HDTV - "letterbox" playback?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by VaatiKaiba, Feb 17, 2010.

  1. VaatiKaiba macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2008
    #1
    I've bought a few movies off the iTunes Store (namely the Incredibles and Wall-E), and I was playing them via Front Row on my HDTV (mini-DVI -> DVI -> HDMI). However, because of the resolution of these films (it seems to be closer to 21:9), there are always gigantic black bars at the top and bottom of the film, which is really annoying as the film itself takes up about a third of the screen.

    Is there any way of "zooming" (not stretching!) so that the film fills up the screen? I don't mind if the sides get cut off, but I can't find a way of doing this...

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. rayward macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #2
    Apple TV can't zoom, but I'd be gobsmacked if your TV couldn't.
     
  3. Darth.Titan macrumors 68030

    Darth.Titan

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #3
    Well go ahead and be gobsmacked then. Many TVs can't "zoom" a high-def signal. I know when I'm using my AppleTV, Blu-Ray player, or when my cable box is on a hi-def channel, the zoom functions are disabled.

    To the OP, you're pretty much right on as to the aspect ratio of those movies. It's just a fact that with many theatrical releases' aspect ratios - even with 16:9 "widescreen TVs" - we're still stuck with black bars.
     
  4. JPM macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    #4
    There are 2 widescreen aspect ratios: 1.85:1 and 2.35:1. 1.85:1 is the famliar 16:9 format of high definition TV and most movies. All HDTVs are also in this aspect ratio.

    Any movie shot in 2.35:1 is going to have black bars top and bottom on any TV. 21:9 works out to 2.33:1, so the problem is the movies you are watching are probably filmed in the wider aspect ratio.

    I have to say I'm surprised that the two movies mentioned were 2.35:1. The rendering power required for animation usually means they go with the less wide aspect if they can (less area to render).
     
  5. VaatiKaiba thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2008
    #5
    Yeah, 21:9 was a guess, so it probably is the 2.35:1.

    So, it sounds like the only way to do this is via the TV, and not the Mac? That seems incredibly inelegant, especially for Apple - especially when they're the ones distributing these films in the first place!

    Thanks for your help guys, will have a fiddle with my TV later. (Even if it could automatically detect the aspect ratio and zoom, it'd be better...)
     
  6. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
  7. Tangent83 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    #7
    It is a depressing fact that I sell tvs for a living and am a crazy movie buff. Simple answer here is; movies, regardless of genre are made for the movies, not for your tv at home. As someone mentioned above, they are shot in crazy widescreen mode which gives them a different "feel", largely to do with the depth of view.

    So um....watch it in true widescreen like it was filmed and get used to letterboxing your tv...anything else would just be loosing a huge amount of the landscape of whatever scene your viewing.

    I hope I made sense..
     
  8. mstrze macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    #8
    But it would be more 'elegant' if they allowed you to lob-off 1/3 of the image by zooming in?
     
  9. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #9
    Most newer TVs allow for full zooming/cropping on HD signals. Very useful for HD channels showing 4:3 material.

    The OP never said what TV he has.

    BTW, if you play the movie in Quicktime Player, you'll be able to "lop" the sides off for the full-screen experience. Not sure why it's available for QT Player and not Front Row.
     
  10. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #10
    I'm pretty sure that if you are willing to lose the sides to fill the screen, you can just crop the movie to fit your screen in Quicktime Pro or Handbrake. Cropping will permanently delete the sides to make it fit, but it will fit (fill the screen) if you do this.

    I'm a bit of a purist myself, so I would rather have the black bars so that I get the entire picture, as it was intended by the creator of such movies. But if you want to "zoom", cropping the file will do the trick.
     
  11. VaatiKaiba thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2008
    #11
    Point taken, but a choice would be nice (especially as it is available as a choice in QuickTime X now, as someone mentioned)!
     
  12. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #12
    Not only is it available on QT Player, but it's available for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. I'm not sure if aTV has this feature ... but I doubt it. aTV and Front Row seem to be abandoned for now.
     
  13. mstrze macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    #13
    I have never had an issue with 'letterboxing', even on my standard def TV. The way I look at it, any zooming-in is going to lower the quality of the picture...the resolution will be less than HD if it's a 720p film and much lower than HD if it was originally an SD purchase. You are probably lobbing off 30-50 horizontal lines of information and 'blowing-up' the rest to fit the screen.

    I'd much rather see the footage as envisioned by the the filmmaker, than cut off a great deal of the image just so it entirely fills my screen. I bought an HDTV to see HD content...and anything less than 720 lines of resolution is NOT HD content. (Of course you can argue that a letterboxed HD movie at this dimension is less than 720 lines, so...)

    I never understood why people had an issue with letterboxing. Is it the feeling that you are wasting part of your screen?
     
  14. rayward macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #14
    Movies used to be filmed in 4:3 aspect ratio. Then TV started to take off - using the same ratio - so movies went wide to attract people to the theatres. Now that TV is going wide, movies are going wider (and I-Max / 3-D).

    FWIW, I prefer to get the full original aspect ratio, which is great on a big screen, but which I can zoom on a smaller TV to eliminate the bars.
     
  15. KevinC867 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2007
    Location:
    Saratoga, CA
    #15
    A 2.35:1 film should fill about 75% of a 16x9 HD TV screen. If the black bars are *gigantic* and the film only occupies about a third of your screen, it sounds like something is wrong in your setup.

    Check your Mac's display preferences (System Preferences/Displays). Is the TV display "mirrored" to your computer display? What resolution is reported for your TV display? Also, which version of Mac OS are you running? I just noticed that this stuff all seems to work a little nicer in Snow Leopard (10.6.2) than it did in Leopard and Tiger. Under Snow Leopard, I can select a resolution of "1080p (Television)" for my TV. I don't think I had that choice before, but I could be remembering incorrectly.
     

Share This Page