December 26, 2006

Most movies are up to 2.35 times wide as they are high resulting in a panaromic frame. However most TVs are only 1.33 times as wide as they are high. To accomodate this difference, many movies have sides cut of, resulting in a loss of %46 of the visuals.

This is done by a process called "pan and scan" which puts the focus on one section of the frame. The widescreen or "letterbox" process reduces the size of the visuals so that entire frame fits within the screen, preserving the movie as the filmakers intended it to be seen.

This result in what are inaccurately referred to as "black bars". They are in reality nothing more than unused areas of the screen, although they are often used for subtitles. Even with the black areas, when you watch a widescreen movie, you are actually seeing more of the movie, not less.

Original flash version by John L. Berger @

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