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Playing With / Letterbox

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Basic trope: Showing the entirety of an image in a screen with a different Aspect Ratio, with rectangular bars (usually black) filling in the unused space.

  • Straight:
    • A 2.39:1 frame on a 16:9 screen
    • A 16:9 frame on a 4:3 screen
  • Exaggerated:
    • A 2.39:1 frame or wider on a 4:3 screen
    • Horizontal video on a vertical screen, or visa versa
    • Black bars on all sides, aka Windowbox
  • Downplayed:
    • A 1.85:1 frame on a 16:9 screen
    • A 14:9why?  frame on a 4:3 screen
  • Advertisement:
  • Lampshaded: "These black bars make it much more cinematic"
  • Justified: The director specifically shot and blocked the movie for widescreen, and letterbox format shows the whole frame
  • Enforced: The director will not allow Pan and Scan, Open Matte or squished releases
  • Inverted:
    • Pan and Scan
    • Pillarbox (when the content is narrower than the screen, such as 4:3 content on a 16:9 screen)
  • Subverted: The opening credits were letterboxed, but the movie is Pan and Scan
  • Double Subverted: Until an Aspect Ratio Switch reveals only the first scene is in the TV's ratio
  • Parodied:
  • Zig-Zagged: The video is letterboxed, then stabilized. That means the letterbox appears to move semi-randomly
  • Averted:
    • Pan and Scan, Visual Compression or Open Matte is used
    • Advertisement:
    • The movie has the same aspect ratio as the TV
  • Played for Drama: Eyed Screen
  • Played for Laughs: The letterbox doesn't like one of the characters, and hides them
  • Played for Horror: The letterbox closes in to create claustrophobia
  • Exploited: