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Chuck(G)
March 28th, 2013, 09:52 AM
Okay, so the answer to the topic obviously is "to watch movies made in wide-screen format", right?

But why are movies made that way? My field of vision is not a mailbox-sized rectangle. In fact, a little simple experimentation seems to indicate that it's roughly circular. That is, I can see the floor and ceiling of this room as well as the walls without shifting my vision.

I can understand Cinemascope--in my youthful days, I spent some time picking up cash as a projectionist in a drive-in theater. I'm familiar with changing lamp carbons, striking and regulating arcs, threading up film, doing changeovers (and marking them), etc. All skills of absolutely no value today.

And I do remember the big heavy Cinemascope anamorphic lenses--and the hilarious results if you forgot to change them. But Cinemascope was a simple way for a theater owner to expand his viewing area by simply adding "wings" to the projection screen. After the wider screen, the only other investment was a set of lenses to "stretch" the image, at a sacrifice in brightness (often, a theater would upgrade their "cans" at the same time they moved to wide-screen).

It wasn't practical to expand the screen in the vertical direction, obviously, as indoors, you're limited by where the floor and ceiling are as well as needing a certain amount of elevation to clear the top of the audience. Outdoors, you'd be looking at an expensive structural engineering nightmare.

But today's home viewing experience isn't limited by this. So why are there no 60-inch wide and high TVs? And why is the broadcast format still the old 16:9 aspect ratio? It seems silly to me.

This topic came up to me as I was tossing out some old Electronic Design magazines and happened to run across an exposition of that special-effects-laden-but-lousy-writing spectacle Prometheus. The talent was expensive, the equipment cost must have been astronomical and you wind up with a 2-star rated (they don't give zero stars) disaster.

Stone
March 28th, 2013, 10:29 AM
As a long time pro photographer I know that a roughly 5:3 aspect was what we always strived to achieve to obtain the greatest eye appeal. 5:3 = 15:9 so 16:9 seems to be a slightly further refinement of the 5:3 or 15:9 aspect ratio. I don't know where the 5:3 originally came from or even if it has any real truth behind it, however. But it is and always has been the industry standard.

Trixter
March 28th, 2013, 10:50 AM
But why are movies made that way? My field of vision is not a mailbox-sized rectangle. In fact, a little simple experimentation seems to indicate that it's roughly circular. That is, I can see the floor and ceiling of this room as well as the walls without shifting my vision.


Human field of vision is a horizontally-elongated oval. (If our eyes were spaced farther apart, it would be more elongated; if we were cyclops, it would be almost a circle.) But since we haven't found a way to make oval TVs cheaply (yet), we make do with rectangles.

Stone
March 28th, 2013, 10:56 AM
Human field of vision is a horizontally-elongated oval. (If our eyes were spaced farther apart, it would be more elongated; if we were cyclops, it would be almost a circle.)Does that make Chuck(G), with his 'roughly circular' field of vision, some form of cyclopsian derivative? :-)

evildragon
March 28th, 2013, 11:06 AM
Human field of vision is a horizontally-elongated oval. (If our eyes were spaced farther apart, it would be more elongated; if we were cyclops, it would be almost a circle.) But since we haven't found a way to make oval TVs cheaply (yet), we make do with rectangles.

Ahem, remember the old port hole TV's? ;)

Compgeke
March 28th, 2013, 11:08 AM
What about the idea of 16:10 displays? I'm noticing them more in higher end screens, and they don't seem so wide as they're slightly taller. Technically CGA's 320x200 was a 16:10 resolution, so where did that idea come from?

Agent Orange
March 28th, 2013, 12:17 PM
Human field of vision is a horizontally-elongated oval. (If our eyes were spaced farther apart, it would be more elongated; if we were cyclops, it would be almost a circle.) But since we haven't found a way to make oval TVs cheaply (yet), we make do with rectangles.

Eh, Zenith did back around 1950 . . .

commodorejohn
March 28th, 2013, 12:29 PM
Feh. 4:3 or nothing.

Trixter
March 28th, 2013, 01:07 PM
Ahem, remember the old port hole TV's? ;)

Yes, but those scanned in a rectangle just like all CRT broadcast tubes, and were only port-holed due to framing of the picture.

