pan & scan - Computer Definition
To reformat a wide screen movie for a standard definition (SD) TV screen, which is more square. Prior to the advent of wide screen TVs, pan & scan was performed on many films for home viewing. Today, it is no longer required. How It's Done As the original movie is played, a technician decides which part of the scene is critical and moves a standard TV viewing window left or right across the wide image to capture it. Since nearly half the original scene is missing with pan & scan, artistic elements are often degraded. For example, landscapes are always clipped, and when two important objects are at opposite ends of the frame, one will be lost. Pan & scan eliminated all or most of the "letterbox" effect (black bars at the top and bottom). See letterbox. Shoot Both Formats In order to avoid the extra cost of pan & scan, many wide screen movies were shot with a standard TV outline in the middle of the camera's viewfinder so that the director could keep critical objects in the center of the frame at all times. In that way, the movie could be automatically converted for standard TVs with 4:3 aspect ratios by truncating both sides automatically. See anamorphic DVD.