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jenerationx

Too Many Letterbox Movies!

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TCM, you were my favorite channel, I love watching classic movies, but lately too many movies are in Letterbox! I have a new large flat screen tv, but the movies in letterbox are so small that they look like a sliver, they just are not enjoyable to watch for me. I try zooming them, but that just makes the picture quality bad. What can I do? What is the point of having a huge tv if the movies only take up a sliver of it? Please bring back Full Screen. I wish there was some way we could have a choice and pick which version we want to see. I don't want to stop watching my favorite channel, but these letterbox movies are just too hard to see.

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Have you checked the settings on your TV to see whether that makes a difference?

 

I'm dead set against TCM's ever changing its policy about showing letterbox format whenever possible. There are instances when they can't get access to the full letterbox format for showing and they will go ahead and air pan-and-scan -- particularly if it's a key film in a specific theme -- but it's rare. And for that, I really appreciate TCM.

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Is it possible to make Letterbox movies fill the whole screen without making the picture blurry? Could you please explain what you meant by looking at my tv settings and how to set them? All I know is that I have this huge new tv and I can only see a little sliver in the middle of my screen. I know some people like this and say they can see more of the scenery in letterbox movies, but to me it is awful, it just ruins the movie experience for me.

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Check your remote's menu -- or give us the brand and/or model number so someone can help -- and there is likely a sequence of buttons to push that changes the format displayed on the screen from letterbox (or envelope or widescreen) to full screen display or standard TV display.

 

It may be you can search for instructions on the Internet using your brand and model number as well.

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> {quote:title=jenerationx wrote:}{quote}

> Is it possible to make Letterbox movies fill the whole screen without making the picture blurry?

 

No, and that is the problem. The image quality is so low that if we try to enlarge the picture to fit our big-tv screens, the picture goes blurry.

 

Consequently, we have to watch a bandaid-boxed image, which is about the size of three postage stamps placed side by side, or we can enlarge the picture to fit our screens and have it go blurry, with wide black bands at the top and bottom of the screen.

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I know! It is so small! I know there are so many people who say you see so much more of the scenery in letterbox, but I just don't see it. I have this huge tv and the movie only takes up a sliver of the screen, I just don't get it. It seems like every movie I want to watch on tcm this month is in "scrunch screen." I wish there was some button to push to pick full screen or to zoom it without it becoming blurry.

 

Edited by: jenerationx on Apr 22, 2011 12:26 PM

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> {quote:title=jenerationx wrote:}{quote}

> Could you please explain what you meant by looking at my tv settings and how to set them? All I know is that I have this huge new tv and I can only see a little sliver in the middle of my screen.

 

Your TV remote control should have a button for picture size. Mine is a Sanyo and it has a button called PIX SHAPE. I get a choice of four picture sizes and shapes. The normal setting is just like an old TV with a 4:3 image in the center, and a narrow black bar on each side of the picture. That is PIX SHAPE 1.

 

When I watch high definition TV using an outdoor antenna, all my local HD channels send a signal to my TV that automatically switches the picture size out to full wide screen, with a very high quality image overall. Amazingly sharp, edge to edge. My TV calls that PIX SHAPE 2.

 

PIX SHAPE 3 is when I see a letter-boxed film on TCM, however, whenever I expand the image for that, the image goes blurry, because I'm basically enlarging the film to expand out to fit my screen size.

 

I haven't yet figured out what PIX SHAPE 4 is for.

 

Edited by: FredCDobbs on Apr 22, 2011 10:35 AM

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jeneration,

 

A couple of things...

 

1. You mentioned having a new flatscreen TV. I am guessing then that it is also an HDTV, much wider than it is tall. The first thing I would suggest is you should see if you are getting TCM HD in your area. The picture will be much better, quality-wise. And if you absolutely must increase your picture to fill your TV, then it least it will be better.

 

2. I am surprised that if you do have an HDTV that you would react badly to widescreen movies. The old 4:3 ratio for films prior to widescreen may fill your screen from top to bottom, but now you have two big black bars on the left and right.

 

3. I am also surprised you say they are a sliver on your screen. Certainly, there were a few films that were super-wide screen and they appear thin on a TV, but the majority of widescreen films poseno problem to me.

 

4. Widescreen isn't about more scenery. It's about more information (e.g., a character's reaction to the main person) and it finally gives a chance for men to be looking at each other in the same picture without knowing for the 4:3 they must have been chest to chest in order to get those two in closeup together and their faces about 3 inches away from each other.

