Stephan55

TOO MANY "WINDOW BOX" FORMAT MOVIES ON-DEMAND!

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TOO MANY "WINDOW BOX" FORMAT MOVIES ON-DEMAND!

Not "widescreen" or "Letterbox" but tiny "Window-Box" format with broad vertical and horizontal black spaces above, below and to each side of a very tiny distorted picture that is too often squashed, flattened and widened, miss-shaping the picture that remains. :(
Ordinarily I wouldn't comment about such an occurrence on TCM as in the past they generally (to my observation) rarely occurred (i.e. maybe once every three or four months), and have often been corrected in succeeding airings of the same movie.
However this month there have been several such "Window-Boxed" movies ON-DEMAND, which is quite an alarming trend.
NOTE that when I viewed parts of these movies during their live broadcast they were NOT in "Window-Box" format, this ONLY appeared during ON-DEMAND repeat viewing.
Because this has been a past rare occurrence, and because these recent movies have been shown ON-DEMAND before in their "normal" widescreen, "Letter-Box" or even 4x3 ratio format (All without distortion) I do believe that such "Window-Box" occurrences are due to an uncorrected error by TCM staff.

My point of this thread is to both confirm to fellow viewers that this is happening with others as themselves, AND bring this "problem" to the attention of one of our "helpful" Moderators, so that he (or she) can forward this evidently "overlooked" concern to whomever might care at TCM Central, so that someone there will hopefully take measures to either correct the current problem/s, or at least insure that it stops repeating itself. (At least in such an unusually frequent manner.)
A short list of titles that I have noticed that are currently in the unacceptably distorted "Window-Box" format, are: THE HORSE SOLDIERS (1959), THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS (1959), HELL DRIVERS (1957), and THE PRISONER OF SECOND AVENUE (1974) which very recently prior to this (in the last month or two) was available ON-DEMAND in "normal" (un "Window-Box") format.
NOTE: these are only the afflicted titles that I have discovered just this last week or so... there are likely others that I have not personally "caught". If anyone reading this has witnessed "Window-Boxing" in additional titles, please comment in this thread!

*Addendum:
Add *THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (1960) to the above list of now FIVE movies presented in WINDOW-BOX format by WATCH TCM ON-DEMAND during this one month!

Again, TCM ON-DEMAND would benefit its viewers if someone were charged with the duty of following up their ON-DEMAND product in the role of Quality Assurance.

Another unrelated concern that I have recently observed (mostly since last Sunday) is that several movies that I have tried to watch ON-DEMAND have displayed a great deal of repetitive "buffering" (picture intermittently freezes with the little spinning circle). :angry: When this occurs I have checked my download speeds (with speedtest.net) and they have always been more than adequate and yes, everything (i.e. browser, flash-player, etc.) is up-to-date, and unchanged (both before and after these problems) happened.
A short list of ON-DEMAND titles that suffered this were: ARIZONA (1940), TAMPOPO (1986), BIG JACK (1949), and HIT-AND-RUN DRIVER (1935). 
NOTE: this problem only occurred with TCM ON-DEMAND, and NOT with any other streaming service.
After several attempts I have finally been able to watch most of these movies all-the-way through without buffering, but only after up to 4 repeat attempts (either subsequently, or on different days, at different times).
And again, these are only the movies that I have noticed doing this. I suspect that there have been (or are) others...
If anyone reading this has had similar experience, please post about it in this thread.

Again, another good reason for TCM to invest in a dedicated QA person or rotational staff.

And while I'm griping, I might as well get this off my chest as well...
TCM has shown the loose and fanciful George M. Cohen musical bio classic YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942) "live" at least once each year for a number of years. But the last time that this Michael Curtiz, James Cagney hit was broadcast ON-DEMAND was in late 2015... NOT since then. Same with some other movies that I have noticed...
Why TCM is not allowing us to watch this oft aired movie ON-DEMAND is beyond me... (surely it can't be a "rights" issue, can it?) :unsure:
Anyone care to offer a solid explanation for this mystery?

Thank you! 

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Discovered another Tiny "Window-Box" format movie to add to the previous list:
*THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (1960)
I again repeat that in the past, it has been a relatively infrequent thing (i.e. noticed maybe once every 3 or 4 months) when TCM streams an ON-DEMAND movie in this type of practically useless format (especially so when attempting to watch on smaller screens).
However to see FIVE of these "Window-Boxers" in a single month is quite an unusual rarity.
I sincerely hope that this will NOT become a trend with TCM ON-DEMAND as this format renders these movies next to uselessly "unviewable" on any laptop or smaller size screen. AND with the added distortion, I imagine most persons (myself included) would refuse to watch one at all!


