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TV Picture Size on TCM


musikone
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I am using Cox cable TV, but only since I live in an area where there is no other cable TV provider. TCM is currently available from Cox on two channels: (1) a standard definition (abbr. SD) analog channel, and (2) a high definition (abbr. HD) digital channel. In order to make a quantitative determination of the problem with a TCM picture that I am experiencing on Cox's HD channel, I made some measurements on my 32-inch HDTV. On this particular HDTV, a 4:3 frame is 20.5 inches in width and 15.4 inches in height: a picture area of 315.7 square inches. In SD, a non-wide-screen format fills the frame. In HD, this same non-wide-screen format shrinks to 16.5 inches in width and 12.4 inches in height: a picture area of 204.6 square inches. That is, the HD picture area is just 64.8% of the SD picture area!

 

 

Although it is not directly applicable to this shrinkage problem, a brief observation about HD picture quality seems to be appropriate. Just because a movie is being shown on a HD channel does not necessarily mean that it meets today's HD standards, whatever this may technically mean; rather, HD from a practical viewpoint appears to be one of those "I-know-it-when-I-see-it" things. Very often, a picture of mediocre quality, made when HD was only a dream, will be shown in a HD channel, in order to annoint it and increase its appeal to those who go by labels instead of performance.

 

 

Quality label notwithstanding, any movie shown on the Cox HD channel must necessarily appear to be sharper than the same movie, only larger, shown on the Cox SD channel, since picture enlargement lowers the viewing resolution at any given distance. Taking this factor into account, it appears to me that every TCM movie that I currently view (set to a 4:3 frame with my TV's picture size adjustment) on the SD channel is virtually identical to that same movie when viewed in this same frame on the HD channel. Thus, none of these movies (or perhaps I have not seen the right one) being shown on Cox's HD channel meets the qualitative "HD eye test."

 

 

In my opinion, this shrinkage of the picture in the HD channel is unacceptable. I am not sure why this is happening. Fortunately for viewers who want to get a quick handle on this very disturbing development, without getting bogged down in an endless debate about the meaning of an HD picture, measurement with a ruler provides a quantitative determination of picture size that is not open to tactical obfuscation. In other words, to grasp the issue at hand, forget about the labels SD and HD; what is pertinent here is the fact that there are two channels, labeled SD and HD, in which the two images appear to be identical, but with one image being much larger than the other.

 

 

I find it hard to believe that it is TCM's intent that a movie shown in any cable service provider's HD channel should be only 64.8% of the size of this same movie shown in the SD channel of this same cable service provider. Might anyone here have an answer to this alarming development? Could this mean that I am using the wrong TV cable service provider? Or could it mean that TCM technicians have once again found some way to screw things up? Or both?

 

 

Musikone

(much more than music!)

 

 

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"TCMHD" isn't a real HD channel, it's just a copy of the main channel with better bandwidth - less compression artifacts, etc. But those films made when "HD was only a dream" are in fact "high definition" (higher than) in their native film form and a lot of them have telecines that can reproduce that (2K) it's just that TCM isn't showing HD material yet.

 

Whatever problem you are having with the picture size seems to be a problem with your cable service. I have Comcast and haven't encountered this issue.

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I also have Cox Cable. The HD Channel is new for us.Picture size is the same on both SD and HD. Only size change is watching a letter box movie.Bigger and better depending on the condition of the movie on the HD. I have a 32 inch screen also.

Check with Cox they are always ready to help.

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Hey, I like your writing style. You must be a professional writer of some kind.

 

Seems to me that if any of us want to have an "HD" TCM picture, of the kind you are receiving on Cox Cable, all we have to do is move our TV screens a few feet further away from our eyes. :)

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Regarding old films on HD: Someone must start with a very high quality 35mm print. Because an HD picture of a fuzzy old 16mm print will still be seen as a fuzzy old 16mm print on HD TV.

