my inner geek [firstname.lastname@example.org] wrote:
>And those HDTV standards? Why not a 2:1 aspect ratio, with square
>pixels, rather than 16:9.
Because 16:9 is a standard internationally recognized format which will fill the screen, and because a vast fraction of old shows were shot at 16:9 or 1.85:1 on 35mm film; they can be telecined and re-edited for a full HDTV frame. While some formats have gone out to 2.2:1 or wider, to the best of my knowledge no-one has ever shot 2:1 or plans to, so you'd never be able to fill the entire frame without cropping or letterboxing.
> Nothing wrong with a little black space on
>the left and right of the letterbox, instead of on the top and bottom.
What's wrong is that so many people complain about letterboxing even when they get to see more of the movie than they would with pan-and-scan. No media company with a clue will support a format which requires letterboxing.
While I think that HDTV is a pretty silly idea -- much better to store the movie digitally in the original format and have the TV convert it on the fly to whatever aspect ratio the user chooses -- within its limits the 16:9 format does make sense.