Apple TV Media Images Mismatch

So this was a big week for the Apple ecosystem with their new macOS Catalina being released to the masses. Along with the desktop update, it appears that the Apple TV and its tvOS was also updated. With the macOS Desktop update came the long awaited death of iTunes in favor of three separate apps to manage all of your digital media – Music, TV and Podcasts – while moving the “iDevice” sync and device management to the Finder sidebar. All great moves and long overdue.

I would like to hone in on one irritating item that I have observed with the new changes to the TV app – the desktop app where you manage all your digital movies, TV shows and other video related assets – and Apple TV device and interface.

With the new TV desktop app, Apple has made a change to the media ‘poster art’/image art (for this post, I’m going to describe them in the context of “Movies”) used to show what movie you have in your collection. Like many other folks that are out there, I have a decent amount of movies that I have “ripped” or converted to digital from my DVD collection. As such, they are actual movie files on my computer. In the old iTunes Movies interface, these images were vertically oriented and, generally speaking, displayed the traditional movie poster image as you can see below.

In new macOS Catalina TV desktop app, the orientation of these images have been changed to a 16:9 horizontal orientation as you can see below. So now, the vertically oriented images from the previous iteration of iTunes are still there representing each movie, but they look woefully out of place and Apple is using this blurring feature that is drawing from the colors in the actual image. Nice touch…it kinda works, but lets be honest. It looks pretty shitty. In the example below, I went ahead and changed the “Before Sunrise” image to the 16:9 ratio just to illustrate how it should look with the new image layout (Please…no judgements on the movies).

So, you would think that this new 16:9 treatment in the macOS TV app would then carry over to the actual Apple TV “Home sharing” interface where you can access and watch the movies on your computer via Apple TV. So let’s take a look at the exact same “Romance” category, but this time on my TV using my Apple TV. In the Apple TV interface, the movie images are still using the old vertically oriented ‘movie poster’ art, while the one movie I changed the image on – Before Sunrise – now has the complete opposite – actually worse – effect in Apple TV compared to the macOS TV app – it shoves the horizontally oriented image used in the macOS TV app into the vertically oriented slot on the Apple TV interface.

So then I thought, maybe it has to do with the fact that the remaining movies in that category had not been switched out to the 16:9 orientation and that was ‘forcing’ the movies WITH the 16:9 image to be in the vertical image slot. So I went into the “Documentaries” section and switched out the vertical images for the 16:9 horizontals to test this theory out. And lo and behold, that made no difference.

macOS Catalina TV app interface

So, after all of that, my ask to the teams over at Apple TV, macOS TV App and anyone else would be to fix this so that each interface is designed for the same sized and oriented image, or that there is some interface or selection button that gives me the option to choose which interface uses which type of image. Yeah, stuff like this irritates me.

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