 

5. I also wanted to mention that "Full Screen" is 4:3, the size of pre-widescreen TVs. It is not a picture that will fill a widescreen TV. That would be letterbox. When you look at the back of DVDs and see it is "Full Screen," it means it will be 4:3.

 

6. About it ruining the movie experience for you, if you go to a theater for a movie experience, it will be wide screen.

 

You might also want to check your manual to make sure you have set your images correctly.

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> {quote:title=jenerationx wrote:}{quote} Please bring back Full Screen.

 

Since day one it's always been TCM's policy to run films uncut and in their original format.That's what TCM is all about and one of the reasons that make it the success it is today. Watching a movie that's been "modified to fit your screen" is the equivalent of reading a book and skipping every third sentence. You don't get the whole story.

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I mean no offense to those who like Letterbox. I just wanted to let tcm know my preference. I don't get the concept of the movie only filling half the screen. It seems that with a wide screen tv that it would fill the whole screen, I don't understand why it doesn't, it is the same shape. For now I will just keep zooming the movies, but it does take away from the quality and makes it rather blurry. In my area it is too expensive to get HD channels on top of the the fortune I am paying for DirecTV.

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Our household main viewing TVs are 16x9 HD LCD or CRT models.

 

My issue with TCM reception through our local *Comcast* service is somewhat different. TCM's standard definition (SD) feed (Comcast #501) has 4x3 and widescreen movies shown in their correct aspect ratio where widescreen movies have black bars above and below the image. TCM's high definition (HD) feed (Comcast #784) has 4x3 and widescreen movies shown in their correct aspect ratio *within a 4x3 frame* with black bars at each side and above and below the image, i.e., "postage stamped." If Comcast is doing this with the TCM HD feed that's Comcast's error. If TCM is doing this with their own HD feed that's TCM's error.

 

Either way I can't tolerate widescreen movies shown as narrowscreen pan and scan, YIKES! If one must watch widescreen movies that have been butchered they may be found on Encore, AMC and other services.

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Jen,

 

It might be worth taking a couple of posters' suggestions and letting us know the make and model of your new tv.

 

As they have pointed out, you should have access via your remote to change the picture size.

 

If we know the make and model of your new tv, we might be able to help you choose the right size for wide-screen movies on TCM.

 

Just a thought.

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It's an LG 42 inch LD520 Widescreen TV

 

Edited by: jenerationx on Apr 22, 2011 1:53 PM

 

Edited by: jenerationx on Apr 22, 2011 1:54 PM

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> {quote:title=filmlover wrote:}{quote}

>

> 4. Widescreen isn't about more scenery. It's about more information (e.g., a character's reaction to the main person) and it finally gives a chance for men to be looking at each other in the same picture without knowing for the 4:3 they must have been chest to chest in order to get those two in closeup together and their faces about 3 inches away from each other.

 

Nobody seems to complain about that when they watch Gone With the Wind or The Wizard of Oz, or any pre-1950s movies.

 

You are talking about early Cinemascope gimic scenes, with one guy being in Arizona on the left and the other guy being in Oklahoma on the right. And they are talking to each other. :)

 

But in the old days they could do exactly the same thing with a standard 4:3 frame, and get more sky and grass at the top and bottom of the frame, or sky and rocks or whatever. I saw Gone With the Wind on a giant movie-palace screen during a re-release in 1953, and I've never seen it that large, bright, and colorful since then.

 

Look at the opening scene of Gone With the Wind, with Scarlett's father riding toward her on a horse, while she ran toward him at the lake. This was a wide-screen scene that was pre-Cinemascope, and a beautiful scene at that.

 

All that the wide-screen version of that film did was mask off the sky and the grass at the top and bottom of the screen.

 

In fact, it was never the viewing public that asked for "wide screen" in the first place. And look at what it has become... tiny wide screens in the mall cinema and tiny bandaid-sized pictures on our $3,000 televisions.

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> {quote:title=talkietime wrote:}{quote}

> TCM's high definition (HD) feed (Comcast #784) has 4x3 and widescreen movies shown in their correct aspect ratio *within a 4x3 frame* with black bars at each side and above and below the image, i.e., "postage stamped."

 

That's the way I receive it over Directv.

 

I can enlarge the image to get rid of the side bars, but when I do that the picture goes fuzzy.

 

I get far better images from local TV stations broadcasting in HD, that I receive with an old outdoor antenna, than I do over Directv broadcasting in Standard D via satellite.