Agent Orange
March 28th, 2013, 01:57 PM
Yes, but those scanned in a rectangle just like all CRT broadcast tubes, and were only port-holed due to framing of the picture.

At least one Zenith model had a round CRT back then, just like some o'scopes of the day. IIRC, there were quite a few round CRT's and some tv's had a mask or bezel over the tube to make them look somewhat rectangular. I had a 10" Hallicrafter [1948] that my grandmother gave to me and it had a round CRT (push button tuning also).

Chuck(G)
March 28th, 2013, 02:01 PM
I'll say that when I walk into a room with normal 8 ft. or thereabouts ceiling, I'm acutely aware of where both the floor and ceiling are. I can't say that about TeeVee. Similarly, if I watch TV, almost all of my attention is focused in a rougly square area in the center of the screen. If I'm watching an old movie that occupies the center of the screen, it's only a couple of minutes before I've forgotten that it's not wide-screen.

If the object is realism, it fails miserably. The few times I've seen 3D TV, I've had to quit because of a raging headache. Apparently I'm not alone.

All of this reminds me of the 1930s experiments with "realism" in sound. One of the radio manufacturers did a double-blind study using a small live ensemble behind a curtain and electronics using the best available technology of the day. Strangely, there were those who claimed that they couldn't tell the difference. The more startling conclusion was that people preferred listening to bandwidth-limited (6KHz, I think) reproduction than with the best wideband technology back then.

I remember the first time I heard FM radio--I thought it was stunningly real. I could never reach that conclusion again.

Maybe one day we'll have full-surround TV with touch, smell and taste. But wide-screen ain't it.

Tor
March 28th, 2013, 02:03 PM
Well, one reason movies aren't as tall as they are wide is of course that there's very little of interest up there.. and I guess the microphones would be diffiult to hide! :)

Chuck(G)
March 28th, 2013, 02:09 PM
Well, one reason movies aren't as tall as they are wide is of course that there's very little of interest up there.. and I guess the microphones would be diffiult to hide! :)

...not to mention the lighting gear. Yours is the best answer that I've heard justifying the use of wide-screen instead of tall-screen. How many TV sitcoms show the ceiling of a room, much less showing the floor covered with gaffer's tape and spotting marks for the cast?

Oh, by the way, here's the article on the filming of Prometheus (http://electronicdesign.com/embedded/prometheus-takes-flight-cutting-edge-vfx-technology).

Plasma
March 28th, 2013, 02:20 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS5jqXWECbI

Agent Orange
March 28th, 2013, 03:58 PM
I'll say that when I walk into a room with normal 8 ft. or thereabouts ceiling, I'm acutely aware of where both the floor and ceiling are. I can't say that about TeeVee. Similarly, if I watch TV, almost all of my attention is focused in a rougly square area in the center of the screen. If I'm watching an old movie that occupies the center of the screen, it's only a couple of minutes before I've forgotten that it's not wide-screen.

If the object is realism, it fails miserably. The few times I've seen 3D TV, I've had to quit because of a raging headache. Apparently I'm not alone.

All of this reminds me of the 1930s experiments with "realism" in sound. One of the radio manufacturers did a double-blind study using a small live ensemble behind a curtain and electronics using the best available technology of the day. Strangely, there were those who claimed that they couldn't tell the difference. The more startling conclusion was that people preferred listening to bandwidth-limited (6KHz, I think) reproduction than with the best wideband technology back then.

I remember the first time I heard FM radio--I thought it was stunningly real. I could never reach that conclusion again.

Maybe one day we'll have full-surround TV with touch, smell and taste. But wide-screen ain't it.

The first stereo that I ever heard was from the movie 'This is Cinerama', about 1953 or so, at the Music Hall in downtown Detroit. The 1955 GM Autorama Expo, at the Michigan Stae Fair grounds, had a kiosk display where one could put on a headset and hear a montage of sounds, in stereo, such as a lion roaring, crowd noise, jet aircraft, etc.

Chuck(G)
March 28th, 2013, 04:22 PM
I have several stereo "sound effect" demo LPs. Hokey today, but interesting back then--definitely headphone material.

