Aspect Jumping

Aspect Jumping FLOW

Image: J.D. Connor

“The sort of deeply meant aspect jumping we see in TDK is almost absent on television, where shifts from 4:3 to 16:9 and back happen far more often. At some level that isn’t surprising. Hollywood cinema has managed to fret publicly over medium specificity as part of its assertion of cultural primacy even in an era where an ascendant television has made stronger and stronger claims to quality, even superiority. There is a reason that Keanu Reeves can get excited enough about the digital turn that he wants to talk to everyone about it, as he does in the documentary Side by Side (Kenneally, Tribeca, 2012).

But if aspect jumping in film is an occasion for obsession, it has been all but neglected in television studies, and that, too, seems almost natural. Ask yourself: what was the last 4:3 tv show you watched? You probably know that The Master is in limited 70mm release and that it is likely one of the very last films in that format. You probably cannot say what the last 4:3 television series on ABC was. (It was Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.)

Some blame for this ignorance falls to us as scholars. But surely the larger share belongs to television industry itself, which has a vested interest in downplaying epochal events in its own technological history because its industrial organization makes a hash of any such historical breakpoints.” (J.D. Connor, FLOW)

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