Windowboxing / Pictureboxing: Now with a shiny new petition!

The scuttlebutt on Criterion, Eclipse, and Janus Films. Lists and polls are STRONGLY discouraged.
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denti alligator
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Windowboxing / Pictureboxing: Now with a shiny new petition!

#1 Post by denti alligator » Thu Feb 16, 2006 1:08 am

I want to encouraging anyone (everyone!) who cares about getting the very best picture from your Criterion discs to email them and tell them that their recent trend of "pictureboxing" 1.33 AR films is very very bad. Why? Because a) it reduces the full potential resolution of the image, and b) it looks bad on displays that have no overscan (which are becoming more and more common) - the image has black borders all around it and is therefore smaller than it could be.

Please, please email Criterion and let them know that this, well, sucks.

Thank you.

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david hare
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#2 Post by david hare » Thu Feb 16, 2006 1:20 am

Yes indeed.

We should note "pictureboxing" used to be called "windowboxing" (a la opening credit sequences for Warner and Paramount titles, etc.) It's the same practice. BTW - such a pedant - Academy ration films are (almost always) 1.37:1. 1.33:1 is actually the shape of the TV screen. Things like pre 1932 talkies with optical sound tracks are of course 1.19.

viciousliar
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#3 Post by viciousliar » Thu Feb 16, 2006 5:20 am

davidhare wrote:- Academy ratio films are (almost always) 1.37:1. 1.33:1 is actually the shape of the TV screen.
David, does this mean that we don't get to see the full picture on a 1.33:1 TV when viewing pre-widescreen films - or is it sometimes customary to compress the full image to "fit the screen?" I would assume there is no consistent norm re this - it's just something I've never thought of, so my curiosity got awakened. Perhaps all the picture information is there after widescereen monitors have become commonplace, meaning that we with old equipment are missing out?

PS Did you know that the DVD of "Kiss Me Deadly" is erroneously shown in widescreen as the film was actually lensed with the academy ratio in mind. 'Tho some theater owners at the time cheated and showed it in fake widescreen, in an attempt to lure larger audiences to their cinemas. This is according to director Aldrich's son, in a letter to the DVD-Laserdisc Newsletter's Doug Pratt. Thank God I retained the laserdisc which has the proper aspect ratio, ensuring me that I get all the picture information as the filmmaker intended!

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david hare
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#4 Post by david hare » Thu Feb 16, 2006 5:38 am

Very briefly (Too late in the Nite new Noir from Flix Dassin)

Yes to the first - TVs, even with no overscan issues would have ended up slightly cropping the sides of any true Academy Ratio image. I am not aware that technical aspects such as the pitcture geometry of even later sophisticated Euro TVs like Loewe etc would have accomodated that by slight "squeezing". IN other words I understand there has always been an element of (slight) cropping) down for "regular TVs for 1.37 images. Of course the overscanning and so on make it much worse. Thus the big talk going on over at beaver/listserv/yahoo group.

As for Kiss Me Deadly. I have the R1 MGM which is letterboxed to 1.66. I have to say I had only seen it theatrically ever in 16mm over 30 plus years in 1.37. It always looked good like that but I frankly prefer the 1.66 masking. I haven't read the pieces you quote but this whole area of post 1953 movies and cropping is totally wide open. It will take a while but a number of poeple including Otis, and many others I know want to reopen it. (I have quoted Richard Modiano from a_f_b elsewhere - now a moderator BTW) who referred me to pressbooks and specific masking cards and such to exhibitors and projectionists throughout the fifties for all of this. It's a research job that ultimately ends up with Stateside posters, because the Euro/Asian/Oz people here simply don't have access to this material.

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#5 Post by Tribe » Thu Feb 16, 2006 10:42 am

On my wide-screen set, the top and bottom black strips are perhaps half an inch wide. At a distance of maybe five feet from the screen you don't notice it.

Tribe

Cinéslob
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#6 Post by Cinéslob » Thu Feb 16, 2006 10:51 am

This 'windowboxing' really is a pain, and I'll chip in to say that it should be brought to a stop immediately.

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glueman
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#7 Post by glueman » Thu Feb 16, 2006 5:59 pm

Keep 'windowboxing'.
ck 'windowboxi

J M Powell
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#8 Post by J M Powell » Fri Feb 17, 2006 9:27 am

When you write your polite letters, be sure to mention that pictureboxing is not a solution to the cropping problem that people have been bugging them about. (That's my best guess as to why they started doing this to begin with.)

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HerrSchreck
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#9 Post by HerrSchreck » Fri Feb 17, 2006 3:22 pm

davidhare wrote:We should note "pictureboxing" used to be called "windowboxing" (a la opening credit sequences for Warner and Paramount titles, etc.) It's the same practice. BTW - such a pedant - Academy ration films are (almost always) 1.37:1. 1.33:1 is actually the shape of the TV screen. Things like pre 1932 talkies with optical sound tracks are of course 1.19.
This oft overlooked fact (1:33/37) is the root of a lot of apparent confusion when co's such as MGM DVD prints THIS FILM HAS BEEN MODIFIED FROM ITS ORIGINAL VERSION... IT HAS BEEN FORMATTED TO FIT YOUR TV for films like NIGHT OF THE HUNTER on disc. People flip & think they've bought some cheeseball "FullScreen" disc for an originally-widescreen film, whereas they (MGM, etc) are being technical/meticulous about the slight loss (presumably in telecine by slightly sliding in on the gate) of right/left image info.

