TV Home Forum

Not a mock thread ... Is it time to drop the 4:3 safe zones

(April 2008)

This site closed in March 2021 and is now a read-only archive
It depends on the channel too, surely - BBC One is viewable with older technology while an obscure Sky channel requires a digital set top box. And it's a safe bet that people with Sky boxes also have new TVs.
harshy Founding member
cwathen posted:
So it really does beg the question: Why bother with 16:9 at all?

And to me the answer to that is simple; there was nothing wrong with 4:3 and there is no reason to move everything to 16:9.

4:3 was not invented as an aspect ratio; it was what eventually evolved as a decent compromise between space on the screen and the space the TV will take up in people's homes.

CRT based 16:9 TVs on the whole did not deliver a bigger, wider picture; popular pre-flat panel sizes like 28" and 32" widescreen did not actually make the picture any wider than the average 4:3 set being replaced, they simply reduced the height. Only since the explosion of flat panels on the market over the last couple of years, making sizes like 37" and 42" more practical has TV returned to delivering the same size of picture as it had 10 years ago when 25" and 28" 4:3 sets were commonplace. But flat panel TVs (LCDs in particular) simply do not deliver the same kind of picture quality that a decent CRT does, so it's questionable as to whether or not we're worse off than we were in the 90's as regards to the average size of picture and the quality of it.

The quality of graphic design has also IMO taken a massive downturn since the move away from 4:3 as a universal standard. Pretty much all logo design these days will end up delivering something text based with solid block colouring, to stop the logo looking particularly awful when it inevitably gets squashed/stretched by incorrectly set up displays (this IIRC was exactly the reason why the BBC logo was changed in 1997). Symbols like the Central cake and the Meridian Sun just wouldn't be designed in this day and age because the designer can't assume that the proportions will always be maintained correctly as they used to be able to.

This issue permeates not only TV branding, but the branding of any company which might ever have it's logo displayed on a screen - the result of the modern high street displaying a collection of austere cloned logos (always lower case lettering set against a solid background colour) rather than vibrant symbols which designers were happy to experiment with 10-20 years ago.

Adding in also the issues of budget LCD TVs using a 16:10 panel from a computer monitor (so such sets are INCAPABLE of displaying an image in it's correct proportions, regardless of the input source of the setup of screen) and I feel that in the name of progress the technical standards of UK TV have ended up in a very sorry state of affairs which would have engineers of the past turning in their graves.

I've held this view for years, and although I now (finally) own a 16:9 set, I've still yet to hear a single compelling reason (that doesn't involve marketing nonsense like 'golden ratio' or 'more natural' in it's explanation) to actually justify widescreen TV.

Widescreen TV has IMO created more issues than those which it was designed to correct. And from where I'm standing, 4:3 TV was not broke and didn't need fixing.

There is no real advantage to widescreen, certainly when it comes to shot composition, it is now shot that the subject appears closer to the top and bottom of the screen, if they shoot it in the old 4:3 way, the subject would appear distant, plus if the set design isn't correct, you would get unintentional subjects which weren't meant to be in the frame, i.e a guest's hand, so essentially, all the viewer gains is an extra 3cm in width, but lose the height of the picture.

Newer posts