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The Shape of Cinema

How did they come up with 16:9 aspect ratio for HDTV. Watch this fascinating history lesson on how the aspect ratios we know (16:9, 4:3) became the standard of what we watch.  It's a lovely journey back where things can become standard by just doing it for a very long time.

You will see how 16:9 aspect ratio came about: old 4:3 movie theaters birthed 4:3 television sets which stopped people from going to 4:3 movie theaters.  4:3 movie theaters went widescreen to offer something different  than what was at home.  Off course now we have widescreen TVs in the home.

“Simply put, the aspect ratio is the ratio of the width of the image to the height. This can be expressed as two numbers like 4×3 or 16×9 or as a decimal such as 1.85 and 2.35 – though these can be written as a ratio as in 2.35:1.” [FilmmakerIQ]

Aspect ratio is very import to filmmakers.  Having shot 16mm or video most of my career, I was in 4:3 land.  I was glad that they standardized on 16:9 for high definition because I enjoy the wider film like look.  Now that theatrical films and TV has similar ratios what is needed for the theatre to set themselves apart is better stories which we are not getting.  I am having as much fun watch movies on my home theatre as going to the theatre.

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