Earlier this week, tech heads entered into the debate over aspect ratios when it was revealed that “The Wire” was getting the HD treatment, but that the show was being re-cropped, from its original 4:3 version to 16:9 widescreen. Creator David Simon posted a long and thoughtful response on his blog, citing both the benefits and drawbacks of the move, but ultimately supported HBO‘s decision as it would (theoretically) bring “The Wire” to a wider audience. But now, Simon has updated his post with video examples so fans can compare and contrast, and this new resource will certainly spark further conversation on the matter.
In the first example, from the final episode of the second season, Simon writes that the death of Frank Sobotka has much more resonance because “the dockworkers are all that much more vulnerable, and that much more isolated by the death of their leader when we have the ability to go wider in that rare crane shot.”
However, as he shows in the pilot episode, sometimes the new framing takes away from some of the compositional choices. In this case, the wider framing weakens the cleverness of staging Wee Bey and D’Angelo, under neon “burgers” and “chicken” signs. And in the videos below, you can see how the scene evolved in the 16:9 transfer to go in tighter on the pair to try and maintain the original framing.
Thoughts? Does this change your mind on the matter? Weigh in below.