CS5's PAL 16:9 aspect ratio is WRONG at DVinfo.net

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Old February 10th, 2011, 01:49 AM   #1
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CS5's PAL 16:9 aspect ratio is WRONG

Unless they tried to make it 17:9 or something like that.

I'm sorry, not trying to be rude, but I can't understand any reasons behind this, unless I missed some changes in video standards lately.

You see, I tried encoding an HD video to an MPEG2 PAL Widescreen target for DVD authoring in a computer with Adobe Media Encoder..
And what I got was an image that was squeezed horizontally, showing a couple of thin black bars on the left and right sides.
I thought I was doing something wrong, but everything, including the pixel aspec ratio, was set right.
So I started comparing the source and the output, back and forward in the configuration panel. And it didn't seem to squeeze, but rather to be scaled down.

That's when I realized the reason behing all this: the pixel aspect ratio for widescreen PAL video is 1.46 (actually 1.4587 if I recall correctly) instead of 1.42!!!

That's why the HD 16:9 video is scaled down. This new PAL standard is wider (or shorter) than the 16:9 standard. But when you play it anywhere, of course, the video (still in 720x576 resolution) plays with a 1.42 pixel aspect correction, and instead of having a proportionally scaled down video like Adobe Media Encoder thinks it's succesfully doing.

Now, two questions arise.
Why was the pixel aspect ratio changed in CS5 (I checked with Premiere and the same thing happens, even in the project templates)?
And (very important to be able to live with this in the future) can it be overrun?

Hope there's a solution for this.
Best regards to all of you in this great community!
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Old February 10th, 2011, 02:08 AM   #2
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Sorry, you are wrong, as Adobe has been in the past. Luckily Adobe corrected their mistake some versions back, can't remember if it was with CS3 or CS4, but they now adhere to the worldwide accepted BBC standards.

And yes, PAL 16:9 is not really 16:9, just as 4:3 is not really 4:3.

Your problem is easy to solve. Crop off 13 pixels from the top and bottom of your source when exporting to AVI or MPEG2-DVD.
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Old February 10th, 2011, 03:03 AM   #3
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No, I'll have to insist. It's wrong NOW. I don't know why you're saying it's been fixed now...

I'll throw in a clear explanation as to why.

We all agree that PAL is 720x576, right? And that is not 4:3 nor 16:9. Just like NTSC (720x480) isn't either. 4:3 would be 720x540 and 16:9 would be 720x404. Now, that is if we were to preserve horizontal resolution, like has been usully done for the internet.
But in these standards programs tend to preserve the vertical resolution, and the ratios provided for 16:9 do just that.
So let's do a little math: how much is 720*1.46? 1050. So, if we follow the new ratio Adobe brings along, widescreen is 1050x576. Now, let's do a logical operation... Let's turn the native proportion, 16:9 into PAL. Take Photoshop, for instance and change the vertical image size to 576 without changing the proportion (the aspect ratio). How much is the 16x9 pixels image now? It's 1024x576. And guess what! That's exactly what you get when you multiply 720 by 1.42, the RIGHT aspect ratio Adobe has dropped.

I really don't know where you come from, but please (and again I'm sorry if I'm coming off as rude) think about it. Are you saying that now that they have a 16.45:9 PAL widescreen they have made it right?
1.46:1 is not 16:9.

By the way, if I crop anything top and down I'm losing information, and that's not the point. Why should I make any unnecesary compromises?

EDIT: The exact ratio is 1.422222222222... Not just 1.42. But well, that's what I remembered. The statement still stands!
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Last edited by Ernesto Mantaras; February 10th, 2011 at 03:08 AM. Reason: Accuracy of information
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Old February 10th, 2011, 06:16 AM   #4
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Well, I don't know where you are from either, but wherever that is, you are ill informed.

First read this:BBC - Commissioning - A Guide to Picture Size

If you don't like it, convince the BBC, not Adobe.
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Old February 10th, 2011, 07:53 AM   #5
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Adobe changed PAR for sd PAL and NTSC in CS4. Right at the same time, if I'm not mistaken, that they landed a big juicy contract with the BBC ;)

So they made the change to appease some big broadcasters, but this is a PITA for many of us. I have tons of square pixel compositions made with previous versions of after effects in the old "wrong" PAR.
And it's now a bit of a nuisance to share stuff between Adobe and some other software I use, like Vegas and Combustion.
The least Adobe should have done is to offer the old PAR presets along with the new ones.

