HD movies from the iTunes Store aren't HD

Discussion in 'Apple Music, Apple Pay, iCloud, Apple Services' started by joepancake, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. joepancake macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Hello community, i'm joepancake and this my first post. Seems to be a great community!

    My concern regarding this topic here: 'HD' movies from the iTunes Store aren't HD, apparently. Few days ago, when i wanted to watch 'Spiderman 3' on my HDTV via Apple TV/AirPlay from my iPad, i got a bad surprise: instead of a fine, full format picture, there were the infamous black bars top and bottom. When i purchased the movie, the HD version as to note, i actually expected an high-definition 720p movie upscaled to fit the higher TV resolution.

    When i then took a closer look at the movie, i discovered that its resolution is actually just 1280 x 532p. As far as i know, this is NOT HD - HD is either 1920x1080p (Full HD) or at least 1280x720p after common definitions.

    I then tried to watch Avatar for the purpose of trying and hey - the picture was perfect high-definition and full-format. A look at its resolution - 1280 x 718p. That's how it should be i guess (well, it's still 2 pixel less than 720p, but well)

    To be honest, i feel a little bit pranked - when i paid the premium price for the HD version (Spiderman 3), i did it because i wanted the better picture. But with black bars it's clearly not good at all.

    Can somebody share my concern? Aren't the HD labels false?
     
  2. Julien macrumors G4

    Julien

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    #2
    Lots of confusion on your part. Spiderman 3 has an aspect ratio of 2.40 (HDTV is 1.78 or 16x9). Here are a couple of sites to educate yourself on understanding aspect ratios. Link and link

    1280 is HD and 532 lines is 720 lines minus the black bars lines.

    1280/2.40=533 and 1280/1.78=719
     
  3. joepancake thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    Thanks for your answer Julien.

    Okay, i get this. But that leaves a new question: how can i see what aspect ratio a movie has? On my iPad i can't see any info about that, i'm either blind or dumb. It may be different on the Mac's iTunes Store, i've never been on it.

    I'm also asking myself now why there is an 2.40 aspect ratio at all. Movies, at least in my opinion, are made for TVs and almost all should have 1.78 aspect ratio. For what devices or other purposes are 2.40 movies supposed to?
     
  4. Julien macrumors G4

    Julien

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    #4
    You can go to IMDb.com and look under Technical Specs to see the aspect ratio.

    Movies (most major) are NOT made for TV or iPads. They are made for movie theaters (the BIG screen) and theaters have 2.40 screens. Also an iPad has an aspect ratio of 1.33 and iPhone 5S 1.78 and an iPhone 4S 1.50 (some other tablets/phones use 1.60) so no one aspect ratio can cover all. Directors make artistic decisions on what they feel is the best aspect ratio to convey their feelings and visuals for the film.
     
  5. joepancake thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Is the information listed on imdb.com for iTunes movies, yes? I could imagine it's just for the discs (and it would be different aspect ratios).

    Okay, i'm wondering then why especially Avatar, which should be predestined for the cinema, is 1.78. Well, but seems like things are how they are here.
     
  6. Julien macrumors G4

    Julien

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    #6
    Movies are almost always shown in OAR (except places like HBO that crops) so it is the same on all formats.

    Avatar* was shot in 1.85. 1.85 is close to 1.78 and most TV's over-scan enough to cover the small black bars.

    *Avatar was released in 1.85 for 3D and 2.35 for 2D in theaters making it more complicated.

    Almost ½ of films are shot in 1.85 and almost ½ are shot in 2.40. A small percentage are shot in other aspect ratios like 1.66 (more popular in Europe).
     
  7. joepancake thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    Okay, i'm going to look now for some list that lists all 1.8 movies in the iTunes Store.

    Man, these are things which get me mad. Why has stuff to be so complicated? 16:9 HDTVs in the living rooms, bigger 16:9 screens in the cinemas, why not this way?

    Thanks either way for helping me :)
     
  8. old-wiz macrumors G3

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    #8
    I get headaches trying to deal with it myself. Plus you have cable companies that monkey around with the formats as well.
     
  9. joepancake thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Haven't found something which would tell me at a glance which formats iTunes movies are. It's disturbing.

    My iTunes movie purchases will surely decrease significantly, because i'm neither willing to look up a movie's format everytime nor to watch movies with black bars.
     
  10. Rossdillon macrumors newbie

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    #10
    Not sure why the black bars bother you and therefore why this matters? Unless its (a) a made for TV movie (not typically your Oscar contenders) or (b) modified to fit a screen size (by definition modified usually means "worse than the original") movies will have bars. By avoiding them your selection of quality movies will be grossly reduced.

    In the "old" days of standard definition TV, Hollywood movies were usually cropped to remove the bars and significant parts of the visual image was lost off the sides (or "pan and scans" where during the conversion the image portion used would move left or right to follow the action).

