How to show widescreen movies on standard televisions

Jun 08th, 2010 by dvdxplayer 2,160 views |Comments Off

In order to show these widescreen films so that they fill the entire screen on a traditional 4×3 TV, they are re-edited in a Pan-and-Scan format, with an attempt to include as much as the original image as possible. To illustrate this, take an example where two characters are talking to each other, but each is standing on opposite sides of a widescreen image. If shown full screen on a traditional TV without further editing, all the viewer would see would be the empty space between the characters.

To remedy this, editors must recut the scene for video release by jumping from one character to the other as they speak and respond to each other. In this scenario, however, the intent of the film director is severely altered, because the viewer does not see the entire composition of the original scene, including any facial expressions or body language in response to the other character who is speaking.

Another problem with this Pan-and-Scan process is lost impact of action scenes. An example of this is the chariot race in the 1959 version of Ben Hur. In the original widescreen theatrical version (available on DVD and Laserdisc), you can see the entire impact of Ben Hur and the other chariot racers as they battle each other for positioning in the famed chariot race segment. In the Pan-and-Scan version, normally broadcast on TV, all you see is the camera cutting to closeups of the horses and reins. All the other action in the frame is totally missing, as well as the body expressions of the chariot riders.



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