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david hare
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#10 Post by david hare » Fri Feb 17, 2006 7:15 pm

Yes absolutely - I think it was the cropping issues with Cirterion which brought about this belated and really stupid solution. We all need to email Peter Becker and do the firm but polite thing. BUt I would never underestimate the arrogance of CC, given their track record on the anamorphic issue only a few years ago.

I did ask Gary Tooze on the Beaverlistserv if Criterion had done a buyer survey about the monitors their customers use. To my great surprise the majority of viewers still have older very overscanning tube TVs, almost certainly with crapoid single RCA pin composite connections.

With widescreen TVs you're able to see the 1.37 frame uncropped, and even better with DVI/HDMI connections all the encoded picture information is displayed.

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#11 Post by a7m4 » Sun Feb 19, 2006 3:52 pm

It seems like the best solution to the overscan problem would be for Criterion to post a overscan FAQ on their website explaining what it is and how it can be dealt with. I'm sure it's only wishful thinking but then when people email criterion about cropping they could point them to it and we wouldn't have to deal with black borders around our DVDs anymore. However it is done I just hope this issue is dealt with before the release of Late Spring.

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glueman
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#12 Post by glueman » Mon Feb 20, 2006 11:15 am

It's nice to know that Criterion, even with all their criteria, can yet find it in their hearts to look after those with lowest common denominator displays.

My experience of The Overscan Problem is that those for whom it is a problem have already found some way of minimizing its effect on their lives - ‘windowboxing' is a solution you don't know you've got to a problem you didn't know you were having.

Maybe they could have some display 'criteria' on the packaging, like the ‘Minimum Technical Requirements' you get on other software. (Perhaps extend this to customer criteria in general - IQ, salary, aesthetic sense, etc. indicated by appropriate symbols.) In any event, what's needed is more information so each customer can decide what choices to make - not even less choice.

Having said that, who doesn't appreciate an extra excuse to double-dip in a few years when affected titles are re-issued in a high-definition format?
Last edited by glueman on Mon Feb 20, 2006 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kekid
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#13 Post by kekid » Mon Feb 20, 2006 2:00 pm

Glueman wrote:My experience of The Overscan Problem is that those for whom it is a problem have already found some way of minimizing its effect on their lives - ‘windowboxing' is a solution you don't know you've got to a problem you didn't know you were having.
I am afraid I have to disagree with this statement. I have an overscan problem, and I have not figured out a solution. DVD players with incremental zoom are rare and difficult to find. And I am not prepared at this stage to upgrade my system to an HDMI compatible environment. So I recognize myself as the low-tech person Criterion are looking after.

Despite my current situation, I support the point of view expressed here that a quality-conscious organization such as Criterion should not compromise their quality for a short-term problem some of us will suffer until they upgrade. I am prepared to live with the overscan problem now, so that when I upgrade, my collection will be worthy of my hardware. However I simply wanted to point out that we should not minimize the overscan problem some of us have today. It is real, and it is not as simple to overcome as some exchanges on this forum have implied.

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#14 Post by david hare » Mon Feb 20, 2006 4:20 pm

You're right to take the longer view. The prices of high-end gear like Plasmas and LCDs, and HDMI DVD players have crashed in the last two years, and will crash even further over the next few. By which time you will probably update. And the amount of overscanning you've been putting up with will amaze you.

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HerrSchreck
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#15 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed Feb 22, 2006 3:40 pm

davidhare wrote:You're right to take the longer view. The prices of high-end gear like Plasmas and LCDs, and HDMI DVD players have crashed in the last two years, and will crash even further over the next few. By which time you will probably update. And the amount of overscanning you've been putting up with will amaze you.
One thing I'd like to mention, which has been sort of blooped over here, is the art of Skillful Television Telecine. It doesn't seem to me that it should be all that difficult to create an image that doesn't reach too far beyond the conventional monitor--border.... and also-- and this is a biggie for me-- DOES exhibit lens-curvature or negative-boundaries up in the four corners. I love my MVL hi-def crt (never seen a wega or Plaz to beat it... though the furniture-fit benefits of flat screen are obvious I'm not sure this trend away from crt... that is, quality non-tv crt... is a good one) which always allows me to view all data being fed to it (usually naturally, though if not so then with a little framing tweak).

One thing that always impresses me about Kino is the visibility of aperture-marks up in the image corners of so many of their 1/1:37 releases. This is something that CC, for all the vaunted coloring skill of their telecine ooperators, do no always respect. Dreyers JOAN OF ARC, HAXAN, TESTAMENT-MABUSE are a few which exhibit true-full-framing.

