General discussion

Can someone tell me what this type of picture is called?

I understand 3:4 and 16:9 and letter box, but what it it called when a TV show or DVD is formatted with bars on the top, bottom, and on both sides? I suppose it is to look like widescreen, but why would someone take up most of the screen blank space? It there a technical term for this?

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Not sure if there is a name, but...

I call it "low resolution" video on a high resolution screen.

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Its called windowboxing

and it most often shows up on really old DVD's and some commercials on HD channels. Its essentially widescreen picture with integrated black bars so it displays correctly on 4:3 TV's.

"Widescreen" DVD's literally burned the black bars into the image. Since DVD's only had 480 vertical lines of resolution a third or more of the available lines could be wasted on black. These DVD's were made this way for the first year or so until the studios realized a better way: squeeze the picture horizontally so you got the full vertical resolution and let the player decode the correct proportion and add the black bars itself. The only way to remedy these older DVD's is to use the zoon functions on your HDTV, which of course blows up the image and shows all its flaws.

I suspect TV commercials often suffer from this problem because as the content moves down the TV production pipeline bad choices get made by one party or another. A commercial might be made to be widescreen HD, but then it has the black bars added so it can be broadcast on SD channels and then it inadvertently gets broadcast on an HD channel in widescreen and you wind up windowboxing.

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These second generation of widescreen discs are usually

called "enhanced for widescreen" or "enhanced for 16:9 TV's" although the specific name varies from studio to studio. Its actually quite rare to find the older "widescreen" 4:3 DVD's anymore but I have a few in my collection.

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thanks for the info

Bing called it windowboxing, matchboxing, and gutterboxing. It wouldn't be so bad except when I change the display in the menu, the picture gets stretched so that some of the picture is cut off on all sides. It would be nice to be able to adjust it to fill the screen. Oh, well. It is nice to know what it is called.

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