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Film/movie/TV/monitor aspect ratio

by cdavenet / October 21, 2014 8:37 PM PDT

Most TVs and monitors are 16:9 nowadays, which I've had some problems with, but I did some calculations and found something interesting and am wondering if I am correct. People complain about letterboxes on old-school monitors and laptops, but it seems if TVs and monitors displayed movies correctly, there would actually be pillerboxes (black bars on the sides) if it were scaled top-to-bottom, or letterboxes (black bars on the top and bottom) if it were scaled side-to-side.

Common Aspect Ratios:

Standard: 4:3
Widescreen: 16:9, 16:10

Movies: 1.85:1 (typical) and 2.39:1

If I multiply the most common movie aspect ratio by 9 (since it is factored down to 1 vertically), the width actually becomes 16.65, or 4.0625% wider than typical widescreen TVs and monitors. This means you're missing over 4% of the image or it would have to have the boxes around it that everybody complains about. Am I correct in this calculation or did I miss something?

2.39:1 is also used in movies, but is less common. This would be missing 25.6% of the image without boxes.

1.85:1 x 9 = 16.65:9
2.39:1 x 9 = 21.51:9

Here's what they are translated to 16:10 (less common in monitors):

1.85:1 x 10 = 18.5:10
2.39:1 x 10 = 23.9:10

To have a 16:9 movie aspect ratio, it must be 1.7...:1.

To have a 16:10 move aspect ratio, it must be 1.6:1.

The Golden Ratio is 1.61803398875, or 16.18:10 or 14.56230589875:9, so movies and TVs and monitors are off if we're using that for our standard.

I realize that 4:3 monitors would have bigger black bars than widescreen, but considering the reason I heard for the move to widescreen was because letterboxes are annoying, they're still not eliminated in the typical movie (and probably TV show), so I don't really see that as a valid complaint. I do prefer 4:3 monitors for computing and laptops and work (which I rarely watch shows with), though I couldn't imagine anything less than 16:10 for TV (and 16:9 is fine), and letterboxes never bothered me. I just wish there was a choice for new 4:3 monitors and laptops.

Can someone correct me where I'm wrong or provide comments? Thanks.

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You are hitting a fly with a cannon ;)
by Pepe7 / October 22, 2014 1:29 AM PDT

There's so much information on the internet regarding this topic, I am surprised you wrote as much as you did(!) Wink

Yes, you will still often see black bars when viewing many different types of movies and tv shows on the typical HDTV. Yes, some laptops & monitors will require you to make some adjustments for optimal viewing of certain types of content.

We have pretty much covered the bases Wink

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Missed my point
by cdavenet / October 26, 2014 4:46 AM PDT

I'm not sure how there being lots of information about this on the internet making it surprising that I wrote what I did. I got that information from the internet, it's repeated in a lot of places, just because someone wrote it once doesn't mean someone else can't take it and show it in a certain perspective.

The point of the post was to point out the inefficiencies of widescreen compared to standard, and that the complaint that push people to widescreen is not as significant as it seems since they're usually either not eliminating the black bars they're complaining about or they're losing picture with cropping.

Standard screen displays the full image of a movie just fine and is more ergonomical and less wasteful and awkward. The black bars never bothered me, and widescreen is a waste of space and less efficient than standard screen, and less effective than the decriers of standard think. When I think about my mom's monitor, it fits nicely on her desk, and if she were to have bought a new monitor with her new PC, it would have fit awkwardly and she likely would have complained that it takes up an unnecessary amount of space for little benefit.

Because 16:9 isn't even as close to the Golden Ratio as 16:10 or 3:2 (which the iPhone was), it's not even as close to what is most pleasing to the eye. It's horribly inefficient compared to any screen size, and was a compromise between the arbitrary movie screen aspect ratio that was made simply to put butts in movie theater seats just as a novelty, and doesn't belong on our desks because they're not as useful or efficient as a standard monitor.

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4:3 is going the way of film in cameras
by James Denison / October 26, 2014 4:56 AM PDT
In reply to: Missed my point

Soon only be for grandparents to fish out the old VCR tape player and the old TV in the shed to go vintage with the grandchildren to show them "what it was like in our day".

"Grandma! You mean all TV was once only greyscale?!"

"Well, yes, but we called it black and white".

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Gotta agree, nuclear strick on a tick.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 22, 2014 1:44 AM PDT

The reason for the passing of 4 3 is so well done. Plus you have a wide choice of answers. The one I like is the million dollars of the machines that make LCD panels. Since there are still 4 3 displays on ebay, I can't see why a new production would be required for the last folk that want such a thing.

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Doesn't matter, little choice on new
by cdavenet / October 26, 2014 4:50 AM PDT

If you're tired of talking about or reading about the argument for 4:3, don't read about it or reply to it. I know I can buy used 4:3 monitors, I'm not complaining about a lack of that, I'm complaining that they're not made anymore (except for extreme industrial environments like the Panasonic tough machines or for very professional environments like the small 4:3 14" monitors, or ironically, for Best Buy workers since they use them for their look-up computers). I always smirk when I see a Best Buy employee walk up to their terminal and there's a 4:3 monitor there, which is more efficient since the extra desk space a widescreen would take up adds almost nothing to their interface (a webpage), which most webpages are built like. Best Buy itself is admitting that standard screen monitors are more efficient for work than widescreen, and the only kind of monitors they sell are widescreen. If I ask where they sell those nice standard screen monitors they use, they say "Uh, I don't think we sell those". Well, thanks for admitting your preference Best Buy, but it would be nice if you could sell me the same preference you agree with me on.

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There are 4x3 display makes today.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 26, 2014 6:32 AM PDT

But I find that most bolt to used ebay models when hit with the price.
Accuview for example.

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Local is even cheaper
by James Denison / October 26, 2014 11:19 PM PDT

Around here are several places where a used Dell monitor that is 4:3 can be had for $20-30 at a recycle computer store.

local to me;

Thrift stores have the lowest prices on them, including those like Goodwill, Salvation Army stores, Purple Heart, etc.

No shipping cost, just gas cost, drive by, pick up that day.

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I've bumped into folk that want NEW 4x3 displays.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 27, 2014 12:53 AM PDT
In reply to: Local is even cheaper

They often have a long story why the industry is so wrong. I agree with you that other sources can be used but they wanted new so new can be had.

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widescreen would be fine
by James Denison / October 26, 2014 10:32 PM PDT

if they'd called it "tall screen" and used it that way instead for standard page and webpage use. Less scrolling. Some monitors can be used that way and rotate the screen 90 degrees, which is great for places like these forums where you can fit more info above and below on the page.

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