Barco Residential projectors are designed and built in our technology centers in Belgium and Norway. Know-how and craftmanship not only belong to our culture. They're part of our DNA.
This is where Barco’s technology comes in: on Barco projectors, the image is scaled diagonally – a uniform process that maintains perfect geometry while utilizing more pixels, almost 2.7 million. The result is an image that fills the entire 5120x2160 space available – real CinemaScope!
We refer to this as ‘cropping’, and there are several features under the cropping function in the menu. The procedure crops off the black bars over and under the image and changes the aspect ratio to CinemaScope. At Barco, we scale an image so that it fills the complete height of 3840x2160 pixels; and then, to maintain the aspect ratio, the image is scaled sideways to fill the complete CinemaScope chip. But we do this as one step, as diagonal stretch.
CinemaScope movie projected by Barco CinemaScope projector on 2.39:1 aspect ratio screen
16:9 program projected by Barco CinemaScope projector on a 2.39:1 aspect ratio screen (black bars left and right)
Installers today offer both options, but they
have three drawbacks:
• Anamorphic lenses and the ‘constant
height’ option are more problematic now,
because the integrator has to return to
the site to adjust the inaccuracy in the
anamorphic lens or the lens memory
• The quality of the image is the second
drawback. A lens with the amount of
zoom to support both 16:9 and 2.39:1 is
expensive, if the quality should be as good
as that of a lens without that zoom range.
• The third drawback is that you actually
increase the pixel size by zooming the
image 34.4% (from 16:9 up to 2.39:1). And
an image with larger pixels is less sharp
and has geometric distortions (such as
• The fourth drawback is that 2.39:1 will
be 34.4% less bright then 16:9
So, many installers have often thought:
wouldn’t it be great to have a projector that
could just switch between formats – with no
extra lenses, no fuss, and no need for return
Most movies that are released in commercial theaters today are in 2.39:1(2.40:1) format. (People still often call this format 2.35:1 but in fact that format has not been in use since the 1970s when the standard was changed to 2.39:1).
The term ‘CinemaScope’ is used for all of these different versions, despite the technical differences. Important for the home market, of course, Blu-rays are released in 1920x1080 (4K Blu-rays are 3840x2160, with an aspect ratio of 16:9 (1.77:1)).
The CinemaScope series projectors have a unique automatic aspect ratio detection function. It will detect the content aspect ratio and automatically scale the image to fit the required resolution in this case 5120 x 2160 and of course change back to 16:9 (3840x2160) if you have content in that format. Where required, clients can manually override the auto aspect detection/switching system and recall a specific, or custom format of their choosing.
This function also changes the aspect ratio when a scope format movie has menus outside the active picture frame (as shown in the illustration on the right). When hitting the menu button, or changing to 16:9 movie content, the projector automatically adjusts the image shape. You can also, as mentioned, switch manually between the different formats through onscreen or remote control commands.
The history of CinemaScope
Ever since its first stirrings in the 1920s – when French inventor Henri Chrétien developed and patented his film process called ‘anamorphoscope’ – and on through the format’s true birth in the 1950s, CinemaScope has held its own as a format in an ever-changing world. However, in the America of the 1950s, TV was eating into cinema’s audience. Studios and cinema owners needed a new weapon to impress audiences. Spyros P. Skouras, president of 20th Century Fox at the time, green-lighted the creation of CinemaScope movies – the first one being the classic sword and sandals epic, The Robe. The format was a hit, delivering an experience movie fans had simply never had before. And the cinemas loved the format, because it was relatively easy to move over to the new system – all they needed to do was fit an anamorphic lens onto their existing projector. Plus, as a technician was always on-site,
maintaining and aligning the projectors was no problem at all.