Stretch-o-vision™ - 4:3 stretched to fill the entire 16:9 screen
This is what I hate - when the 4:3 picture is stretched into a 16:9 aspect ratio. We all look short and fat. Well, actually I don't think I look too bad, always thought I should have been built like a tank! But no, on the whole a completely hateful distortion of geometry and reality - just look at the square and the circle.
it's what happens to my belt as I watch more and more TV.
Actually, you are right. some people think that their screen should be full, regardless of what the actual picture being shown is. If you happen to be watching a "full screen" version of a movie, it will not normally 'fill' the sides of a widescreen tv. Strechovision is what some broadcasters do to make people think they are getting the complete picture because it fills the screen. Even though it isn't supposed to fill the screen with that particular content. That way people, like my wife, won't complain about the bars on the edge of the screen. The easiest way to detect it is too look at things that are supposed to be round. In strechovision they will be wider then they are tall. I have seen a tv that will do this also, even was tricky about it. In the middle of the picture it was round, but as you got farther to the edge of the screen it got more and more streched.
I think the nickname "Stretch-o-Vision" actually refers to non-linear stretching often used by TNT-HD. It is similar to the "panorama" setting on many HDTVs. The nonlinear stretching process leaves objects in the center of the screen with approximately their original aspect ratio; objects at the left and right edges are distorted. Some people use "Stretch-o-Vision" term for any type of image stretching though.
TNT turned to a defense contractor called Teranex, which creates image processors for electronic battlefield observation, to create a new upconversion process. The Teranex processors ran algorithms that made it easier for battlefield observers to see through smoke or fog, or zoom in on certain images.
Using Photoshop, TNT doctored up some still-movie frames to give Teranex an idea of what they wanted the final upconverted image to look like.
"The upconversion that people could do at home [on their digital TVs] was nowhere near as good as what we could do at the time," he said. "It's not the same as a high-def original, but it's an enhanced viewing experience over 4:3."
The technology was licensed exclusively to TNT for a year, and has since been used by networks including HGTV and Discovery (for upconverting documentary footage snippets that are unavailable in HD). Fans dubbed the result "Stretch-O-Vision," but the proper name is FlexView.
I just added the following definition to our Glossary:
Stretch-o-Vision A.k.a. FlexView - a non-linear image stretching technology developed by Teranex and utilized by TNT-HD and some other HD channels. It allows a 4x3 formatted video to fill the entire 16x9 frame in such a way that objects at the left and right edges are more distorted than the objects in the center of the screen.
I've never seen Discovery stretch. They generally do a partial zoom. They don't quite zoom all the way to the edges of the screen- you will see thin black bars on the side, but they also chop the top and bottom edges off.
Technically speaking, this is even worse than stretching or "FlexView", because they are actually REMOVING part of the picture. But personally, I don't mind as much, because the picture is not actually distorted, just trimmed. I often don't notice the difference for a while. Any kind of stretching is obvious the second you turn to it.
HGTV/Food are the only channels that seem to be using FlexView these days.
In my opinion, here are the different ways to handle 4:3 programming in HD, from worst to best.
Destoys the picture- cannot be corrected at the viewers end.
- Any kind of zoom (Discovery channels)
Removes part of the picture permanently...however, does not distort the picture. Generally looks pretty good.
-Standard stretch/PAR change (Turner/A&E channels)
Distorts picture, but can usually be "undistorted" by most TVs.
-Logo bars (ESPN and most other sports channels/Hallmark Movies)
Leaves picture as is, but adds distracting logos.
-Pillarbox (ABC/Disney & NBC/Universal channels)
Leaves everything as is. Viewer has the choice to stretch it themselves, or view undistorted.
Stretch-O-Vision is also a domain name I registered when I realized nobody else had thought of doing it. My plan is to create a resource where people who are sick of distorted content on TV have a place to discuss what can be done. Without, of course, taking anything away from this place.
The content manager is pretty rough and I haven't really figured out what I ultimately want it to look like, but it's a start.
By the way, anyone who still doesn't know what Stretch-O-Vision (tm) is can see a real life example right now. TNT is showing "Star Trek: Insurrection" - compare the SD and HD versions. They are up to their old tricks again (maybe they never actually stopped, I don't watch TNT that much).
Stretch-o-vision is a generic term really. I know some insist that it's only flexview, but I see it and hear it used to describe any kind of stretching to fit the screen. Like Kleenex or Xerox, the term goes beyond the initial intended meaning.
What is particularly insidious about stretch-o-vision is that it's non-linear. That's what makes it impossible to undo by the linear squish offered by a lot of news TVs. If it was just a linear stretch, you'd hear a lot less complaining because the linear horizontal squish could undo the damage.