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May 2000, Week 2


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Wed, 10 May 2000 12:26:53 -0500
TEXT/PLAIN (37 lines)
Leo Enticknap responds:

> Mike Frank asks what the 'standard anti-letterboxing argument' would be.
> As I understand it, it holds that if a film is photographed in order to be
> shown in a certain ratio, thern showing it in any other ratio (i.e.
> carrying out the technical change necessary to achieve this) fundamentally
> changes the visual qualities of the image from those which were intended by
> the film-maker, and thus is not advisable.

I think that there is a confusion of terms here. "Letterboxing" as I
understand the term usually refers to "preserving" the original
wide-screen format of a film. This usually makes for a smaller image
overall on the TV screen (since it is not as high as the screen--the
top and bottom will be black; in some older version, there are
arabesque curlicues or other designs on the top and/or bottom to fill
the void.)

"Anti-letterboxing" would imply that one is against this practice. I
think that the original post using the term was a typo--but if there
were such a thing, it might be justified on a few grounds:
a) that the larger image is simply clearer on most standard TV screens
and the smaller but wider image in letterboxing is too hard to see;
b) that some processes (in fact, most today) take full-screen
composition into account during filming, so nothing is lost from the
sides when the full image is shown on TV

Don Larsson

Donald Larsson
Minnesota State U, Mankato
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