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April 03, 2009


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Herman Scobie

Alas,the Blu American is not yet available from Netflix.

Pete Apruzzese

Glenn -

Your screen shots look like the cartoon image is stretched to the sides rather than cropped. A couple of online reviews of the AiP Blu Ray state that the cartoon is a standard-def transfer presented in 480i. If that's the case then I think what you're seeing is your monitor stretching the interlaced image to fit the screen (or your BD player). You might want to check the settings on the monitor or player, some will automatically 'fill the screen' via stretching when they get an interlaced signal. My Panasonic Blu player was stretching out the SD/interlaced extras on the 1951 Day the Earth Stood Still Blu ray, a simple setting change fixed it.

Morgan Foehl

I agree that as much content as possible on BDs should be presented in HD, but your request that any standard def content (480i or 480p) be 16:9 enhanced would actually produce a lower resolution image on 1.33:1 content than presenting it the way "Symphony" is shown on the AMERICAN IN PARIS Blu-ray. This is because standard definition encoding uses a native 1:33:1 image comprised of a grid of pixels measuring 720x480 (the pixels aren't square, which is why you get 1.33:1 instead of a 1.5:1).

Content on standard def DVDs that's 16:9 enhanced omits the letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the picture creating an image that uses the entirety of the 720x480 grid, basically filling a 1.33:1 frame with a 1.78:1 image. This image, of course, is stretched taller than the native source and then your DVD player or TV unstretches it to fill the entirety of your 16:9 television. This is not unlike the process of shooting a 2.4:1 movie anamorphically, filling the entirety of the negative with a vertically stretched image that becomes unstretched via a special projector lens.

If 1.33:1 content were encoded 16:9 enhanced in 480i or 480p, that would require "pillar boxing" the image with black bars on the sides of the encode so that when the content becomes "unstretched" to fill your TV, it displays correctly. (Similar to the third picture you've posted above.) The problem here would be that one quarter of your horizontal picture information would be wasted on the black bars, producing an overall lower resolution image, using only 540 of the available 720 horizontal lines of resolution on true content.

Hence, in our unperfect world, the best way to present 1.33:1 content in 480i or 480p on a BD is to encode to the content "full screen" (remember both 480i and 480p are native 1.33:1 formats) and then produce the pillarboxing effect on your TV as you've done above. The drawback, of course, is that this requires the end user to be smart enough to know when to engage the pillarboxing function on his/her TV manually, which is a dicey situation at best, but still, from a videophile perspective, presenting 1.33:1 material "full screen" is the way to go.

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