Rant about Widescreen v. Fullscreen

It has to be said: now that I have a larger television, I still don't like widescreen. Having a larger television does make the widescreen experience less tiny-little-ants-on-a-plain-ish, but I still enjoyed my fullscreen viewing of The Matrix far more than my widescreen viewing. It was much more exciting, in-your-face.

Fact is, I don't really get widescreen. I'm not in the theatre; I don't need to pretend that I am! Yet whenever I go to videostores, all I can ever find is widescreen format. Are all the fullscreens checked out? Is this some weird little tic on my part, that the rest of the world doesn't share? Or, on the other hand, is the whole widescreen fetish perpetuated by the film industry that thinks this kind of thing is really, really important and doesn't realize that most people would prefer fullscreen? Is it the kind of thing where "real" aficiandos can't admit that they detest widescreen? I don't know. But I wish that all this cool DVD technology would mean that ALL DVDs were issued in both formats, rather than just a few here and there.



Anonymous said...

Joe said:

In years past, people did prefer full screen and it was predicted studios would drop widescreen releases. However, the opposite has happened; even the most obscure movies are released in widescreen format. This probably due to people adjusting to the format and the recent push toward HDTV which uses a 16:9 ratio, rather than 4:3.

I rent and buy only widescreen versions of movies--I want to see what the director filmed, not some mutant version. I can list many films where scenes make so much more sense in widescreen.

(Interestingly, I prefer the 16:9 ratio to the wider screen formats, which I find awkward in the theater as well as on television.)

PS. While I like widescreen, I don't like surround sound. I know that sounds weird, but I really, really don't like it.

Cherndawg said...

I tend to agree with Joe. I like widescreen. I blame it on Angel season 4. When I returned from my mission, Angel was being shown in a letterbox format, and I liked how it looked- fresh, crisp, professional. Ever since, anything full screen, even TV, has looked like home video to me. Now, don't get me wrong, that's not the only reason I prefer it. Lord of the rings is the best example of my other point. The director and studio go through all this design, expense, and planning to pack every shot full of detail, which can all be seen at the theater or the widescreen release. While I don't think everyone should have to watch or like widescreen, I love to be able to get a hold of the version I saw in the theater and the version the director made instead of a version that cuts out almost 40% of the film (50, in some cases) in order to fit a rectangle into a square.
I think you do have a point, they should release the movies with both versions... but that wouldn't make sense to the money hungry corporations. In the end, there are very few solutions- make theater screens a perfect square or replace all square screens with wide ones (at the studios expense, of course). Also, one last thing to ponder- how much different is cutting out the edges of a film in order to fit it into a tv than cutting down one of bethoven's symphonies in order to get it to fit into a sixty second recording?

Anonymous said...

I love widesceen. At first I thought it was that it was the version you see in theaters, the "Ooo look we can see the extra bit of the alien's head!" wow factor, or even the feeling that seeing widesceen made you feel like you were back in teh theaters.
But as I got older I realised it was for two specific reasons. First is the quality of the editing jobs. The movie was shot in a different ratio, the problem wasnt the shrinking of the rectangle. The problem was that the center of focus wasnt always right in the middle of the screen, sometimes you're directed from the outer edges to the middle, or even worse, panning! The fullscreen version then had to be edited and change the focal points, which throws the sync of the movie off and is noticable to anyone, disturbing so some even!
The second reason some could argue I guess, but I personally think it's all about how natural it seems. Now i'm not going all Daoist here, but what i mean is we have two eyes. We actually see in the wider ratio (except for those who for whatever reason only have one eye......at least one benifit for the old age pirates!), and so we naturally expect to see the additional information that is present in widescreen format, making fullscreen look simply awkward. This natural tendancy is why i think the widescreen "movement" has really taken off despite the relativly quality of picture you see if you're on a smaller set.
The problem isn't that the widescreen format itself is bad, it's that you're used to seeing television programs at their full intended resolution, with no compermises in editing and direction. Widescreen has been around longer than "normal" 4:3, its just that you're used to 4:3 through everyday viewing that widescreen seems foreign, and of course shrunken on your standard set. If you take two TV sets and place them side by side, one your normal set, and the other larger so that the vertical viewing of a widescreen picture on that would be the same as your normal set (or a widescreen tv, but they dont fit my point as well ^.^ ), and play the same movie, full screen on the normal and widescreen on the larger, I have no doubt that you'll watch the widescreen version. The whole reason some might like the fullscreen is the resolution. Its size is there and full and you dont have to sit close to see everything, since after all, most people dont have huge TVs that allow them to watch a widescreen format the same way they could watch a 4:3 on a 40inch screen (and thats still pretty big for an average normal set I suppose). But again that is only because they're used to normal TV sizes! If you kept the larger screen in the previous example, and watched exclusivly on that for the next month with all your normal TV shows, then watch widescreen format you'll still feel its foreign, simply because you'd be then used to the even larger normal picture, though admittadly, since you'd be able to see the widescreen resolution better it wouldnt be as big of a problem, but itd be enough for you to recognize.

Now that was alot of talk so i'll stop there.