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schabelf

Aspect ratio on TCM hiugh-definition channell

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I have tried to search for a thread on this subject and finging none I will ask the question. I have a digital cable card tuner in my computer and I capture many movies off the TCM high-def channel, especially ones that are not comercially available. I have captured some that I already have on DVD trying to get an even better picture and I have noticed that the aspect ratio of the broadcast is not always the same as that of the DVD. As an example look at the recent broadcast of "The Amazing Race". The picture was cropped on both sides when compared to the picture on the DVD. I had thought that TCM always showed films uncut in length and height and width of the frame. On the regular TCM channel wide screen films are letterboxed and on the Digital High Def channel they are widescreen. So what is the true story? On the digital high def channel are movies transmitted so that the height of the frame fills the screen and the edges cut off if the picture is too wide for the screen?

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The films are always shown at the same aspect ratio on both TCMHD and SD, unless someone screws up the uprezzing for TCMHD. TCM tries to show everything in its OAR, but they are at the mercy of their suppliers.

 

Usually, they get 2.35:1 films in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and you will see black bars, top and bottom, when watching on TCMHD. Sometimes, but fortunately rarely, distributors will provide 2.35:1 films cropped to 1.78:1, aka 16x9

 

1.85:1 films are often provided by the distributor in 16x9, resulting in a little bit cropped on both sides. Sometimes they are provided in true 1.85:1, and have very thin black bars, top and bottom..

 

1.66:1 films are the most problematic. It seems many distributors provide many of them cropped to 1.33:1, for SDTV. Now, they are also providing them cropped to 16x9, for HDTV. Sometimes, we get lucky, and get them in true 1.66:1. TCM recently showed a lot of British New Wave films in true 1.66:1.

 

For years, TCM has shown *The Green Slime* cropped to 1.33:1. They just showed it in its OAR of 2.35:1, and made me happy! I think the DVD has it in 16x9... :(

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[~ValentineXavier] you seem to know how things work at TCM. Perhaps you can explain what is really happening when TCM broadcasts a film in the TCM high-def channel. If the film has been converted to a high def file, say it is available on a Blu-Ray disk, is the film transmitted in a tru High-def format with a true 1080p resolution? If a film has not been converted from the original film stock to a high-def transfer, Is the film simply upconverted to 1080 like a DVD player does when showing a DVD on a High-Def TV? The picture certainly looks better and a lot more data is certainly being transmitted but what are we really seeing?

 

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Currently, TCMHD is not showing any true HD, even for films, such as *North by Northwest*, where HD transfers (including BD) exist. I don't believe there has been any official statement on why that is. Speculation is that TCM is waiting until they have HD transfers for at least a majority of what they show, until they start showing true HD. There is also a possibility that they still need more HD equipment.

 

Right now, everything shown on TCMHD is probably up-converted from SD masters. It is possible that they first down-convert things available in HD, then up-convert, there has been no official statement, AFAIK. I think that unlikely.

 

Up-converting SD does provide a better picture than the TCM SD channel, for various reasons. This is particularly noticeable on wide screen films that are letterboxed in SD, but shown filling the screen side-to-side for 1.78 - 2.75:1 films, and top-to-bottom for 1.66:1 films. We don't have to zoom a SD signal to fill the screen any more. So, TCMHD, at it's best, looks like a good anamorphic DVD, which IS better than SD.

 

TCMHD in France is showing true HD, and the resolution is stunning. I have seen the screen caps posted on the AVS Forum. Lucky dogs... :)

 

BTW, standard cable/OTA HD signals are 1080i, and 720p. 1080p is the Blu-Ray standard, but not generally available on cable or satellite.

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