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Coming Soon: Hulu Will Add Offline Viewing Option

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Cord cutters, take note: Soon, you won't even need a strong internet signal to watch your favorite movies and TV shows on the go—at least if you're a Hulu Plus user. Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins recently announced that the company plans to add offline viewing as well as live streaming and cloud DVR, ScreenCrush reports.

This year, Hulu Plus aims to drastically change its model. Much like Netflix’s offline viewing feature, Hulu Plus users will be able to download certain movies and TV shows onto their mobile devices. They'll also be able to watch live TV from a number of broadcast and cable networks—including Disney, Fox, and CBS—as well as use cloud DVR to record that live TV.

The streaming video company’s new bundle—which will cost less than $40 a month and will include the company’s standard streaming package—will compete with other services like Sling TV and DirectTV Now, which both allow users to watch live TV on the go.

“I think if you're going to have a service that really seeks to be a complete offering for consumers, many of which are used to a DVR, you have to make that part of the offering,” Hopkins told AdWeek. “We've been working awfully hard this year to get it right and to make it integrated seamlessly into a live and on-demand service. It's really exciting, and I think it's going to work really well. It's going to be fully functional, just like you could expect from a regular DVR.”

Hulu has yet to announce an official release date for the new features, but Hopkins promised the service will launch "in the next few months."

[h/t ScreenCrush]

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Why the Film You're Watching on HBO Might Not Be the Whole Movie
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In the days before widescreen televisions, most of the movies you watched on VHS or on cable looked a little different than their big-screen versions. The sides of the image had to be cropped out so that you could watch a movie made for a rectangular screen on the small screen. Today, those little black bars on the top and bottom of the screen that allow you to watch the same movie scaled to any shape of screen are everywhere. But it turns out, cropping for aspect ratios is alive and well—on HBO, as YouTube film vlogger Patrick Willems explains.

In his latest video, which we spotted on Digg, Willems explains why aspect ratios matter, and how the commonly used aspect ratios can fundamentally change a movie.

Most old-school televisions have 4:3 aspect ratios, meaning movies had to be significantly cropped to fit wide-screen films on the small screen. Now, most computers and televisions use 16:9 aspect ratios, which is approximately the same as the one used for movies, typically 1.85:1, so many movies expand to fit TV screens perfectly. The catch: Some Hollywood movies are shot with even wider angles to show even more of an image at once. And even though viewers are familiar with the sight of those black bars, it seems the streaming sites are determined to limit their use, even for movies that don’t fit on a normal screen. As a result, you may only be seeing the central part of the image, not the whole thing. You could be missing characters, action, and landscape that’s happening on the far sides of the screen.

Since 1993, the Motion Picture Association of America has mandated that any film that’s been altered in a way that changes the original vision of its creators—say, to edit out swear words, adjust the run time, or to make it fit a certain screen—run with a disclaimer that says as much. That’s why before movies run on TV, they usually show a note that says something like “This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen.” But this doesn’t seem to apply to streaming.

In 2013, Netflix was accused of cropping films, too, showing wide-angle movies to fit the standard 16:9 screen instead of running the original version with black bars. The streaming giant claimed it was a mistake due to distributors sending them the cropped version, and those films would be replaced with the originals. However, as of 2015, users were still complaining of the problem. According to Willems, it’s a problem that still plagues not just HBO, but Starz and Hulu, too, and there isn’t any clear rationale for it other than that perhaps people don’t like looking at black bars. But frankly, that seems better than seeing a version of a film that the director never intended.

You can get all the details in the video below:

[h/t Digg]

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New Documentary Reveals the Surprising Place the Queen's Crown Jewels Were Hidden During WWII
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Toby Melville/AFP/Getty Images

Today, the Queen of the United Kingdom's Crown Jewels are safeguarded in the Tower of London’s Jewel House, under the watch of armed guards. But during World War II, select gems from the priceless collection were stored in a biscuit tin and buried on Windsor Castle’s grounds, according to Business Insider.

The unorthodox hiding place was recently revealed in a new BBC documentary, The Coronation, which looks back on Queen Elizabeth II’s rise to the throne in 1953. British news commentator Alastair Bruce, who interviews the Queen in the hour-long special, says he stumbled across the story while perusing once-confidential letters between royal librarian Sir Owen Morshead and Queen Mary, the mother of King George VI and grandmother of Queen Elizabeth.

Fearing that the Nazis would seize the royal jewels, George VI ordered the treasure-filled tin to be buried underneath a secret emergency castle exit. The jewels—including the Black Prince's Ruby and St. Edward's Sapphire, both taken from the Imperial State Crown—were accessible only through a trapdoor.

The freshly tilled earth was a chalky white. To avoid notice from the German Luftwaffe, tarps were used to conceal the dug-up grounds at night. The Nazis weren’t the only ones left in the dark: Princess Elizabeth, then 14 years old, had no idea where the gems were buried, although she did know they’d been hidden at Windsor.

This story—along with other musings on royalty from Queen Elizabeth—is shared in The Coronation, which airs on the Smithsonian Channel on January 14.

[h/t Business Insider]

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