Building Your Own Home Theater
Evan Powell
ProjectorCentral.com


Choosing the Right Aspect Ratio

Part Three: The Problem with Cinemascope 2.4


At first glance the idea of a super widescreen 2.4 format has a lot of appeal. And if you tend to watch mostly films in 2.4 format, it is a great alternative. However it has one big problem: In most home theater rooms, a 2.4 aspect ratio screen is the smallest screen you can install. Your 16:9 and 4:3 images will be much smaller than they would be if you used a 16:9 screen. Why? In the vast majority of home theater situations, the room dimensions place a practical limit on the maximum width of the screen before placing any limitation on its height.

Let's assume for example that the wall you are projecting onto is 14 feet wide and 9 feet high. Let's also assume you want to leave two feet to either side of the screen for speaker placement and aesthetic clearance from the side walls. Practically speaking, these room dimensions limit you to a maximum screen width of about 10 feet.

Now, since this room has a 9 foot ceiling, the height of your screen can be pretty much anything you want. If you go with a 2.4 screen, it will be 10 feet wide and 4.25 feet high. If you opt for a 16:9 screen, it will be 10 feet wide and 5.62 feet high. (In theory, if you were installing a classic movie theater for the screening of pre-1953 films, you could install a 4:3 screen that is 10 feet wide and 7.5 feet tall.) The point is that the room's dimensions limit the width of the screen much more than they limit the height. Believe it or not, in most home theater spaces, the 2.4 format actually turns out to be the smallest screen you can install from a total square footage perspective.

Now, on a 10-foot wide 2.4 format screen, every image you project will be the same height, which is 4.25 feet. That's why 2.4 set-ups are often called Constant Image Height, or CIH for short. The only thing that varies is the width of the image. A film in 2.4 will take up the entire 10 foot screen width, but a 1.78 image will be only 7.56 feet wide. The total square footage of that 1.78 image will be 4.25 x 7.56 = 32.1 sq. ft. Conversely, if you installed a 16:9 screen that was 10 feet wide, the total square footage of your 1.78 image would be 10 x 5.62, or 56.2 square feet. Hmmm...roughly 32 vs. 56 square feet. That is a much bigger 1.78 image--almost double the square footage.

Let's look at a graphic illustration of this. The following are pictures of two 10-foot wide screens. The first is 2.4 format, and the second is 16:9. As you can see, the 16:9 picture is larger since it gives you more vertical space to deal with. The following images are of the 1.85 format scene from Chicago. On a 2.4 screen, it is displayed in pillar-boxed format, and on the 16:9 screen it is virtually full frame:

Chicago on a 2.35 screen

Chicago on a 16:9 screen

So despite the fact that the two screens are identical in width, a 1.85 movie like Chicago looks much bigger on the 16:9 screen--almost double the size--due to its increased vertical height.

Meanwhile, regardless of whether you use a 10-foot wide 2.4 or 16:9 screen, a 2.4 film will be the same size on either screen--10 feet wide and 4.25 feet tall for a total of 42.5 square feet no matter what. The only difference is that the 2.4 screen gives you a full frame effect, and the 16:9 screen gives you black bars top and bottom.

Therefore, to recap: if you are like most people, your room will determine the maximum width of your screen. Once you establish how wide a screen you can install, that determines the absolute size of your 2.4 image. The only remaining question is how big do you want your 1.78 and 1.85 material to appear? If you want those images to be smaller than your 2.4 films, go with a 2.4 screen. If you want them to be larger than your 2.4 films, increase the screen's vertical height and go with the 16:9 format.

In this article I've used an example of a room with a wall 14 feet wide and 9 feet high to illustrate the concept. Your room will probably be different, so it is important to study your room's particular limitations and come up with your own assessment of what will work best for you.

And always keep in mind, your ultimate decision should be based on the type of material you prefer to watch. I have a viewing room that has a 10.5 foot wide 2.4 screen, and it is fine for 2.4 movies. But it is not so exciting for HD music concerts. When I put on the Eagles Farewell 1 Tour, I want that enveloping, sitting-in-the-front-row experience, and the 1.85 image on my 2.4 screen is too small to create that effect. For parties I like to put music concerts on the screen, and I want the image to have maximum impact. So I remove the 2.4 screen and replace it with a 16:9 screen that is not quite as wide, but overall has about 50% greater square footage for 1.85 material. The larger image has a much more commanding presence...a more riveting WOW factor.

