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Pillar box + Letter box = Lots of wasted space

Discussion in 'DIRECTV Programming' started by dam006, Dec 20, 2009.

  1. dam006

    dam006 Mentor

    Aug 22, 2008
    Does anyone know the reasoning as to why some channels (VH1, MTV, etc) which broadcast in HD show some of their programs in this pillar box/letter box format rather than stretching it out to fit the entire screen?
  2. LarryFlowers

    LarryFlowers New Member

    Sep 22, 2006

    The eternal arguement...

    You will find most around here are dead set against distorting a picture (stretchovision) to fill a screen. If it was filmed in 4x3 format, then display it as 4x3.
  3. dpeters11

    dpeters11 Hall Of Fame

    May 30, 2007
    And HD does not necessarily mean widescreen. Like in movies, if you pick up Wizard of Oz on Blu, it was remastered in HD, but isn't widescreen. It was filmed before theaters went to that format. The examples of some holiday specials also come to mind. In HD, but 4x3.

    Plus, some channels have not switched everything to HD. So you might be on an HD channel, but the show is in SD and 4x3.
  4. hilmar2k

    hilmar2k Hall Of Fame

    Mar 18, 2007
    The combination pillar/letterbox comes from programming that was filmed in 16:9 but broadcats in SD. Since it is SD, it is broadcast in 4:3 with pillar bars, and within that 4:3 frame the image is letterboxed to 16:9. The Prisoner on AMC was like this.

    Using the format button to crop solves that issue and gives you a full screen non-distorted picture, albeit at crappy SD resolution.
  5. wmb

    wmb Godfather

    Dec 17, 2008
    I am not sure I've seen this on an HD station. I know on a number of SD stations, eg BBC America, they will have an HD show that they send out letterboxed. Since its SD, by default, I put in pillarbox and it comes in as a 16:9 picture centered in the screen, taking about half the screen.

    My bet would be that they have a 16:9 SD letterboxed version of the content that they are broadcasting, sending it out like other SD content... pillarboxed.
  6. HoTat2

    HoTat2 Hall Of Fame

    Nov 16, 2005
    There's one consolation though;

    If the station is going to broadcast a window-box image by up-converting a 16:9 (or greater) aspect ratio SD letterbox picture to HD resolutions. It is always better to have the TV studio's broadcast quality scalers handle the up-conversion than relying on an HD flat panel's TV set's internal one such as when viewing a window-boxed image on an SD channel.
  7. RobertE

    RobertE New Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    Altering the original aspect ratio in any way is evil and should be punishable by death. Preferably by being stoned to death with betamax tapes. :)
  8. Canis Lupus

    Canis Lupus You make it, We break it

    Oct 16, 2006
    ...and 8 Tracks.... :p
  9. bnwrx

    bnwrx Icon

    Dec 29, 2007
    Perhaps, but this is not the "Stoned age" and many of us did not buy 50" TVs to then watch 1/2 of the screen. :nono2:
  10. bobnielsen

    bobnielsen Éminence grise

    Jun 29, 2006
    Followed by strangulation with the wire from a Webster wire recorder. :rolleyes:
  11. hilmar2k

    hilmar2k Hall Of Fame

    Mar 18, 2007
    Which is exactly why the crop option exists. If broadcast properly, you can fill the screen w/o affecting OAR.
  12. dam006

    dam006 Mentor

    Aug 22, 2008
    I guess I wasn't specific enough... The shows are 16:9 ratio. For example, flip on VH1 top 20 (its on everyday). 99% of the videos are 16:9 but are cropped both on the sides and on the top/bottom. It like your looking down a tunnel at the videos!
  13. HoTat2

    HoTat2 Hall Of Fame

    Nov 16, 2005
    But it has been answered. While MTVHD and VH1HD are broadcasting in HD format, for whatever reasons much of their source material (videos etc.) is not. But is 16:9 SD material letter-boxed into a 4:3 frame. When this in turn is up-converted to 16:9 HD format for broadcast it results in a window-box picture.

