Home Forums Ganymede & Titan Forum Aspect Ratios

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  • #255603
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    I’ve noticed two things I’ve watched recently – the Star Wars Mandalorian Trailer and the music video for Kiss & Tell by Angels & Airwaves – have been in SUPER wide aspect ratios. This looks utterly daft on the webpage and has hideous black bars taking up 1/3rd of the picture in fullscreen. What the fuck is going on? Is this where entertainment is headed in general, or are these just two special cases?

    I remember the latest series of Doctor Who was in wider-than-16:9 as well, but it was only a bit wider, with the black bars being much smaller – it was still annoying as fuck, though. it’s especially annoying for somebody like me who watches everything on a laptop which doesn’t have an incredible amount of screen real estate to begin with.

    Is this an attempt to make things look “more cinematic”, or “like a movie”, is it a genuine artistic thing, is it a marketing strategy for ultrawide monitors and televisions? Will we be seeing more and more entertainment in this absurd aspect ratio? Is your average consumer impressed by ultrawide content, or will they just fiddle with their remote until they can stretch the image to cover the black bars, like some people do when stretching 4:3 content to widescreen?

    #255604
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    I am now going to attempt to embed images. Here goes:




    #255605

    Is this an attempt to make things look “more cinematic”, or “like a movie”, is it a genuine artistic thing, is it a marketing strategy for ultrawide monitors and televisions?

    The first feeding into the third (or vice-versa).

    #255606
    GlenTokyo
    Participant

    Just looks like a film aspect ratio, 2.35:1, and people watch films quite happily.

    Maybe they just want more budget on the screen at once, and they can play into it being a “movie quality” production for the Mandalorian.

    Music video I don’t know, stylistic choice.

    #255608
    Nick R
    Participant

    All your screen captures above show the video about 2.40:1. Not an unusual format for blockbuster films – although TV being shot like that has only started happening recently.

    I agree it seems wider and looks worse on YouTube when not in full screen mode. But I think that’s a side-effect of changes in the way companies tend to upload trailers, and in the way YouTube presents them.

    It used to be common for 2.35/2.39/2.40:1 (I can never remember the difference…) videos on YouTube to have the black letterbox borders baked into the video. For a Star Wars example, this Rogue One trailer:

    View post on imgur.com

    But now it’s more common for official trailer videos to omit those black borders, so that the YouTube viewport is exactly the size of the film footage, no larger:

    View post on imgur.com

    This changes the arrangement of all the other page elements, which I agree looks weird and unbalanced if you’re used to YouTube viewports being 4:3 or 16:9!

    The wider-than-16:9 ratio used for Doctor Who is a 2:1 format called Univisium. Seems to be the trendy new thing to use for anyone aspiring to make prestige TV: https://vashivisuals.com/the-hot-new-filmmaking-aspect-ratio/

    #255617
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    Can they stop doing this? Please? Is it too late? Why are films so wide?

    (I know this is a practice that dates back to something like the 1930s and is purely intended to make sure that people can only get a truly “cinematic” experience from actually going to the cinema, so this comes off to me as an attempt to make the home viewing [streaming] experience worse in the hopes of convincing people to keep going to the cinema in an age where you really shouldn’t have to anymore)

    You’re right that it does look 1000x better with the black bars baked in.

    You’re literally not getting “more budget” on the screen at once, the picture is physically smaller. Easily impressed people who don’t think much might think it looks more like a movie, though.

    #255618
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    Funny that you say “people happily watch films”, I generally don’t, and the most modern movie I’ve ever watched on home media is I think Revenge of the Sith (2005). So naturally I assumed that was shot in 16:9, because I didn’t notice it having black bars when I watched it a couple of weeks ago, but fuck me, it does. And so does Return of the Jedi. I thought this wideness meme was a recent thing, but it turns out I just didn’t notice.

    #255619
    (deleted)
    Participant

    It’s been a valid cinematic aspect ratio for a long time – we’re essentially talking about Cinemascope here, and equivalents of – but you’re absolutely right both about it looking vain and *ridiculous* on TV shows and absolutely stupid when displayed without black bars on YouTube etc outside of a set 16:9 frame.

    #255620
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    It does look embarrassing on TV. Like they’re trying so hard. Especially when what you end up presenting to us in this “prestige TV” format is… Doctor Who series 11. No amount of ultrawide pictures and gloomy lighting can distract from shitty writing.

