Picture quality loss when going from 16:9 to 4:3 at DVinfo.net

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Old October 11th, 2005, 04:53 PM   #1
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Picture quality loss when going from 16:9 to 4:3

I shot a few test shots with my new XL-2 of a talking head in an outdoor location in 16:9 60i mode. After reading many threads reguarding how to properly edit 16:9 footage in FCP5 I captured the ftg as 16:9 anamorphic, edited it in a 16:9 anamorphic sequence (I have a switchable 16:9 monitor so everything looked great up to this point) then, for final output to tape, I copy/pasted the 16:9 sequence into a new regular 4:3 sequence.
FCP5 did what I expected it to in that it converted the 16:9 ftg to 4:3 leaving black letterbox's on the screen and resizing the image so that it was not squeezed. But, BUT, by re-sizing the image to 4:3 the picture lost A LOT of quality. The detail in the leaves of the trees and grass was horrible and there was a lot of digital artifacts!!! The whole picture lost a lot of detail and sharpness and overall quality.
Is this inevitable when doing this conversion? Will this conversion always cause a quality loss beacuse FCP has to re-arrange the pixels so much?
(I must convert to 4:3 for national broadcast, I cannot leave our content in 16:9)
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Old October 11th, 2005, 05:18 PM   #2
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Jeff,

Is there any chance that you could simply crop the image to create a 4:3 aspect ratio. This should pretty much leave the quality intact. That's why I was kind of disappointed that they didn't add 4:3 framing guides to the XL2 when shooting 16:9. This is how a lot of primetime television is being shot these days. It's being delivered in widescreen HD but has the framing such that it is watchable on a 4:3 set.

OTOH, many commericals are appearing in LB widescreen on a 4:3 frame. I suspect they are future proofing their work so that it can be re-rendered later as a full 16:9 image after the transistion to 16:9 tv sets is complete.

As a final option, you might find some alternate codec settings in FCP which will yield a better transcode into the 4:3 sequence.


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Old October 11th, 2005, 05:27 PM   #3
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I suppose I could just crop a 4:3 image, but then what's the point of even having a 16:9 camera? Besides, I like having the full wide focal range of the lense when shooting in 16:9. Shooting 4:3 and then cropping would shorten my focal range even further.
We pretty much just use the DV codec since we don't have fancy-fast drives to support other codecs.
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Old October 11th, 2005, 05:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Carrion
I suppose I could just crop a 4:3 image, but then what's the point of even having a 16:9 camera? Besides, I like having the full wide focal range of the lense when shooting in 16:9. Shooting 4:3 and then cropping would shorten my focal range even further.
We pretty much just use the DV codec since we don't have fancy-fast drives to support other codecs.
Well, I agree about liking the way 16:9 looks with the wide view. Why would you shoot 4:3 and then crop? I am only suggesting cropping the sides of the 16:9 image to fit into the 4:3 aspect ratio. Take your 16:9 timeline, crop the sides, then drop that into a 4:3 sequence. Yes, you'll lose the wide field of vision, but you should retain the quality that the XL2 delivers in 16:9. I have some footage that I will try doing what you are wanting to do and see if I come up with a workflow that keeps the quality intact.

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Old October 14th, 2005, 11:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Boston
Yes, you'll lose the wide field of vision, but you should retain the quality that the XL2 delivers in 16:9.
The quality will change in any case, unfortunately, as you'll have to reduce horizontal resolution of 720 in 16:9 mode to 540 pixels (by cutting off the sides of the image) only to stretch it back out to 720 for the 4:3 mode. Hence reducing the resolution or "quality". But the truth is -- it has to be done, and the loss will always be there when converting between any formats. In your particular case, it seems to me, the biggest problem with conversion is that the project was shot 16:9 AND 60i. That means that when your NLE converts from 16:9 to 4:3 it has to drop lines (fields) OR merge them -- BAM! doesn't sound too good already... So the crop would work better in this particular case, IMHO.
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