Ole Juul
March 28th, 2013, 05:05 PM
As a long time pro photographer I know that a roughly 5:3 aspect was what we always strived to achieve to obtain the greatest eye appeal. 5:3 = 15:9 so 16:9 seems to be a slightly further refinement of the 5:3 or 15:9 aspect ratio. I don't know where the 5:3 originally came from or even if it has any real truth behind it, however. But it is and always has been the industry standard.

I like 8"x10" for for the practicality of it's size, however, in roll film I've always liked the 6x6 (2 1/4" x 2 1/4") format. It feels natural and things just seem to "fit". A lot of photographers (think Hasselblad, Mamiya, Rolliflex) have favoured that.

Ya, I've always wanted a computer monitor that was taller than wider. The modern wide ones have an advantage though. Since nobody would use a program full screen anyway (I hope!), one can now have two or three windows side by side. Very handy for viewing pdfs and inputting information into a data base, for example.

luckybob
March 28th, 2013, 05:11 PM
I for one LOVE my 2560x1600 30" screen. (16:10) I cant stand 16:9.

Doug G
March 28th, 2013, 06:24 PM
The first stereo that I ever heard was from the movie 'This is Cinerama', about 1953 or so, at the Music Hall in downtown Detroit. The 1955 GM Autorama Expo, at the Michigan Stae Fair grounds, had a kiosk display where one could put on a headset and hear a montage of sounds, in stereo, such as a lion roaring, crowd noise, jet aircraft, etc.I got to see "This is Cinerama" during it's initial run in NYC. We were out from California visiting an Uncle. Cinerama is one of the few things I still remember about that trip, I was only 7 or 8 at the time.

Turner Movie Channel recently showed "This is Cinerama", it was fun to watch on TV but not the same as a true cinerama showing.

RickNel
March 28th, 2013, 06:51 PM
But why are movies made that way?

Originally, makers and audiences expected movies to imitate a stage proscenium. Movies were first exhibited commercially as part of stage variety shows. Though I think the pioneers like Lumiere brothers did use close to square frames.

You'll recall that widescreen formats were developed primarily for "action" spectaculars, where the action really does occur mostly on a horizontal plane. There's not too much vertical action outside porn and the occasional rocket-launch. Earlier low-res, made-for-TV drama was directed to favour close-ups, where the 4:3 ratio could be fully used.

As a projectionist, consider also the economics of film stock. A wider frame gives more frames per foot of stock, at a given resolution. (e.g. Super8 film cribbed a little more horizontal resolution out of the same frame height as standard 8mm 4:3 ratio film). For the industry, filmstock costs were a significant consideration in the days of thousands of prints of physical silver-based film. When I was working in documentaries, even the original shooting stock was strictly rationed.

Later the marketing of home video players, from Beta onwards, was primarily based on the ability to show existing film-based entertainment. With HD video formats, the biggest markets are sports, landscapes, and epic dramas - where most of the action is horizontal.

Probably only a few "roughly cycloptic" individuals would feel more comfortable with a round or square field of view.;)

Rick

Chuck(G)
March 28th, 2013, 07:32 PM
Rick, Cinemascope films have exactly the same number of frames per foot as does "regular" 4:3 stock. The stretching to wide-screen is done with optics. One could do likewise horizontal and/or vertical stretching by substituting the appropriate optics. As I recall, it was just an anamorphic front element attached to a standard Kollmorgen projection lens. Made for a very heavy hunk of glass.

In fact, on a frame-by-frame basis, Cinemascope films have worse definition that do 4:3 stuff.

deathshadow
March 28th, 2013, 10:48 PM
Oddly enough my FoV is sufficient that a widescreen DOES fit my field of view, the normal FoV for a human is 120 degrees by 60 degrees without swinging your head around. If you are seated close enough to a 16:9 display that your side to side vision is exceeded without exceeding top to bottom, you've got a pretty nasty case of tunnel vision and may want to talk to an optometrist.

But to be fair my field of vision exceeds the size of my glasses, and I'm wearing aviators. I can't even think about wearing anything 'smaller' as it interferes too much with my sight... but I've been tested as noticing 160x90 so... Hey, 160x90... isn't that...