    The sequence of aspect ratio/resolution conversion is 16:9 SD--->4:3 SD--->16:9 HD.


  14. Tom Servo

    Tom Servo Icon

    Mar 7, 2007
    Another reason is that some channels apparently have not negotiated the rights to the HD version of shows. I think this may have been the case with some SyFy programming like Star Trek: Enterprise, where the HD version belonged exclusively to HDNet so SyFy can only windowbox the SD version.

    As for MTV, VH1, etc, they just haven't gotten the HD sources or the proper equipment to show HD programming in some cases. And some music videos (and other programs) have been recorded in "fake HD", widescreen 480i just for the effect of letterboxing.

    One thing that bugs me is some channels will show a program in HD the first time it airs, then re-air it in SD. Really weird.
  15. hilmar2k

    hilmar2k Hall Of Fame

    Mar 18, 2007
    Your question, and I thought my answer in post #4, was definitely specific enough.
  16. Talos4

    Talos4 Legend

    Jun 21, 2007

    Does that mean I should get rid of my Sony Beta machine? It still works and now it sounds like it may be dangerous to own. :D
  17. Eddie501

    Eddie501 AllStar

    Nov 29, 2007
    I think someone forgot to notify them that they got HD channels over two years ago. Even on the two or three occasions they've accidentally shown an HD program, when it's repeated it's in SD (i.e. VMA awards). I just don't understand these channels.

    Yet, I pay for them as part of my HD package. Meanwhile I've had to watch three seasons of Mad Men in SD because we can't get AMC in HD.
  18. Lee L

    Lee L Hall Of Fame

    Aug 15, 2002
    Actually, most of the answers here are wrong. MTV and CMT for some reason have some shows that are HD, but will air only air the premiere showing of the episode in HD, yet every other showing is a letterbox in a pillarbox. I can only imagine it is because all the people who work there are as dumb as a box of rocks, but maybe there is some logical reason for it.

    It is made worse that they actually show a "sneak peek" of My Big Redneck Wedding and CMT Cribs earlier in teh day in teh crappy format with extra bugs on teh screen, then show the "premiere" later that day in HD. The guide data is such that the HR2x can't tell them apart and so it always wants to record teh crappy version.
  19. BattleZone

    BattleZone Hall Of Fame

    Nov 13, 2007
    The reason for it is simple: equipment limitations. They are shooting and editing these shows in HD, but they don't have the proper equipment within their automation setup to handle everything in HD. So, they might show it in HD during prime-time, when they have a full engineering staff and can do so manually, but the rest of the time it'll be limited to what their systems can handle, which is SD.

    I know it's difficult to understand, but a network like MTV might need $40-50 million dollars in gear to convert fully to HD. Given that most of their library was shot in SD (and I'm talking about all of the reality shows as much as the music videos), it likely wasn't a priority to replace all that gear at once, especially with the economy imploding. At least they are shooting new material in HD, so that when they eventually do upgrade the rest of their equipment, they'll be able to take advantage of it.

    This same story is repeated at lots of networks and at most local broadcast stations. For example, most local stations have not invested in the equipment to handle synidcated shows in HD, since so few of those shows even shoot in HD today. In due time, those upgrades will happen, but we're long past the days when local TV stations made millions of dollars a year. Many are barely surviving, and simply can't afford to toss out their existing infrastructure and replace it just to get a few more shows in HD right now.
  20. hilmar2k

    hilmar2k Hall Of Fame

    Mar 18, 2007
    The answer in post #4 still stands. When a 16:9 program is broadcast in SD (be it on an SD channel or an HD channel), you will get both pillar bars and letterboxes. On an SD channel you can use the crop feature to eliminate this. I don't think you can do that on a nHJD channel, however. Personally, I don't watch any of these HD channels (MTV, CMT, however) that would do that, so I don;t know for sure. As I said, The Prisoner on AMC was like that, and being on an SD channel, crop worked just fine.

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