Anamorphic widescreen with 4k - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 5 Old 07-31-13, 08:26 PM Thread Starter
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Anamorphic widescreen with 4k

I love 2.40:1 widescreen movies because I was brought up properly. I know I'm not alone by looking on the back of the majority of blu ray releases which is why I'm increasingly irritated that it is still a problem to get the best out of them at home. Tv's I can sort of half understand but projectors are mainly for movies and are not limited to a fixed screen size. Many people think of widescreen movies as having a smaller image instead of a wider one.

Never mind the extra resolution that 4k has, you still loose a third of the screen size to pointless black bars. Your $25k 84 inch tv is now a 50 something inch for the one content type that would really benefit from a larger screen.

Every time there is a new standard, they have the opportunity to correct this mistake but then, there they are again, black bars.

It seems like technology is going backwards. Old CRT projectors, for all their faults, were not limited by a fixed resolution. The only limit was bandwidth in theory. This is why higher end models built well before 1080p can still produce a full high definition image and beyond. Great but unintentional future proofing. Because there is no fixed pixels, they can also be set up as widescreen devices and the image can be stretched relatively easily. It is a shame that they were as big as a Sherman tank and all 4:3 format but it is a shame that we didn't retain that kind of flexibility when setting up the image on modern devices.

Anamorphic lenses are so primitive and clumsy. They are also far too expensive to be a viable mainstream solution. For every benefit they bring, they have a disadvantage. They don't give you a higher resolution, despite what people say. They just stretch the same resolution with distortion over a greater pixel area. No more detail is visible. Ah but you use the whole projectors brightness I here someone say. You also loose brightness by adding another lens. Unless you buy the $10k plus über expensive ones, you also add a number of other image problems like pin-cushioning and image softening. All in all, an expensive outdated solution to an analogue problem in the digital age. That was how they got a wider shot in the 1950's before anyone ever heard of a computer.

We now have the technology to deal with different image formats. We had it 20 years and 2 generations of technology ago. Yet, in 2013, the only way to use my whole screen is to buy a piece of glass with no moving parts for $10k and then spend another $10k on a motorized sled to move it in and out of place. There is more technology in the sled than the lens. I could spend $25k on an 84 inch 4k tv and be no better off.

I don't even have the ability to at least tell my projector not to project black bars and crop the image. I don't are how black the bard are, I just don't want them there at all. Now that we are finally phasing out hard copy content and moving towards streaming, we shouldn't have to be limited any more. Whatever format digital content is formatted in for storage, I should be able to stream it in the correct aspect ratio or the one that best fits my projector.

I hate Vizio for doing a bad job of marketing their 21:9 tv. They did so little marketing, most people don't know that it ever existed and now the assumption is that there is no market for it. No standard ever worked without backing from all display manufacturers and content creators.

How hard can this be???
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post #2 of 5 Old 08-01-13, 12:01 AM
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Re: Anamorphic widescreen with 4k

There are many projectors that either manually or automatically zoom the 2,40:1 out to fill a 2,40:1 screen if you have one. Yes the black bars are then simply off the screen (some projectors can mask that so you simply dont see it). I agree there should be more done to introduce this as a standard display size but with the millions just spent by networks just to get to 1080p its going to be a long time before we see anything better being broadcast. So TVs wont be switching to the wider aspect any time soon either.

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post #3 of 5 Old 08-01-13, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Anamorphic widescreen with 4k

Broadcasting in 1080p? Not In America. As far as I know, the only place to get 1080p content is on Blu Ray. Cable is 720p or 1080i.

But, that was sort of my point, that in the age of digital delivery, we should all be able to download or stream content in the native resolution of our display device. With cheap video editing software, one can crop and scale video footage. How hard would it be for a netflix type business to use similar software to give users a choice? The answer is, not very. Some services already offer a choice of different resolutions but not full screen 2.40:1 uncropped as only Vizio,TCL and Philips have made 21:9 displays. Now, due to poor marketing and a lack of collaboration, they stopped making them and AUO who made the 21:9 panels, have stopped manufacturing them so it is unlikely we'll see another one any time soon.

Perversely, just as this happens, everyone and their mother brings out a 29 inch 21:9 computer monitor which is too small for movies. Even stranger, Toshiba made a 21:9 laptop but failed to mention in their marketing that this was good for movies so people looked at this odd snapped, underpowered laptop and didn't know what to make of it.

All that is left is projectors, the area it makes the most amount of sense. Projection Design, that obscure Norwegian company, keep threatening to release their 2560 x 1080 21:9 native projector which they announced in 2010 but to date, no body has ever seen one outside of a trade show. I believe it would be cheaper to get one custom made then to buy anything from them.

I would settle for a 2560 x 1080 projector that could crop 1920 x 800 widescreen movies as long as it wasn't priced as an exotic item and terrible in all other aspects. Now that movies are stored digitally in higher than 1080p format, it really wouldn't be very hard to employ some software to allow users to stream 2560 x 1080 as a native format. Especially as nobody expect 4k streaming any time soon.

I know about zooming. A projector doesn't need lens memory for it. A crude solution is manually zooming for wide content but then you are assuming that you weren't already at the maximum and a larger image doesn't look washed out. It is unlikely to look just as good. It's just and unnecessary compromise considering what current Technology could do if it wasn't in the hands companies with no imagination. The reasons why they go out of their way to put black bars into content are no longer valid when it is possible to make a 21:9 projector that is capable of showing both at the correct height and width.

