Black Bars and iTunes

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Boatboy24, Feb 11, 2018.

  1. Boatboy24 macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    Why is it that everything I get from iTunes has black bars on the top and bottom of my screen? I have a 4K Sony TV and 4K Apple TV. I don't expect that 30+% of my screen space should be wasted. Am I doing something wrong in the settings, or is this just a handicap of iTunes? Maybe a setting on my TV? Thanks for any advice.
     
  2. Rigby macrumors 601

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    #2
    The black bars appear when a movie has a wider aspect ratio than your screen (e.g. 2.35:1 which is a common format for theatrical movies). It cannot be avoided without damaging the content (by either stretching and distorting the image or cutting off the sides). It is not specific to iTunes, but affects any media that offer widescreen movies in their correct format.
     
  3. priitv8 macrumors 68040

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    #3
  4. BODYBUILDERPAUL macrumors 65816

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    #4
    I like the black bars on a film actually! I feel that you see 'more' of the film, the areas to the left & to the right etc. I feel that it feels more like a 'film'. :) HATE IT though when one or two older films or TV series are 4:3 Full Screen. That super spoils it for me & I usually don't sit through it.
     
  5. HobeSoundDarryl, Feb 12, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    #5
    Adding to what others have shared here, it can't be "everything" because not all movies are shot in the wider aspect ratio likely causing (what you perceive as) the problem. Some are shot at 16:9 and will perfectly fill the screen. By "everything" is this more like, you've tried 2 or 3 movies and they've "all" been like that? Try a bunch of the trailers in the trailers app (or try a bunch of the trailers in iTunes rental info screens. Most modern television shows are shot in 16:9 to "fit" the mainstream HD screen. Try some TV show previews in iTunes and see if they fill your screen.

    If it really is "everything," I'd start suspecting something wrong with the set or settings. But the black bars above & below is not that common except for select movies shot wider than 16:9. You can always look up the aspect ratio of any movie on sites like IMDB. Aspect Ratio of 16:9 will "fit" the HD screen. Other Aspect Ratios will use black bars so you can see the entire picture vs. chopping off parts to reduce the thickness of the black bars.

    If bar reduction is more important than seeing the whole picture, your TV likely has "zoom" options that will chop off the left & right sides to vertically "fit" the picture to your screen. You are chopping off things the Director of the film wanted in the shot but this is one way to reduce or eliminate the black bars if NOT seeing them is more important than seeing the left & right sides of the film frame. Downside here can be dramatic. For example, some old westerns would pit the gunfight stare down with hero far left and villain far right. Zoomed in to clear black bars could chop both out of the visible frame altogether, leaving you watching a chunk of empty street while dramatic music plays.
     
  6. mallbritton macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    What you are seeing is actually the original theatrical aspect ratio for the film. It's not that part of your TV screen is being wasted, it is that you are seeing the entire film as the director intended it. You might find this video interesting: .
     
  7. Boatboy24 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Thanks. No, it isn't 'everything', but feels like an overwhelming majority.
     
  8. HobeSoundDarryl, Feb 12, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    #9
    Again, perhaps you have a TV problem... but I suspect you are just wanting to watch a number of movies shot at wider aspect ratios than 16:9. Lots of movies and about all modern television IS shot at 16:9, so most stuff you might watch will minimize or have no black bars. But particularly movies will sometimes be shot wider than 16:9. That's how the director wanted to present the story. You can see it as intended or you can use the "zoom" function to chop off a chunk of the left & right to fill the screen.

    In the old days, there used to be a technique for movies called pan-and-scan where, instead of significantly barring a wide-wide screen movie on an old 4:3 CRT, someone would go to the trouble of editing the movie by panning a 4:3 square left & right to arbitrarily try to get the action in the visible portion of the screen.

    Again, the old western showdown might have hero far left and villain far right, talking & taunting before letting any bullets fly. Pan-and-scan would swing left to catch the hero's line than swing right to catch the villian's line, like watching a tennis match when the camera has to swing left & right to stay on the ball. Conceptually, someone could rip wider-than-16:9 movies, pull them into some editing software and pan-and-scan them themselves... but what a hassle.

    The easier option is to make a personal choice: do you want to see the whole movie as the director intended or do you want to get rid of those bars with the zoom button, even if that means lopping off the far left & right pieces of the picture?

    The other option is to buy an even wider screen television at maybe 21:9 but then the vast majority of movies & TV shows will have black bars on the left & right because most stuff is not shot at super wide aspect ratios. Once again, a person could "zoom" there too to fill the screen to the left & right edge. However that would zoom top & bottom chunks off, perhaps decapitating a lot of the actors heads in various scenes.
     
  9. Cell-666 macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Here's an proper visualisation of what the difference would be between 2.35:1 and s"standard" 16:9 cropped, or if you use the zoom function.

    As others have said quite a lot of the big epic movies are shot in 2.35:1 as it gives the director of photography a bigger canvas which to tell the story on.
     

    Attached Files:

  10. BJMRamage macrumors 68020

    BJMRamage

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    #11
    Double-Tap the AppleTV Remote (Siri Remote) and you get a zoomed in version of the movie...it may not be fully zoomed but it will minimize the bars. works for 4:3 SD TV shows to enlarge to 16:9....and it'll boost most widescreen aspect rations to 16:9. BUT not those EPIC movies with ultra-wide ratios.

    Hope that helps.
     
  11. rmoliv macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 20, 2017
    #12
    I was just about to ask that. So annoying. Makes me want to ask for a refund.

    I did that yesterday, it totally removed the awful bars but parts of the movie itself were also "cropped" in the process. No option to adjust to TV's aspect ratio without zooming in so that you get the whole image?
     
