16:9 vs. 4:3 opinion at DVinfo.net

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Old January 29th, 2002, 10:07 AM   #1
Bill Haley
 
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Shooting 16:9 vs 4:3 on the XL1S

I'm shooting a film and want to get a film-like look, including 16:9 aspect ratio. I'm shooting in Frame mode. If you haven't already read Chris' article "The Myth About Widescreen DV", check it out. It turns out that the XL1S creates the 16:9 aspect ration by actually cropping pixels vertically from its standard 4:3 mode. Given that the 16:9 is really a cropped cheat, does it make more sense to shoot at 4:3 using the 16:9 guides and then just crop it yourself in editing? Any thoughts about the comparative cost in resolution between these two options?
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Old January 29th, 2002, 12:47 PM   #2
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Canon's "official" response is, they want you to shoot in 4x3 using the crop guides in the viewfinder.

Take a few minutes to read Adam Wilt's thoughts on this very subject at:
http://www.adamwilt.com/DV-FAQ-etc.html#widescreen

Finally, if you want some *real* controversy, you'll find this link most interesting:
http://members.macconnect.com/users/...een/index.html

Hope this helps,
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Old January 30th, 2002, 03:19 AM   #3
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There appear to be different opinions from a lot of people
on this. I say expirement. See what you like better, shoot
4:3 and then crop (and perhaps stretch then). Shooting
16:9 directly with the camera (then it does the crop and
stretch for you) or use an anamorphic adapter (no loss
of resolution, but you do get loss of choice, explained later).

If you go down the first two choices there is a loss of
resolution. The second choice however offers you more
compression bandwidth! This can result in better pictures
then choice 1, why? Because in the first choice you are
compressing the whole picture (even the part you are
going to crop away)! Since DV compression is a dynamic
algorithm, ie it looks at where it THINKS it needs the most
bits and allocates the compression in this manor. If you have
a lot of detail in your picture some things are going to get
more compression bandwidth then others! Now if you shoot
in electronic 16:9 (choice 2) there is less detail to compress
(since it cropped out a stuff and the other information is
stretched -> decreasing detail instead of increasing it)
so there is more bandwidth available for each pixel! This
*can* result in a better picture (all depends on how much
detail there is).

Why are you loosing choice when shooting in 16:9 anamorphic
with an adapter? Because you need to frame your picture
100% accurately. There is no marging for error. What you framed
is what you get, end of story. This also happens with electronic
16:9 (choice 2) ofcourse! If you shoot in 4:3 and crop in the
editting suite you have the choice where to put the "black bars"!
You can shif the image up or down to get perfect framing! This
is what the big boys in hollywood are doing. They are reframing
the pictures to fit best and then crop em (they have the resolution
to spare). A good example of this technique is on the excellent
Se7en special edition DVD!

To sum it all up:

Choice 1, shoot 4:3, crop (and perhaps stretch) later:
Pro: shift the image up & down, also have 4:3 footage if needed
Con: might be a detail loss in complex images. extra work

Choice 2, shoot electronic 16:9
Pro: less detail loss in complex images, less work
Con: no extra choices in the NLE stage

Choice 3, 16:9 anamorphic adaptor
Pro: true 16:9, no resolution loss. Less detail loss in complex images, less work
Con: expensive, no extra choices in the NLE stage

Hope this all made some sense to someone :)

Good luck!
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Old November 16th, 2002, 06:18 AM   #4
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16:9 vs. 4:3 opinion

I'm getting ready to start shooting my second film soon and I'd like to get your opinions. There are tons of threads on the 16:9 ratio in the XL1, and about anamorphic adapters, etc. There are opinions from the purists that say you shouldn't even consider shooting 16:9 with the XL1...and there are lots of suggestions to go out buy expensive lenses and adapters. Unfortunately, I can't shell out any cash right now for an adapter, so if I shoot in 16:9 it'll have to be with the built-in feature in the XL1.

My goal on this next film is to shoot something that might actually have a chance at getting in some film festivals. And I want it to have as "cinematic" a look as possible. So, instead of technical "how to" explanations and such, I'm just looking for your opinion.

