The Monster Channel thinks you're an idiot.

Elmo Oxygen

New Member
Original poster
Jan 8, 2004
A few nights ago, I spent a long time on the phone talking to a VOOM rep, trying to find out specifics, and from what I was able to understand, on all their HD channels, the programming is in the ratio of 1.78. This is fine on newer programming or movies that were shot in 1.85. But they are doing it on older programming, like a movie made before 1954, or a television program made before the last few years, and therefore cropping off many heads, as well as with 2.35 movies, and cropping the sides about 30%.

A few hours ago, I was at the Chiller/Fangoria convention in New Jersey, and lo and behold, there was a representative from the Monster Channel, several, in fact, including the head programmer in charge of decisions as to what airs and how it airs. I asked if they show all their movies, even older ones, in 1.78. He told me they did, and that a real horror fan would not care that it was slightly cropped either way, because the image would be so sharp. He insisted I was not a real horror fan, beacuse I was a "purist" who wanted things the way they were shown in a theater, and that I should stick with DVDs. I pointed out that since very few people had heard of VOOM (and that seems to be the only way to see the Monster Channel at the moment), it was probably a bit foolish to deliberately alienate people, and that there were a lot more, like me, who objected to deliberate and knowing cropping of the image. He said I was the first to make such a complaint and that, really, no one who really likes horror movies (I did not mention any film I was a pro or con on) will care that it's in the wrong ratio. He then said I had no right to complain, because I may have an HDTV, but it's a 4X3 HDTV, and only people with widescreen TV's really understood HD. This is, of course, utter crap, since my resolution goes up just as high as 16X9 TV's, and I have a 16X9 mode. The only difference is how thick the letterboxing is on my TV.

Anyway, I asked him, since the VOOM receiver offers squeezing and zooming options for those who want to adjust letterboxing and have the image fill up their screen, why is he not letting the customer make up their mind on how they would like to see the film, and not making the decision for them? Then he claimed that this is the version that the studio was sending him (cropped 35MM film prints? Ha!!!!), that they were then turning into 1080I for broadcast on their HD channel. He insisted that he had personally screened all of the movies, and these 1.78 versions were what he preferred. At that point, I realized that there was nothing I could say to him that would either make sense in his world, nor make him sound any more foolish than he already was.

Why tell this story if not much can be done about it, if the guy is this hard headed and believes that no one else will care? Anyone going to Chiller/Fangoria this weekend (for Joe Bob, Ving Rhames, Selma Blair, a Friday the 13th reunion, Bill Lustig, Ron Perlman*, etc.) can go to this booth and express what he seems to believe no one thinks, that horror fans do care about proper OAR presentation, and that chopping off heads is only cool if it's done within the movie, not because some idiot wanted to fill up his 16X9 TV. His booth was in the right corner of the dealer's room (of which there is only one this year).

P.S. Fangoria editor and "host" of the Weekend of Horrors, Tony Timpone, sucks more than House of the Dead, and anyone who gets a chance, should kick him in the shins. Although, honestly just from looking at him, you'll want to do that without my suggestion.

*Guilermo Del Toro has gastrointestinal problems, and is in the hospital and will not be showing up at the convention.
Believe me Mr. Oxygen, I paid good money for a 16X9 HDTV, and I want every square inch of real estate filled with non squeezed and non streched video (and actually the squueze option is to make widescreen content fit on a 4x3 tv, it won't fix the letterboxing of a 2.35 to 1 on a 16x9 tv)

anyway, I do NOT care about OAR, I care about having the image fit my screen witout distorting it

I understand your frustration because I myself would like the movies to be shown in its OAR. However, most people will say that they will not like to see black bars (top-bottom or on the sides) if they know that they are supposed to get the movies in HD. Right now, HD programming is just starting. Do I think that in the future we might have more HD movies shown in their OAR? I believe that someone out there will pick up on this and will try to get money by showing ONLY movies in its OAR. Yes, I wished the Monsters-HD channel would do this but just to think that we have this vast library of movies in HD (even if cropped) is unthinkable! the production cost of doing this is not cheap and I have to say go for it and try to make your revenue (based on filling the whole screen) but later on it will be different, imo.

A lof of these movies looked exceptionally excellent, pq wise, even if cropped. Could you imagine how they would look if OAR? Again, I think we are seeing the baby steps of HD programming. VOOM has taken this initiative where others had the same opportunity but did not. I applaude them for that. I rather watched these movies now on non-OAR than not having them at all. Don't get me wrong I completely agree with your argument.:) I am just trying to rationalize the why. The best thing to do is to keep complaining and complain to VOOM. I know a few people that had already complaint and found it quite amazing that the MONSTERS channel executives have not heard this!
Cablevision was originally going to launch the Moster channels a standard definition channel. They were going to sell it to other cable and satellite providers like they do for AMC.
It is my suspicion that they are going to still launch this channel as a SD channel eventually. If they do the chop and crop stuff that they are doing makes sense. People with SD sets want a full screen and they alreay have the work done on a cleaned up digital print.
Cablevision might try and keep Monsters HD exclusive to VOOM as a way to entice people to upgrade to VOOM. Or they might just sell the HD channel to other cable operators just the way they do for AMC.
As Delmar said in Oh Brother Where Art Thou, "I'm with you fellers".

Fill my screen, and don't distort! I don't care if I don't see the elm tree on the far left.

Please keep up the good work.

OAR is important. I like to see all the movie, whether it started as 4:3 and is pillarboxed to show the full top & bottom (not cut off heads like HDnet) or scope and want to see full width w/o cropping.

The fact that you have a 4:3 HDTV undescores that if you can live with additional black space above & below that folks with 16:9 sets can deal with skinny bars.

That said, I always keey normall/full/anamorphic in HD mode even though I can distort the picture to fit the full monitor (as many new sets do). Until the time that everyone can mutilate (or improve, depending on perspective) the geometry of a picture, which is a value judgement, I would like to see multiple showings alternate between OAR and "full screen." When DVRs for Voom (very cool DVRs incidentally) come in, then picking the preferred showing will be less hassle. If there has to be one format, I would always say OAR, as the difference on a minority of films (and the Sho HD & TMC) sho.

Wow. I'd heard folks existed that had to have their screen filled, but I thought the breed had died out with the advent of widescreen dvd's.

I'm not a purist, but neither is the original poster. You do lose content, and you certainly lose intent, when a film is shown in something other than OAR.

I can tolerate the cropping on some films - let's face it, these aren't all great cinema. If I lose some of How To Make A Monster, so be it. But when I have my druthers, I always druther OAR.

I have more on The Monster Channel issue, including yet another confrontation (I'm good at those) with the head of programming, but this time there was a positive result. He actually approached me in the lobby as I was about to leave because I had caused such a scene earlier in the day when he wasn't there, and while it began as a heated argument, it ended on amiable terms, with him giving me an idea of what he would need to take to his boss in order to present a cogent argument for offering multiple formats (which was what I was pushing for at minimum) to viewers. He has asked me to write an email to run by him, and he will let me know what he would want adjusted. He also said a petition would be most helpful in getting across how widespread this issue is with possible subscribers. I have already posted this thread at the HTF, DVDManiacs, AVS, and HorrorDVDs, but anyone who wants to spread the word to other boards, please do, and I can get more support for the issue. I'll post the final version of the email/petition later in the week when it's finished.

thanks for your all your effort on this. I am sure you will find a lot of support here for multiple format support. Thanks...
Looking forward to letter. I think Michael's position mirror's mine and is a reasonable approach (but all epics should be in OAR!!!!!! ;))

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