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View Poll Results: What letterbox color do you use?
Gray (TiVo's default) 32 22.38%
Black 111 77.62%
Voters: 143. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 10-01-2006, 07:35 PM   #1
minckster
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What letterbox color do you use?

Which letterbox color do you use, gray or black? Around here, CBS letterboxes their 4:3 content in gray and it drives me bonkers. I guess it's supposed to reduce burn-in risk, but I find it very distracting.

(Do Americans tend to write "gray" or "grey"? I can never remember.)
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Old 10-01-2006, 07:38 PM   #2
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Old 10-01-2006, 07:55 PM   #3
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I can't stand the gray, black all around for me.

Although, I don't have an S3 yet, so maybe I can't answer here,
I also don't record and SD content on my HD TiVo.

Station I work at started out in the HD world putting black on the sides of SD material, then CBS mandated we switch to gray due to some Sony HDTV's suffering burn in.
We did this for about a year.
Then about 6 months ago, our Chief Engineer got himself an HDTV for home, and hated the gray bars so he switched ours back to black.

I believe the ABC and FOX stations are still using the gray bars in these parts.


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Old 10-01-2006, 07:56 PM   #4
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Black. I figure you should use whatever setting your display uses when it deals with 4:3 content. (I think generally, plasmas use gray, most others use black)

Oh, and I never remember if it is grey or gray. I think as long as you are consistent, nobody will care.
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This space for rant.
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Old 10-01-2006, 08:28 PM   #5
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I could never get a straight answer from anyone as to whether things like black and grey are really colors, but I'll use black when I get my S3.
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Old 10-01-2006, 08:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minckster
Would it feasible for stations to broadcast transparent sidebars on their 4:3 content so the TV or TiVo would choose the color?
??


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Old 10-01-2006, 08:41 PM   #7
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I never understood why nobody, when defining how digital signals got sent, figured out that an aspect ratio flag would be a good thing... then the stations wouldn't have to pick a color for the bars, and the TV could figure out what it wants to do.

(of course, maybe if some TVs weren't stupid about changing resolutions the stations could just send SD shows in a SD resolution. Bah.)
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Old 10-01-2006, 08:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phox_mulder
??


phox
I'm not sure what's not clear. I mean their 4:3 SD content that they're broadcasting with sidebars in 16:9 HD and asking if the sidebars could be the "color" transparent (thinking transparent GIFs) rather than black or gray.
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Old 10-01-2006, 08:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minckster
Would it feasible for stations to broadcast transparent sidebars on their 4:3 content so the TV or TiVo would choose the color?
If the broadcast is in 4:3, the sidebars are outside that area so the broadcaster isn't sending any information to the area beyond the 4:3 aspect ratio...so they can't send any information outside that 4:3 display area.

On one of the ESPN HD stations that does broadcast in 16:9, they have some content still in 4:3 so they'll put up the ESPN logo as the sidebars.
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Old 10-01-2006, 08:52 PM   #10
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Said another way:

The 4:3 contant can be broadcast 4:3 in which case your device(s) add the pillars

or

The 4:3 content can be broadcast 16:9 in which case the broadcaster is adding the pillars and your device(s) are displaying exactly what is broadcast.


The first case is what you are looking for when you say 'clear.' Its not actually clear, but it permits the device(s) to create the pillars in whatever way(s) they allow.
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Old 10-01-2006, 08:59 PM   #11
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Thanks HDTivo. Sometimes me stumble over...words.
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Old 10-01-2006, 09:04 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Franco
Thanks HDTivo. Sometimes me stumble over...words.
Its frankly impossible for anyone to explain the whole thing simply. I have a dizzy spell everytime I think about it.
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Old 10-01-2006, 09:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTiVo
Said another way:

The 4:3 contant can be broadcast 4:3 in which case your device(s) add the pillars

or

The 4:3 content can be broadcast 16:9 in which case the broadcaster is adding the pillars and your device(s) are displaying exactly what is broadcast.


The first case is what you are looking for when you say 'clear.' Its not actually clear, but it permits the device(s) to create the pillars in whatever way(s) they allow.
So if I see that something is broadcast 1080i (720p for Fox), that doesn't mean that the broadcaster is necessarily sending a 16:9 picture and adding sidebars as necessary? I have TiVo set up to display black sidebars, but see gray sidebars only on CBS's 1080i broadcasts that have 4:3 content.
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Old 10-01-2006, 09:14 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minckster
So if I see that something is broadcast 1080i (720p for Fox), that doesn't mean that the broadcaster is necessarily sending a 16:9 picture and adding sidebars as necessary? I have TiVo set up to display black sidebars, but see gray sidebars only on CBS's 1080i broadcasts that have 4:3 content.
Sounds right to me, minckster. Most HD broadcasts during prime-time will be in 16:9, but some HD broadcasts (like all the animated shows Sunday night on Fox) are in 4:3.
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Old 10-01-2006, 09:56 PM   #15
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I don't think it's feasible or practical.

Our only digital channel is 1080i 16:9 all the time.
HD content fills the 16:9, 4:3 SD content has the sidebars.

There's a station here that has 3 subchannels.
One is 1080i 16:9 all the time, sidebars on the 4x3 content,
another subchannel is 4:3 all the time, letterboxed during 16:9 content,
so bars on top generated at the station,
the third is a 4:3 weather channel.

The only reason TiVo gives you the option of choosing the sidebar color is that it also records SD material.
If it only recorded HD material, there would be no need for the option, as it would always be chosen for you by the station.


