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Go Back   Blu-ray Forum > Displays > Display Theory and Discussion

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Old 04-05-2020, 01:26 PM   #1
Fjodor2000 Fjodor2000 is offline
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Apr 2019
Default DVD video has black bars on both top, bottom, left and right - what is wrong?

Hello,

I mostly own Blu-rays and 4K UHD Blu-rays, so I'm not that familiar with what is common for DVDs. But I just got a few DVDs since that's the only format some movies are available in.

Anyway, when watching some DVDs on a 16:9 format TV there are black bars on both top, bottom, left and right (see screenshot in [1] below). Normally you have either black bars on left and right (e.g. when watching 4:3 content on a 16:9 display), or on top and bottom (when watching 16:9 content on 4:3 display). But to have black bars all around the image does not make any sense!

I also tried ripping the problematic DVDs using MakeMKV and watching the MKV in VLC on a PC, and the behavior is the same (i.e. black bars around the video image when watching on a 16:10 monitor).


So now I wonder:

1. Is it normal for some DVDs to be recorded like this, or is there some setting I should change (e.g. in my DVD/Blu-ray player or TV) to fix the problem? I know I manually can use zoom options on the TV, but it feels strange to have to do this manually.

2. What is the "root cause" of the problem? Has the DVD incorrectly been recorded with black bars (that should have been cropped in the production when creating the DVD)? See MediaInfo details about the MKV video file in [2] below, when having ripped the DVD to MKV using MakeMKV.


[1] Screenshot showing roughly what it looks like (screenshot is taken by someone else, but illustrates the problem):


[2] MediaInfo:

Code:
Video
ID                                       : 1
ID in the original source medium         : 224 (0xE0)
Format                                   : MPEG Video
Format version                           : Version 2
Format profile                           : Main@Main
Format settings                          : CustomMatrix / BVOP
Format settings, BVOP                    : Yes
Format settings, Matrix                  : Custom
Format settings, GOP                     : M=3, N=12
Format settings, picture structure       : Frame
Codec ID                                 : V_MPEG2
Codec ID/Info                            : MPEG 1 or 2 Video
Duration                                 : 1 h 44 min
Bit rate mode                            : Variable
Bit rate                                 : 4 912 kb/s
Maximum bit rate                         : 8 000 kb/s
Width                                    : 720 pixels
Height                                   : 576 pixels
Display aspect ratio                     : 4:3
Frame rate mode                          : Constant
Frame rate                               : 25.000 FPS
Standard                                 : PAL
Color space                              : YUV
Chroma subsampling                       : 4:2:0
Bit depth                                : 8 bits
Scan type                                : Interlaced
Scan order                               : Top Field First
Compression mode                         : Lossy
Bits/(Pixel*Frame)                       : 0.474
Time code of first frame                 : 09:59:56:00
Time code source                         : Group of pictures header
GOP, Open/Closed                         : Open
Stream size                              : 3.60 GiB (98%)
Language                                 : English
Default                                  : No
Forced                                   : No
Original source medium                   : DVD-Video
[3] Hardware used:
* Sony X800 4K UHD Blu-ray player
* LG OLED C7 TV
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Old 04-05-2020, 01:35 PM   #2
CrowKiller CrowKiller is offline
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If it's an older DVD it's not anamorphic. Meaning it was more for 4x3 CRT TV. Next time you buy a DVD, look for it to say anamorphic enhanced or something like that. Some just say 16x9 which isn't always accurate (looking at you Freeway). Anyway, those DVDs like that are basically junk now. You can zoom in a bit but it looks like crap even worse.
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Old 04-05-2020, 02:25 PM   #3
Marksman71 Marksman71 is offline
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Yeah they'll be non-anamorphic DVD's. Some earlier DVD releases were encoded with 4:3 crt televisions in mind
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Old 04-05-2020, 02:27 PM   #4
Number 6 Number 6 is offline
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It's called Windowboxing (also called postage stamp effect, gutterboxing or matchboxing). It occurs when the aspect ratio of media is such that the letterboxing effect and pillarboxing effect occur simultaneously either by accident or design.
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Old 04-05-2020, 02:37 PM   #5
Fjodor2000 Fjodor2000 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrowKiller View Post
If it's an older DVD it's not anamorphic. Meaning it was more for 4x3 CRT TV. Next time you buy a DVD, look for it to say anamorphic enhanced or something like that. Some just say 16x9 which isn't always accurate (looking at you Freeway). Anyway, those DVDs like that are basically junk now. You can zoom in a bit but it looks like crap even worse.
Many thanks for the info! Yes, the DVDs are quite old. One has production year 2004 and one year 2005. I checked the covers, and they do not say anamorphic. But one of them says "Widescreen version" and according to the specifications on a retailer's website it should be "Widescreen 1.85:1 (anamorphic)" - but that info could of course be incorrect.

Some follow-up questions:

1. Is there any way to tell from the metadata on the DVD whether it is anamorphic or not? E.g. by looking at some fields in the MediaInfo data in [2] in my previous post, or similar?