    #255621
    Warbodog
    Participant

    When I’m going through directors’ filmographies, they’ll often switch aspect ratios willy-nilly as it goes along, depending on factors like how prestigious the film is, what suits it, how much control they have over it, trends, or whatever.

    Kubrick film screencaps normalised for height (good luck, formatting…):

    It’s always strange when you’re going through a TV series and you hit the movie they made at the end of part-way through, and it goes all narrow and differently shot with different colours and a different atmosphere for just that bit.

    #255622
    (deleted)
    Participant

    Dr Strangelove changes aspect ratios continually all the way through of course.

    #255623
    Warbodog
    Participant

    Oh… I didn’t notice or just forgot about that inconvenient fact.

    Supplemental: Terry Gilliam films from the 21st century, to show that random width is still ongoing:

    #255627
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    “Real” filmmakers like that are always fucking around with aspect ratios. I’m sure they have some very clever artsy-fartsy explanation for why they shot whatever in a specific one. Kubrick in particular was… very specific about things. I’m sure this makes him a “genius”.

    The Dark Knight changed aspect ratio a few times iirc, but that was because some of it was shot in IMAX and some of it wasn’t, I think it was just an unnecessary side effect of that.

    #255628
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    There was some movie recently that they shot in 4:3 in an attempt to make the viewer feel claustrophobic, or something. I’ve never felt claustrophobic watching… *checks notes* all of television pre-2004

    #255629
    Dave
    Participant

    I don’t really mind what aspect ratio people choose as long as it stays consistent for the duration of what you’re watching.

    Unless there’s a good reason to change, switching ratios partway through is really distracting. Films like The Dark Knight (where they shot a few scenes for Imax in a different ratio) spring to mind. It feels gimmicky in a way that I wouldn’t expect of Nolan.

    #255630
    Warbodog
    Participant

    Kubrick in particular was… very specific about things. I’m sure this makes him a “genius”.

    Jon Ronson’s documentary Stanley’s Kubrick’s Boxes leaves no doubt, just the right side of the insanity/genius line. I find some of his films too nasty, but great variety.

    His very wide aspect ratios were just what was done with ‘big’ films of the time (Spartacus was definitely out of his hands, not a characteristic one at all). Looks like he settled on the sensible ratio he liked for everything once he had enough clout to do what he wanted. So probably only Dr Strangelove where he’s consciously fucking about with the ratio, and it’s not a serious film.

    #255631
    GlenTokyo
    Participant

    If you can see more of your set/CG background/ environment whatever then it’s more budget on screen.

    If the final fight in Endgame was in 4:3 it’d be wank.

    #255632
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    It’s not more than 16:9, is what I meant. Since 16:9 fills the whole screen.

    #255633
    Dave
    Participant

    If you can see more of your set/CG background/ environment whatever then it’s more budget on screen.

    If the final fight in Endgame was in 4:3 it’d be wank.

    It’s not as simple as that though. Sometimes 4:3 actually shows you more than widescreen.

    #255642
    Warbodog
    Participant

    4:3 used to fill the whole screen, depends on the screen. I only went 16:9 last year when I replaced my laptop and the cheapest ones in the shop stopped being 4:3. I must have had horizontal bars for all new TV for years, I just really stopped noticing. Now I have vertical bars for older stuff, which I’m getting used to. I hope laptops don’t end up in Cinemascope ratio by 2025, that’d be awkward. Some phones are, and maybe TVs are going that way.

    #255650
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    Well yeah by “the screen” I mean almost any laptop or TV made since about 2010. Ultrawide gaming monitors etc have been a thing in the past few years, but they’re hopefully just a fad. Remember VR?

    #255659
    GlenTokyo
    Participant

    VR is great. Considering the amount of cheap headsets you can get now, and standalone gaming systems like the Oculus Go, it’s definitely not a fad.

    3D TV, now that was a fad. Doesn’t bring much, unlike VR. Room scale VR is the best gaming experience you can have.

    #255660
    GlenTokyo
    Participant

    Oculus Quest too.

    #255704
    Nick R
    Participant

    When I’m going through directors’ filmographies, they’ll often switch aspect ratios willy-nilly as it goes along, depending on factors like how prestigious the film is, what suits it, how much control they have over it, trends, or whatever.