 

I receive the THIS-TV movie channel on HD broadcast TV. It has a 4:3 picture, generally of two or three different qualities.

 

1 Sometimes the picture seems to be from a good film print, but it looks as if the video image has been enlarged, so it contains video defects.

 

2 The best kind is a high-quality 35mm print, copied with the latest HD copier, and that is true HD TV for an old Hollywood movie. This image looks better than the SD TCM film image, but this kind of image on THIS-TV is rare.

 

3 A third kind of image is a fuzzy SD image made from a bad print, but these are rare on THIS-TV too.

 

The current film showing on TCM is the color version of "3 Godfathers". This is an excellent quality print, with very good color. This is almost as good as the THIS-TV #2 type of image. It's almost as good as a real HD image,

 

I noticed when I switched from a tube TV to an LCD TV several years ago, almost all TCM film image quality greatly improved, since my LCD doesn't seem to have any lines or even any tiny pixels. And in addition to that, I think TCM has been obtaining many more high-quality 35mm copies of old films. Some of the films from the 1930s look as clear and as sharp as if I were watching them on a big movie screen back in the 1930s.

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Well, it took me awhile to understand your overly-detailed and convoluted/confusing post, but if I understand you correctly:

 

You're making a comparison between a 4x3 image (SD, as you put it), and a 4x3 image being seen as an "upconverted" HD broadcast (HD, as you also put it). Regardless of the fact that TCM is not broadcasting an actual HD signal/transfer, what you are REALLY complaining about is what is done with a 4x3 (non-widescreen) image or movie in regards to how that image is handled within the confines of an HD signal.

 

 

What is REALLY comes down to is the aspect ratio of the movie and what is done with it. A 4x3 (non-widescreen) movie's ratio is fully seen on a SD tv (an older non-HD screen) fully. Such screens are 4x3.

 

 

An HDTV screen is a 16x9 ratio, and a 4x3 movie's ratio is preserved in HD by being centered within the HDTV's 16x9 screen, blackness filling out the screen on the sides of the image. The vertical resolution of that 4x3 movie will match the vertical resolution of the requirements of an HDTV screen, and the remainder of the screen on the sides of that image will be filled in with blackness (pillarboxing is the term).

 

 

If you want that 4x3 SD image to fill your screen, you need to change the display settings on your HDTV to either Zoom or more likely Horizontal Fill, to get rid of those black borders on the sides...then you won't be complaining about it "filling" the frame or misunderstanding about "shrinkage". It is in fact, neither.

 

 

I'm assuming I understood what you meant, so this doesn't have anything to do with a problem from your cable provider. It has more to do with the simple facts of an HD ratio vs. an SD ratio, and what you need to do in order to view each one on your 16x9 tv screen.

 

We only have an SD cable service here at home, so anything broadcast in widescreen on TCM...regardless of the aspect ratio...always looks "squashed down" and not proportioned correctly. To make a widescreen movie on TCM look correct, I have to change my display settings to "Zoom"...and then any matted widescreen movie or one done in Cinemascope, etc., ends up looking correctly proportioned. Personally, I don't like seeing a 4x3 image centered on my 16x9 screen, so I usually have my display settings to "Stretch" or "Full", which makes a 4x3 non-widescreen image fill my tv screen.

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

>

> I noticed when I switched from a tube TV to an LCD TV several years ago, almost all TCM film image quality greatly improved, since my LCD doesn't seem to have any lines or even any tiny pixels.

Same here, Fred...the simply change in the quality was a big change to my eyes.

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> {quote:title=JonasEB wrote:}{quote}"TCMHD" isn't a real HD channel, it's just a copy of the main channel with better bandwidth - less compression artifacts, etc.

It's called "upconverted", as many regular DVD players can do these days...make non-HD DVD's look like HD. Basically, it's artificially increasing the resolution.