AGAIN (with maybe one exception) Each of these movies has been available ON-DEMAND prior to this in a NON-Window-Box format (except maybe THE HORSE SOLDIERS (1959), which I watched live on my TV in Wide-Screen "Letter-Box" format, but NOT "Window-Box" format, though I can't recall if I have ever seen it ON-DEMAND before?) 
So it is NOT like this is the ONLY WAY (format) that TCM can make these movies available to us ON-DEMAND.

I will say this, *THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (1960) was at least presented in a NON-Distorted "Window-Box" format, meaning that it was UNLIKE the others that also had the tiny images further squashed, flattened, and widened (stretched horizontally) further distorting the tiny images presented....

I sure hope that this information is verified and forwarded by the Moderator to someone at TCM that hopefully gives a damn about these types of issues????? :huh:

Please, and Thank You

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5/6/2018 Update:
EVER MORE "WINDOW BOX" FORMAT MOVIES SHOWING UP ON-DEMAND!


UPDATED: To Add Newly Observed "Window-Boxed" movies.
5/7/2018, 5/12/2018, 5/13/2018, 5/15/2018,


In April 2018, I observed an alarming trend with TCM ON-DEMAND, when they began showing an unprecedented number of "Window-Box" format movies.
Previously this was something that occurred only sparingly, perhaps once every 3 or 4 months; not so any longer.

THE HORSE SOLDIERS (1959)
*THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS (1959)
*HELL DRIVERS (1957)
*THE PRISONER OF SECOND AVENUE (1974)

and
*THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (1960)
Were only the beginning.
Already in this first week of May 2018, TCM has decidedly continued the trend with: 
THE SEVENTH DAWN (1964)  
THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE (1968)
*GREEN MANSIONS (1959)
THE SWIMMER (1968)  

and *HOMICIDAL (1961)
And this week isn't over yet!

Week 2 and three more (beginning 5/7/2018)
*BEDEVILLED (1955)
*THE RUNNING MAN (1963)

*SOUNDER (1972)

Week 3 and three more (beginning 5/14/2018)
*THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM (1962)



* Note: * above are movies that TCM has shown before ON-DEMAND in their normal (UN-"Window-Box" formated) aspect ratios.

Note: For persons watching movies on a wide-screen, 16:9 ratio monitor (in normal "unmodified" screen mode) a movie filmed in 16:9 aspect ratio should fill the screen (exception may be a small black space on the bottom of some monitors provided for certain captioning options so that they do not overlay the actual movie).
If the monitor has a ratio greater than 16:9 (i.e. taller & wider, "ultra wide-screen") then there may be small horizontal black bars, above and below the picture in movies filmed in 16:9 ratio.
Movies filmed in 2.35:1 ratio (sometimes called CinemaScope, or Panavision, etc.) will appear with horizontal black bars, above and below the picture (called "Letterboxing").
Movies filmed in the older, traditional 1.33:1 (4:3) ratio will see vertical black bars, on both sides of the picture, (called "Pillarboxing"). This is all normal. 

For persons watching movies on an older tube Analog, or later, more square shaped, 4:3 ratio flatscreen monitor (in normal "unmodified" screen mode)
Movies filmed in 4:1, or 1.33:1 aspect ratio should fill the screen.
Movies filmed in 16:9 & 2.35:1 ratios will see horizontal black bars, above and below the picture ("Letterboxing"). Again, this is all normal.

What is generally Not normal on any ratio monitor (in normal "unmodified" screen mode) is to see a picture centered in the screen with BOTH horizontal AND vertical black bars that surround all four sides of a much smaller movie image.  (There are a few exceptions, i.e. during some commercials, or during the intro credits of some movies that have been "Panned & Scanned," or in movies that may use this format for certain artistic effects during a movie.)
This "Window-Box" effect generally occurs when a widescreen image that has been previously "Letterboxed" to fit a 1.33:1 (4.3 ratio) screen is then "Pillarboxed" to fit a 16:9 screen. These inferior movies have essentially been "shrunk" or modified twice, often resulting in tiny distorted images that appear stretched and squashed. 
Also called "Match-Box", "Gutter-Box", and "Postage Stamp" display.

When TCM airs or streams any "Window-Box" movie, they are showing us a film that has been severely modified from the original, which is not only going against their professed standard of showing the "most complete, unedited, and unmodified" versions available" but they are presenting a practically unwatchable, often distorted, highly inferior product to their viewer subscribers....   This is an unacceptable disservice that we subscribers should NOT tolerate and that TCM knows better than to do.
SHAME on TCM.