Chuck(G)
March 28th, 2013, 11:03 PM
Maybe that explains it--I've worn glasses all my life, so the width of my field of view is somewhat restricted.

deathshadow
March 28th, 2013, 11:40 PM
Rick, Cinemascope films have exactly the same number of frames per foot as does "regular" 4:3 stock.
Yes, but who the blazes makes Cinemascope movies after the 1960's... even when they were called Cinemascope after 1960 they were actually Panavision, which DID use less aspect per frame... though that was also the transition from 55mm to 70mm so it ended up a wash... and yeah, in distribution, particularly as 35mm it was still stretched on delivery.

NOT that most places until the '90's outside of art houses distributed on anything other than 35mm.

I'm just thankful we don't have actual cinemascope aspect ratios... 12:5 is just a bit ridiculous... though that's probably what I have here with the three displays.

Ole Juul
March 29th, 2013, 12:52 AM
Maybe that explains it--I've worn glasses all my life, so the width of my field of view is somewhat restricted.

Field of view, or field of critical comprehension? I've worn glasses since I was a kid, and I too know about the rims bothering the field. Right now I'm wearing a huge lens and it's relaxing in one way, but it doesn't make me see more. I have a very wide field of view - I'd say likely wider that 160 (I'm not going to get up and try to actually measure it now), but when I stare straight ahead and bring my fingers from behind my head along the stems of my glasses, I see them long before they reach the hinge.

The technique I use to analyse my visual field is different from some other people I guess. When I'm writing this line, for example, I don't read the one above. In fact I sometimes (not always) don't even read more than one letter at a time. I just prefer to concentrate on very small parts at a time - and no, I certainly do not have tunnel vision. In looking at a computer screen, I either have to know where something is, from past experience, or I take a long time to find it by scanning. I prefer looking at a still picture for hours, while I take in all the details one by one. Paintings are my favourite, because I get to know them over the years. Yes I can see the whole visual field around me, but it doesn't compute in the same way as the detail does. One reason I'm taking the time to write all this, is that I think generalizing about how other people see is just plain wrong.

Chuck(G)
March 29th, 2013, 08:22 AM
Rick, go to the ED article sighted above and look for the shot of what's seen in the viewfinder. "Cinema Delivery" aspect is shown at 2.39:1 (2048 x 858).

We're still filming at Cinemascope-type aspect ratios, as far as I can tell.

Unknown_K
March 29th, 2013, 09:04 AM
4:3 monitors have too much surface area per screen size compared to widescreens and bigger size is what sells monitors (and TV's for that matter). LCD defects used to be a major issue and ramping up screen size (square inches) made it worse so widescreens allowed to bigger screens but less area compared to the normal 4:3 monitors.

I prefer a more square screen (using a 19" 1280x1024 LCD screen that tilts 90 Degees if needed). The full HD monitors aren't bad (1900x1200) but those little laptops with the 1366x720 screen SUCK for browsing. Makes me glad I have my old T40 (14" 1400x1050) and T43P (15" 1600x1200) Thinkpads.

Chuck(G)
March 29th, 2013, 09:23 AM
I'm reading this on a 19" NEC "old style" LCD monitor, with adjustable elevation and tilt. For me, the amount of horizontal and veridical information displayed is about perfect. One of the Newegg stores was selling refurb ones for $69 each, shipped. I picked up two.

Great Hierophant
March 29th, 2013, 01:24 PM
http://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/vizio-cinemawide-tv/

There is your cinemascope for you, 2012 style. I wonder if Blu-ray has an anamorphic feature like DVDs.

eeguru
March 29th, 2013, 01:28 PM
I'm just thankful we don't have actual cinemascope aspect ratios... 12:5 is just a bit ridiculous...

A few vendors made a serious try pushing the LCD standard such as Phillips:

12501

Trixter
March 29th, 2013, 06:35 PM
I wonder if Blu-ray has an anamorphic feature like DVDs.

For SD content, yes, same as DVD. (Meaning, you can create an MPEG-2 720x480 file with the 16:9 anamorphic flag set, and it will display as if it were 853x480 square pixels.) For HD content, no (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anamorphic_widescreen#Blu-ray_video).

BTW that TV is a joke. It detects 2.35:1 content, clips the letterboxing off, and scales the image to fit the full area of the TV. This produces a worse picture than if you just displayed it on a 16:9 TV and left things alone, because on the 16:9 TV, you maintain a 1:1 pixel display of the original contents.