    I like how superhero film directors have switched in both directions over the last 20 years:

    Sam Raimi shot Spider-Man in 1.85:1 (DP: Don Burgess), then switched to 2.35:1 for Spider-Man 2 (DP: Bill Pope). IIRC the reason he gave was that because of the it helped the boxy shape made by Dr Octopus’s arms fit better in the frame in shots when he was seen alongside Spider-Man.

    Joss Whedon shot Avengers in 1.78:1 (DP: Seamus McGarvey), then switched to 2.39:1 for Age of Ultron (DP: Ben Davis).

    Zack Snyder shot Man of Steel and Batman v Superman in 2.35:1 (with DPs Amir Mokri and Larry Fong respectively), apart from the IMAX sequences. Then switched to 1.85:1 for Justice League (DP: Fabian Wagner; he’s the only credited cinematographer but I don’t know if he stayed for Joss Whedon’s reshoots). Apparently this switch was because Snyder liked his experiences using the squarer frame on BvS’s IMAX sections.

    All the X-Men, Wolverine and Deadpool films have stuck to 2.35/2.39:1 throughout – except the odd one out is the unreleased The New Mutants. Perhaps that’s why it’s been repeatedly shelved?

    #255715
    (deleted)
    Participant

    I’m actually not bothered by feature films using whatever they want – film is an open canvas and 16:9 TVs are the perfect middle ground to display the lot at home, so whatever the director/DOP feel they need is fine. There are also some interesting modern experiments in variable ratio such as The Grand Budapest Hotel which I think are valid.

    But actual telly made only for telly made in anything other than the shape of everybody’s telly? Wank off.

    #255716
    (deleted)
    Participant

    On a related tangent, Red Dwarf VIII was really late on to have been made in 4:3. Particularly weird as Re-Mastered went to great effort to pretend it was a 14:9 terrestrial TV blowup of a native 16:9 production.

    #255719
    Warbodog
    Participant

    If the Star Wars TV spin-off is in the same/similar ratio as the Star Wars films, at least the home viewing experience is consistent? Ben didn’t mind that the films were letterboxed after all, so should be fine. As long as they go back and do widescreen Blu-rays of ‘Droids’ and everything (that’s more my era).

    #255853
    Dave
    Participant

    Nice to hear that all the old 4:3 episodes of the Simpsons are presented on Disney+ in cropped 16:9, despite assurances to the contrary.

    I think I’ll stick with the DVD boxsets.

    #255856
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    Yeah, 16:9 Simpsons has been a problem for ages. I guess Fox wanted to present classic episodes as “modern-looking” and therefore wide-screen, even if it required disastrous amounts of cropping.

    Sky insists on using these shittier versions of the episodes for repeats, and they always look and feel wrong. Credit to Channel 4 for not doing that and using the 4:3 versions, last I checked.

    Apparently in the US the 16:9 versions were the only options on FXX and the Simpsons World app, until people complained so much that they put up the 4:3 versions as well. People assumed that this correction would be carried forward to Disney+, but WHOOPS, guess that would have been too much work.

    It’s like Red Dwarf Remastered all over again!

    #255857
    Dave
    Participant

    Yeah, Channel 4 are usually pretty good in terms of aspect ratio for the Simpsons, but they often include quite a lot of clumsy edits too, which is a bit of a pisser.

    #255859
    Nick R
    Participant

    Apparently in the US the 16:9 versions were the only options on FXX and the Simpsons World app, until people complained so much that they put up the 4:3 versions as well. People assumed that this correction would be carried forward to Disney+, but WHOOPS, guess that would have been too much work.

    ILM’s Todd Vaziri did a Twitter thread in September saying that the FXX app on Apple TV used to have the option for 4:3 versions and commentaries, but they were removed in a software update: https://twitter.com/tvaziri/status/1172728527470256129

    He updated the thread with two reports from different people that Disney+ would have the 4:3 versions. But now it turns out the Disney+ versions are cropped even further. :(

    In summary: Hang on to your physical media, people.”

    (At least we got another Steamed Hams out of it.)

    #255863
    (deleted)
    Participant

    Also, I’m too used to the sound and rhythm of PAL speedup Simpsons to ever be able to comfortably enjoy it at correct speed now anyway. It’s too burnt in.

    #255893
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    Isn’t NTSC a higher FPS than PAL, not the other way around?

    #255894

    Yeah, NTSC is 30 FPS, and PAL is 25 FPS. So things take marginally longer to watch in the UK than the US.