For those that are unfamiliar with these terms I offer the following definitions and examples:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letterboxing_(filming)

http://www.dummies.com/consumer-electronics/home-theater/aspect-ratios-widescreen-letterbox-pan-and-scan/

"Letterboxing" (also known as "Wide Screen" format) is the practice of transferring film shot in a widescreen aspect ratio to standard-width video formats while preserving the film's original aspect ratio. The resulting video-graphic image has mattes (black bars) above and below it; these mattes are part of the image (i.e., on each frame of the video signal).

Normal "Widescreen" or "Letterbox" format generally seen in movies made in the mid-late 1950's and later.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letterboxing_(filming)#/media/File:Image_cropping_235x1.jpg


Image_cropping_235x1.jpg
 

"Letterboxing" is used as an alternative to a full-screen, "pan-and-scan" transfer of a widescreen film image to videotape or videodisc. In "pan-and-scan" transfers, the original image is cropped to the narrower aspect ratio of the destination format, usually the 1.33:1 (4:3) ratio of the standard television screen, whereas "Letterboxing" preserves the film's original image composition as seen in the cinema. Letterboxing was developed for use in 4:3 television displays before widescreen television screens were available, but it is also necessary to represent on a 16:9 widescreen display the unaltered original composition of a film with a wide aspect ratio, such as Panavision's 2.35:1 ratio.

"Letterbox" mattes are usually symmetrical (both the top and bottom mattes are roughly similar in size), but in some instances the picture can be elevated so the bottom matte is much larger, usually for the purpose of placing "hard" subtitles within the matte to avoid overlapping of the image.

 


 


 


 



"Pillarboxing" (reversed letterboxing) is the display of an image within a wider image frame by adding lateral mattes (vertical bars at the sides); for example, a 1.33:1 (4.3 ratio) image has lateral mattes when displayed on a 16:9 aspect ratio television screen.

NOTE:
Most of the early (pre 1950) classic films that TCM broadcasts, and Live streams and makes available ON-DEMAND, are the more square 4:3 ratio format. This is their native format so when they are shown on a widescreen TV in "normal" mode, the unaltered image is not naturally wide enough to fill the screen because it wasn't originally shot in wide screen format. The vertical bars at both sides of the image are therefore normal.

 


"Windowboxing" occurs when an image appears centered in a television screen, with blank space on all four sides of the image, such as when a widescreen image that has been previously letterboxed to fit a 1.33:1 (4.3 ratio) screen is then pillarboxed to fit 16:9 screen.
These movies have essentially been "shrunk" or modified twice, resulting in the "Window-Box effect.

It is also called "matchbox", "gutterbox", and "postage stamp" display

NOTE: I believe that this is what is occurring to cause the tiny "Window-Box" format of the the ON-DEMAND movies listed above.  Especially when so many of these "Windowboxed" movies are so heavily distorted with a squashed & horizontally stretched (widened) image appearance when viewed on unmodified ("normal" mode) 16.9 monitors.
Either the source videos they are using to stream have already been modified in such a fashion to begin with (with embedded bars all around), or the equipment that they are using to stream is not properly adjusted (calibrated) to avoid such a "Windowboxing" effect.
(Depending on the viewer monitor's native ratio, and settings, further distortion effects are possible.)
These ON-DEMAND streams do appear to have embedded black bars all around the image to begin with, which leads me to believe that these Window-box "errors" (whether a badly modified source video was used, or the result of improperly programed (calibrated) uploaded video streams, or a combination of both) are caused by TCM "misjudgements" resulting in unnecessary and unacceptable "Windowboxed" movies.


NOTE: It is not uncommon to see "windowboxed" commercials on HD television networks, because many commercials are shot in 16:9 but distributed to networks in SD (standard definition), with "Letterboxed" images further blocked to fit the now older 1.33:1 (4.3 ratio) screens.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard-definition_television

Occasionally, an image is deliberately "windowboxed" for stylistic effect.
Sometimes the opening sequence of movies (even TCM's older classics) will be "Window-boxed" during the title and initial credits sequence, but afterward be in their normal (4.3 ratio) "Pillar-Boxed" format (or worse, "Pan & Scan" if a later "Widescreen" movie has been "reedited" in such a manner).