The question is...what kinds of content do you care about most in your theater? If your interests are primarily in 2.4 movies and you prefer to see 1.78 and 1.85 in a smaller size, the 2.4 screen is an excellent choice. If you add HD sports broadcasts and music concerts to your viewing mix, you will usually get a more immersive experience with a 16:9 screen.

Aspect ratios and the projector you select

We have concentrated here on the aesthetic considerations of how you want images to be screened in your theater. But the selection of a 16:9 vs. a 2.4 screen has an impact on the projector you ultimately select. Almost all home theater projectors throw a native 16:9 image, so any home theater projector is easily matched to a 16:9 screen. However, when it comes to 2.4 format screens, you will need to do one of two things to match the projector with the screen: (1) select a projector with a zoom lens that exceeds 1.3x in zoom range, preferably with powered zoom and lens shift, or (2) plan on installing an external anamorphic lens along with your projector. This second option is much more expensive. We will get into these issues in a later article, but for now it is worth keeping in mind that if you go with a 2.4 screen you will need a projection system that can project various types of material in constant height format.

Conclusion

The bottom line is this: you are the director in your home theater. You can decide how you want various format images to be screened. Some people love the visual effect of the super wide 2.4, and would prefer to limit the size of 16:9 and 4:3 material in order to make the 2.4 films look larger in comparison. Some prefer to take advantage of a taller screen that allows a larger square footage presentation of 1.78 and 1.85 images. There is nothing right or wrong with either approach. But no matter what you do, a compromise will be made. No single screen format is perfect for all types of video/film material.

This article has focused entirely on the first, and most important, decision you must make in setting up a home theater--what aspect ratio is best for your personal tastes and viewing preferences? After deciding this, the next questions are how big should your screen be, and how far should you sit from it? Continue to the next article in this series, "Choosing the Right Screen Size.


Reader Comments(32 comments)

Posted Mar 19, 2014 5:59:52 PM

By cmayhem

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Tfilm industry uses a constant width display standard for 1080p, 2k and 4k material. The consumer industry is still stuck on horizontal resolution but Hollywood has already moved on to only using vertical resolution. What this means is that 1.85 and 2.4 have the same width but different heights.

Posted Mar 17, 2014 9:29:34 AM

By Jorden Lindley

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In my last comment, I mistakenly said 800 pixels horizontally. I actually meant 800 pixels vertically.

Posted Mar 17, 2014 9:01:14 AM

By Jorden Lindley

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Jon Bukovsky, Ahmed was in fact correct. Blurays etc are horizontally limited to 1920px. Meaning a 2.4 film omly has 800 pixels horizontally.... That's the 1080p standed. Playing a 1080p 2.4 ratio film will not fill a 2.4 ratio screen. Why do they do this? I have no idea...

Posted Feb 3, 2014 9:39:08 PM

By Jon Bukovsky

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Ahmed. The black bars are not coded into the image. The black bars are just parts of the screen that are not covered by the coded image. I think Jerry's idea makes sense because you always get the largest image that your screen width will allow. As long as that works out with the projector. I don't know that much about projectors.

Posted Sep 9, 2012 6:32:31 PM

By Jerry

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After much experimenting, I decided on a 4:3 screen, which is not even mentioned as an option in this article. At first this may seem counterintuitive, but here are my reasons. I watch just as many older movies in "Academy ratio" as I do newer widescreen movies. Watching a 4:3 movie literally fill up my wall is an immersive experience, more immmersive, in my opinion, than 'scope films. For the wide films, I mask off the top and bottom of the screen. However, even without a masking system I could live with the black bars on the screen, but masking does give it more "pop". I have a constant width screen, so the widescreen films are just as "wide" (and tall) as if I had a native 16:9 screen, the only difference is I cover up the black bars on widescreen films, not the other way around. I feel I get the best of both worlds this way. I tried a 16:9 set up but felt my 4:3 films suffered too much in size, but that did not happen the other way around. A 2.4 screen would be even worse, severely reducing the size of 4:3 films. I am already stumbling on other advantages with 4:3 native. My letterboxed DVDs (non-anamorphic) look perfect on my screen. No zooming required, no distortion. I have a very large DVD collection so this is not a trivial matter. I am quite happy with my 4:3 native screen.

Posted Sep 4, 2012 7:23:39 AM

By ahmed

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One thing you forgot to mention. Currently 2.35:1 movies are encoded with less resolution than the 1080p as the black bars are included in the image. 16:9 movies have the best looking image because of the added lines. For me it is a no brainer to get a 16:9 screen unless the screen height is the bottle neck then I would go with a 2:35.

