Best Way to Mask XL2 Viewfinder for "Fake" 16:9! at DVinfo.net

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Old March 5th, 2005, 07:36 AM   #1
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Best Way to Mask XL2 Viewfinder for "Fake" 16:9!

Hey Folks,
Can anyone tell me what is the best way to mask XL2 viewfinder for "fake" 16:9 ratio. I wanna shoot in 4:3 but letterbox it so that it gives the 16:9 look. Would a black electric wiring tape do the job?

I know that XL2 can shoot true 16:9. But I'm doing this way cuz of the fact most of my clients still own a 4:3 TV.

Thanks
Ram Purad
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Old March 5th, 2005, 08:53 AM   #2
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I believe you are thinking too hard on the subject. You can just shoot in 4:3 and then fake the letterbox in your editing program. Much easier!
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Old March 5th, 2005, 10:40 AM   #3
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What the?????

recording in 4:3 and then letterboxing????
You have 16:9 on your XL2!! Use it!
You record anamorph 16:9 on your XL2, get this into your edit program in a 16:9 sequence, when all edited you get your 16:9 sequence into a 4:3 sequence, this way you get a letterboxed sequence (if not you have to squeese you image to a 16:9 aspect ratio, but in FCP it's automaticly letterboxed)

When all rendered, you print it on tape, and you deliver a letterboxed 16:9 movie, but you used the whole CCD-area of the XL2.

Greets, Tim
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Old March 5th, 2005, 07:58 PM   #4
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Egads, yes, I echo Tim's statements. One of the greatest things about the XL2 is you don't have to do all that horrid taping off to get widescreen - it's built in!

Shoot and edit in 16:9, then nest inside a 4:3 sequence to achieve letterboxed widescreen inside 4:3.
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Old March 6th, 2005, 02:24 AM   #5
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I would love to know how to shoot 16:9 and squeze it to get 4:3 letter box. cause I am shooting this project that I would love to shoot 16: 9 but I can't because most of my viewers still have 4:3 tvs.
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Old March 6th, 2005, 02:28 AM   #6
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Actually, I believe Ram will get better quality results doing it his way, provided he only wants to have a letterboxed video on a 4:3 display.

If you shoot 4:3 and frame the shot for 16:9, you can add the letterbox bars in an NLE. Why is it better? Well it saves 2 rounds of resizing/resampling the video image. (i) When you shoot 16:9 the CCD is 960x480 (NTSC) and this is resampled to 720x480 before it is stored on the DV tape. (ii) When you export the 16:9 project as a 4:3 clip (or alternatively, when you add a 16:9 clip to a 4:3 project) the video is resampled again to fit the width of the 4:3 screen, which is where the letterbox bars are added.

By shooting 4:3 and staying in that format all the way, the picture area in the centre is never resized and will definitely be clearer as a result. I agree it's a bit of a hassle to have to tape the viewfinder screen, but it's not a daft idea. It will probably render faster in the NLE too.

Having said all the above, I would add that if Ram actually wants to have a video that will play 16:9 on a widescreen monitor, and letterboxed on a 4:3 monitor, then he should use the 16:9 mode on the XL2 instead of taping the viewfinder.

Richard
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Old March 6th, 2005, 07:22 AM   #7
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Pardon my ignorance, but how exactly are we supposed to letterbox 16:9 footage? I just finnished editing a movie (shot in 16:9 on the XL2) on which I was DP. I'm using Premiere Pro.

I exported to DVD using Adobe's exporter. Now, although I can see the movie automatically letterboxed through my DVD player, the director says he cannot see the movie in the 16:9 aspect ratio when watching it at home. It is cropped (not letterboxed). I figured this was his DVD player that did not recognize and properly letterbox the 16:9 ratio so I exported an other movie using the 4:3 option in Adobe Media Encoder but although the image is still properly letterboxed on my TV, it now looks like crap (blocky and full of artifacts).

So now I'm wondering what are the detailed steps I need to go through to export it in a 4:3 ratio so that it is properly letterboxed on any DVD player. Somebody above talked about nesting the 16:9 sequence into a 4:3 sequence. How exactly would you do something like this in Premiere? I tried importing the 16:9 edited sequence into a 4:3 timeline but all that does is crop the image (not letterbox it). There may be an obvious answer to this, but I do not know it.

enlightenment would be welcomed.
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Old March 6th, 2005, 09:08 AM   #8
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Yeah... I would like to know same thing as David. How do u nest a 16:9 footage in a 4:3 sequence to have letter box in premiere. Do u have to creat another 4:3 project and import the 16:9 footage into it? I have premiere pro 1.5 with Matrox RTX.100.