2. Since one of the DVDs might be anamorphic, could there be some other reason that there is black bars on all sides of the images (i.e. both pillarbox and letterbox) when watching that one on a 16:9 display? Or is non-anamorphic the only thing that can explain it, so that's what it is after all?

3. Is there any workaround for this problem except zooming in manually on the TV? One solution could of course be to re-encode it using Handbrake and then also crop the black bars on top and bottom, but then the video quality would get even worse than it already is (since it will be a re-encode after all, and not just a remux).
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Old 04-05-2020, 05:14 PM   #6
Lee A Stewart Lee A Stewart is online now
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It was called "window boxing."

If you look on the back of the DVD case it will say:

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs or Anamorphic widescreen
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Old 04-05-2020, 05:31 PM   #7
Number 6 Number 6 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee A Stewart View Post
It was called "window boxing."

If you look on the back of the DVD case it will say:

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs or Anamorphic widescreen
That's not always the case. I have quite a few DVDs that state that yet their playback format is letterbox, not windowbox. On the other hand I still have a 1997 DVD of the movie "Ladyhawke". The disc is dual sided (Standard Version and Widescreen Version). The Standard Version playback is pillarbox. The Widescreen Version playback is windowbox.
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Old 04-05-2020, 05:41 PM   #8
Lee A Stewart Lee A Stewart is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Number 6 View Post
That's not always the case. I have quite a few DVDs that state that yet their playback format is letterbox, not windowbox. On the other hand I still have a 1997 DVD of the movie "Ladyhawke". The disc is dual sided (Standard Version and Widescreen Version). The Standard Version playback is pillarbox. The Widescreen Version playback is windowbox.
First I was describing the moniker for a picture surrounded by black bars. No one had called it window boxing.

Second I described what you need to see on the back of a DVD to determined if it's an anamorphic DVD

Sorry to have confused you.
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Old 04-05-2020, 06:05 PM   #9
Fjodor2000 Fjodor2000 is offline
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After investigating this a bit, my understanding is that you can tell if a DVD is anamorphic by looking at the Display Aspect Ratio (DAR) in the DVD's metadata read from the disc:
4:3 => non-anamorphic
16:9 => anamorphic

And as e.g. can be seen in [2] in the OP, for the "problematic" DVD MediaInfo says:
Display aspect ratio : 4:3

I also checked the DVD which on the cover said "Widescreen version" (and "Widescreen 1.85:1 (anamorphic)" on the retailer's website), but had the same problem as described in the OP. And MediaInfo reported it as having a DAR of 4:3. I.e. it was not anamorphic after all, which explains the problem.

So CrowKiller and the rest of the persons who have responded in this thread were correct with regards to the "root cause" of the problem I described in the OP. Thanks to you all.
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Old 04-06-2020, 03:04 PM   #10
chip75 chip75 is online now
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You can usually tell if a disc is anamorphic in about five seconds after playing it!

Box art aren't always correct with their labels, we've had a couple of DVDs in the UK that seem to be always wrong.

You can also get windowboxed content on anamorphic DVDs, something like Enchanted has a shifting ratio.



There's also the case of some SONY players automatically displaying non-anamorphic DVDs 16:9.
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Old 04-07-2020, 04:09 AM   #11
shinobipopcorn shinobipopcorn is offline
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I have an old flipper disc of Spaceballs, widescreen on one side and pan & scan on the other. But as I discovered when I went to watch the widescreen side the one day, it is set up for the old style 4:3 CRTs, just as described in post #2. This is how the majority of laserdiscs are set up.

Sadly, my new television does not allow the zoom setting to be used on the composite input channel, and watching a laserdisc produces a picture just like the OP.
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Old 01-23-2023, 07:20 PM   #12
ScareBearDan ScareBearDan is offline
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Some old DVDs that aren't anamorphic might still say "widescreen" on the case because they are giving you the widescreen aspect ratio encoded to view on a 4:3 television, which leads to the black bars on all sides on a widescreen television (they would only be on the top and bottom on a 4:3 full screen television). The DVD case might even say 1:85:1 (or some other widescreen aspect ratio), but if it doesn't specifically say anamorphic or "enhanced for 16x9 televisions", there's a good chance it was encoded for old CRT television screens and you'll have black bars on all sides.
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Old 01-24-2023, 04:18 AM   #13
Warm Gun Warm Gun is offline
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You'd think they would have learned their lesson from this and designed Blu-ray for custom aspect ratios rather than only 16:9. Lo and behold, we have the same problem now with ultra wide displays. Encoded black bars in fixed AR movies were stupid then and are stupid now.
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Old 01-25-2023, 04:52 PM   #14
Hydra Spectre Hydra Spectre is offline
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I am still annoyed having the Evangelion movie DVDs from Manga in non-anamorphic.
The Manga dub in the GKIDS Blu-rays has been altered (no Fly Me to the Moon in Death, 5.1-only in EoE instead of 6.1 Discrete). And you can’t even crop it to 16:9 since the subtitles are in the black bars, while even the dub has some subtitles for on-screen Japanese text.
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