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Old 10-01-2006, 10:14 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTiVo
Said another way:

The 4:3 contant can be broadcast 4:3 in which case your device(s) add the pillars

or

The 4:3 content can be broadcast 16:9 in which case the broadcaster is adding the pillars and your device(s) are displaying exactly what is broadcast.
And then there are those infuriating cases where 16:9 content is broadcast in HD such that the picture is subjected to both letterboxing and pillarboxing when displayed on a 16:9 screen, and with zooming unavailable because neither Tivo nor the TV designers anticipated that broadcasters would ever do such a stupid thing.
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Old 10-01-2006, 11:38 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sommerfeld
And then there are those infuriating cases where 16:9 content is broadcast in HD such that the picture is subjected to both letterboxing and pillarboxing when displayed on a 16:9 screen, and with zooming unavailable because neither Tivo nor the TV designers anticipated that broadcasters would ever do such a stupid thing.
The S3 does have zooming. Just hit your "Aspect" button on the remote. It switches through the 3 modes. Or you can change it in the settings menu.
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Old 10-02-2006, 01:03 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minckster
So if I see that something is broadcast 1080i (720p for Fox), that doesn't mean that the broadcaster is necessarily sending a 16:9 picture and adding sidebars as necessary? I have TiVo set up to display black sidebars, but see gray sidebars only on CBS's 1080i broadcasts that have 4:3 content.
This is where I start to break out in a sweat. You are getting a 16:9 broadcast which is why you see CBS's pillars and not your TiVo's.

The part I'm sweating is whether 1080i/720p can ever be 4:3 or if only a 480i/p broadcast can be 4:3. I don't remember.

The same channel may switch formats multiple times a day.
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Old 10-02-2006, 01:05 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sommerfeld
And then there are those infuriating cases where 16:9 content is broadcast in HD such that the picture is subjected to both letterboxing and pillarboxing when displayed on a 16:9 screen, and with zooming unavailable because neither Tivo nor the TV designers anticipated that broadcasters would ever do such a stupid thing.
Or channel 11 in NY which is doing 15.69:10.71.
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Old 10-02-2006, 04:18 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FourOhFour
I never understood why nobody, when defining how digital signals got sent, figured out that an aspect ratio flag would be a good thing... then the stations wouldn't have to pick a color for the bars, and the TV could figure out what it wants to do.
Actually, NTSC (analog or digital) has a WSS (wide screen signal) flag. It's in the same small bitfield in the vertical blank where the macrovision flags are kept. No broadcaster ever uses it, as far as I can tell. PAL has something like a dozen format flags and I believe they are actually used by European broadcasters. I'm pretty sure ATSC has flags as well. Again, though, I'd be surprised if anyone at a north american broadcast network ever uses them, since they're ill-supported in a lot of televisions and the network wants to know you're seeing things a certain way.

Annoying, really. There are a lot of features of display technologies now and over the years that have not seen any support, and which would have made things a lot better if a few scaredy-cats had just committed to using them.
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Old 10-02-2006, 07:42 AM   #21
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Gray is annoying.
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Old 10-02-2006, 08:00 AM   #22
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One station here takes copies of the left and right edges of 4:3 content, pixelates them, and uses them as the sidebars for 16:9 broadcast. My description isn't doing the method justice but it looks pretty good and avoids burn-in risk.

I think the source is NBC-4's local news (now mostly in HD!).

Last edited by minckster : 10-02-2006 at 08:03 AM. Reason: Add "of"
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Old 10-02-2006, 08:05 AM   #23
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How about an option for "I always stretch the video to fill the screen so don't have to see letterboxes?"
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Old 10-02-2006, 09:58 AM   #24
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I use the black because it looks much, much better when listening to MP3s.
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Old 10-02-2006, 11:12 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by classicX
How about an option for "I always stretch the video to fill the screen so don't have to see letterboxes?"
Stretching the screen out of it's correct aspect ratio...is just pure evil.

I am a charter member of the Original Aspect Ratio (OAR) club.
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Old 10-02-2006, 12:17 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Franco
Stretching the screen out of it's correct aspect ratio...is just pure evil.

I am a charter member of the Original Aspect Ratio (OAR) club.
I would be too....if it wasn't for the potential of burn-in.
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Old 10-02-2006, 12:31 PM   #27
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I would be too....if it wasn't for the potential of burn-in.
I hear ya. Fortunately for me, all my TVs are LCD plus my projector is DLP, and I believe that neither suffer from burn-in.
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Old 10-02-2006, 12:46 PM   #28
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My TV has gray sidebars, and I hated it! I now have the Tivo do black sidebars and I never have to see those rotten gray bars again!
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Old 10-02-2006, 01:22 PM   #29
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4:3 content I watch as intended, no zooming, don't like stretched out people or cars.

Letterboxed SD content I will zoom to full screen, and it seems to preserve the OAR,
nothing is stretched out of proportion.
I've paused the video, observed what I can see right at the edges, top and bottom of the letterbox, zoomed it and checked that I can still see what was right at the edges.
This is with the TV's zoom.

There's some shows that have an odd shaped letterbox though, Mythbusters comes to mind.
It's regular width, but taller, so if I zoom it, things get chopped off on top and bottom, but the edges are still there.

What irks me is letterboxed or 4:3 content on an HD channel.
My TV won't let me zoom if in 1080i or 780p.

Not worried about burn in much, since I watch a wide range of programming, alternating between 4:3, zoomed letterbox, and wide screen 16:9.


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Old 10-03-2006, 03:45 AM   #30
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I think the grey is fugly.
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