I think most people realize how much the idea of “pan-and-scan” sucks and why widescreen is necessary for movie watching, but there still seem to be a few stragglers that like to complain about “those black bars” associated with widescreen. Last night I was watching a pan-and-scan version of The Seventh Sign on TMC and was reminded why pan-and-scan is so annoying — once you notice the changes that are made to fit the picture onto a standard 4:3 television, you won’t be able to not notice it. Generally, pan-and-scan is most obvious during tracking shots or pans that follow someone walking; the result is a bizarre adjustment of the picture to make sure that all important parts of the picture remain on screen.
The Seventh Sign is not at all the worst offender, though — if you’re a proponent of pan-and-scan, all you have to do is watch the dreadful rendering of Multiplicity to never, ever again want to watch another non-widescreen movie. It is absolutely painful to endure.
And DVD owners have something else to be careful of: anamorphic widescreen. If you’re buying DVDs, one thing you want to make sure of is that the movies you buy are not only widescreen, but what they call “anamorphic” widescreen (or “16:9 enhanced”). This ensures that once 16:9 televisions become more commonplace, your widescreen DVD will look clear and correct on your new set. It doesn’t affect viewing on your current 4:3 television, but it’s a simple forward-thinking measure to ensure your DVDs of today don’t become obsolete in a couple of years. -ram
Posted in Television, Movies, and Music