Widescreen vs Full Screen: This TedTalk Explains Why The Shape Of Your Screen Matters

You've seen the disclaimer: This film has been modified from its original format to fit on your TV screen.

What does that even mean? Turns out, it could mean several things.

It would seem that content is not designed to fit the majority of screens on which we consume it at home. For example, the typical TV is 1.33x wider than it is tall. But some theater movie screens are 3x wider than they are tall. On standard TVs, only 55% of a movie could fit on our TV screens at home. So a movie designed for the theater just won't fit on your homescreen without some serious scrunching.

Movie editors have created a "pan and scan" technique in which they go through the entire movie and pick and choose which part of the screen to show at any given moment.

Widescreen TVs are still only 1.79x wider than they are tall. so in viewing full screen, we still only see 75% of the movie!

That's why you should always switch to widescreen to watch movies. You'll get to see the full width of the film and maintain the correct aspect ratio so the actors and scenes don't get distorted. On smaller TVs, the sacrifice is that the height of the film might be somewhat small, to accommodate the full width. But isn't that better than knowing you might be missing 45% of the picture?

Do you normally watch in fullscreen or widescreen? If you were always a fullscreen viewer, will this change your mind?

Take a listen:



(Source: Ted-Ed)