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Why are so many DVDs in widescreen format?
You may have noticed many DVDs offer movies in a widescreen format. On a widescreen TV, letterboxing (black bars on the top and bottom) will be very small or nonexistant. However, on a standard TV, the letterboxing can be quite large. This can make for a rather small image on a small TV.

So, why are the videos like this? The simple answer is, that's the way the movies are in the movie theater. When a movie is letterboxed on your TV, nothing is getting cut off that was intended to be seen. It just means the image is wider than your TV is, so the whole thing had to be shrunken down to fit it all on your screen. "Full Screen" videos often have large parts of the sides of movies cut off. Often, artificial left and right panning will be added to allow the action to remain centered on a standard TV screen (known as "Pan and Scan"). A movie shot "Open Matte" (a film shot with a standard frame size, but cropped to a widescreen ratio for the theater) will often simply have the top and bottom opened up for standard screens, which may show parts of the image not intended to be seen. This means there might be extra room above heads and you might see movie equipment or items that don't belong on screen (the movie "A Christmas Story" is one example).

A lot of DVDs come in both wide screen and "Full Screen" versions, though someare only available in widescreen. One thing to consider, if you plan on buying a widescreen TV, you may wish to collect widescreen DVDs instead of full screen. Otherwise, you'll trade a letterbox for a pillar box (black bars on the left and right).

For a detailed tutorial on widescreen video, check out our "Why Widescreen?" section. We've included sample pictures to help illustrate the differences in aspect ratios and cropping techniques.

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