Even if v can do this way in premiere, I believe it has to go through some sort of rendering process. This is okay for a 30 mins of footage. But I do wedding videos, which is well over 2 hrs. So rendering the whole video can be a hassle.

Also if I do this way, will it loose any picture quality in the process of resampling as Richard stated?

Damn, only if all my clients have widescreen TVs. I will be using the 16:9 format in XL2 and providing the video to them in same format. Cuz of the stuggle between 4:3 and 16:9, I don't want my clients to comeback and say or v look skinny and stretched in our mom's TV. Alothough the brides may prefer to see them that way :-). 16:9 size output is my first step forward to achieve the film look.
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Old March 6th, 2005, 09:21 AM   #9
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Hi Richard,

My take is a little different: if I want to end up with a 720x360px image space via letterboxing on a 4:3 screen, I'd rather start with 960x480 and downsample, than start with 720x360.

The resampling of 960x480 off the CCD block in-camera to 720x480 is not a "hit" on image quality; it was engineered into the camera to deliver a most superb image. Quality-wise, the 4:3 image of the XL2 will at best be on-par with it, and some would argue slightly inferior (but still very good, of course) since it started on the CCD as only 720x480.

Placing the 720x480(16:9) file letter-box style into a 4:3 project will allow the entire image (480 px high) to be sampled down into the middle 3/4 (360px) of the 720x480(4:3) project, whereas letterboxing a 4:3 file to mask off the top and bottom will yield the 720x360 image space we want between the black bars.

Either way, the NLE has to do one render to make the final out a letterboxed file. I'd rather do my color correcting and other effects on the top-notch 720x480(16:9) and export uncompressed. That very clean file can then go into the 4:3 project. I don't believe that doing the masking and other effects in an originally 4:3 file to get those middle 360 pixels ready for export isgoing to be superior. So I agree with the majority in recommending that Ram take the easier, more flexible, and possibly slightly higher-quality path of shooting 16:9.

David,

All DVD players can read the aspect ratio flags, so that by itself shouldn't be why the image is cropped on your director's TV. But it is possible that his DVD player set up menu has the wrong aspect ratio entered for the TV (you have to tell the DVD player whether the TV is 16:9 or 4:3). Failing that...given that you were able to see your project properly on your DVD player and TV setup, I wonder if your director might have had his TV set to "expand" mode?

Richard's and my replies probably hint at most of what you're asking. If you want a 4:3 DVD with letterboxed image, here's the basic flow with PPro and Encore:
- Do your 16:9 work in a 16:9 project
- Export uncompressed (hope you have lots of hard drive space on a fast computer!)
- Import to a 4:3 project.
- If necessary, scale down to fit the width (use the fixed effects in the Effects Control window).
- Export to DVD with settings as desired.

I'm not too swift on DVD settings, so maybe someone else can chime in on optimizing the picture.

EDIT: Ram, I can't wait for 4:3 to go away, too! In the meantime, I shoot and edit in 16:9, then just letterbox what needs to be seen 4:3. Of course, some folks need to stay 4:3 for business purposes for now, but hopefully those days are numbered!

Cheers,
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Old March 6th, 2005, 10:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
David,

All DVD players can read the aspect ratio flags, so that by itself shouldn't be why the image is cropped on your director's TV. But it is possible that his DVD player set up menu has the wrong aspect ratio entered for the TV (you have to tell the DVD player whether the TV is 16:9 or 4:3). Failing that...given that you were able to see your project properly on your DVD player and TV setup, I wonder if your director might have had his TV set to "expand" mode?
That's pretty much what I told the guy but he said there was no such settings on his TV nor DVD player so I figured there might be something wrong with my export settings. He's not the most techno savvy guy though, so I might have to go and take a look for myself.

Quote:
Richard's and my replies probably hint at most of what you're asking. If you want a 4:3 DVD with letterboxed image, here's the basic flow with PPro and Encore:
- Do your 16:9 work in a 16:9 project
- Export uncompressed (hope you have lots of hard drive space on a fast computer!)
- Import to a 4:3 project.
- If necessary, scale down to fit the width (use the fixed effects in the Effects Control window).
- Export to DVD with settings as desired.
I see. I guess I'll try that, but I thought I could do it without going through the process or rendering it (uncompressed to boot) and then reimporting it in a 4:3 timeline.

