How To Fix Black Bars/Aspect Ratio For Movies

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tv black bars

You may be wondering if you can change the aspect ratio of your TV for a more cinematic experience, most movies produced today are made using an anamorphic aspect ratio (2.39:1) which makes for an ultra-wide movie that results in the black bars you see on top of 16:9 screens. It can be annoying seeing only a portion of your screen being utilized, but there are ways to solve this issue.

Black bars are causes when an image is being displayed on a display that isn’t native to its aspect ratio. This results in black bars on either the top and bottom or either side. Depending on the aspect ratio of the image, and the display, the black bars can be quite prevalent which can ruin your cinematic experience. It’s worth noting that some TVs cannot have their aspect ratio changed.

You’re most likely using a display that has a resolution of the 16:9 aspect ratio, usually 1920×1080 or 3840×2160. So anamorphic aspect ratios will usually result in thin black bars on the top and bottom of the screen, and 4:3 will result in black bars on the sides of the screen. With that being said, let’s get discover whether you can fix the black bar issue.

Easiest Solution To Fixing Black Bars

The easiest solution to fixing black bars is to somehow enlarge the image till it fills up your screen 100%. Enlarging the image results in a portion of the of the image being cropped, if the black bars are on the top and bottom, then the sides of the image will be cropped, the same is true if the black bars are on the sides, then the top and bottom of the image will be cropped.

Although unconventional, the best solution to black bars is to purchase a TV that is of the correct aspect ratio to the movie you’re watching. Most movies are produced using the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, so you’ll need to pick up a display that uses that aspect ratio, the problem is most TVs are made using the 16:9 aspect ratio therefore finding a TV/Display that uses the 2.39:1 aspect ratio may be difficult.

Depending on your TV, there should be an option on the remote which says “full screen” or something along those lines. Pressing this button should automatically enlarge the image till the black bars are gone. Some movies have different aspect ratio options for them, so you shouldn’t lose a portion of the image when enlarging it, Ensure the movie selected is filmed in different aspect ratios.

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What Causes Black Bars?

Black bars are caused when content of a different aspect ratio to your TV is being displayed. The content being played isn’t able to fully encompass your display without cropping the image out, so the best solution to this is to compensate by shrinking the image till there are black bars.

In today’s age, the standard for HDTV is 16:9, but many films are still being recorded in 2.39:1 for a more cinematic experience, if you’re trying to build a home theater, and you’ve opted to go the TV route, then you’ll likely experience black bars with a lot of the movies you watch. Some films may support multiple aspect ratios, so this shouldn’t always be an issue.

As you can see in the image below, you have three screens of different aspect ratios, if the screen is in a solid color then it means the screen is displaying an image of its native aspect ratio. The 4:3 aspect ratio that is meant to closely resemble a square is an old-school aspect ratio that has been largely abandoned for larger screens such as 21:9 and 16:9. It’s unlikely to run into movies still using this aspect ratio, maybe very old movies.

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Why Are Movies Filmed In 2.39:1 and not 16:9?

Movies aren’t filmed in the 16:9 aspect ratio because the aspect ratio that they use which is 2.39:1 provides a more cinematic experience. The 16:9 aspect ratio was never meant to be a movie aspect ratio, and movies have a long history of being shot in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. It makes it frustrating that most movies will display black bars because the people who standardized the modern TV aspect ratio didn’t consider that movies did not use 16:9.

Movies are not filmed for TVs, they’re filmed to be displayed in movie theaters, and movie theaters use screens that use the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The closest TV you can get to the 2.39:1 aspect ratio is the 21:9 ultra-widescreen aspect ratio. It isn’t quite 2.39:1, but it is much better than 16:9 screens being that the black bars are much less noticeable.

16:9 is a fairly new aspect ratio, and it became the new standard between the 1990s and the early 2000s, so it makes sense why movies have not adopted the latest standard. The 2.39:1 aspect ratio has been in use much longer, since the 1970s, filmmakers have been using this aspect ratio, and its widely used for theatrical viewing, TV commercials, and music videos.

Also Read: Aspect Ratio

Do Black Bars Cause Burn In With OLED TVs?

There is a risk of a similar effect to burn-in due to watching too much content with black bars on OLED TVs. burn-in is caused by uneven usage of the pixels on your screen, if you keep watching 2.39:1 content on your 16:9 TV, then there is a possibility that the pixels on the top and the bottom of the screen to receive less usage resulting in the areas that had black bars will be brighter than the areas that did not.

You should try to utilize all the pixels evenly if you’re using an OLED TV, to do this, you should be able to enlarge the image to make the black bars disappear. You may have some of the image cut off, but if the movie was recorded in multiple aspect ratios, then you shouldn’t have to worry about black bars and cropped movies.

If you don’t want to risk the possibility of bright spots on your screen, then the next best option would buy a QLED TV. QLED TVs don’t suffer from burn-ins as much as QLED TVs due to how they work. They’re one of the most durable TVs and suffer from no burn-ins, additionally, they get fairly bright which is great for bright environments.

is contrast ratio important?

Conclusion

In conclusion, the best ways to fix black bars would be to enlarge the image or if the image supports multiple asp[etc ratios, choose the aspect ratio that is native to your screen. If this isn’t possible, then a portion of the image will be cropped. Or you can just purchase a 21:9 TV that closely resembles the 2.39:1 aspect ratio for thin black bars.