    Similarly you can still find "Full Screen" DVDs that do the same cropping to watch on normal TVs; others came vertically shrunk (with the black bars) for the SD TV to preserve the complete image which on those TV made them tiny (on my big screen I would then zoom it to fill the screen but the SD resolution would then become apparent and trash the picture). Then of course there's the anamorphic DVDs which put bars when needed on the older TVs and no bars on the HD screens.

    Confused yet?
     
  11. joepancake thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    Thanks for your explaination Rossdillon.

    Those bad black bars are bothering me -yes, they really do- because i'm simply not getting a full picture. I've paid for 46 inches, so please give me movies that fit those 46 inches. If i've wanted a smaller image i would've bought a smaller TV. My big TV would allow a bigger, more-detailed image, but movies screw it up. It's simply wasted space. I didn't pay for seeing black bars.

    I understand that 'thanks' to those black bars we don't get a cropped picture in terms of lost details.

    But if movies were just made in 16:9 from the ground up, there neither would be the need of black bars nor would we get a cropped picture. It's the way it should be. And we would get everything out of our TV.
     
  12. barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

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    #12
    21:9 is a format often used by films but 16:9 is also a more widely used ratio which HD TVs share. To see both formats, you either have to buy a 21:9 ratio TV and have black bars at the left and right for 16:9 or SD content or you have full screen HD or bars at the top and bottom for 21:9 or at either side for SD.

    If Apple don't crop 21:9 aspect ratio and HD video is 1920x1080 with black bars in the video, not 1920x824 (which would leave a single pixel black line at the top and bottom of the video but correct for vertical resolution divisible by 8), they're wasting compression and quality on black bars.

    I'd suggest looking at the display settings on your TV. Mine has a ratio button so I can change display modes and it offers a 21:9 zoom mode so it can crop a 21:9 aspect picture down to 16:9. It also allows SD to 16:9 HD cropping if you really want to feel like you're watching TV through a letterbox from 20cm away.
     
  13. ftaok macrumors 603

    ftaok

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    #13
    You bought the wrong TV. You should have gotten something like [​IMG].

    But then when you're watching 1.85 movies, you'd have the black bars on the sides instead of the top/bottom.

    If you really wanted to get the most out of your viewing devices, you'd invest in a Constant Height system with curtains to block the black bars on the sides. But most regular people don't have the time or desire to do this.

    My advice, live with the letterboxing and turn off the lights.
     
  14. joepancake thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #14
    Thanks barkmonster and ftaok for your answers.

    I got it now. But i think we would all agree that one aspect ratio for every video content (and for every TV/cinema screens then too of course) is the way it should be. Simple as that.
     
  15. pravacreative macrumors newbie

    pravacreative

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    #15
    Unfortunately, there is no good way to scale movies for both the theater and the home TV. Some movies are being made in 16:9, but most aren't, and for good reason.

    In the theater, a filmmaker has a massive screen to display images on. They can create vast panoramas and frame shots in ways that are stunning on these screens. This creates an immersive experience for the viewer and allows a director to work without limitations, thereby creating a better product.

    A director only gets one chance to tell the story, limiting them to a single aspect ratio would be a negative thing.

    Television content is typically created in 16:9, as it's intent is to be viewed on home TV's. Most people don't have huge home theaters, so the immersive experience that filmmakers go for with their cinematography isn't going to exist. Television directors have to do it with characters and immersive story arcs. It's an entirely different medium.

    I know that won't make the black bars any less annoying, but there is reason behind it.
     
  16. joepancake thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #16
    I understand your point and of course, quality should never suffer just to make something simple.

    However, i really can't imagine that it would be impossible to create stunning movies in 16:9 rather than in 21:9 too.

    But okay, let's assume it really would be impossible - all screens and every video content in 21:9 then please. Or would you also say that TV directors couldn't handle a BIGGER screen?

    In my opinion, there are strong arguments for screens all being 16:9 and also for all screens all being 21:9. But i don't see a real argument for having two aspect ratios (like I said, i really believe that directors COULD deal with one screen size - for theatres as well as for home TVs) - if they wanted..

    .. because, in my bold opinion, the true reason why these 2 aspect ratios coexist: directors demand the 21:9 format because they want people to go to the cinema and watch their movie and get them money. Not because thea couldn't handle a 16:9 screen. But hell, why are even blu-ray discs in 21:9? Blu-rays are definitively meant to be watched on home TVs, right? But 21:9 is clearly not. This is nonsense.

    Either directors produce a '21:9 Cinema Version' and a '16:9 TV Version' or the world focuses on one aspect ratio -let's take the bigger 21:9 one so everybody is happy- and directors produce everything in that one.

    Second option would be perfect for everyone, first option great for us, though exhausting for the directors - but as it is today, it's just complicated.
     
  17. BJMRamage macrumors 68020

    BJMRamage

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    #17
  18. ftaok macrumors 603

    ftaok

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    #18
    In my opinion, there are two reasons why you'll never get consensus between the TV folks and the movie folks.