For all of Kino's addiction to interlacing & non-preconverted digital beta, youu look at the bulk of their framing and you see-- with exceptions of course-- a hearty respect for true FULL framing of neg info. Material coming out ofCineteca Bologna/LImagine Ritrovata deserve special applause... MAN WHO LAUGHS (whoever hasn't seen this yet should be--yes Dave-- whipped!), DIARY OF A LOST GIRL, NIBELUNGEN, TARTUFFE (though I think the master for this came out of south Germany, as with the similarly well-framed SEX IN CHAINS)... plus so many others with anonymous transfers... INTOLERANCE, HANGMEN ALSO DIE, the list can go on and on, really.

But I must say, faced with the choice of a few lines-loss of pixel-data in resolution due to overscan-offset (to acquire the full-neg on screen by the goofy application of a slight black border), and a very-slightly higher rez image filling the whole screen via the chopping off of neg-boundaries in the telecine gate, I'd choose the border any day, so long as it's very slight. Of course the ideal remains Plain Ol Good Telecine, as mentioned above a la CC's JOAN & Kino's DIARY. As proven by these releases, there's no reason to go chopping off, or hiding, negative data for any reason. I think the recent CC releases exhibiting the border is their way of jumping up & down & yelling "SEE! WE'RE NOT CROPPING IMAGERY ANY MORE!!!" in ref to the cropping complaints. Removing imagery from a hi-def master to maintain a certain resolution is as crazy as cutting off your arms to decrease body mass to INCREASE bloodflow to your erections during sex. Or something uh like that.

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#16 Post by toiletduck! » Wed Feb 22, 2006 3:56 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:Removing imagery from a hi-def master to maintain a certain resolution is as crazy as cutting off your arms to decrease body mass to INCREASE bloodflow to your erections during sex. Or something uh like that.
And let me tell you, THAT'S a mistake you only make once...

-Toilet Dcuk

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HerrSchreck
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#17 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed Feb 22, 2006 4:19 pm

toiletduck! wrote:
HerrSchreck wrote:Removing imagery from a hi-def master to maintain a certain resolution is as crazy as cutting off your arms to decrease body mass to INCREASE bloodflow to your erections during sex. Or something uh like that.
And let me tell you, THAT'S a mistake you only make once
And you, my good maniac dcuk, exhibit a hearty sex-HYPER-mania in that you hacked it ALL off and are now naught but a dcuk-head rolling around on prosthetic wheels! The increased bloodflow to your brain has in this case sharpened your mind though as your posts have a good psychotic edge to them.

That would be the ALPHA video method, btw-- chopping off the WHOLE image to increase storage space for... no extras..

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#18 Post by viciousliar » Wed Feb 22, 2006 5:12 pm

All of this is wonderfully trashy and witty at the same time, thank you guys for providing a hearty laugh right from the bottom of my black, little heart! :lol: And Orlok, I'll respond to your PM when I've dug up the disc, OK? :wink:

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#19 Post by J M Powell » Mon Feb 27, 2006 7:28 pm

Gary rates a mention in Tuesday's New York Times over this issue.

Narshty
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#20 Post by Narshty » Fri Apr 28, 2006 1:39 pm

Late Spring, in addition to all our future 1.33:1 releases, will
indeed be windowboxed. The purpose of this is to eliminate the
"cropping" effect caused by overscanning present on the great
majority of consumer grade display monitors.

I hope this helps, and please feel free to contact us with any future
questions or concerns.

Best,

Matt Lipson
The Criterion Collection
Oh, for fuck's sake. Can everyone send another email telling them what a backwards, daft idea this is and they should hopefully pack it in soon enough.

jcelwin
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#21 Post by jcelwin » Fri Apr 28, 2006 3:37 pm

While I disagree with it's use, it still seems 'fair' as most people watching dvds would still be using displays that overscan (I would think).

If they kept doing it with HD discs, then I would probably think it was totally unnecessary.

The ideal would be displays without overscan, and players with incremental zoom(+/-). Remotes with scroll-buttons (like mice have) would be really useful for this and other things!

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GringoTex
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#22 Post by GringoTex » Fri Apr 28, 2006 9:47 pm

Narshty wrote:Oh, for fuck's sake. Can everyone send another email telling them what a backwards, daft idea this is and they should hopefully pack it in soon enough.
Mailed Mulvaney over here, boss.

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#23 Post by justeleblanc » Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:21 am

Mail Matt Lipson as well.

Narshty
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#24 Post by Narshty » Sat Apr 29, 2006 4:08 pm

Ta-da!!

Please do give it a sign. Not that anyone should stop sending in emails on the subject. I think we've already lost Equinox, but A Canterbury Tale could still be saved.

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Gregory
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#25 Post by Gregory » Sat Apr 29, 2006 5:26 pm

I think it's also important to say that even getting rid of the windowboxing and going back to their old ways still doesn't solve the cropping problem. Simply letting more of the edges of the image be included when creating the transfer would minimize the problem for those with overscan, without hurting those with newer monitors. So, here was my added comment:
There are better ways to address complaints of overcropping. If Criterion made it a practice to allow a more generous portion of the edges of the film image to be displayed in the first place, then even those with overscan would be less likely to miss any crucial information, without any need to resort to windowboxing.

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