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UK changeover from 4:3 to 16:9 aspect ratio

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  • UK changeover from 4:3 to 16:9 aspect ratio

    Could someone please tell me in what year this momentous event happened? From memory, not all regions got 16:9 at the same time (or was it just that not many people had widescreen TVs)?

  • #2
    Someone else asked a very similar question! According to Wiki, about 2000, although C5 waited until 2001. But apparently stuff was being made in widescreen earlier., with the BBC producing in the format from 1998 if not before, as did Sky Apparently 2000 was the year that adverts for screening were no longer allowed to be in 4:3, so evidently it became standard at that point.

    On the other hand, the (relatively cheap) Philips CRT TV that I got in 2005 from Sainsburys was still 4:3 - I was watching widescreen TV at work selling TV's way before I could watch it at home.
    Last edited by Bonekicker; 22nd February 2018, 07:59 PM.


    • #3
      Of course I don't have any problem with 16.9 if they show a movie that was shot in wide-screen.
      But when it's an old movie filmed in standard ratio (1.33 or 1.37) some channels just cut off above and below and this is inufferable, and even criminal.
      Just as was the Pan & Scan, or the cropping on both sides of a wide-screen movie on our ancient TV sets.


      • #4
        As far as I am aware, analogue TV only showed a 4:3 picture - the widescreen flag was never set to make the picture fill a 16:9 screen (assuming that people left the TV on auto and didn't force the TV to 16:9). Digital versions of the same channels began showing selected programmes in widescreen around 2000.

        Once programmes started to be made in 16:9, analogue channels began showing them in a compromise format, 14:9: they zoomed the picture out slightly so it had black bars at the top and bottom, and cropped a bit off the sides - but not as much as if they'd simply cropped 16:9 to 4:3.

        Sometimes they changed the proportions of the picture slightly so people became very slightly fatter. Peak Practice, around the time that Saskia Wickham was in it (1996-1998), suffered this. It's as if they squashed the height of the picture from 12:9 (4:3) to 14:9 without rescaling the width by the same proportion.

        Interestingly, some programmes that have since been released on DVD have been released in 14:9 with bars and cropping, rather than using the original 16:9 master. There was a 4-part version of Oliver Twist dramatised by Alan Bleasdale on Channel 4. My original VHS recording from the digital version of C4 is in 16:9 (recorded as 4:3, so I have to manually set the TV to widescreen) but the DVD I bought of it a few years ago had been cropped to 14:9 (with slight cropping of the sides), as it would have been shown on the analogue version of C4. Given that a 16:9 master exists, I wonder why they didn't use it for the DVD release.


        • #5
          I've been encoding some stuff as MP4 for a private tracker that specialises in British TV & film. Lately its been a job toe know what the correct resolution should be. 14:9 explains a lot about my confusion - just didn't look right.