Posted Aug 1, 2012 7:12:40 PM

By kevin

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I just went ahead and bought a 235 166" screen from amazon. I have been in the hobby for 4 years and have never been soooo satisfied as I am now. Before I would always worry about hdtv and video games but now I am more into 235 movies as my passion. Since the black bars have now gone I feel more immersion than I did before and the picture just looks great on my pj. I do not have a lens so I just overshoot the screen and will buy a pull down for 16:9

Posted May 18, 2012 2:24:58 PM

By Mordecai and Rigby

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Me and Rigby appear in Cartoon Network's new series, Regular Show, and we decided to use the CinemaScope format to make Regular Show and newer Adventure Time episodes have a wider field of view than with the widescreen Cartoon Network limits us to nowadays. We are only presented in Pan and Scan to a standard widescreen instead of our CinemaScope! That sucks! Dude, we should be showing our whole view of the story, but not by cutting off 25% of the show to 16:9 displays, but in letterboxed CinemaScope. CN HD uses standard 16:9 and We use CinemaScope. Also in Latin America, it's worse. There, they cut 25% off the sides of the already-panned-and-scanneed version from the US. The result, Dude, is 50% of our story lost! 50%! That's like taking a piece of Contraband (2012) and sliding around the movie with missing info! We should be letterboxed.

Posted Apr 29, 2012 2:35:07 PM

By Greg

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Cinescope still seems to being doing well with the entire 2011 top 10 grossing films being 2.35. Additionally 18 out the top 20 and 39 out of the top 60 were 2.35.

The Hunger Games is also 2.35 so that's another trilogy to add to the list.

Posted Apr 29, 2012 3:56:04 AM

By Jay

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I have to say that I have always been confused by the debate over size of screen. I have had projectors for about 10 years now and have always had a 4:3 screen. You know what? This gives me the biggest screen area I can have and also means that I can display any format at the biggest size possible. If I had a super wide room then I guess I could have a very wide screen but I would still end up with my 16:9 films the same size (my screen is the height of my room). I have a dark room so I don't particularly care of there is a black border built into the screen because you concentrate on the picture, not the border,

I guess the article makes the point though. What are you going to view most. In my case I use my screen and projector for everything so 4:3 gives me everything I need.

Posted Feb 22, 2012 8:40:51 AM

By Helmsman

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Ron - while I agree that the writer should have talked about subtitle issues with a 2.4 screen, this is not a problem with directors being inconsistent. In fact, they are consistent in that subtitles are put into the image 100% of the time. When have you ever seen subtitles below the image in a commercial movie theater? The problem is the studios sometimes (often, in fact) put them into the black bars on 2.4 movies when they make the blu-ray (or dvd) version for consumers. I have a 2.4 screen and an anamorphic lens and this drives me absolutely nuts! "Tora! Tora!" is a good example - the 2nd line of every subtitle has been moved below the image into the lower black bar, a terrible shame for such a great reproduction of this movie (thanks for nothing, 20th Century Fox!) The irony is that if you use a higher end player like the Oppo that allows you to move the subtitles back into the image, you're actually restoring it back to the way the director originally released it.

Posted Nov 29, 2011 3:08:16 PM

By BillyC

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I'm in the market for a Panasonic AE4000.

Will probably make my own screen. Wouldnt it be best to make a screen 16:9 full width say 10' and have a light wood framed mask that I could manually attach or hinge to the underside of the screen when watching 2.35/2.4 film so the top and sides are constant and only the bottom varies?

I'd also like a top and bottom center speaker so maybe I could attach the bottom center to the top of the mask at the bottom of a 16:9 and when the mask is moved up to accommodate a 2:35 the speaker will still be tight to the screen.

Best projector site on the web - thanks!

Posted Oct 21, 2011 2:41:49 PM

By Tom

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Im leaning towards a 8700 .Epson Watch a lot of football.hdtv Watch a lot of HBO..HDTV Of course blue ray video...but now everything is easier to STREAM.... STREAMING at what 16.9 or 2.40. ..?..

My seating is rather close 8-9 feet

Size of screen please help on this....?? 2.40 or 16.9. Please help What donyou guys know about Carada screens ...?

Scope screen I hear will have less eye strain is this true?

Posted Nov 16, 2010 10:36:59 AM

By Andy

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Wrong, you only get a wider projected image with 2.40. Look at the numbers, 2.35:1, 2.40:1. With the 1 showing it is still constant height. With a 2.40 picture projected on a 2.35 screen the masking will take care of the little extra image on both sides.

