TV killed the Movie

Romeo + Juliet poster

So i'm watching live TV because I'm ill and am really waiting for the IT Crowd to start. Anyway Film 4 have Baz Lurhmann's Romeo + Juliet starting and I thought I've not seen that for ages and boy I love the sound track and start of the movie. I mean who doesn't remember the petrol station scene at the very start of the movie? It's a classic and one of the best starts to a film ever.

But Channel4 or Film4 killed it for me. They resize the beautiful 2.35:1 panavision aspect ratio down to 16:9 and cut off he edges! There should be a law against such things. It looked stupid on my large widescreen LCD, and it wouldn't have hurt them to add a small border on the top and bottom to keep the ratio correct and not slice off the left and right of the picture. But they wouldn't let it lie, no. They also soften the dynamic sound track using some kind of dampener or compressor. Its the equivalent of listening to a Dolby Digital track through a pair of ipod headphones (yes I now have a pair and I can tell you my Vodafone 12 pounds headphones are so much better that those white bud things, avoid at all cost). On most AV systems with digital sound, theres this thing called Midnight mode. From the Dolby site, it works like this.

Midnight mode allows low-volume listening with high-volume benefits, reducing the volume on just the loud effects of a program, increasing the volume on quiet sounds, and maintaining dialogue at a consistent level. A Dolby Digital feature applies dynamic range compression that preserves low-level sounds, prevents dramatic passages from getting too loud, and keeps dialogue intelligible during lower-level listening.

The amount of compression is not arbitrary, but is decided in advance by the soundtrack's producers and coded right onto the soundtrack.

Some Dolby Digital decoders let you select various amounts of the available compression (for example, 50, 75, 100 percent), while others provide only 100 percent when the compression mode is selected.

Well they applied this technique to the whole movie but at like 100 percent. It was dull, lifeless and flat (that is me being nice). In the end I turned the bloody thing off and watched something else till a excellent IT Crowd. I was that pissed off…

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.