 

Cartoon Network's "HD" channel also isn't true HD...it's upconverted and/or squeezed into a 16x9 shape (except for new programming which is actually produced in 16x9 HD).

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This makes me glad I still have a 32" tube type TV. Gives me roughly a 26" X 20" picture of most TCM classics.

 

I watched "Miracle on 34th Street" on my sisters 32" HDTV at Thanksgiving. They had a TCM-SD and TCM-HD. On HD, the movie had the bars on the sides. On SD, the picture filled the full screen, but I thought the actors seemed to be "stretched out" slightly. Or maybe it was vice versa, I can't remember.

 

I hate watching widescreen movies on my tube TV with the bars on top and bottom. Especially bad for some moves. Even some sporting events have the smaller bars on top and bottom. I thought on a HDTV those bars would go away to fit the size(16 x 9) of the screen. But on my sister's HDTV, they were there too.

 

Edited by: rover27 on Dec 24, 2011 6:37 PM

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> {quote:title=rover27 wrote:}{quote}I thought on a HDTV those bars would go away to fit the size(16 x 9) of the screen. But on my sister's HDTV, they were there too.

...because you weren't watching the HD signal on that 16x9 HDTV. The compromise between an HD signal and an SD signal when not watching the actual HD transmission is those black borders are going to be present above and below the image. This is simply so those who still don't have a 16x9 HDTV will get the entire signal as opposed to it being "squeezed" from the sides to fit a 4x3 SD screen. Another compromise...believe it or not...is some HD programs actually get cropped at the sides a bit to fit the compromise for an SD 4x3 (old type) screen. I've noticed this on some news programs in our area and other cable channels where some text info (such as an info bar or scroll across the bottom of the screen) is actually missing some text or letters at the sides...because the 16x9 image has been cropped on the sides down to a 4x3 image for the SD version of the signal.

 

What it comes down to is unless you are receiving and watching the HD signal for something actually presented in 16x9, those bars are going to be there. Also bear in mind that for a movie done in a 2.35:1 ratio (such as Cinemascope, etc.), there's still going to be some borders above and below the image area to preserve the original widescreen presentation. This was also the compromise for HDTV's when the industry was deciding how wide the HDTV screens should be. The ratio of a 16x9 HDTV screen is 1.85:1, common for almost all television series and news programs, and also many movies.

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>

> .

>

>

> "I'm assuming I understood what you meant, so this doesn't have anything to do with a problem from your cable provider. It has more to do with the simple facts of an HD ratio vs. an SD ratio, and what you need to do in order to view each one on your 16x9 tv screen.

>

>

> We only have an SD cable service here at home, so anything broadcast in widescreen on TCM...regardless of the aspect ratio...always looks "squashed down" and not proportioned correctly. To make a widescreen movie on TCM look correct, I have to change my display settings to "Zoom"...and then any matted widescreen movie or one done in Cinemascope, etc., ends up looking correctly proportioned. Personally, I don't like seeing a 4x3 image centered on my 16x9 screen, so I usually have my display settings to "Stretch" or "Full", which makes a 4x3 non-widescreen image fill my tv screen."

>

>

>

> *You have misunderstood me. My complaint is not about filling up the screen or changing the frame size by using the TV set adjustment. There is only one proper adjustment, and that is for the frame size that was transmitted. Any attempt to change the frame size will result in a distorted image.*

>

> *My complaint is about two different picture sizes which I get from Cox cable when the same movie is shown on two different TCM channels, one of which is called a "high definition" channel.*

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> {quote:title=2847 wrote:}{quote}I also have Cox Cable. The HD Channel is new for us.Picture size is the same on both SD and HD. Only size change is watching a letter box movie.Bigger and better depending on the condition of the movie on the HD. I have a 32 inch screen also.

> Check with Cox they are always ready to help.

