Anamorphic DVD

Anamorphic DVD: Term used to describe high-quality widescreen DVDs

Greek roots:
- "morphic" denotes "form or shape,"
- "an" : "without"

DVDs that utilize an anamorphic transfer are capable of "reshaping" the image displayed on a television. Before the advent of anamorphic video, A DVD of a widescreen production could be created to fit the 4:3 width to height ratio of standard televisions ("letterbox" format.) Images from these editions include black bars at the top and bottom of the screen to allow the entire widescreen image to be shown on a standard TV. However, viewing a letterbox (non-anamorphic) DVD on a widescreen TV requires the image to be stretched horizontally and vertically. This is done by simply magnifying all of the existing pixels on the screen, reducing image quality. In order to allow widescreen TV owners to see a movie on their widescreen TV without sacrificing image clarity, anamorphic DVDs were created.

Anamorphic DVDs are specially encoded to include more visual information than standard DVDs. The anamorphic image is vertically pre-stretched to prevent image quality loss. If one uses a widescreen television, the TV only has to stretch the image horizontally like it would do for any widescreen broadcast. The result is a picture that properly fits the width of the screen with only one stretch instead of two. Thus, the image is much sharper than that of non-anamorphic DVDs.

In terms of scale: the widescreen image from an anamorphic DVD transfer is 78% larger than its 4:3 counterpart. Because 33% of the increase comes from additional vertical data on the DVD and 33% from horizontal stretching, the increase in resolution is only half of the total increase in size. As a result, the picture is 78% larger and looks 33% "better" on a widescreen television.

When an anamorphic DVD is played on a standard 4:3 TV, every fourth line of this vertically stretched image is ignored and extra black space is added at the top and bottom when sending the signal to the TV. The viewer still obtains an excellent "letterbox" picture that virtually mirrors that of non-anamorphic DVDs. Anamorphic video alleviates the need of separate 4:3 and 16:9 images with the added benefit of higher video quality.

Currently, many anime DVDs of theatrical releases are anamorphic. Depending on the release studio, indication of anamorphic enhancement may be noted as "enhanced for 16x9 televisions," "enhanced for widescreen televisions," "enhanced for 16x9," "widescreen 16x9," "16x9 anamorphic," or "anamorphic widescreen."

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