66:1 films in the 4:3 format on DVD is that a
great many 16:9 TVs do not have a proper aspect ratio setting for 1.66:1
material. When a 1.66:1 film is stored as 16:9, you lose a bit of the full
resolution because of the pillarboxing, but at least there is no cropping
introduced. When a 1.66:1 film is stored 4:3, you either watch it as it is -
both letterboxed and pillarboxed on a 16:9 set - or you have to blow the image up
using one of the adjustment fucntions (often called "zoom"). I've never
encountered a 16:9 screen with a zoom function that doesn't crop a 1.66:1 film on
the top and bottom. Granted, I live in Canada, so perhaps this is a function of
the North American market dominated by 1.85:1 (even though my TV is a Loewe from
Germany and still doesn't have a proper zoom for 1.66:1). Nevertheless, the fact
that Satantango is being released as a letterboxed 4:3 transfer is a super drag
for those of us who have 16:9 TVs that won't handle the material correctly. So
the fact that anamorphic DVDs are optimized for 16:9 material isn't nearly as
much of a problem as the fact that 16:9 TVs don't support some of these other
aspect ratios very well.
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.