Unnatural "Windowbox" format that TCM is showing in the ON-DEMAND movies listed above!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letterboxing_(filming)#/media/File:Windowboxed.jpg

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/09/Windowboxed.jpg

Windowboxed.jpg

For whatever reason, TCM staff are excessively screwing-up and making these (even tinier than illustrated) "Window-Boxed" movies available ON-DEMAND in (until recently) an unprecedented number.
These are not the normal (original) widescreen (16:9 or 2.35:1 ratio) formats that TCM broadcasts live (and ordinarily streams from the later movies), but something that they are making available in an altered (modified) form ON-DEMAND.
These images (even when NOT distorted), are so tiny (much smaller than illustrated here, with much broader bars all around) that they are unsightly even when viewed on a larger screen TV. Which makes them ever more difficult to watch on smaller PC screens, and likely next to impossible to watch on any smaller screened device without a magnifying glass.
TCM is doing their viewer subscribers a disservice when they show a movie in "Window-Box" format, especially so when these movies are available in their original form and have previously been broadcast (live and ON-DEMAND) in their normal "Widescreen" 16:9 or 2.35:1 ratio or even in normal "Pillarboxed" 1.33:1 (4:3 ratio) formats.

MODERATOR, PLEASE forward this information to TCM
TCM should be monitoring their own output anyway and already be well aware of these issues, but they evidently don't and aren't. 
Either that or they blatantly do not care when they offer us an unnecessary, inferior (almost unviewable) product, for our hard-earned subscription dollars. 
In any event this is an unacceptable practice and needs to be STOPPED!

Thank you

 

UPDATED: To Add Newly Observed "Window-Boxed" movies.
5/7/2018, 5/12/2018, 5/13/2018, 5/15/2018,

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On 4/30/2018 at 7:27 PM, Stephan55 said:


However to see FIVE of these "Window-Boxers" in a single month is quite an unusual rarity.
I sincerely hope that this will NOT become a trend with TCM ON-DEMAND as this format renders these movies next to uselessly "unviewable" on any laptop or smaller size screen. AND with the added distortion, I imagine most persons (myself included) would refuse to watch one at all!

I haven't used Movies On Demand for awhile, so I just checked the site and saw The Devil's Brigade is exactly as you described. This is like watching a filmstrip from my elementary school days. Even if I pump the film from my laptop to a 31-inch monitor, the film is still unwatchable. I noticed this also happened with the Fox Movie Network when they were showing films done in Cinemascope.

 

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8 hours ago, scsu1975 said:

I haven't used Movies On Demand for awhile, so I just checked the site and saw The Devil's Brigade is exactly as you described. This is like watching a filmstrip from my elementary school days. Even if I pump the film from my laptop to a 31-inch monitor, the film is still unwatchable. I noticed this also happened with the Fox Movie Network when they were showing films done in Cinemascope.

They just pumped out another five like that the first week of May...
I am afraid that this will no longer be a rare and unusual occurrence with TCM.
As you have seen, these all around "Window-Box" spaces appear to be embedded in the video.
It is NOT the result of "corruption" from a TV setting.
Normal CinemaScope will be seen in Widescreen "Letterbox" but NOT "Windowbox" format on either native 4:3 or 16:9 ratio monitors.
As described in my previous post, this most often occurs when "downsizing" is performed twice (both "Letterboxed and "Pillarboxed") and the bars become embedded within the video itself.
As I see it, TCM is either acquiring previously modified "Windowboxed" sources, or they are not calibrating their equipment properly for transmission. I think that the former is the most likely reason.
I say this is unnecessary because TCM has made several of these available ON-DEMAND before and they weren't in "Windowbox" format.
The movies that they are showing like this are available in acceptable "Widescreen" or "Letterbox" format, so they do NOT have to do this.
IMO it is pretty sloppy work, and they have a growing number of subscribers to TCM that subscribe primarily for the highly promoted ON-DEMAND features. Those of us are being "cheated" whenever TCM  allows this to happen (as well as the many other reoccurring issues described in various threads on these boards). 

 

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UPDATED: To Add Newly Observed "Window-Boxed" movies.
5/7/2018, 5/12/2018, 5/13/2018, 5/15/2018, 5/23/2018, 7/1/2018,


In April 2018, I observed an alarming trend with TCM ON-DEMAND, when they began showing an unprecedented number of "Window-Box" format movies.
Previously this was something that occurred only sparingly, perhaps once every 3 or 4 months; not so any longer.

* NOTE * are movies that TCM has shown before ON-DEMAND in their normal (UN-"Window-Box" formated) aspect ratios.

JUNE 2018 was a particularly disruptive month, with the WATCH TCM website undergoing another invasive revamp, along with almost total redesign (sprung on us 6/20/2018).
As result I am no longer actively seeking out which movies that TCM offers that are in distorted Window-Box format. But when I encounter them I may still take the time to come back here and Update this post!