>

> *But not in the area in which I live. Here, there is no one in technical support who can begin to understand this issue--or practically anything else other than how to operate your tv remote, or reboot your cable box, or other things of this nature. On any sophisticated issue, they are hopeless.*

>

> *Not only that, the Cox mismanagement in this large metropolitan area is sleazy, secretive, and you cannot catch them. I do not understand how I can be experiencing this problem when you are not. I thought that Cox was basically the same thing around the country. Apparently it is not. I hate this 64.8% picture that I get on channel 1058 here, while getting the full frame on channel 58.*

>

> *Musikone*

> *(Cox is not MY friend in the digital age)*

>

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Chances are good that you need to adjust the cable box settings. It may not be set for HD.

 

Did your box come with an instruction manual? If not, try a Google search using the manufacturer and model number of the cable box.

 

What I think is happening is that you need to set the box to a 1080 resolution and a 16X9 screen size. I had a similar problem when I got my HD boxes several weeks ago. I found the manual on-line in PDF form and made the necessary adjustments.

 

 

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

> > *My complaint is about two different picture sizes which I get from Cox cable when the same movie is shown on two different TCM channels, one of which is called a "high definition" channel.*

Of course you'll have two different sizes...because one is HD and one is SD. They're two different resolutions entirely (two different sizes).

 

I still don't grasp the point you're complaining about.

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The impression that I get is that if he is watching MEET JOHN DOE right now, on the SD channel, his image has black bars only on the sides. But if he turns to the HD channel, he gets bars all around the image.

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clore wrote:Chances are good that you need to adjust the cable box settings. It may not be set for HD.

 

Did your box come with an instruction manual? If not, try a Google search using the manufacturer and model number of the cable box.

 

What I think is happening is that you need to set the box to a 1080 resolution and a 16X9 screen size. I had a similar problem when I got my HD boxes several weeks ago. I found the manual on-line in PDF form and made the necessary adjustments.

 

Thank you for your suggestion. I wish it were that simple. Three and one-half years ago, when I bought my second DVD recorder, I went through the manual for my cable box with a fine-tooth comb, in order to install my recorder properly, in the way that I wanted it installed, not necessarily in the way that Cox cable wanted it installed. I needed the cable box manual to do this satisfactorily. At that time, the point that you are talking about was set properly; I just checked this again to make sure, and yes, it was done right. Although I have not done it, since I know the Cox people and methods here *extremely* well, I will ask their common technical support people and see what they come up with. I will be *very* surprised if they know the answer.

 

Musikone

(and more)

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kriegerg69 wrote:

musikone wrote:

 

My complaint is about two different picture sizes which I get from Cox cable when the same movie is shown on two different TCM channels, one of which is called a "high definition" channel.

 

*Of course you'll have two different sizes...because one is HD and one is SD. They're two different resolutions entirely (two different sizes).*

 

*I still don't grasp the point you're complaining about.*

 

OK, I will try again.

If at first you don't succeed, then.....

 

Picture *Size* is not the same as picture *Resolution.*

 

Picture size is the AREA (as I measured on the screen) in which the image is being displayed. Picture resolution (a different beast, as it were) is, in "popular" language without going into technical details, the SHARPNESS of the image.

 

Musikone

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I'm the guy that also has cox cable and a 32 inch set. My picture is 25 wide and 18 inches high. My setting is for 1080 resolution and 16x9 screen. Cox in my city (san diego ca.) probably has a million customers so that is why we get the help. Cox wired our city at least twenty years ago. We were part of the original test set ups. Good luck.

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clore wrote:The impression that I get is that if he is watching MEET JOHN DOE right now, on the SD channel, his image has black bars only on the sides. But if he turns to the HD channel, he gets bars all around the image

 

You have the correct impression. However, discussing this issue by a popular reference to "black bars"on the screen does not address the problem which is causing this poster to be confused and obfuscated, by his own admission :-). I explained his conceptual problem in a new post, just a few minutes ago. Maybe it will help to eliminate his confusion and obfuscation, at least on this part of my original, detailed post.

