Friday, June 03, 2005

Aspect Ratio: a world-wide gripe

Aspect ratio! See: all the way across to Australia there are grumbles about this. Still, out of politeness I haven't cluttered Casyn's comments box with my ranting, and have instead brought the topic over to Rullsenberg.

Casyn gives a good impression of a growling beastie complaining about the DVD release of films, but especially television programmes, that do not present the product using the aspect-ratio in which the product was filmed. Now I have always been keen on seeing the correct ratio, though with some pleasure in widescreen formatting (hey, I actually LIKE the black borders at the top and bottom... if they are there for a purpose!): especially with films, since most are filmed in widescreen.

Anyway, my obsession with aspect-ratios hit a peak when our pal George moved in with us in autumn 2003 with a gloriously huge widescreen TV that could adapt its display to suit the ratio of the broadcast/DVD/tape. And when inducting him into the ways of Buffy: well, that was when things got alarming.

Let us take Buffy DVDs. Seasons 1-3 are fine. Filmed in 4:3 and released in 4:3. Seasons 4-6, filmed in 4:3...

...released in the UK in anamorphic widescreen. Cropped to create black bands at the top and bottom AND revealing info at the sides that was never intended to be seen! ARGH!!!!

Whedon intended Buffy to be 4:3. Except for Once More, With Feeling (which on the urgh widescreen crop is still wrong: just check out the title screen. URGH!) Only when we got to Season 7 - which was filmed in widescreen - did we get a widescreen release that actually was intended to be that!

Hilariously, on the UK VHS videos, seasons 4-6 were released on 4:3, with Once More, With Feeling in the appropriate widescreen format.

When George left, Cloud and I initially tried to replace the departing widescreen TV with another (albeit smaller). What did we get? Some sucky stupid widescreen TV that made 4:3 filmed works into 'fit-the-widescreen-TV' display! I wanted to see the 4:3 image in the centre of the widescreen with the appropriate black borders at the sides! Needless to say, especially since the sound was also rubbish, that beastie went back to the shop and we settled for a much less snazzy standard TV that at least showed stuff at the aspect-ratio of the product. Sigh.

Okay. Rant over.

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