letterbox« BACK TO DICTIONARY INDEX
(v., adj.) To crop the top and bottom of the screen while displaying video. Programs recorded in the original aspect ratio of film, which is proportionately wider than the aspect ratio of a computer or television monitor, will often appear with black bands above and below the viewing area. These bands are called the letterbox effect. The two formats whose framing shares a native aspect ratio of 16:9 are film and digital video. When high-definition television (HDTV) signals are viewed on a standard television tube with an approximate aspect ratio of 4:3, the letterbox effect results, unless a considerable amount of the picture is cropped from the sides.