What other software on the market uses the correct PAR? I think even AVID doesn't.
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Old February 10th, 2011, 08:49 AM   #6
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Actually, Edius and Vegas have been using the correct BBC standards for years, when Adobe was still using the incorrect PAR's. Don't know about Avid.
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Old February 10th, 2011, 09:33 AM   #7
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You are right of course about Vegas. Don't know why I remembered otherwise. Combustion uses 768 and 1024 for square pixel PAL unfortunately.
I don't use Edius or Avid. I just remember that at the time adobe made the change, there were some complaints from people about mismatch with Avid, Smoke, and some 3D apps. I also know some animation softwares that uses the "wrong" PAR, 1.067/1.422.

In any case, it doesn't really matter. Adobe will not change this back now, and there's really no reason it should. Still a PITA in some cases none the less.
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Old February 10th, 2011, 11:00 AM   #8
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Back in the old days, when I was using Premiere 6.5, a Canopus DVStorm card and Sound Forge for Audio (it was not even Sony back then), I complained about the inconsistent way of handling PAR's between the three of them, DVStorm followed Premiere. Sound Forge and the first editions of Edius followed the BBC standards. I then had the same problems you are having now, black borders. It was very frustrating, but that was a very long time ago...
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Old February 10th, 2011, 11:10 AM   #9
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I think an easier way to think about it is to see that that the shape of the HD and SD widescreen rectangles are a little different. HD really is 16:9, but SD is a little wider. Thus, when you scale down to SD, you have 3 choices:
1. Distort the frame, stretching it a bit (the old method)
2. Lose some image top and bottom and scale down a little less, filling the SD frame.
3. Keep all the image content, scale so the frame is filled vertically, and have a little blank space right and left.

Saying Adobe, the BBC, Avid, Apple and everyone else is wrong doesn't really address the problem. The PAR is correct for preserving the correct shape of images. It's just that the shape of the HD and SD boxes are different. Harm's suggestion is a good way to proceed if you don't want the little pillars.

Last edited by Bill Engeler; February 10th, 2011 at 11:11 AM. Reason: fixed spelling
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Old February 10th, 2011, 12:31 PM   #10
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Hey Bill. Yeah, I know I'm not solving anything by ranting, but it frustrated me that no one brought this up and I was hoping there was a way to correct the default aspect ratio of the Adobe family somehow and somebody would tell me. I did think of the 3 solutions you toss (like the one Harm mentioned) but they all involve re-rendering the footage and it's so pointless to me seeing how it all comes down to a (call me stubborn) wrong PAR.

I already went on to explain how the new Adobe PAR doesn't fit the 16:9 aspect ratio most of us use now. You agree with this on me Harm, right? In squares pixels 16:9 is 1024x576 for PAL. The new PAR (or the BBC PAL standard) makes 1050x576 image. That's 16.45:9. Not 16:9. So, the BBC standard differs from the 16:9 standard.

I've been shooting video since 2005, and since then I've lurked this forum and learned a lot from this community. I've shot with Digital8 cameras, DV cameras, PD170, GS500, the Canon HV series, etc. All of them used the "old" PAR that I knew from Adobe. And I never saw anything distorted, and it all made sense to me. Not in this cameras, not in DVD players, not in PC programs. Nowhere. Why? Because it was logical that the math worked that way, since it was the only way to get real 16:9 proportions. Really, I suck at math. But this is very easy to calculate. BBC, as I see now, doesn't do 16:9.

Now, I'd be glad to read someone explain me why that's so. Why are they wider?
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Old February 10th, 2011, 01:28 PM   #11
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Been reading a bit about the BBC standard. Please, how many of you, and how many other people does use BBC standard monitors and broadcasts that way? How many of you record or view 702x576 images???
It's so pointless. The workflow, from recording to delivering is set for 720x576 and it's corresponding 1.42222222 (yeah...) PAR everywhere but in the BBC. Why change it then? I mean, it'd be great to have the BBC PAR for those people who actually use it. But what about the rest of the world? Leave the other option! It actually ends up messing up your footage, shrinking it horizontally. It goes against any logic. I mean, really, load some PAL footage on Premiere and you will surely get distorted footage (squeezed down) until you finish it and watch it on Media Player Classic or your TV. Because no camera we use shoots like BBC wants. Why the hell would Adobe make such a decision? Sorry, again, I'm quite frustrated that almost no one has brought this up so far.

