Ah, technology! This TVWriter™ minion loves tech, I gotta admit. But sometimes, well, I dunno if I can handle it anymore.
And this, I admit, is one of those times:
by Ben Travers
Television began by offering a square, 4:3 image. As home viewing grew more and more popular, HDTVs helped make the big screen’s 16:9 framing the standard for small screens, too, but now things are changing again. Content creators of all kinds — from Snapchat to NBC Entertainment to “Homecoming” director Sam Esmail — are sharing stories with vertical framings fit to your phone.
Say goodbye to widescreen and hello to… tallscreen? Thinscreen? Vertiscreen?
Whatever the kids decide to call it, taller, narrower frames are becoming more and more prevalent. As discussed on this week’s Very Good TV Podcast, take the new versions of “Saved by the Bell” — a series originally shot and broadcast in the box framing of its era that has now been recut into mini Instagram episodes. Oddly enough, even though Instagram made square images all the rage, these five-minute recaps are reformatted to utilize the full vertical frame of your phone.
Most of the images are simple zooms, focusing on Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) when he says something charming, or A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez) when he’s wearing pleated baggy khakis you just have to see from waist to ankle. But there’s a little more effort put to these cuts than cropping. In “Student Teacher Week,” when Zack asks Slater and Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Thiessen) to reach a compromise about the football kids cutting class, they both shout “No!” simultaneously, and the screen divides in half horizontally so you can see Slater on top and Kelly on the bottom. It holds this look until Kelly can give her morally superior final line and storm out of the room, when it goes back to a full vertical shot to better punctuate Zack’s difficult choice….