In June 2018, Because of the Website revamp on 6/20/2018, I watched far fewer TCM movies ON-DEMAND this month. Of those I only observed one short feature that was made available in "WINDOW-BOX" format for ON-DEMAND!

*THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG (1958) short documentary that had been shown On-Demand previously in normal format, but this time WATCH TCM streamed it in tiny, distorted "WINDOW-BOX" format for ON-DEMAND!


In MAY 2018, Myself and other TCM viewers observed at least 13 Movies that were made available in "WINDOW-BOX" format for ON-DEMAND!
(this was the worst month ever observed for "Window-Boxed" movies on WATCH TCM!)

Week 5 (beginning 5/28/2018)
*THE NAKED AND THE DEAD (1958)

Week 4 (beginning 5/21/2018)
*MURDER MOST FOUL (1964)
*DARBY'S RANGERS (1958)

Week 3 (beginning 5/14/2018)
*THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM (1962)
*MAGNUM FORCE (1973)

Week 2 (beginning 5/7/2018)
*BEDEVILLED (1955)
*THE RUNNING MAN (1963)

*SOUNDER (1972)

Week 1 of May 2018, (beginning 5/1/2018) 
THE SEVENTH DAWN (1964)  
THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE (1968)
*GREEN MANSIONS (1959)
THE SWIMMER (1968)  

and *HOMICIDAL (1961)


In APRIL 2018, 5 Movies were made available in "WINDOW-BOX" format for ON-DEMAND Viewers!
THE HORSE SOLDIERS (1959)
*THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS (1959)
*HELL DRIVERS (1957)
*THE PRISONER OF SECOND AVENUE (1974)

and
*THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (1960)


NOTE: When TCM airs or streams any "Window-Box" movie, they are showing us a film that has been severely modified from the original, which is not only going against their professed standard of showing the "most complete, unedited, and unmodified" versions available" but they are presenting a practically unwatchable, often distorted, highly inferior product to their viewer subscribers....   This is an unacceptable disservice that we subscribers should NOT tolerate and that TCM knows better than to do.  SHAME on TCM.
(Refer to Original Post for more detailed information)

ANY COMMENT FROM A TCM MODERATOR ABOUT ANY OF THIS???
HOW ABOUT THE MINIMAL COURTESY OF A RESPONSE STATING THAT YOU HAVE NOT ONLY READ OUR CONCERNS BUT HAVE (and ARE) FORWARDING THEM TO TCM????

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Is there ANY way they could bring back the zoom in option to this app?Maybe I’m not being a purist,but I watch on my IPad Pro,and enjoyed the possibility now and then.This way,I can hardly see it!

It seems to me that this whole new update,with the layout and yanking the old options is an attempt to copy Filmstruck,and I liked the difference between the two.

Nice while it lasted.

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"Young Doctors" and on air now "Stage Struck" not in wide screen ---sides cut off.  Moreover, another issue  Foreign Correspondent not even On Demand since its airing. I' m not referring to streaming but to list of On Demand titles to watch on my cable TV.    Foreign Correspondent is Criterion (Film Struck) version on demand  STREAMING only.  Thus, it appears if I don't watch title when initially aired in early AM or late PM I get no second chance. Or must stream to my small 15" computer screen which I won't

Fed up!

 

 

 

 

 

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On 6/25/2018 at 3:00 PM, SteveQL said:

"Young Doctors" and on air now "Stage Struck" not in wide screen ---sides cut off.  Moreover, another issue  Foreign Correspondent not even On Demand since its airing. I' m not referring to streaming but to list of On Demand titles to watch on my cable TV.    Foreign Correspondent is Criterion (Film Struck) version on demand  STREAMING only.  Thus, it appears if I don't watch title when initially aired in early AM or late PM I get no second chance. Or must stream to my small 15" computer screen which I won't

Fed up!

 

Understand and can relate to your frustration Steve.
I do primarily stream my TCM movies via their WATCH TCM ON-DEMAND feature.
When traveling I will use my 18" laptop screen to watch, but at home I'll connect an HDMI cable from my PC to the larger screen TV and, in essence, use my PC as a receiver and my 32" HD TV screen as a monitor to enjoy a TCM Movie ON-DEMAND.
BTW, Re-watched "Foreign Correspondent" just this morning, but not without a little hitch... (pun intended). ;):)

I read and replied to your other thread. But this may be another (possibly more viable) option for you to consider?

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