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Netflix Accused of Cropping Movies

by Brandon Russell | July 21, 2013July 21, 2013 9:30 pm PDT

Netflix is facing heat over suggestions the company is actively cropping movies from their original format. Thanks to a new Tumblr—where else?—that highlights just how brazenly titles are cropped, people are beginning to question the quality of content in the service’s ecosystem. When you pay for a service, people expect certain standards. After all, Netflix is a big reason why people no longer purchase DVDs anymore. So what the heck is going on?

Netflix has quickly responded to the allegations, saying it most definitely doesn’t crop content in its library. In fact, the company says it works to replace titles as soon as it discovers any errors. So if it’s not Netflix, then who is responsible for the cropping? Our best guess is that the studios sending Netflix movies are the guilty parties.

Often, content edited for TV goes through a “pan and scan” process that essentially makes wide-screen content viewable on proportions of a standard definition 4:3 aspect ratio TV. As you can see in the examples highlighted by the “What Netflix Does” Tumblr, a lot is being cut off, in a way limiting the overall vision of a film. The extent of the cropping may even cut important stuff out of a movie, meaning viewers don’t get the proper experience. It’s often not that extreme, but disconcerting nonetheless.

“We want to offer the best picture and provide the original aspect ratio of any titled on Netflix,” the company said. “However, unfortunately our quality controls sometimes fail and we end up offering the wrong version of a title.”

Either Netflix was content to offer bad content until someone noticed or its quality control really is that inept. Or both. Whatever the reason, it certainly seems like the service should have a chat with movie studios in order to ensure this doesn’t continue going forward. Otherwise Netflix’s viewers aren’t going to get the full experience of an Inglourious Basterds, or Prometheus.

WhatNetflixDoes TheVerge

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Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...


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