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Old August 13th, 2003, 01:11 PM   #1
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Cropping to widescreen format

Hi, I remember reading a post (I think by Ken Tenaka) saying that he likes to shoot in 4:3 and then crop to widescreen in post.

I'm using Final Cut Express and from what I can figure the only way to do this is to apply the 'widescreen' filter to each clip in my film - this is possible but slightly laborious...

Is there an easier way?
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Old August 13th, 2003, 02:04 PM   #2
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What I used to do was overlay 16:9 bars I got off of a website. I can't specifically remember where I got them from, but they're nice tga files. I'd just key out the white in between the bars and overlay it on top of my footage. Email me and I can send it to you. (devin_doyle@hotmail.com) Of course I did all this in premiere so I don't have a clue about how to do it in FCP, although I imagine its just about the same process.

Nowadays I shoot with the cameras electronic 16:9. I used to do the process above until I read this:

http://members.macconnect.com/users/b/ben/widescreen/

Now he says it boosts your res, but really all you're doing in using in cam 16:9 is utilizing the DV stream more efficiently (read that on another post). So consider shooting with the in cam 16:9 next time. Since I don't have 16:9 guides and am tired of guessing where the widescreen frame ends this is a lot easier (on a GL1). Usually I'll edit my whole production, export it with lossless compression, and then import into a 4:3 project and tell it to remain in its original aspect ratio. Premiere generates the bars and I'm good to go. Once more, I dunno how FCP would handle it, but I'm sure it's about the same process. Good luck!
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Old August 13th, 2003, 03:31 PM   #3
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<<<-- Originally posted by Devin Doyle : Nowadays I shoot with the cameras electronic 16:9. -->>>

I suggest you do some tests yourself if you want the best 16:9 with a 4:3 camcorder. My tests with the VX-2000 imply a very significant res boost by cropping in post instead of builtin 16:9 (~360 vs 240 vertical lines of resolution).

Read the American Cinematographer article about blowing up XL-1s footage for the film "28 days later" to 35mm 1.85:1, they chose to shoot 4:3 and crop in post.

I doubt that you can generalize about this sort of thing as different cameras handle builtin 16:9 differently.
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Old August 13th, 2003, 03:45 PM   #4
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Boyd - I actually visited your site a while ago after perusing another debate on DVinfo about cropping vs. in cam 16:9. Eventually I will run my own tests to see what the best option is, however that link I posted (and I'm sure you're well aware of that test/site) used a GL1 for his test (same camera I'm using), and I'm comfortable with relying on his results for now. I really can't notice that much difference between the two, my eye must not be as discriminating as others around here! I suppose it's just one of those technical nit-picky things we dwell over.

I have read that american cinematographer article. I spose I need to go back and revise it. Boy I really hope they include a lot of behind the scenes documnetaries on the 28 days later DVD, I'm dying to get some detail on how they shot a lot of it!

BTW - you're doing a great service to the community by posting your own res tests on the VX2k. We appreciate it!
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Old August 13th, 2003, 04:17 PM   #5
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Thanks for the kind words Devin! In some shots the difference may not be particularly apparent. But looking at the vertical res on the chart should tell the real story. Note the converging horizontal bars at the top of this image of a res chart, shot with the VX-2000. In the example on the left the bars are pretty solid and distinct up to around 350 or 360. The example on the right (built-in 16:9) shows lots of degradation beyond about 240 or 250.

However from what I've read the GL-1 and GL-2 process 16:9 differently than the VX-2000 and you're probably right in your approach for this camera.
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Old August 13th, 2003, 05:27 PM   #6
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Justin,
Yes, when 16:9 is needed I do, indeed, shoot 4:3 (using the XL1s & GL2's 16:9 guide bars) and then crop the image in post.

Of couse, there are many versions of "16:9". In Final Cut Pro 4, the widescreen filter is the easiest tool to do the job. If offers several variations on the crop. It's best to do this last, if possible, to avoid unnecessary render time.

If you are compressing video for Web delivery you can also perform this crop with a tool like Cleaner 6.

