The Different Shapes of Television and Film Images
Cinematographers and Directors work diligently to create different shaped images for their films.
Color Television is a rather narrow aspect ratio since 1953 (1.33:1 – W/H).
Today’s HDTV is more rectangular (1.78:1).
Movie Theaters in the US project films with an aspect ratio between Academy Standard Flat (1.85:1) and Super Panavision (2.40:1), which is quite elongated.
This explains much of the confusion as to why every image doesn’t fill every screen all of the time. They’re not supposed to!!!
Far too often, films are reproduced with very odd horizontal or vertical stretching because consumers don’t understand that they have a choice – choose the correct aspect ratio!
A simple explanation or adjustment of system parameters can easily improve the presentation and render an image that is both entirely on-screen and correctly proportioned.
It is extremely important to understand which of the many possible aspect ratios available is correct for any particular source.
Careful attention must be given when purchasing a display or projector with regard to what aspect ratio you will be viewing most often.
Understanding how the shape of the frame is part of the language of the cinematographer will improve everyone’s appreciation of great filmmaking.