I have a 2.35 screen and i never notice the change between 2.35 movies and 2.40, which you would if you would go for a 2.40 screen instead, having the black parts left and right of the projected picture. Get it? :)

Posted Nov 13, 2010 8:24:39 AM

By Harish

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JC1, completely agree. As Evan rightly pointed out, height is typically never an issue, width is (in most cases). In such cases, a 4:3 is the screen size to go with. This basically guarantees that you always have a constant width. I do not necessairly have a problem with a black bar (unless it looks grey and screws up the contrast) but moving resizing the height would obviously be the best choice.

Evan, great article! I am in the market to buy a projector and this really helped.

Posted Nov 7, 2010 7:38:50 PM

By Tbone85

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Depending on the projector and screen size, going from the eco mode to high power mode on most projectors can offset a large part of the brightness delta on a scope screen. I've had a couple setups where I included changing the lamp mode as part of my movie watching macro.

Posted Nov 7, 2010 9:57:54 AM

By PatB

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Another issue - brightness. According to your Projector Calculator figures when you go from a constant height 4.5 feet screen (8 feet wide at 16:9) to a CinemaScope screen almost three feet wider you lose almost half the brightness (12 fl to 7 fl) with a Panasonic 4000. So with your expensive screening and masking system automated along with the zoom, when you hit the right button the curtains pull back and you have a drammatically wider screen. Alas it then displays a drammatically dimmer image.

Posted Nov 6, 2010 2:53:15 PM

By JP Zyg

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I had a 92" 16:9 screen from 2002 to October 2009. I then decided I wanted bigger but wanted 2.35. I found exactly what I wanted which was a screen with the same height (but obviously wider). This ended up being the widest screen I could fit in my theater room. To me, that is what really made it apparent that 2.35 (or 2.4) is the way to go. Anything 1.78 is the same size as what I was used to watching for almost 8 years. I can zoom out a litter further for 1.85 films, and now the scope films are that much more dramatic. It's like going to a theater where the screen is made wider for widescreen films, not shorter in height. At least, I assume they still do that as I've been there only once in the last 8+ years. I find that I don't want to watch 1.78 or 1.85 much anymore and just leave my lens set for 2.35. Until you experience a change like this, you really can only assume what you 'would' prefer. It turns out that I prefer 2.35.

Posted Nov 1, 2010 11:03:47 AM

By John Schuermann

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The Oppo Blu-ray players allow you to move the subtitles wherever you like, with both Blu-rays and standard DVDs.

Posted Nov 1, 2010 9:17:42 AM

By Ron

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one thing no one has mentioned - and something the author should have considered...subtitles! even in "english" movies, sometimes subtitles pop up, even if only 1 or 2 sentences for a whole movie. the problem is, directors are NOT CONSISTENT with where they place them! sometimes they are within the image (as they should be!) but often they overlap the image or occur completely beneath the image! guess what happens to them if you're viewing on a 2.35:1 or 2.4:1 screen - they're cut off! just another thing to consider.

Posted Oct 31, 2010 8:29:35 AM

By Steve

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Jay: If you are already going ultra wide I'd go for the 2.4 always over the 2.35. Why? Well the 2.4 is the constant image height screen. If you did go with 2.35, when you watched a 2.4 movie on it you'd be back to having the black bars on top and bottom although they would be quite small.

Posted Oct 28, 2010 11:58:17 AM

By John

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Great read!! I hope many people considering a front projection system for their room read this article because they will learn a great deal of really useful information.

I do think that those same people who will learn a lot from this article, also need the "How do I get 2.35:1 from my projector?" article, too, though. The fact that the lens can cost as much or more than some very good projectors may surprise people. The price of motorized masking systems can be surprising as well.

Posted Oct 28, 2010 6:33:29 AM

By Andrej

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Very informative articles! However I feel that it failed to explore an aspect of the projection set-up that makes the aspect ratio decisions moot. Most projectors come with zoom lenses, and many projectors are surrounded (or could be) by adjustable curtains. Screens could be electric allowing change of height.

Since I am not bothered by the black bars, my personal preference is to have as big a screen as I can fit (regardless of what aspect ratio it ends up being) and the adjust the picture size based on the source material aspect ratio and picture quality. The picture can be framed appropriatelly by adjustable curtains and a screen that is lowered more or less, as required.

Best quality sources would use most of the screen real-estate, and poorer sources could be adjusted for best effect. Also fast moving action programs could be reduced in size to minimize fatigue.

