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Old February 1st, 2009, 04:11 PM   #1
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Any Clients Upset Over Letterboxing?

Hey everybody,

I often shoot HDV and deliver my video in a letterboxed format on DVD instead of pan-and-scan. So far I haven't had anybody complain about the letterboxing, but I am curious whether any of you have had difficulties.

So here's my question for you:
1. Do you shoot 16:9? If so, do you deliver a letterboxed DVD or pan-and-scan?
2. If you deliver letterboxed, have you ever had any unhappy clients that are still watching with SDTVs?

Thanks all!
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 10:11 AM   #2
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I make DVDs that are letterbox AND panscan, which is an option on DVD Studio Pro. I hate watching letterboxed video on an HDTV, with black bars not only on the top and bottom, but also on the left and right.
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 06:54 AM   #3
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Yes and letterbox only. No complaints thus far.

To Aric's comment about having letterbox and pillarbox bars on a 16:9 TV. If that happens with a DVD, it means that the DVD player doesn't know that you have a widescreen TV. If set up correctly, the DVD player should automagically fill up a 16:9 TV with video from edge to edge and corner to corner.
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 07:19 AM   #4
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Glenn - the situation shouldn't even arise. HDV is by definition 16:9, so if you shoot and edit 16:9 and make a 16:9 DVD it'll fill a widescreen TV and automatically letterbox on an old 4:3 TV.

Pan and scan? That's something done by broadcasters when trying to show 2.35:1 as 1.33:1.

As Tripp points out - if owners of 4:3 TVs haven't set up their DVD players correctly they'll see vertically stretched images.

tom.
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 08:03 AM   #5
 
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I've received no complaints about letterboxed video. However, customers have complained about combined letterboxing and pillar boxing. In addition to Tripp's comment, a widescreen TV will letterbox and pillarbox 4:3 content if the pixel aspect ratio was not set properly during content creation. 1080 and 720 formatted material has a native PAR of 1:1. DVD formatted material has a PAR of .909. If you neglect to export with the correct PAR, a widescreen TV will force a smaller image that is both pillarboxed and letterboxed. Changing the display characteristics will NOT correct this problem.
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 09:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tripp Woelfel View Post
Yes and letterbox only. No complaints thus far.

To Aric's comment about having letterbox and pillarbox bars on a 16:9 TV. If that happens with a DVD, it means that the DVD player doesn't know that you have a widescreen TV. If set up correctly, the DVD player should automagically fill up a 16:9 TV with video from edge to edge and corner to corner.
No, it means the DVD is letterbox and not anamorphic widescreen. That is why I had to take the time to re-buy all of my older DVDs to get anamorphic versions.
I'm pretty sure if you set DVD studio pro to "letterbox" it embeds black bars on a 4:3 image with your little 16:9 movie inside. If you set DVD Studio Pro to "Pan Scan" it will fill your widescreen TV and will NOT stretch the image, the only downside is that people with 4:3 TVs will have a cropped pan scan image. But you have a 3rd option to set "both", which is great for every one.
I have to ask clients if the footage is for 4:3 or 16:9 monitors before I shoot anyway. But I select "both" in Studio pro if they want a 16:9 video. iDVD handles properly imported 16:9 video the same way, I don't know what software you are using.
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 07:06 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Aric Mannion View Post
I'm pretty sure if you set DVD studio pro to "letterbox" it embeds black bars on a 4:3 image with your little 16:9 movie inside.
I've never used DVD Studio Pro so I cannot comment on that. However, in Encore CS3 you'd have to work really hard at getting things wrong to have a 16:9 disk play on a DVD player correctly set to a 16:9 TV with both pillarbox and letterbox.

I'm going to show my ignorance of DVD specs here but aren't all 16:9 DVDs anamorphic, at least nowadays? Why would anyone willingly throw away about 100 lines of resolution if one didn't have to?
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 09:16 PM   #8
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Except maybe the very first DVDs (when video engineers were still transitioning from VHS), all wide screen DVDs are made anamorphic. There is absolutely no reason to letterbox!

I, for one, would send such a product back and ask for the real thing.
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 10:32 PM   #9
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If wide screen DVDs are anamorphic, then how would they display on 4:3 TVs?

The reason why I've letterboxed my materials in the past is because the majority of my audience is still using SDTVs, and I want to make sure that my titles (designed with 16:9 title safe zones) display properly.

Does anybody have any advice on the settings I should use in DVD Studio Pro then to optimize my DVDs?
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 11:59 PM   #10
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Glenn-I have had no complaints about widescreen but I discuss this with clients beforehand and note it in the contract. As with everything else better to address issues upfront so you don't get suprises later.

As to the whole commercial DVD question...Many DVDs that are "Widescreen" are actually Fullscreen with Black bars at the top and bottom. If you don't believe it turn on the subtitles and you will see the verbiage in the black areas. This is not a 16:9 disc but a 4:3 disc with black mask bars. When i create 16:9 content in DVD architect i burn it from 16:9 source to 16:9 MPG2 and Disc Author settings set to 16:9. On a 16:9 set (with a properly set up DVD player) it will play without black bars. On a 4:3 set it will play with letterbox bars. If you are creating true 16:9 content and outputting 16:9 then your clients will not see bars on a 16:9 set if the DVD player is set up correctly. With most players this means accessing the settings menu without a disc inside and setting the player to 16:9 mode. Now that 16:9 sets are more popular many DVDs are being delivered in true widescreen. The easiest test i have found for this is the subtitle test. In my experience, if the subtitles are in the image area it is a 16:9 disc, if in the bars it is a 4:3 disc with widescreen bars.

Most DVD players ship with a default setting of 4:3 so the player adds the bars when you play 16:9 footage on a 4:3 set just like if it is set to 16:9 and you put a 4:3 disc in the player adds the pillars. First you have to encode it 16:9, then you have to make sure the player is set up correctly....

I have never worked with DVD studio Pro so I can't help there but I wanted to help clarify the commercial "widescreen" question.
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Old February 4th, 2009, 06:34 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aric Mannion View Post
I'm pretty sure if you set DVD studio pro to "letterbox" it embeds black bars on a 4:3 image with your little 16:9 movie inside.
This is not the case. DVD Studio Pro confuses the issue with its misleading "16:9 Letterbox" settings label. It is ANAMORPHIC, when this setting is used. I'm absolutely sure.
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Old February 4th, 2009, 07:50 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Glenn Fisher View Post
If wide screen DVDs are anamorphic, then how would they display on 4:3 TVs?
The key here is a setup parameter on the DVD player. In the player setup menu it asks if the TV is 4:3 or 16:9. If you tell it 4:3, it will send letterboxed video to fit the screen. If you state 16:9, it will send the full resolution anamorphic image to the TV.

If you have a 16:9 TV but the player thinks it's 4:3, on the screen you'll see a small image inside a full screen black box (pillar and letterbox).
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Old February 4th, 2009, 09:50 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Mayer View Post
This is not the case. DVD Studio Pro confuses the issue with its misleading "16:9 Letterbox" settings label. It is ANAMORPHIC, when this setting is used. I'm absolutely sure.
That's good news, then we are past the point where DVDs can letterbox your video in a 4:3 frame.
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Old February 4th, 2009, 06:32 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Aric Mannion View Post
...then we are past the point where DVDs can letterbox your video in a 4:3 frame.
Not exactly. They key in this equation is what type of TV your DVD player thinks you have. Read post #12 again. The answer's there.

The only way you might avoid letterboxing on a 4:3 TV is to tell your player that you have a 16:9 screen. Not sure what it will do since I don't have a 4:3 set.
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