chapter  9
11 Pages

Widescreen composition and TV

After more than 20 years of argument about what should be the technical standards for a universal higher definition television system (see Chapter 7), the only consensus arrived at was to change the shape of the screen. The new aspect ratio was to be 16:9. In most countries, apart from a gradual transition from analogue to digital production/ reception, this new screen shape was the only change that survived the international aspiration towards an HDTV service. The adoption of a 16:9 television screen was a compromise that

enabled programme makers to avoid producing programmes in two aspect ratios during the transitional period, provided precautions were taken in the composition of shots during production. That is, each shot was a compromise between the two aspect ratios (see ‘Protect and save’, below). Just as film makers had faced many compositional problems in trying to accommodate two or more incompatible viewing formats on the same negative, so television programme makers, 30 or 40 years later, were faced with similar irreconcilable framings. Secondly, it allowed improved transmission of feature films

although still requiring either the much disliked (by the film industry) panning and scanning or, alternatively, transmitting the whole frame with black bands at the top and bottom of the new 16:9 screen.