A Few Words About Aspect Ratios

Moviegoers — even some cinephiles — probably don’t know as much as they should about aspect ratios. It took the dominance of DVD to educate mainstream consumers about the difference between “widescreen” and “pan-and-scan” formats, and many viewers don’t even care about the distinction as long as their TV’s screen is fully filled. (Making matters worse, new HDTVs have a different aspect ratio from conventional sets, meaning that movies that appear full-screen on one will likely be letterboxed on the other.) Here’s a crash course.

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