 

But then again, maybe it won't....

 

Check it out.

 

Musikone

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OK, let me ask if you have this problem with any other channels. For example, comparing HBO SD to HBO HD. If it's isolated to just TCM, then yes, there's a good chance that something is wrong at the Cox Cable end and not your hardware.

 

Also, if you take the DVD recorder out of the line, and just go from the cable box to the TV set, does the problem still exist?

 

I feel for you, it would drive me nuts.

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2847 wrote:I'm the guy that also has cox cable and a 32 inch set. My picture is 25 wide and 18 inches high. My setting is for 1080 resolution and 16x9 screen. Cox in my city (san diego ca.) probably has a million customers so that is why we get the help. Cox wired our city at least twenty years ago. We were part of the original test set ups. Good luck.

 

This is also my setting. Yet apparently you are getting the same size picture on channels 58 and 1058, while the picture that I am getting on channel 1058 is 64.8% as large as the picture that I am getting on channel 58. The mystery deepens.

 

Help? What help? I must admit, however, that I have not yet given Cox 20 chances to screw up on this particular issue.

 

I will need much more than good luck to get anything constructive from these people (this is absolutely the sweetest way that that you can refer to them) in *our* city!

 

Musikone

(Cox is not *MY* friend in the digital age!)

 

Edited by: musikone on Dec 24, 2011 3:28 PM

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

>

> OK, I will try again.

> If at first you don't succeed, then.....

>

>

> Picture *Size* is not the same as picture *Resolution.*

>

>

> Picture size is the AREA (as I measured on the screen) in which the image is being displayed. Picture resolution (a different beast, as it were) is, in "popular" language without going into technical details, the SHARPNESS of the image.

>

>

> Musikone

>

I understand resolution=sharpness, but resolution ALSO refers to the dimensions of an image...such as 720x480 being the resolution of a regular DVD. Or on a computer.digital image, such as 640x480 (as a commonly-used smaller size ) being the resolution of an image.

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krieger69 wrote:

 

I understand resolution=sharpness, but resolution ALSO refers to the dimensions of an image...such as 720x480 being the resolution of a regular DVD. Or on a computer.digital image, such as 640x480 (as a commonly-used smaller size ) being the resolution of an image

 

Sorry about that; I used the word "sharpness" to avoid getting into the technical details that you are using to describe a digital image. But this is beside the point that I have been trying to make, which is this. The images that TCM is showing on its HD channel are not currently, as I understand it, any different from those images that are being shown on its SD channel. If this is the case, then *WHY* is the picture size on the HD channel only 64.8% of the picture size on the SD channel?

 

Why should I be forced to watch a shrunken image on the "high definition" channel, when I can see a much larger image (albeit of poorer resolution due to the enlargement) on the standard definition channel?

 

What's more, I do not expect my television set to be used for viewing images with an area that covers little more than 50% of the TV screen, which is the case with a shrunken 64.8% image.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

To repeat what I said in an earlier post: I find it *unacceptable* to have to view a shrunken, genuine HD image in a 4:3 frame, much less to view a shrunken "counterfeit" HD image.

 

Poppycock!

 

Musikone

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Musikone, Clore posted this good bit of advice, to which you have not responded:

 

>OK, let me ask if you have this problem with any other channels. For example, comparing HBO SD to HBO HD. If it's isolated to just TCM, then yes, there's a good chance that something is wrong at the Cox Cable end and not your hardware.

 

It sounds to me like your picture size problem on TCMHD is likely the result of watching a HD picture over a SD input. This is because the 16x9 HD frame, which would fill the screen top-to-bottom, and have black bars on the sides, with a 4x3 image, will be reduced so that the 16x9 frame is contained within a 4x3 frame, adding an extra frame of black bars, all around.

 

It sounds to me like your problem is most likely a wiring, or switching problem, with your own equipment.

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