  12. -Gonzo-, Feb 13, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018

    -Gonzo- macrumors 6502

    -Gonzo-

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    #13
    Of course it would be, everything would be out of proportion otherwise. This is the nearest example I could find:
    [​IMG]
    It’s also like when you stretch a 4:3 image to fill a widescreen to remove the black bars either side of the image, it just looks wrong.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Sakurambo-kun macrumors 6502

    Sakurambo-kun

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    #14
    I'm rather amused that there are still people on planet earth moaning about films not filling their TV screen. I thought that particular battle had been won with the advent of DVDs.

    No film should ever be modified in any way for a home format. It must be exactly as it was in the cinema, unless of course the director is involved in some alternate cut.
     
  14. Gulfam macrumors member

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    Aug 30, 2017
    #15
    To answer you question OP, the image you are seeing is how it's meant to be seen. Doesn't matter what TV you have there will always be black bars somewhere because not all content was filmed the same. If you really want to avoid them then I'd recommend checking the films aspect ratio on IMDb, just scroll down to the films technical specs section on the site and if it's listed as 1.78:1 or 1:85:1 then there won't really be any black bars. Anything else (which is bascially every other film) will have black bars. Your screen space is not being wasted because what's within the black bars is all that the filmmakers want you to see. The only other option is to zoom in but you will lose some of the image on the side. Back in the days of VHS (and even some TV stations these days) the black bars were cropped along with some image on the side. This was called pan and scan and is basically butchering the film
     
  15. mrtomgreen macrumors newbie

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    Oct 19, 2018
    #16
    I get the point about messing with the original aspect by going full screen if you had black bars at either the sides or top and bottom, but what about when there is a complete black border

    Why won't iTunes scale this correctly to stretch it until either the top and bottom or side bars disappear (which judging by the image would almost be full screen anyway - it's hard to call whether it would fit to the sides or top and bottom first.)

    Anyone know how i could toggle this in iTunes when watching a video back?

    Screenshot 2018-10-19 at 16.04.45.png

    The film btw is The Abyss in 2.35:1.
     
  16. Sakurambo-kun macrumors 6502

    Sakurambo-kun

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    #17
    That's known as window boxing and it occurs when a film has been letterboxed for a 4:3 screen. It's extremely rare these days and I think in the case of The Abyss it's simply because the current transfer is ancient. There is a new 4K HDR transfer on the way sometime, if Cameron ever signs off on it.

    There's no way iTunes can fix windowboxing, but there will certainly be an option on your TV to zoom the picture.
     
  17. dsdevries, Oct 24, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018

    dsdevries macrumors member

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    #18
    The reason we have so many different aspect ratios in movies dates back to the time of analog mechanical projectors. In those projectors, there was an actual film sliding along between the lamp and the lens from the top to the bottom. In front of that film there is shutter, that opens when a picture was entirely in the frame, and then closes again before it moves out. Those projectors where were only capable of producing a movie at exactly 24 frames per second (fps). Any slower and you would be annoyed by the gaps in between the frames. Any faster and the shutters wouldn't be able to keep up with the frame-rate and you would see the picture sliding in.

    Filmmakers always wanted to go bigger, because it meant they could reach a larger audience, and a bigger image also just leaves a bigger impression. But there was a limit on how far you could stretch the image from the original film size to the projected image on the screen without loosing a lot of quality and sharpness. After all, a film itself always contains a bit of grain and any lens suffers from impurities in the material as wel physical properties such as chromatic aberration and refractive index. Now, you could start with a bigger film, but you could not make the frame itself any higher because that would require the entire film to run faster. So the only way to produce a bigger picture whilst still maintain a high quality and sharp picture was to go wider.

    So wider they went. They went from the original 35mm film to 65mm, and all the way up to 70mm. And with that, starting off from the original 1.33:1 a lot of aspect ratios were introduced, with 2.36:1 being the most widely adopted. The widest commercially used aspect ratio was Ultra Panavision 70's 2.76:1! Famous movies that came out in this format are Ben Hur and The Hateful Eight. There are not a lot of projectors left in the world that are able to display these movies in their full aspect ratios, so most commercially available copies are cropped.

    Then, in 1970 IMAX introduced their 70mm projector with a special vertically closing shutter system that was able to open and close much faster and stay open for a longer period. The system had an aspect ratio of 1.46:1 and was capable of producing a 586x magnification from the original film. This had a lot of impact. Finally they were able to fill an entire cinema wall from top to bottom.

    The introduction of digital projectors again changed everything. These projectors are not limited by factors that a mechanical system would introduce. They are capable of producing much higher frame rates. They are also capable of producing any aspect ratio without having to switch projectors or lenses. This allows people to enjoy any movie without cropping or loss of quality in a any theater. Even though there are no technical limitations anymore, directors would still chose specific aspect ratios or camera systems to create an intended cinematic effect. This is why 2.36:1 still is the most popular aspect ratio for movies.

    Now it goes without explaining that TV's were always capable of reproducing all aspect ratios, because they are also not limited by mechanical factors. The only implication it has is that you will see black bars on either the top and bottom, or the left and right hand side of the picture. In order to keep the black bars on the left and right when you're watching a tv show with a 4:3 ratio about the same size as the bars on the top and the bottom when you are watching a 2.35:1 movie, the tv industry settled on a 16:9 standard ratio for tv's.

    Do i mind these black bars? Absolutely not, because it allows me to enjoy the movie to the exact artist intent. Also it acts as a reminder of the technical possibilities of the time that the movie was created.

    I hope that, now that you know a little bit more about the history of aspect ratios and projectors, you too will be able to enjoy watching them on your television the way they are meant to be seen. Even when it means you'll have to look at some black bars every now and then.
     

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