Another other way to do this is to import a matte (still graphic from Photoshop or another graphic app) that features an alpha channel block in the middle where the image will appear. The top and bottom bars will be, of course, black. You can build one yourself pretty easily. Or you can visit Rob Lohman's great "Letterbox Calculator" page to grab a matte.
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Old August 13th, 2003, 10:09 PM   #7
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Boyd - I'd have to agree with you on the VX2K res tests. Vertical resolution is higher when cropped in post. I wish I could get my grubby paws on one of those resolution charts to test my GL1 myself. The only thing that really gets me down when shooting in 4:3 and then cropping is trying to imagine where the bars will cover. I know you can move the image up and down just in case you miscalculated (which is a nice feature, i might add of this method) but I'm concentrating on so many other things that it's easy to botch the shot! I know the GL2 & XL1s have those 16:9 overlays which help, just wish I had one on my GL1!

Ken - As always you get back to the main point! That calculator link is nice, I've bookmarked it for future reference. Thanks!
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Old August 13th, 2003, 11:11 PM   #8
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<<<-- Originally posted by Devin Doyle : I wish I could get my grubby paws on one of those resolution charts to test my GL1 myself.-->>>

http://www.bealecorner.com/trv900/respat/#EIA1956


<<<-- I know the GL2 & XL1s have those 16:9 overlays which help, just wish I had one on my GL1!-->>>

How about using electrical tape or a china marker on the LCD screen?...
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Old August 14th, 2003, 12:23 AM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Boyd Ostroff : How about using electrical tape or a china marker on the LCD screen?... -->>>

I did use a piece of transparency with 16:9 bars on it, but it got a lot of grit in my LCD and was a pain to keep re-aligning. As to taping or marking my lcd directly...I don't think so. lol!

That res test is great though. Thanks for sending that through. I'm going to run that test tomorrow and post pics to my site...I'll update on the morrow. Thanks Boyd!
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Old August 14th, 2003, 07:38 AM   #10
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Thanks

Ken - so the best way is indeed to use the Final Cut 'widescreen' filter. This may be a real rookie question but is there a quick and easy way of applying a filter 'to all'?

My other query is (as I haven't actually tested this myself). I can imagine that this technique will look fine when played on a 4:3 television but what happens to it when played on a widescreen TV - does the TV think that the black bars are actually part of the image? Is this a problem?
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Old August 14th, 2003, 11:22 AM   #11
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Okay - I've found out how to do the 'apply to all' thing.

Also, from what I see it seems that hopefully a widescreen TV would NOT take the black bars as part of the image.

This is an assumption I am making based on the fact that when I double-click a clip that has had the widescreen filter applied the black bars do not appear - the areas where they would be are appearing as transparent. Excellent!

Somebody please correct me on this if this is an inaccurate assumption.
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Old August 14th, 2003, 02:03 PM   #12
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I'm not sure what you mean by "transparent", but I suspect your logic is flawed. Unless you have flagged your footage as anamorphic 16:9 then a widescreen TV will just treat it like 4:3 (for all it knows you may *want* black bars on the screen). However, my Sony 16:9 monitor has menu options for how to scale footage to fit the screen. I believe one of the options will expand letterbox to fill the screen, but this is something which requires an action on the part of the viewer.
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Old August 14th, 2003, 06:35 PM   #13
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Justin: I can's say that using FCP's widescreen filter is the best technique for all applications but it's been the best way for most of mine. The exception is the work we do with our Lady X Films -- ladyxfilms.com -- project, where we do the crop in Cleaner 6 as we compress episodes.

Boyd is 100% correct. Cropped 4:3 footage, such as we're discussing here, is just cropped 4:3 footage. It's strictly a presentation style, not a different presentation format. Your standard television will display it fine. Try it.
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Old August 15th, 2003, 03:43 AM   #14
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But what about a widescreen TV?
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Old August 15th, 2003, 11:33 AM   #15
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It depends on the specific features of the set. Typically, in such sets 4:3 footage can either be displayed centered with black bars on either side or stretched with no bars on the sides.
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