HELP- HD to Digibeta/Beta SP/DVCAM for festival exhibition - Urgent Question at DVinfo.net

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Old August 23rd, 2009, 01:06 AM   #1
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HELP- HD to Digibeta/Beta SP/DVCAM for festival exhibition - Urgent Question

For reasons beyond me, i cannot seem to find the answer to what seems to be a simple question .. We shot a short film in 720/24P (HVX200), which fortunately got into a few festivals, and I went to a post house to get transfers for the exhibition formats. To cover our bases (since we only just started submitting and all fests seem to vary), we opted for transfers to HDCAM, DigiBeta, Beta SP, and DVCAM. After outputting to HDCAM, we were set to make the downconverts to the SD formats, when the post house asked me a question about aspect ratio i couldn't answer. OK - so we shot in 16:9, and since HDCAM projects that way, we are fine there, but since some (or all) of the SD formats are 4:3, they asked do we go with "anamorphic," where the image is squeezed so that there is no additional rez loss, and the projector presumably widens the image back to its native 16:9 dimensions, OR do we make the image letterboxed by shrinking and adding black bars, so that it essentially can be projected to 4:3. My inclination is the former ("anamorphic 16:9"), but i'm worried about spending a ton of money to later find out i made a mistake. Can someone please advise me ASAP? I need to give the post house an answer in two days ... Thanks in advance
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Old August 23rd, 2009, 01:42 AM   #2
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Hi Jason, my advice would be to go Anamorphic in all cases, as 16:9 projectors are getting pretty common these days. Also, if you have an Anamorphic master on the Digibeta/DV, it' shouldn't be that costly to go to a post house with a Digi deck and get it converted to letterbox later. Going the other way means a hit to resolution in comparison as they have to blow up from the letterbox (unless they can downres from the HDCAM).

Smaller post places are also less likely to have a HDCAM deck, so it's going to be more costly to go from HDCAM back to an Anamorphic output as there are (generally) less HDCAM decks available in a market than Digibeta decks. Getting an anamorphic DV master back to letterbox will be even cheaper, just take it to anyone with an NLE and DV camera.

Festivals SHOULD get it right by having 16:9 projectors in most cases which will want the anamorphic master, but if they don't then the newer 4:3 projectors often can be set up to letterbox to 16:9 anyway, like DVD players. (Although festival projectionists can and do get it wrong, as they are often volunteers who aren't as savvy as they think they are/claim to be.)
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Old August 23rd, 2009, 05:27 AM   #3
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Craig - your advice is extremely appreciated - thx very much. When projectionists at these festivals receive 16:9 films, do they generally project in 16:9 (widescreen) anamorphic by default, or do we filmmakers need to specify "16:9 anamorphic" on the tapes we send in..? I'm assuming we are probably ok either way...
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Old August 23rd, 2009, 09:16 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Patty View Post
When projectionists at these festivals receive 16:9 films, do they generally project in 16:9 (widescreen) anamorphic by default, or do we filmmakers need to specify "16:9 anamorphic" on the tapes we send in..? I'm assuming we are probably ok either way...
I would SUGGEST that tape and box label as well as slate have "16:9 ANAMORPHIC" prominently displayed. Most pro tape formats don't send a failsafe anamorphic flag that will be guaranteed automatically decoded for display.
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Old August 24th, 2009, 04:26 AM   #5
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good to know .. then "16:9 Anamorphic" on the labels it shall be
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Old August 24th, 2009, 11:24 AM   #6
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Yes! Label the tape properly. I'm involved in a film festival, and we always try to get filmmakers to mark the tapes properly so the projectionist doesn't have to guess. Often unsuccessfully. One of the things it's been difficult to do is explain the difference between letterbox and 16:9 anamorphic. We're always getting in tapes labeled "16:9" when they're really 4:3 letterboxed. If it's a 4:3 image that has been cropped to a 16:9 shape, it's still a 4:3 tape. Seems simple to me, but lots of people don't get that. It's good you asked first.
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