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This message is Fred to Fred, so I won't anger anyone in particular. :)

 

This is what we "gained" when Hollywood went to wide-screen:

 

http://www.terramedia.co.uk/Chronomedia/years/Gone_Wind_masked.gif

 

http://www.terramedia.co.uk/Chronomedia/years/1955.htm

"Masking is first used in projection to achieve a wide-screen effect (normally 1.85:1 aspect ratio) for the re-issue of Gone with the Wind."

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jeneration, you said you didn't understand why widescreen movies don't fill your screen even though they are the same shapes. Technically that isn't correct. That is because films can have different aspect ratios. 4:3, 1.66:1, 1.85:1, 2:20:1,:2.35:1...

 

So, for example, if you have a film like Lawrence of Arabia where you will have black bars at the top and bottom and the picture stretches from side to side, though it is wide like your TV, it is not the same shape as your TV. It is because the image is soooo wide while the vertical remains the same size as other films of different shapes at the same time the horizantal can be slmost double the size of aother widescreen movie.

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LOL, Fred I completely agree. I just wish that there was a button on the tv that we could push to pick which version we want. Both sides are so passionate about their preference, it's a shame that it has to be one way or the other. For me it just seems such a waste of such a nice huge tv, and since it's a widescreen tv, I don't see why it doesn't fit the whole screen.

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Thanks filmlover for explaining that. But why can't they stretch it somehow to fit the whole widescreen tv? It seems like they could do that with technology these days?

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But, Fred, you are complainnig about masking a 4:3 movie...not the same thing.

 

But I bet if TCM were showing a real widescreen movie in full screen (i.e., pan and scan) you would be among the first to complain. : )

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This is what we all lost when Hollywood went to wide-screen cinema:

 

We lost the top and bottom of the 4:3 big-screen frame, as more and more theaters began masking their old big screens with black curtains, to hide the tops and bottoms of the screens:

 

http://www.redballoon.net/~snorwood/wmbgpics/scope.jpg'>http://www.redballoon.net/~snorwood/wmbgpics/scope.jpg

 

http://www.redballoon.net/~snorwood/wmbgpics/

(Scroll down the page for more information.)

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jeneration,

 

what you are talking about then is adding picture that isn't there to the top and bottom. If you have a widescreen movie, completely going from left to right on you TV with bars at the top and bottom, the only option then would be to imagine yourself grabbing the top and bottom like you would an image on a piece of rubber...it would look like the image in a fun house mirror. Or clicking on a close up button on your remote to filll your whole screen but then lose parts of the picture all the way around.

 

What you really want is for Hollywood to make all movies in 16x9 format (the size of a widescreen TV).

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Technology today is all screwed up. It has gone crazy. The machines have taken over.

 

If you have an iPhone or iPad, every place you go is monitored and is mapped on your device and the information is sent to Google and is available to all government agencies. You are being watched by people who you don't know and who you don't want watching you. They know exactly where you are right now.

 

My new Nokia cell phone that AT&T forced on me, locks up after someone calls me and I don't answer the call. The next time I try to use the phone and call someone, the phone is locked up and I can't dial out. I went down to the local AT&T office yesterday to try to get someone to fix that problem for me, and there were at least 80 people waiting in line to have AT&T fix their new phones. 30 people inside the store, and about 50 people outside on the sidewalk. Not old people like me, but people of all ages.

 

If China attacks us with our own stolen-design atomic missiles, our retaliatory missiles won't fire, because China has hacked their software.

 

TCM computer experts can't even change the format of their Schedule Page without xxxing it up, and it takes the next three months to try to straighten it back out again.

 

We've reached and surpassed the peak-of-technology age. From now on, it's back to the stone age for us, but even then we'll have to have our batteries fully charged, or we can't eat. The telephones won't work, the Arabs will cut off our oil supplies, we can't drive to work or the grocery store. We are doomed. And it all started with the fraud of Cinemascope in 1953.

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> {quote:title=filmlover wrote:}{quote}

> jeneration,

>

> what you are talking about then is adding picture that isn't there to the top and bottom.

 

 

He's talking about TCM doing what the local HD broadcast stations do, and that is send a "wide screen" signal to our wide-screen TVs to automatically switch them over to wide screen to fill out the full width of the 16:9 screen.

 

That would expand the image top and bottom and side to side to full 16:9 screen, with priority based on the TV screen's width. For extra wide films, such as early Cinemascope, there would still be thin bars across the top and bottom, but the picture would not be a bandaid-shaped film with black borders all around it.

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Right, that's exactly what I meant Fred, to have the letterbox movie stretched to fit my 16.9 tv, but not have it be blurry. Alot of these movies that they are playing in Letterbox lately, I know that I've seen them in full screen in the past, so I know it can be done.

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