    1. Directors are artists and artists generally do not want to be bound by standards and rules. Sure, they'll work within whatever the technology allows, but try telling Scorcese that he has to direct his films in 2.4 and he'll flip his lid and start directing everything in 1.66.

    2. Hollywood movies need to have something to differentiate themselves TV. Otherwise, why would anyone go to a movie theater? If you want the cinematic experience, you go to a theater with a proper widescreen. If all movies were filmed in 1.85, then who'd go through the hassle of going to the theater?

    For me, personally, I want everything in OAR. I'll deal with letterboxing and/or pillarboxing. My suggestion, buy the biggest TV that you can fit in your room, and turn off the lights when you watch. After two minutes, you'll not notice the black bars.
     
  19. joepancake thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #19
    Limiting anyone's creativity is the last thing i would do. Then again, imagine there would be just one established aspect ratio - no one would have to change his habits, because there would be no this or that.

    Of course they do, but don't you think that the 'seeing it before everyone else can on TV' feature of cinemas is often enough of a reason for going to it? And wouldn't you call a like 100" 16:9 screen in the cinema a cinematic experience compared to the 55" TV in your living room too? Do you really think that it's 21:9 that creates this feeling? I don't. In my opinion, it's the movie, its characters, its scenerie, its story itself that creates immersive experiences, not their aspect ratio.

    I do want everything the director captured for his movie too. I do not want a cropped picture. But I also don't want to see black bars. Instead of dead pixels, i want to see rich, colourful bits fitting to the scene. I'm too much of a perfectionist as that i could just ignore the black bars. I fail at being able to ignore something that has to be fixed in my eyes. But i know, the world is far from perfect. However, i can't see how other people can't see a problem in that - sure, others might be happy with some kind of workaround or can even ignore it. But we're certainly talking about something that has to change in my opinion. Workarounds or ignoring aren't solutions.
     
  20. Rigby macrumors 601

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    #20
    This discussion is a little silly. There are both historic and artistic reasons why different aspect ratios exist. In the early years of cinema, the standard aspect ratios were 1.33 or 1.37 (i.e. roughly the same as old 4x3 TVs). Around the 1950s, studios began experimenting with various widescreen ratios (1.66, 1.85, 2.35 and a few others), mainly to differentiate the theatre experience from home TV. The 16:9 (1.77) ratio is a quite recent development, which was chosen for TV screens as a compromise between 4x3 and 2.35. As you can see, there is a huge body of work in various different aspect ratios, so unless you are willing to mutilate classic movies, there is no way to come up with a unified display format that avoids all black bars.

    Besides, directors have learned to utilize aspect ratio to heighten the impact of their movies. For example, the sweeping desert vistas in "Lawrence of Arabia" are obviously much more impressive in a wide format, whereas the height of the dinos in "Jurassic Park" is more impressive with a narrower aspect ratio. And then we have special formats that make e.g. IMAX that much more impressive.

    If you can't live with black bars, the only real solution is to set up a projection system with variable masking.
     
  21. joepancake, Mar 9, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2014

    joepancake thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #21
    [QUOTED POST REMOVED BY MODS]

    I simply can't agree with you that they HAVE TO exist. If every movie and also every screen would be produced in one aspect ratio (16:9 or 21:9), the world wouldn't even know of black bars because there wouldn't be a need for them. Obviously, as it is today, they have to exist. But my point is that it is false how it is today. At least from a customer's point of view. Filmmakers are obviously happy when they get people in the cinemas.

    Those black bars are a workaround. For putting movies on a screen with a different aspect ratio without cropping the picture. And workarounds are usually dealing with a problem - and some people are satisfied with a workaround, some are not. I am unfortunately one of the second group. I would prefer if those things would fundamentally change so there wouldn't be the need of a workaround.
     
  22. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #22
    Just curious. How do you suggest dealing with all the content that already exists in SD and 4:3 aspect ratio, not to mention all the old black and white films. Do you want them all colorized and "standardized" to 16:9?

    B
     
  23. joepancake thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #23
    No. Let old films be old films. People who are still watching such older films usually don't care much about a fine picture too (if they wanted a fine picture, they would probably watch the latest movies labeled HD all over instead).

    My suggestion was mainly for the future.
     
  24. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #24
    The near future is already defined as having multiple resolutions/aspect ratios:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4K_(resolution)#Resolutions

    Letter/pillarboxes are here to stay as media moves to 4K both in the cinemas and at home.

    We know you don't like it, but there isn't much any of us can do about it. As others have mentioned, your only near term solution is to use the "zoom" mode on your screen. In letterboxed material, you won't be sure what's happening off the part of the screen you're not seeing. Alternatively look for material that has been made 16:9 originally or by pan & scan.

    I for one much prefer OAR, and don't miss the days where pan & scan was the norm at all.

    http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/aspect-ratios-widescreen-letterbox-pan-and-scan.html

    B
     
  25. unplugme71 macrumors 68030

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    #25
    There's actually a solution - buy a home movie theater with a screen that can change its height and width like some of the AMC theaters do :D
     

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