This page will demonstrate how nearly 45% of an original movie is lost when seen in Pan & Scan format (the format commonly used for older television broadcasts). Today, most shows are being broadcasted in 16x9 format, so this page is a bit irrelevant.
The aspect ratio of width to height is 2.35:1 or 1.85:1 for most movies when seen at a movie theater. The aspect ratio of an older TV screen is only 1.33:1. Today's TVs are actually in 1.78:1 format. This is a huge difference as you can see, so when a movie gets transferred for home use, to be viewed on a regular older television set, the film needs to be cropped, and therefore only about half of the original movie is visible at all times when watching a 2.35:1 film.
Below are some examples of how a film gets cropped when transferred to a Pan & Scan version.
Widescreen formats (or versions) are widely available on DVDs and laserdiscs. And some, but not all, video tape titles are offered in widescreen format.
A lot of people don't like widescreen versions because of the apparent black bars that appear onscreen. These bars seem to waste more than half of the TV screen. But when the widescreen version of a movie is shown on a big-screen television the loss of viewing field isn't so bad. People tend to think they lose more of the movie when watching the widescreen version. This is not the case. They actually get to see it the way it was shown in theaters with a width to height aspect ratio of 2.35:1 OR 1.85:1 .
The widescreen version appears to be smaller on a TV set than a pan & scan version does, so it is NOT recommended that you view any widescreen version of a movie on a TV screen smaller than 19 inches.
Widescreen format is also referred to as "Letterboxed."
Here are some examples of scenes from the movies Halloween and Jaws in Pan & Scan, then in the Widescreen version. (These movies were originally filmed in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1)
(NOTE: Keep in mind that these stills are not the exact frame in both the Pan & Scan and Widescreen example, but they are close enough, so they serve for a fairly decent demo which is the intent of this page.)