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Old September 24th, 2004, 03:55 AM   #1
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Aspect Ratio Question

Hi,

I have an XL1 (not S), and I was wondering, if I want to end up with 16:9 aspect ratio, BUT I want to make it so that in all 4:3 televisions, they play it cropped (not stretched vertically), how should I do this?

Should I shoot in the XL1's 16:9 mode (I don't mind it being stretched in the viewfinder), or should I crop it later in post production? How do I make sure that the footage appears cropped when I play it on normal TVs, and not stretched? I really want to have 16:9, but I want to make sure that everyone with 4:3 televisions can play it widescreen...

BTW, I am using Vegas as the NLE editor.

Thanks for your time,
Dennis
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Old September 24th, 2004, 09:37 AM   #2
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1. keep in mind that 16:9 on the XL1(s) is not "true" 16:9, so you will not gain anything by this

2. what will you be using to "play" the footage to a TV? I assume DVD

With DVD's you can tell a good MPEG2 encoder (that encodes your
movie to a DVD format) that your source is in 16:9. Then you get
this MPEG2 file to a good authoring application (that turns your
movie into a disc with menu and such) and you will tell this your
movie is in 16:9 as well.

The resulting DVD will have a flag to indicate it is 16:9. A correctly
setup DVD player will now decide to do one of two things:

1. if the player has been setup for a 4:3 TV it will letterbox the footage (add black bars) while playing so it looks correct on a 4:3 TV

2. if the player has been setup for a 16:9 TV it will output the signal as is and let the TV take advantage of the full signal

Hope this is of some help,
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Old September 24th, 2004, 04:48 PM   #3
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Hi Rob, thanks for the explanation. What I mean by 'playing' the footage on TV is that, I want to output it from my computer to miniDV, THEN, dub the miniDV over to VHS. I will be making a DVD copy of what I shoot, but I also want to keep the possibility of VHS open just in case someone wants to see my stuff on tape.

If I distribute this VHS tape around, and someone puts it in their VHS player connected to their 4:3 TV, what will they see? Stretched or letterboxed?

Also with the XL1, I am aware that it isn't 'true' 16:9 in that it does not use the fill entire CCD, so I lose resolution anyway. My question is, do I get the same effect either by shooting in the XL1 16:9 mode OR by cropping in post? I mean, either option would get me the same video quality right? (and I assume the only difference is at which stage I apply this effect and the possibility of having raw footage in 4:3 versus having to compose a 16:9 frame without the guides, as the XL1 does not have the guides).

Dennis
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Old September 25th, 2004, 03:24 AM   #4
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Hi Rob, I searched the forums, came up with quite a few threads answering my questions. It looks like I WILL be shooting in the XL1's 16:9 mode for less compression as I am not considering 4:3 in any case.

However, with the output from the NLE, does anyone know if Vegas will be able to do letterboxed (16:9 in 4:3 with black lines) to VHS? Also, how many TV's nowadays can automatically detect 16:9 and actually play it letterboxed instead of stretched vertically?

Dennis
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Old September 26th, 2004, 05:43 AM   #5
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I have not seen any TV that automatically sees what kind of
format is on a VHS tape (because as far as I understand it a
VHS tape is not able to store the signal to indicate whether it
is in 4:3 or 16:9).

What you do for VHS output is create a 4:3 signal from within
Vegas. Start up a 4:3 project and load your 16:9 footage. It
should automatically be letterboxed now (otherwise you need
to set maintain aspect ratio) and you can output this to miniDV
tape and then dub that to VHS.

Although in theory recording in 16:9 should give you a slightly
less overall compression for your footage it has not been proven
yet that it will actually make that much of a difference. You will
also loose the ability to reframe your footage vertically
"underneath" the black bars and a possible full 4:3 distribution.

You can always add those black bars (letterboxing) in Vegas
to simulate a 16:9 look. It will yield you the same resolution
in the end. You could even create a 16:9 signal from a 4:3 one
by cropping and rescaling like the camera does, with the
exception you can still re-frame your picture.
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Old September 26th, 2004, 06:04 PM   #6
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Hi Rob,

Thanks for the explanation. So I guess if I did want to do that, I'd make 2 versions for distribution on VHS, one 4:3 cropped and one real 4:3 version.

I'll definitely consider shooting in 4:3... that added ability to change the vertical composition might be useful...

Once again thanks for the explanation,
Dennis
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Old September 27th, 2004, 03:10 AM   #7
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You could do full and letterboxed 4:3 indeed. It all depends on
how you want it to look. Normally it is just exported letterboxed
to keep the vision you have for the movie.

Anyway, run some tests yourself. Shoot a couple of things
(perhaps some rehearsels for the actual movie) in both 4:3 and
16:9 and expirement! See what works best for you.
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Old September 27th, 2004, 09:27 PM   #8
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Thanks Rob for the tips. I'll be doing some tests in the next couple of days, and since this short film I'm doing is fairly *small scale* it won't hurt to experiment.

Dennis
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