    #255895
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    It’s always been my experience that they speed NTSC things up for PAL regions, resulting in them being faster and higher pitched, and taking less time to watch, not more.

    Naughty Dog tried to compensate for the lower framerate of PAL PlayStations by making Crash Bandicoot move faster – thing is, they overcompensated, which means he moves quite a bit faster in Crash Bandicoot 2, making it the best version of the game for speedrunning. Certain enemies are the wrong speed, you jump higher, and various things like that. It seems they also overcompensate when screening NTSC TV shows in the UK, because watching something like Chuck just feels like it’s on fast forward.

    #255896
    Ridley
    Participant

    You sound like Paul Robeson on YouTube.

    #255897
    (deleted)
    Participant

    No, PAL conversions are faster. You speed up so its running time is 96% of the original. It works on a 3:2 basis – NTSC you work on a timebase of 24fps>60i, PAL is 25fps>50i.

    PAL>NTSC you slow down.

    #255901
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    So even though NTSC standard is 29.97 fps, American TV shows run at 24 fps?

    Rude.

    #255914
    (deleted)
    Participant

    Filmed ones do, yus. NTSC is a monstrosity, although some early US colour experiments from the 60s are incongruously high quality compared to 70s/80s stuff.

    #255923
    Moonlight
    Participant

    So even though NTSC standard is 29.97 fps, American TV shows run at 24 fps?

    The standard is set to account for the framerate of video. 24 is the film framerate.

    #256063
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    Ohhhh, OK. Somewhat confusing for people to compare the frame rates of PAL and NTSC if the frame rates vary based on format for NTSC but not PAL.

    #256072
    (deleted)
    Participant

    They don’t vary, they just don’t have a 30p standard. NTSC takes a 24-frame second and spread it evenly across a 60 field sequence without time alteration.

    #259913
    tombow
    Participant

    Sorry to bump an old thread. But you may like to know the Japanese art film director Ozu hated cinemascope widescreen and refused to film in it, saying it looked like toilet paper. His 50s/60s films are stubbornly in a 1.33.1 which is similar to the 4.3 square shape of pre 2000s tv.

    #259916

    Well this is satisfying

    View post on imgur.com

    #259918
    Dave
    Participant

    Oh, you ruined it.

    #259919
    Dave
    Participant

    Roll on post 169.

    #259920
    Moonlight
    Participant

    which is similar to the 4.3 square shape of pre 2000s tv.

    Not to be that guy, but only because I’m a girl so I’m being that girl in exactly the way one might be that guy, but 4:3 TVs were still relatively common into the early 2010s and some long-running shows like The Simpsons didn’t switch over to high definition 16:9 until as late as 2009. In any case, the general switchover from SD to HD seems to have happened more around 2006ish for any show that started out in 4:3, with obvious outliers like Arrested Development in 2003 that were shot on a form of high definition videotape that (based on how it handles low light environments vs. film) looks to be the same shooting medium as the American Office. Malcolm in the Middle also switched to high definition unusually early for a sitcom, but that show was shot on film from Day 1. I remember always seeing “Available in High Definition” across the bottom of the screen at the beginning of episodes in the same way The Simpsons and The X-Files had something like “Presented in Surround Sound (Where Available)” when they aired reruns.

    The X-Files itself is an interesting outlier that began producing in 16:9 with its fifth season (1997-1998 I believe) despite being firmly in the standard def era, but there’s 4:3 versions of all those seasons too because of that. I would assume they’re just crops of the widescreen original, but I don’t know for sure. They could be the full film frame in the way 4:3 releases of movies used to be, which always caught shit like boom mics that wasn’t meant to be seen.

    #259921
    Dave
    Participant

    None of that makes it inaccurate to talk about 4:3 pre-2000s televisions though, surely.

    (In that it was at around that point when widescreen TVs started to become more commonplace – especially for film buffs who wanted to watch movies in the correct format – regardless of when specific TV shows switched to widescreen ratio.)

    #259924
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    I just looked it up and apparently Doctor Who was shot and edited in 16:9 from 2005 (but framed so that everything would work in 4:3), but wasn’t HD until 2009. Which is interesting, I guess. No idea if they broadcast it in 16:9, probably?

    #259925
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    The first four seasons still look like FUCKING SHIT regardless of what format they were shot in. 2005-2008 Doctor Who feels more dated than stuff from the 60s.

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