This is just my personal preference, as I mostly see my home theter room in the dark!-) but I can see how this would not be a most appealing solution in a multi-purpose room.

Posted Oct 27, 2010 11:46:42 AM

By PatB

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There is every reason to believe that 16:9 aspect ratio will drive out the 2.35 or 2.40 CinemaScope ratio. Before CinemaScope movie studios got all their revenue from box office and they owned those box offices. Today studio revenue comes mostly from home viewing - DVDs, Blu-ray, cable TV, etc.

HBO and Starz routinely crop 2.40 movies to 1.78. No one gets very concerned. The resulting picture is still widescreen and it fits better on home screens.

People seem to forget that the 16:9 (1.78) aspect ratio was made the standard by law only last year. When TV went digital it also went widescreen. Millions of sets have now been sold with 16:9 screens.

Directors were careful about showing too much skin until the late sixties. There was a flurry of nudity on the screen for a decade or two but today directors again are self censoring out the nudity. They, or rather their studio bosses, know that these movies will be watched mainly in the home rather than in a theater that can enforce the exclusion of children.

These directors who once staged scenes with actors at the extreme edges of the CinemaScope frame today keep the action centered so when seen at home in a cropped version very little is lost. I saw "Red" in a CinemaScope movie theater last week. It was great. I will see it again in six or so when it comes out on Blu-ray and/or cable TV. At first it will be shown in 2.40 but after a while it will be shown in 1.78. Nothing will have been lost. All of the action was centered in the frame.

Lawrence of Arabia (2.20) can't be cropped. It was filmed to be seen on a wide screen. Today's films are staged for 16:9 viewing even when produced in 2.40. After a while I expect that studios will just drop those extra wide aspect ratios because so few people are seeing them in theaters anymore. Friday night at a big new multiplex theater there were only a couple dozen people watching "Red" in 2.40.

Posted Oct 27, 2010 10:48:30 AM

By Mike T

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And what about gaming, most consoles are all in 16:9.

Posted Oct 27, 2010 10:33:45 AM

By David S

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Very clear article, I for one, am happy with 16.9 screen maxing out width of room to get the 2.35.1 ratio, and am not distracted by the black bars. I would agree the 90% coverage point is important to this.

I have found though that whilst this suits my seating distance very well for scope films, 16:9 films can be a little large, giving eye strain if there is lots of frenetic action with the shaky cam thats all the rage with some current action movies

can't end without mentioning 16:9 screening maintains the WOW factor for change in aspect ratio on Batman Begins

Posted Oct 26, 2010 6:41:47 PM

By Toby

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Movies are shot in 2:35. They changed the standard to 2:40 so as to cover the splice flashes in the prints.

As far as immersion goes, larger is better no matter what the ratio. And immersion works if you make the screen 90% as wide as the wall its on. I've had a home theater in my house for 35 years (yes, I started with 16mm scope) and after 4 rooms since I have come to the conclusion that the best immersion is 90% of the width of the back wall and have the center of the screen at eye level (sorry, above the fireplace doesn't work).

Posted Oct 26, 2010 2:29:27 PM

By Tbone85

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I enjoyed the article. However, I think the assumptions built into part 3 are not representative of most common theaters. The typical wall height is more likely to be 8 feet. Also, unless one is willing to compromise sound and video quality, and spend significantly more on an acoustically transparent screen, home theater rooms also face significant height restrictions center channel speaker placement.

The vast majority of screens are not acoustically transparent material, and an 8 foot ceiling height is more likely in basements and second story theaters. At an 8 foot ceiling height, a below screen mounted center speaker will restrict screen height to ~ 5 feet. An above screen mounted unit may extend that to perhaps 5.5 feet.

Using a max 5 foot high screen, and a max 10 foot wide screen in the same theoretical room yields a 4:3 size of 33.33 sq feet, a 16x9 size of 44.44 feet, and a 2.35 size of 42.55 feet.

If one extended to a max 5.5 foot high screen in the same room, the sizes would be 40.23, 53.85, and 42.55. In either more realistic scenario, the differences are much smaller and the 4:3 screen areas are always the smallest of the three. Max screen real estate in most rooms is provided by a 16x9 screen, but not by as much as the article indicates.

