Star Trek (original series) was produced for North American television in the 1960s, which used a 4:3 frame format. There are HD digital remasters which fill a 16:9 HD frame. How were they re-framed? Was the show originally shot on a wider-format film (which we never saw), or do the remasters crop the top and bottom of the original 4:3 frame? I am watching in Canada on CTV Sci-Fi channel.

For reference, I’ve heard (perhaps incorrectly) that Seinfeld was shot on wide-format film, despite being broadcast (at the time) at 4:3 (sides cropped), so HD broadcast is now showing more/all of the original frame. If this is true, it raises the question of whether this (wide format filming for 4:3 TV broadcast) was a practice in wider use than just one show.

Note that my question is about TV shows rather than movies as discussed in this question: Are some films filmed with a larger frame than all cropped versions?

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    @Giacomo1968 Watching in Canada on CTV Sci-Fi channel
    – Anthony X
    Commented Jan 16 at 3:25
  • @Giacomo1968 re: Seinfeld - I mentioned it mostly to identify what I thought might be a an indication of a practice perhaps done more than once.
    – Anthony X
    Commented Jan 16 at 3:29
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    Babylon 5 was quite famous for its widescreen framing, resulting in what was referred to as clumping of the actors within the frame when shooting live action. Unfortunately it was already reframed for SD by the time it got to the vfx stage. Commented Jan 16 at 7:48
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    Seinfeld was made on "widescreen" film but was framed for 4:3. Ditto as for instance most Buffy seasons. Both of those getting reframed to 16:9 for modern broadcasts because otherwise clueless people complain about "not getting their value for money because not all pixels are being used" is IMHO ridiculous and has resulted in the case of Buffy in an abysmal product.
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Jan 16 at 9:21

1 Answer 1


I am not sure what you are talking about here:

“There are HD digital remasters which fill a 16:9 HD frame.”

According to this 2016 article from TrekMovie.com, the visual effects were done in 16:9, but live action was only cropped from 4:3 (to 16:9) for the Japanese market:

“To hedge their bets, a 16:9 widescreen version of the new VFX, along with the live action footage cropped to 16:9, was prepared, this hasn’t really been seen much, outside of a syndication run in Japan. The wider VFX can be seen in some episodes on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, but the live action is the original 4:3 ratio.”

And here is for more info from. TrekMovie.com about the remasters; bold emphasis is mine:

What is the Aspect Ratio of TOS Remastered? TOS was shot on 35mm film and produced for standard TV (4:3 ratio). The CBS Digital team is making the new CG effects in 16:9 to be ready for potential future widescreen versions. However for the time being it is broadcast in 4:3 with ‘pillar boxing’ when shown on HD channels (with the new CG shots ‘cropped’ to match the live action). The HD DVD and Blu-ray versions also have this pillar boxing. [Note: HD downloads off of Xbox Live are also primarily pillar boxed, but CG shots are inserted in full 16:9…CBS have said this is actually a mistake and they hope to fix that]”

So it seems like the main way one can see Star Trek: The Original Series remastered is 4:3 with cropped 16:9 visual effects. And in some cases switching between 16:9 for the special effects and 4:3 for the live action sequences.

But as far as I know, there is no such thing as a 16:9 original version of Star Trek: The Original Series.

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    I was thinking of the live action. I'm watching on Canada's CTV Sci-fi channel; not sure which version they are running. This version has original North American English soundtrack (except the opening credits music sounds re-recorded or at least re-mixed), all live action and visual effects fill a 16:9 frame (no black bars), visual effects are all CGI. Most of the framing looks just about right, not what I would have expected if the frame was cropped down.
    – Anthony X
    Commented Jan 16 at 3:24
  • @AnthonyX In the general case (I have no idea what has or hasn't been done here) when a show/movie is converted between aspect ratios by cropping, it's not necessarily just "crop the sides and keep the middle". They can pick sequence by sequence (or even frame by frame) which part of the original image they keep, and even pan across the original image.
    – jcaron
    Commented Jan 16 at 16:14
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    @jcaron Also called ‘pan and scan’ (or ‘tilt and scan’ if done vertically).
    – gidds
    Commented Jan 16 at 17:22

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