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SBS Movies - going back to 4:3 letterbox?


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Hi all,

Does anyone know if SBS have changed their long standing policy of broadcasting widescreen movies in widescreen?

In the last week at least widescreen two movies on SBS have been shown in 4:3 on SBS digital.

(ie SBS broadcasts black bars at both ends of the screen).

As these movies are widescreen, there are also black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

Because the subtitles are shown over the black at the bottom of the screen, it is not possible to use a ZOOM function to make the movie fill the screen.

Watching these movies on a widescreen TV looks very poor as there is a small picture surrounded by black bars.

Both movies were new movies (ie non-repeats), with subtitle copyright dated (I think) 2003.

The movies were:

THE PILGRIM FACTOR shown on Tuesday 14th September

PEPPERMINT CANDY shown on Wednesday 18th September

I'm sure that all SBS watchers who have a digital STB will be very dissappointed if SBS has changed its policy so that we no longer get widescreen movies broadcast on digital in widescreen.

As SBS's web site says that they don't answer emails, I would appreciate any inside information on what might be happening within SBS.

Regards,

Michael

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sbs often stuff up (that sole technician asleep) and forget to ARC or whatever

seen it many times before - and changing during program too

ps - sbs show movies with black above and below (2.35?) - why not using a little common sense and push film to top of frame so subtitles can be shown below rather than some below movie, some inside at bottom?

hello? sbs? its not that hard!

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I think SBS actually play two different tapes.

One is for analogue which has the 4:3 letterbox and the subtitles at the bottom of the screen (ie on the black).

The other digital TV tape has the subtitles higher up.

I have sometimes seen them stuff up how the digital tape was shown (ie the aspect ratio change whilst you are watching it!!).

But in the two movies shown recently the digital service was seeing the 4:3 analogue tape.

So has the SBS policy changed (and there was no digital tape)? Or did an operator make a mistake and not broadcast the digital tape?

PS:

I would hope that the digital tape had the movie in anamorphic widescreen. But I have always found SBS movies a very soft picture, similar in quality to doing a zoon on better quality digital TV. This makes me suspect that the SBS movies are not telecined for anamorphic full resolution TV, but for 4:3 and then zoomed up.

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It depends alot on their source video - alot of stuff is still distributed in 4:3 letter box instead of true widescreen. I would like to see them transmit 4:3 shows in 4:3 instead of 16:9 pillar box, that way we can zoom in using zoom on our tv's and get the full horizontal resolution on both 16:9 and 4:3 tvs.

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on monday they showed something that was filmed in true widescreen (pilgrim something? a show about "where the beatles copied their songs from), but showed it in 14:7 aka poststamp.

they did the same thing with pizza too.

i spoke (briefley) w/ Margaret (ex movie show w/ david) Pomeranz, and asked her why the move to ABC. her response was "SBS is going downhill quickly, the best thing to do is/was get out of there"...

so, this (_political bias alert_) IS what happens when the f*ing government "redistributes" money from niche broadcasting....

vote green, they're gunna cancel my (all uni students) HECS debt.

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rfa -

The Pilgrim Factor is one of the movies I was talking about.

My guess is that this is not about money, but about new mgmt in SBS. The same mgmt that thinks that old foreign movies do not benefit from an introduction, that people who know about watching some obscure movie late at night need a voiceover at the end of the movie to tell them about over programs. And maybe this new mgmt also thinks it is now OK to broadcast widescreen movies in 4:3 letterbox!

yabbal -

Yhey will not transmitt 4:3 content in 4:3 because the Australian standard it to always transmit in 16:9.

But you can get around this. Tell your STB to output in 4:3 non-letterbox. Then use zoon on your TV to fill the screen.

The reason that this doesn't work on the SBS movies that started this thread is that the subtitles are in the black below the picture, so zooming means that you don't get all of the subtitles.

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But you can get around this. Tell your STB to output in 4:3 non-letterbox.

yes, but then you lose horizontal resolution. and whats the point of 16:9 pillar box? im certain that digital tv video stream contains the aspect ratio just as DVD movies do, so the box should switch automatically between the two seemlessly.

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Did anyone happen to see 'Chaos and Desire' on SBS last night?  Talk about blurry-vision.  Take a look at this and tell me its good!  There was also a constant whirring in the audio.

http://www.users.on.net/~alfalfa/blurry.png

And how about their ridiculous English translation of the name!?!?!

They call it "Chaos & Desire"

The original name? "The Turbulence of Fluids" :blink:

I'm still watching it back, but I totally agree about the Blur-O-Vision ... from the first moment it looked awful! (Haven't noticed any audio problems, though - makes a change for SBS, though, who historically couldnt do stereo correctly!)

BTW: I looked at your snapshot - just squint your eyes, and it looks much sharper! :P

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im certain that digital tv video stream contains the aspect ratio just as DVD movies do, so the box should switch automatically between the two seemlessly.

Emphasis there on SHOULD.

I believe that when the networks were testing this functionality (part of the standard) with manufacturers' set top boxes, a significant number failed to pass the test and simply stuck with the old aspect ratio (until power cycled or the channel was changed etc).

Given that a large number had already been sold, this wasn't good enough for them, so to date they have all either gone for 16:9 all the time or 4:3 all the time (4:3 most often used when an analog upconvert).

- Miles.

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So has the SBS policy changed (and there was no digital tape)? Or did an operator make a mistake and not broadcast the digital tape?

I believe the original SBS policy, on 1 January 2001, was to use two separate masters for digital and analog, with the digital master being in 16:9 with subtitles in the image area and the analog master in 4:3 letterbox with subtitles in the black area (where possible).

I seem to remember that due to budgetary constraints, and the limited take up of digital TV, management decided that this was no longer desirable, and moved to 16:9 all the time (so the 4:3 is letterboxed from the digital master). This isn't a bad solution, but leads to awfully small subtitles on analog broadcasts sometimes.

Not sure why these recent ones are different - perhaps they were from a different source (eg World Movies - SBS still does a lot of their subtitling) and therefore didn't go through the SBS 16:9 digital process?

Crikey has some interesting comments about this issue in relation to last year's Walkley Awards ceremony (see http://www.crikey.com.au/media/2003/11/28-0004.html), and notes the change to a new digital presentation facility at the end of last year, which may have signified the policy shift.

- Miles.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi folks,

SBS no longer make the industry's only customised broadcast for analogue and digital. It worked nicely, and only had a marginal cost above subtitling for one aspect ratio -- though still enough to save for a budget cut.

Shifting the image up the screen for movies that are wider than 16:9 wouldn't have any bad effect for analogue viewers. You will always see the top of the widescreen image on an analogue broadcast because the edge is buffered by large (16:9) black letterboxing -- this is what SBS always does for movies, even many TV shows and sport, except news.

In days gone by, shifting the image upwards was something that was often done on 4:3 to fit the subtitles neatly under the movie. In other examples, the bottom line of the movie was moved up to fit neatly between the first and second line of subtitling. SBS have been quite clever, at times.

CK.

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