Posted Oct 26, 2010 2:11:16 PM

By Glenn

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Personally, in a light controlled home theater, the black bars of 2.4 content on my 1.78 16:9 screen are hardly a problem. I know they are there, but very quickly my attention is so focused on the movie that I don't notice the bars. I respectfully disagree with John Schuermann on this point. They do not make the movie less immerse for me. However, light pollution in the room would change that. Any my room definitely falls into the category of 'width restricted', so my 110" 16:9 is a close to as big a screen as I can fit. 120" would probably be OK, but that's it. I would rather not give up the vertical on my 16:9 movies and HD sports that I watch. Ideally, I would have two screens. One fixed for the content that I watch the most, and one drop down in front of it (with enough border to completely block the other screen) for my 2nd most watched format. A man can dream, can't he.

Posted Oct 26, 2010 12:01:10 PM

By JC1

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What works for me? I have an older motorized 3:4 100 inch screen from Elite. Works perfect for every situation. When I have a 16:9 formatted movie, I bring the screen down far enough for a perfect fit. I prefer this aspect ratio because it gives your home theater the most realistic "true movie theater" viewing experience. I personally beleive that movies are made in the other formats because with the popularity of home theaters, this format would greatly affect the number of people going to the theaters. Example: Avitar in the 16:9 format (blue ray) was awesome. Whenever watching a movie in the 2:4 format, we have 2 options. #1 We can move the image up from the projector and adjust the screen vertically. #2 Just leave it where it is from the 16:9 setting. Yes there are black bars but once you get into the movie, no one notices them. This is the option that we use because I don't like moving the image on the projector. Recently we have watched some movies in which the previews were 16:9 and the movie 2:4. With the different formats(on a 3:4 screen)I don't have any issues with the image horizontally only vertically. So once I bring the screen to the 16:9 spot, no further adjustments are needed even though I could move both the screen and image for a screen filling 2:4 fit. I wish the movie industry would give the option of wacthing a movie on 16:9 or 2:4 format and this would solve the problem. I have had my home theater for almost 3 years and movies are fantastic (for a very picky person)with the procedure explained above. Hope this works for somebody else.

Posted Oct 26, 2010 11:14:15 AM

By John Schuermann

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Interesting article with some good points, but I have a few significant areas of disagreement:

If you look at the list of the 50 top grossing / most popular movies of all time, a whopping 76% of them were shot in one of the scope aspect ratios. To just say "many movies" and "most of them are dramas" is a bit misleading. In fact, most of the movies that trigger people wanting bigger and better screens are 2.35:1 / 2.40:1. To your list on page 2, add:

ALL of the STAR WARS movies ALL of the INDIANA JONES films INCEPTION ALL of the LORD OF THE RINGS films The vast majority of HARRY POTTER films Most JAMES BOND movies ALL of the DIE HARD movies THE SOUND OF MUSIC WEST SIDE STORY TITANIC SPIDERMAN 2 and 3 ALL of the PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN movies JAWS

As you can see, these are not "mostly dramas" - in fact, these are the big epic SF, action and adventure movies that trigger people to invest money in their home theaters to begin with. If you challenge your readers to go into their Blu-Ray / DVD collections right now I bet you would find that that same "over 70%" figure would still apply to their selection of 2.35:1 / 2.40:1 titles vs. 16:9 / 1.85:1. I would like to suggest that as a major criteria for choosing which aspect ratio screen to go with, check the aspect ratio of the films that you most enjoy and base your decision on that.

Please feel free to check my math here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highest-grossing_films

In addition, there is the fact that shooting in 2.35:1 / 2.40:1 is an artistic decision made by the director - and the whole point of choosing the widescreen aspect ratio is to engage the viewer's peripheral vision and more full immerse the viewer in the action. Playing a 2.40:1 movie letterboxed on a 16:9 screen creates precisely the OPPOSITE effect - the viewer is distanced from the image, NOT immersed in it. The director chose the 2.40:1 aspect ratio as to create a larger more involving image, where the viewer's peripheral vision is engaged and they feel a part of the action. This is not achieved with a letterboxed image.

That said, I agree that if a person's taste runs more to watching TV, sports and older, classic movies (movies made prior to 1955, say) a 2.40:1 screen may not make the most sense. But for anyone who watches primarily movies made post-1955 and whose taste runs primarily to films like I listed above, a 2.40:1 screen DOES make the most sense.

Thanks for your time!

Posted Oct 26, 2010 10:40:48 AM

By Jay

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Great article. However I have a question? What about 2.35 screens? I see many screen manufacturers offer 2.35 screens and not 2.4 screens. For eg. the new Elitescreens Lunette Curved screens come in 2.35 but not 2.4. What advantage / disadvantage would this have? I didn't see any mention of 2.35 so this is why I ask. So many aspect ratios! :-)

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