Ghostbusters 1 & 2 were filmed in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio (approximately), which is Anamorphic Widescreen. If you've only seen the Pan & Scan cropped version on VHS or TV, then you're missing out on half of the picture. Even worse, some of you may have seen the 1.66:1 aspect ratio version of Ghostbusters II that was released on laserdisc (and some videocassettes). Thanks to the DVD releases, you can see both films as they were meant to be seen: in their full 2.35:1 widescreen glory. In an effort to show what is missing in Pan & Scan, and praise the films for all they're worth, I have put together this page that truly shows why both films were meant to be seen in widescreen.
Q: What is the difference between Letterbox and Widescreen?
A: Well, here's a generalized answer: "Letterboxing is a video technique used to show theatrical widescreen films on a television or computer monitor in their proper aspect ratio (so you can see the whole widescreen picture)." Here's a lengthy involved answer provided by Raffaele Ruffaldi: When we speak of "Widescreen version" or "Letterbox version," you are right, it indicates the same thing. However, there's a difference when applying those terms to home video playback -- especially with DVDs and TVs. "Widescreen" & "Letterbox" are two different methods of rendering the pictures on the screen. The "Letterbox" mode permits one to see the movie to it's ORIGINAL size by adding black bars at the top and bottom of the display. The resulting picture is smaller than the actual size of the screen but has the correct aspect ratio. "Widescreen" is a method used to display pictures on the 16/9 TVs. It reduces the size of the black bars at the top & bottom of the screen, but stretches the image to the display. This leads to a "bar-less" viewing, but with a distorted aspect ratio. Most 16/9 TVs let you choose from "Widescreen," "Letterbox," and Pan & Scan". It should also be noted that the newest DVDs are encoded as "Anamorphic Widescreen." This keeps the correct aspect ratio on "widescreen" display. The GB1 DVD is an anamorphic DVD so it's ratio is 2.35:1 in whatever display you use (1.33 1.66 or 1.77). Other DVDs may have a distorted picture in 1.77 mode. The difference is minimal when applyed to DVD playback on computers (as computer monitors are all 4:3). In summary ... LETTERBOX: Aspect ratio: As the movie was originally encoded, but with black bars. WIDESCREEN: Aspect Ratio: 1.77 -- with minimal black bars. Therefore I would, and I do, see movies in Letterbox. Although there are bars, the image is not distorted. This is important to know as the Video Commentary on GB1 DVD seems to not work in "Widescreen" mode. In this case, don't switch to 4/3 mode as most people do, switch to "Letterbox" (to see it without cropping).
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