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Anamorphic is a process where the video picture will be converted by the player for display on standard 4:3 TVs in letterbox or pan & scan form. The setup options of DVD players allow the viewer to indicate whether they have a 16:9 or 4:3 TV. In the case of a 4:3 TV, a second option lets the viewer indicate a preference for how the player will reformat anamorphic video.

If anamorphic video is not set by the user and shown unchanged on a standard 4:3 display, people will look tall and skinny as if they have been on a crash diet.

Letter Box:
[see example] Letterbox (often abbreviated to LBX) means the video is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio, which is wider than standard or widescreen TV. Black bars, called mattes, are used to cover the gaps at the top and bottom. 

These movies can be created in two different formats and this is why some movies have larger black bars: A 1.85 movie that has been letterboxed for 1.33 display has thinner mattes than a 2.4 movie letterboxed to 1.33 (28% of display height vs. 44%), although the former are about the same thickness as those of a 2.4 movie letterboxed to 1.78 (26% of display height). The mattes used to letterbox a 1.85 movie for 1.78 display are so thin (2%) that they're hidden by the overscan of most widescreen TVs. Some movies, especially animated features and European films, have an aspect ratio of 1.66, which can be letterboxed for 1.33 display or sideboxed for 1.78 display.

NTSC Standard: VHS Tapes made for the American, Canadian Markets, Asia the Americas are recorded in the NTSC Standard (American Standard). NTSC is the standard for almost everywhere but Europe, France & Russia.  US Customers

World Wide: Worldwide customers beware that there are different types of NTSC. Please make sure that your video plays US NTSC if you need NTSC.

PAL Standard: VHS Tapes made for the European Market, are recorded in the PAL Standard . European Customers

SECAM Standard: VHS Tapes made for the French and Russian Market, are recorded in the SECAM Standard. French Customers

Pan & Scan: [see example] Pan & scan means the thinner TV "window" is panned and zoomed across the wider movie picture, chopping off the sides. However, most movies today are shot soft matte, which means a full 1.33 aspect film frame is used. (The cinematographer has two sets of frame marks in her viewfinder, one for 1.33 and one for 1.85, so she can allow for both formats.) The top and bottom are masked off in the theater, but when the film is transferred to video the extra picture can be included during the pan & scan process. Pan & scan is primarily used for 1.33 formatting, since widescreen fans prefer that letterboxing be used to preserve the theatrical effect.

Regional DVD Coding: DVD video may have regional coding. [Glossary, DVD - Regional Coding]  

SRP: Suggested Retail Price as set by the studio or manufacturer.

Screen Ratios:
VHS Tapes and most TV's to date, are designed to have a 4:3 ratio. Many DVD, Laser Disc and some VHS tapes are offering LETTERBOX or WIDESCREEN typically a 16:9 ratios. [see example]

Street Date: A studio will set a release date for all videos, DVDs Games and Laser Discs. This is usually on Tuesday of each week and the product will be available in all store on that date.

THX: A set of quality-control standards pioneered by Lucasfilm. Encompassing theatrical presentation, home playback, and video mastering, "THX Certification" means many different things. Home theater components, for example, are tuned in such a manner to compensate for differences between theatrical and home playback. For more information, consult the THX website. 

Widescreen: [see example] (also see letterbox)

Widescreen: How do I get rid of the black bars at the top and bottom? The black bars are part of the letterbox process (see 3.5), and in most cases you can't get rid of them. If you set the display option in your player to fullscreen (or 4:3 or pan & scan) instead of letterbox, it won't do you any good. DVD players can present anamorphic video in pan & scan mode, but so far no DVD movies have been released with this feature enabled.

In some cases, there may be both a fullscreen and a letterbox version of the movie on the same disc, with a variety of ways to get to the fullscreen version (usually only one works, so you may have to try all three):

  1. Check the other side of the disc (if it's two-sided)
  2. Look for a full-screen choice in the main menu
  3. Use the "aspect" button on the remote control

Glossaries | General | Video &  DVD | Basic Internet Terms | Video & the Internet | Adult | FAQ's | Glossaries