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July 12, 2012, 11:59 a.m.
Sam Rosen Practice Director
How painful is it to watch a stretched 4:3 movie in 16:9 formats? The best TV in the world today doesn’t prevent this problem – it typically stores aspect ratios on a per-input basis. This works about 80% of the time. Sometimes we’re unaware of why something looks off – and just tune away. Other times we suffer through, and a few of us actually find the right remote and get the image to look right before we watch (I’m probably in the minority there). Similar problems appear in the audio chain (using 2.1 sound on a 7.1 system makes the A/V receiver infer where things are happening rather than having that information come from the carefully encoded version made at the studio).
THX is pitching a Media Director technology in which ‘artistic intent’ metadata, including aspect ratio, color space, type of content (sports, action, drama, etc) gets embedded in the content and passed (through the HDMI cables) from device to device. The A/V receiver then self-configures the audio delivery, while the TV panel self-configured the TV delivery.
How realistic is this? THX appears to have good progress to report with movie studios as well as Japanese and high-end A/V receiver and TV companies. They say they are being very aggressive on licensing fees – trying to penetrate the entire market. My bet right now is it will improve the high-end A/V experience – but I’ll be happy to admit my wrong when I see it on a mid-range Korean TV set.