My question is, for those of you who have experience shooting in both 4:3 and 16:9 with an XL1, is it, in your opinion, worth it for me to shoot it this way (you know...not great, but better than 4:3)? Or is the end result so bad that it's better just to stay in 4:3? (if I did shoot it in 16:9, I'd letterbox it for regular TV viewing).
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Old November 16th, 2002, 06:45 AM   #5
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Are you able TO RENT a Sony DSR500? It has true 16:9 CCDs. Just a suggestion. (I'd go 16:9, but not with the XL1's built in feature.) Off topic: you're in Japan. Why not check out the Panasonic MX500? I mean, just check it out and give us your thoughts.
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Old November 16th, 2002, 09:09 AM   #6
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How is the MX500's 16:9 function different to that of the XL1? Remember the XL doesn't crop it stretches/squeezes the image. There is a loss of resolution but when viewed on a standard TV it still looks nice.
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Old November 16th, 2002, 09:19 AM   #7
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I knew it. I knew this would become yet another thread suggesting alternate equipment. You guys can't help yourselves! ;)

Actually, consider me dead broke. No chance at renting anything. So, any opinion? In-camera 16:9...or stick with 4:3?
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Old November 16th, 2002, 09:21 AM   #8
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What will you be doing with the final footage? If it is for web consumption, I don't see a problem with the XL1s 16:9 mode. All though not perfect, it still looks fine when viewed on the web. The alternative is to crop in post, which I am sure you already thought of.
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Old November 16th, 2002, 09:29 AM   #9
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Yeah, Paul...I'd thought about both ways...but would prefer doing it in-camera this time, if at all. And I agree with you that just about anything, done right, will look good on the web...just because it's so dense due to it's small size.

But the reason I'm thinking of shooting 16:9 is because, IF it turns out good enough (and that's a big IF), I'd like to submit it to some festivals and also some of the local indie viewing theaters. They put it up on a fairly big movie screen. That's why I figured 16:9 would give it at least a bit more cinematic flair. But not if it looks as crappy as some attest.
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Old November 16th, 2002, 09:46 AM   #10
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Next time you are coming down to my place, bring your camera we'll plug it in to our big arse tv and see just how "bad" it really looks.
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Old November 16th, 2002, 12:08 PM   #11
Ashley Vaughan
 
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Shooting in 16:9 or 4:3

It's fun to think that our camera is cool enough or technical enough to truly capture 16:9 with just a simple press of a button, but I have talked to TV engineers and other producers/videographers about this. I have been told to shoot the cleanest, most crisp and straight-forward 4:3 video there is and then do your effects in post. The 16:9 feature on the xl1s is for your own guidelines only. Guideline only. Key word.
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Old November 16th, 2002, 06:22 PM   #12
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Here's what I'm gonna do for you (I'm such a swell guy... well actually I have my own curiousity) since you're a fellow ex-pat. I'll shoot some footage on my XL1 in both 4:3 AND 16:9 modes, then plug my cam into my home projector (have to wait until dark) and see how it looks. If that isn't a good enough test, I'll take it to my work and project it to theater size tomorrow. I'll shoot a variety of lighting conditions in 'movie mode' and in regular as well.

But I suspect that some of the other post-ers are right and that it is a compromise unbecoming of the big screen.

PS. Let me know if you need a hand on your new movie. I have some gear and knowledge I might be able to share, time permitting.
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Old November 16th, 2002, 06:44 PM   #13
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Wow...what kind of setup do you have, Ken? You actually have access to equipment that can "project it to theater size"?! Fantastic! I'll be sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to hear the results. Talk about taking the guesswork out of it!

I've got several shorts lined up over the next few months, so we'll have to talk more about combined efforts...maybe get the whole DVJapan group to work together on something. Adrian? Rik? What do you think?
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Old November 16th, 2002, 09:37 PM   #14
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Shoot 4x3.

16x9 in the camera just does a crop and stretches the height to fill frame. You can do the same thing in post quite easily.

You have much more framing leeway if you shoot 4x3, as you can reframe in post if needed.

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Old November 17th, 2002, 05:47 AM   #15
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John,
I work at a University and there are 3 or 4 high resolution projectors set up in various rooms that can be made dark. One room is a mini-theater that seats about 100 people with the sloping seats -actually benches- and a decent projector that projects to about 4X3 metres or so. DVD's look pretty good even through S-video, which is the connection that I will also be using tomorrow (or as soon as I can). But a component signal is so much better. Unfortunately, I'll be going out of the S-video on the camcorder and through the projector, so don't expect miracles.
Most decent DVD players have a component out and if you plan to burn a DVD from your movie, the image should be projected better. I play component out DVD's on my home theatre system and it looks great, even though the projector is not an expensive one. I haven't yet seen a completely digital projection system, but I think they might exist (??? it might not even be possible for all I know). I know they're making firewire Plasma TV's now.
My University also has a complete Media 100 editing suite (not upgraded to firewire in, only S-video and Component in), a small TV studio/sound booth with lights and old cameras and lousy sound equipment. They hesitate to upgrade because no one is using it except little old me. BUT they did stock another 'theatre' with newer portable digital recording gear (mixer/MD recorder/?) (on a trolley) and I could wheel it down to the studio without too much trouble.
So, if you're in need for some post studio sound work, you could come by and use it. I also have a good friend who would be into helping with sound.
But be warned, in return I might ask you and your gear to commit a couple of weeks next summer to an 'indie' I have in the works.

Ken
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