I tried just importing the edited PPro sequence in the 4:3 timeline but the image is cropped and using the scale function only reduces the size of the cropped image (in other words, it stays 4:3, the image is irremediably cropped on the sides).
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Old March 6th, 2005, 11:32 AM   #11
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Hey Dave and Ram,

You don't HAVE to export the 16:9 as uncompressed, but that'll give the best quality. I make the assumption that most folks editing with PPro 1.5.1 have a system that can at least temporarily handle a big file that is intended only as an intermediate step. No doubt that's not true for everyone, but most.

I just opened up PPro and checked. In the Project>>Project Settings>>General dialog, if you checkmark "Scale clips to project dimensions when adding to sequence" a 16:9 file will automatically letterbox; no scaling required. If that setting is UNchecked, it will stretch vertically to fit the whole 4:3 frame.
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Old March 6th, 2005, 12:16 PM   #12
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I understand what you're saying Pete, I tried it and it works indeed. I just think it's a shame having to do a render which eats up 24MB/sec. of space, about 190GB for a feature (and uncompressed is the only choice when you're serious about preserving image quality of course).

I just don't understand why you can't just import the PPro sequence (xxx.ppj file) and adjust that. I tried, it doesn't work. It will letterbox a video file but not an ensemble of edited video files. Seems like a conceptual shortcoming to me.
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Old March 6th, 2005, 02:56 PM   #13
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Not to enter into platform battle, but Final Cut Pro can easily nest sequences (drag and drop one edited sequence into another). After Effects is able to do this easily as well. It's hard to believe Premiere doesn't support this.

By nesting a 16:9 anamorphic sequence inside a 4:3 sequence, FCP automatically does the right thing, and doesn't require exporting first. Just make sure to purge renders if you're not working uncompressed, so it's not double compressing DV25 format.

Also, if quality and hard drive space are both a concern, you can export an uncompressed-processed sequence straight out to Mpeg-2, without exporting a file first. This way you can apply color smoothing to rid the blocky artifacts in DV25 and get a better quality Mpeg-2 encode.

Again, I would definitely not shoot 4:3 and crop that to widescreen in post, when you have an XL2 with it's gorgeous 16:9 imaging path (with proper framing in your viewfinder - IMPORTANT), from which you can scale to a 4:3 image in post if need be.

If you were really paranoid about this scaling process, do the scaling on an uncompressed export of the edited piece in After Effects with it's superior scaling.
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Old March 6th, 2005, 07:05 PM   #14
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<<<-- Originally posted by Pete Bauer :

The resampling of 960x480 off the CCD block in-camera to 720x480 is not a "hit" on image quality; it was engineered into the camera to deliver a most superb image. Quality-wise, the 4:3 image of the XL2 will at best be on-par with it, and some would argue slightly inferior (but still very good, of course) since it started on the CCD as only 720x480.

-->>>

Hi Pete. I think we had a very similar discussion a couple of months back. :)

I still maintain that the 4:3 image from the XL2 is inherently better than the 16:9 image (without any artistic considerations of course). What needs to be remembered is that after downsampling (which is sure to downgrade the image to a certain extent), the 16:9 image now has the same number of horizontal pixels (720) to represent a larger screen width. Logically, the image quality has to suffer, and to my eyes the 16:9 image is definitely softer than the 4:3 one.

Look at it another way. The 4:3 setting uses the centre block of 720x480 CCD pixels. The 16:9 setting uses these exact same pixels, plus some more at the sides. Then it resamples the data from the larger array of pixels down to 720x480 resolution, but this data still has to represent the larger area. It just doesn't make sense (to me) that the downsampled image can be better than the 4:3 image. The same pixels are present in both, but only one has been processed with its resulting degradation.

Don't believe resampling causes degradation? Just take it a few steps further, and try resampling to 100x480 or some other size that is drastically smaller than the original. Of course the degradation at 720x480 will not be nearly as bad as this, but the principal is exactly the same - you can't make it better by reducing the resolution. Even if your resampling system is engineered superbly, there will be some degradation rather than an improvement.

Richard
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Old March 6th, 2005, 07:45 PM   #15
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:) Images! Something to look at!

To wear out my Gecko shot further, this shows the XL2's 720x480 anamorphic frame stretched out to correct aspect ratio:

www.holyzoo.com/content/xl2/images/Gecko.png

If you were to resize it to fit in 720 width, it would look like this:

http://www.holyzoo.com/content/xl2/i...ko_720x540.png

Some people may have better eyes than me, but both images look damn good and clear to me. I never thought DV could get to this point. So I'm not sure what all the fuss is about.

I'm out.



p.s. As an aside, now I'm waiting to see an HD camera under $10k that can even better. The Z1/FX1 is not it to me.
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