I really hate it when companies take advantage of "audiophiles/cinephiles/videophiles" because such people are easily parted with their money and it makes me sick. I saw a TV show recently where a self-described audiophile had spent $500K on a pair of speakers because they were "the best". If that guy ever concedes to a double-blind test he's going to put a gun in his mouth after getting the results...

RickNel
March 29th, 2013, 08:43 PM
Chuck said:
Rick, Cinemascope films have exactly the same number of frames per foot as does "regular" 4:3 stock.

Yeah, that's why I said "at a given resolution" - the anamorphic lens technique trades resolution for aspect.

I couldn't count how many times I've seen wrong aspect ratios being displayed in store demos of wide-screen digital monitors that just fill the available screen regardless of source aspect ratio. The kind of edge-distortions you get with a 22m wide-angle lens if they try to emulate anamorphia, or skinny actresses puffed out to size 24 when they use pixel aspect ratio. Can be quite comical.

There are very few remote controls that make it intuitive enough to adjust aspect ratio. I wonder what proportion of viewers use any remote buttons other than channel, volume, and perhaps source. And how many even know what "anamorphic" or "letterbox" mean?

Rick

Agent Orange
March 29th, 2013, 09:09 PM
Chuck said:

Yeah, that's why I said "at a given resolution" - the anamorphic lens technique trades resolution for aspect.

I couldn't count how many times I've seen wrong aspect ratios being displayed in store demos of wide-screen digital monitors that just fill the available screen regardless of source aspect ratio. The kind of edge-distortions you get with a 22m wide-angle lens if they try to emulate anamorphia, or skinny actresses puffed out to size 24 when they use pixel aspect ratio. Can be quite comical.

There are very few remote controls that make it intuitive enough to adjust aspect ratio. I wonder what proportion of viewers use any remote buttons other than channel, volume, and perhaps source. And how many even know what "anamorphic" or "letterbox" mean?

Rick

You can do it with a fairly reasonably priced Logitech Harmony 650.

VileR
March 30th, 2013, 08:33 PM
Based on current trends, in a decade or so we'll hit 16:1 displays. Remember: if it ain't like looking through the slit of a medieval knight's helmet, it ain't true widescreen!

And if they need a catchy name for this new standard, Wikipedia's already rife with WSVGA, WQSXGA, WHUXGA, etc. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphics_display_resolution); just call it WOOGABOOGA - Wide Oversized Omphalos-Gazing Absolutely-Bangin' Octa-Ocular Gigapixel Array.

FOV of the future:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qEYos-gXpOc/TiHTfL_OSeI/AAAAAAAAABY/EpWR2hTcL2M/s320/Burgonet-helmet.jpg

Plasma
March 30th, 2013, 09:54 PM
I only want one if it's got the green teeth.

Tiberian Fiend
March 31st, 2013, 10:05 PM
Movies moved to a wider format as a gimmick to compete with television, then television moved to a wider format to compete with movies. It's capitalism; it doesn't have to make sense.

CP/M User
April 1st, 2013, 12:26 AM
Cinemascope back in 1953 was more or less a gimmick to get people out of the homes watching TV and back into the Cinema, the earliest of Cinemascope movies were notoriously huge, which go past the sight of vision for an eye to physically watch an whole area of moving pictures at that moment, perhaps the majority of the picture, though being closer to the picture (front seat) rather than being up in the back row would play a role too. Hitchcock I don't think went anywhere past 1.85:1 as a rule in his later movies, though when Cinemascope was relatively new he was given the option to use that or go 3D, so he went 3D and "Dial M For Murder" was the result.

Though I've heard some interesting stories about the earlier 1.37:1 movies Vs. TV. Obviously for the case of old TV it was 1.33:1, so some of the old movies you miss a little bit of the picture, though TVs come in different Size screens, so even when some of those early movies came out, Cinema had one fixed sized screen and I've just heard stories about stuff going back to the Charlie Chaplin days about how his movies were a lot funnier on the big screen because there was more detail and could pick up the gag easier. I think this explains in more recent decades why TV shows like "Police Squad" failed and movies like "The Naked Gun" had more success, and it's a problem we might face today when it comes to Cinema Vs. TV, Cinema gives you a true size to view a movie & TV forces you to make a judgement on what size is suitable in a home environment.