Instead, we get displays with more dots that we can't use and that are still the wrong shape so we loose a third of the screen size. In the meantime, I'll keep zooming like you and frown when I do it.

I would like to hear about any success people have had using 2 projectors with edge blending software for wide screen displays.
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post #4 of 5 Old 08-01-13, 09:15 PM
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This issue is certainly not a new one. When the 16:9 ATSC standard was created it was done so as a compromise.

At this point the most cost effective option is a 1080P projector with a fixed anamorphic lens. I'm certainly not paying for a sled, or two projectors aka two bulbs to replace and two fans to hear. My 700 (calibrated) lumens are bright enough for my room and I'm not interested in the cost of a dedicated video processor to properly run 2 projectors.

At this point your best bet is a fixed anamorphic lens and a projector that will support it. You'll have to sacrifice the quality of 1.78 content by adding black bars, throwing away light, and pixels during the Super Bowl, but the anamorphic films we love will look right. Yes, the resolution being fed by the source will only be 1920x800, but come on, how close are you to your screen?

You seem to be very educated and have surely considered SMPTE as well as the THX specifications for resolution at a given distance/screen size. The key is to not design your room to be sitting on the very front edge of the discernible threshold. Give yourself some wiggle room and 1920x800 will look great. Conversely your 1.78 content will utilize all resolution from the source, but only ~1420x1080 of your projector's chip when stretched to 1.78 by your lens. Is that really completely unacceptable? If so, move your seat back a foot.

Keep in mind that commercial cinema aspect ratios are based on a fixed width of 2056 and the height resolution varies depending on the DCP. They also use anamorphic lenses. Where the home environment was originally based on a fixed height as with dvd varying the width,. It has only recently been changed to a fixed pixel width with the blu-ray, so now we're seeing variable pixel heights. Throw in the global market and PAL and all bets are off.

I wouldn't say we're decades behind where we should be considering blu-ray is still the newest format. Perhaps the 4k standard will provide enough resolution so you can keep your close (too close) seating position you desire, but all film will never be a single aspect ratio and each director will ask us to make compromises both in the commercial environment as well as at home to display the aspect they desire to tell their story.

Enjoy the show.
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post #5 of 5 Old 08-02-13, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Anamorphic widescreen with 4k

I have never really considered a fixed anamorphic lens solution. I guess I have never had a projector with a vertical squeeze. Is that how it works? The lens stays in place and the projector goes back into 16:9 and applies a further squeeze to correct the horizontal stretch?

With led / laser projectors, 2 projectors might be economical, depending on the standard of the devices. I like the idea of using 2 ultra short throws. They have the advantage of being able to be placed where the tv used to be without installation issues. While most aren't 1080p, 2 side by side would get you there. They can be run from a decent graphics card with mosaic capability. It is just the edge blending and scaling that is complicated and potentially expensive.

I didn't know they had migrated to a constant width model for digital cinema. I had wondered about that. It is a sensible way to use the extra resolution and I am assuming that they have better masking as I haven't seen black bars projected above and below the screen in the theater. I bet simple masking on the lens is cheaper than an anamorphic attachment so it makes sense. Now if we could follow suit at home. Instead of giving us the narrower ultra HD format, full 4k width would make more sense.

I am fine with 1920 x 800, it is projecting black bars that I hate. I think people assume that resolution makes a bigger difference than it really does. The 4k tv's in the Sony store looked very detailed until I asked the assistant to switch 120hz mode off and them the image looked the same as a 1080p image. Perhaps a little worse on regular cable viewing due to the smoothing algorithms needed to upscale to fill the "ultra HD resolution" (I can't call it 4k as it isn't really). I am fairly sure I wouldn't see much difference in detail between 2560 x 1080 and 1920 x800. Given a choice between horizontal and vertical black bars, I would go with vertical and have the picture widen for movies like in the theater. Plus, they could use masking which would offer more space to embed decent speakers which would be cool. The 4k tv's have speakers on the size, that could have been covering the rest of the screen!

I stream more content that I watch on Blu Ray these days. Like most people, convenience and cost out ways having a shelf of discs that I'll never watch again. It's just a shame they don't see the opportunity to offer us more choice.

My understanding is that since the HDMI standard came out, Pal / NTSC issues are no longer a problem as we all use the same 1080p standard. It never used to be that much of a problem in America anyway as they had no need to buy European hardware which was release later and cost more. Similarly, no need to import content as European movies are more heavily censored and released later. In Europe, TV's had RGB scart inputs that accepted 50hz or 60hz signals. Now everyone uses the same HDMI input and only need step down transformers to work across the pond. I thought Japan adopting an analogue HD broadcast before the US was going to be an issue but it didn't seem to be. Hopefully we will all adopt the same 8k broadcasting standard as most of our technology still seems to come from that part of the world.

I grew up in the UK before I moved to the Us. I always imported my video game consoles from the US and Japan as the UK machines were not properly converted for the extra 100 vertical lines so we had black bars and the games ran 17.5% too slow. My first playstation in 1994 had a scart lead drilled into the case and hard wired to the motherboard to work there.

Every time there is a new standard, I hope they will fix it. I always thought 16:9 was a stepping stone as they migrated to widescreen. Everything would benefit. I pictured people watching sports and being able to see the entire pitch. I'll keep dreaming...
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