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TV aspect ratio: Original or cropped?

By The Vann’s Editorial Team
Last revised October 12th, 2009

Have you ever noticed how movies at the theater are a lot wider than they are tall? This is how movies are filmed originally. This is how directors make movies. But if you watch the same video on an old tube TV, it’s much more square. In order to fit on standard TVs, movies have to be cropped, so you only see a part of the picture. Until now, many movies have been available in widescreen on DVD. Those movies have a 16:9 width-to-height ratio. Fullscreen video is 4:3. Watching a movie in widescreen will allow you to see the whole picture, but those extra parts of the scene on the sides will cost you. On a standard TV, to display the widescreen version on a “fullscreen” TV, you get annoying black bars on the top and bottom, and thus a smaller picture.

HDTVs, on the other hand, are made for widescreen movies. They have 16:9 ratios instead of the traditional 4:3. This allows you to see the movie the way the director wanted you to, without giving up size or having bars on your screen. Don’t worry though — 4:3 content will still play just fine.

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