Pillarbox - Stylized Pillarboxing On Television

Stylized Pillarboxing On Television

Some high-definition television networks and TV stations use "stylized pillarboxing", meaning they fill-in the blank areas on the sides with their HD logo or other still or motion graphics, when the program being shown is only available in 4:3 aspect ratio (standard definition).

The use of graphics assures viewers that they are watching the HD version of a channel, instead of their thinking they are watching the SD version, along with filling the entire screen with a video image rather than the regular black bars. This also tells widescreen television sets with automatic resizing not to stretch the video, and instead to present it in the proper aspect ratio (although conversely, this may cause fullscreen SDTV sets and analog cable TV headends to horizontally compress or to windowbox the video).

A limited amount of local stations also apply custom pillarboxes, but most have removed them with both the advent of all-HD schedules and customer complaints about erroneous technical information in PSIP data. Some TV shows present an "echo" of the edges of the program video in the sidebars, usually blurred. Local TV stations in the U.S. typically use graphics or a simple color gradient for electronic news-gathering packages shown on their local HDTV news programs. This is because portable ENG cameras are often not in HD (due to their number and expense), even if the few permanent ones in the TV studio are.

Some channels have a similar format called "enhanced HD", in which extra informative graphics and text is shown on the side, such as expanded stock quotes, charts, and graphs on CNBC HD+.

Some Japanese anime switched from SD to HD during their run. Sometimes a flashback to a scene produced in SD had to be shown. For instance, in Naruto, the image of Naruto and Sasuke filled in the blank gaps as one of the SD-era flashbacks is being shown.

Also, in the Family Guy episode Back to the Pilot, Brian and Stewie travel back in time to when the show first premiered, in 1999. To show that, back then, they produced episodes in standard-definition, the entire scene was pillarboxed.

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