By the way, Harm, when I said "where you come from" I meant to say that I didn't know where you got your info from. I'm not a native English speaker, I may fail on some elaborations. Sorry.
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Old February 10th, 2011, 03:10 PM   #12
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Here's more information about the correction of pizel aspect ratios.

Here's an article about the corrections of the pixel aspect ratios:
pixel aspect ratios in After Effects CS4 and other applications
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Old February 10th, 2011, 03:13 PM   #13
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I probably wore you off already, but Harm: cropping 13 pixels off the top and bottom would only make the image end up even thinner.

And thinking about it, the other solutions you give, Bill, won't do any good because they can't be done in the end side of encoding.

The only solution I can find now is squeezing the footage vertically and get slim bars on the top and bottom of the video, so that when it goes to PAL DVD it looks as if it was scaled down a bit.
Any other method won't work, because they all give you a 1920x1080 or a 1280x720 videos. Or even 720x576 accurately corrected to be 16:9. The encoder will read it as 16:9, an since it encodes with the 1.46 PAR it will always leave two black bars on the sides so as to sit the image "undistorted" in the middle of their (distorted) view of how the PAR for PAL widescreen should be.
Unless I squeeze the footage in, say, Premiere, and then export to a non-standard format like 1920x1053 or 1280x702, or any other numbers that match the 16.45:9 PAR of the CS5 package, the result when encoding will always be the same. And it looks distorted (squeezed horizontally or stretched vertically, depends on how you put it) on either a PC monitor or a TV.

Like I said, this whole thing would be solved if there was an alternative PAR to choose from, if you could customize it or if you could at least stretch or squeez on the output end!

Please try out any of the things I've mentioned. You'll see what I mean.
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Old February 10th, 2011, 04:28 PM   #14
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I'm pushing the limit, perhaps. Feel like the only one crazy enough to complain about this. But have DVD movies been wrong all along? This whole aspect ratio thing (because it comes down to that, rather than the mere PAR) is really bothering me.

Isn't there a way to override the default PAR Adobe brings? I mean, it takes an awful long time to encode in AME, but it has good quality.

Here is a small image I was able to do before going to work. Maybe it's me that I know the image so much and that's why it annoys me that much more. But here is an example of what I get with this new/old BBC PAR.
Attached Thumbnails
CS5's PAL 16:9 aspect ratio is WRONG-par.jpg  
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Old February 10th, 2011, 04:47 PM   #15
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It always used to be possible to define your own "standard" for use in After Effects.... it was done by adding a written definition in a text file that resided in a particular folder..... (I don't have the details to hand at the moment but will look them up..) I am assuming that this is still possible on newer versions of After Effects....?

Ironically, I was using this feature about nine years ago to make the BBC standard settings to use in After Effects when it was only offering the old, wrong, default settings. (Chris and Trish Myers books covered this subject in some detail I seem to recall.)

If anyone really wanted to, they could define their own 'wrong' setting.... but it would probably be better to fully understand and use the 'correct' setting that Adobe use now.

Ernesto,

I will try to post a clear description of this issue, but I am slow at writing this sort of thing so please be patient with me. You should never need to end up with black bars at the side of the image unless you are using any old analogue sourced video that has been transferred to a digital format.... and if you are using old analoge material, you will see that it arrives with black bars at the sides already.

A few posts back, you asked "Are you saying that now that they have a 16.45:9 PAL widescreen they have made it right?" and the answer is basically YES. (I haven't checked your figures, but a 720x576 frame that is filled to the edges with image is NOT 16x9 that has been horizontally squeezed into that frame size.... it is 16-and-a-bit-extra x 9 that has been squeezed into that frame size. A modern digital video camera correctly recording Standard Definition PAL widescreen into a 720x576 digital format is recording a 16-and-a-bit-extra x 9 picture. This is the reason why the old Adobe maths are considered wrong.)

....I realise I am not writing clearly and have to put more effort into my explanation... as I said , please be patient while I try to write something clear and concise.

dave


EDIT

Ernesto, I have just seen your post #14. Can you tell me what the original image is ..... is it the 720x576 output of a modern digital camera?
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