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Old February 11th, 2005, 08:09 AM   #1
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objects in viewfinder may be closer than they appear?

i have a question regarding what is actually being captured on my tape, framing-wise, and what will be shown later. i have been shooting some footage for my roommate to edit. there have been some tight set-ups, when lighting elements or microphones have been j-u-s-t outside the frame (as i see it on my viewfinder and on the less reliable monitor hooked up to the camera). when the footage was imported into final cut pro, lo and behold, light stands and the like could be seen inside the matted 'safe-zone' on the image the computer was showing us. is the computer simply showing us more than will be displayed later? if this is hooked up to a projector or large-format television, will we see the lights and mics? i have to imagine that can't be the case, as i can only hope canon would make a viewfinder that would SHOW more and CAPTURE less, rather than CAPTURING more than it SHOWS.

i'm shooting on a canon xl2, 16:9, 24p.
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Old February 11th, 2005, 09:35 AM   #2
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One would indeed hope things worked this way, but unfortunately they don't . The only prosumer camera I know of which has a viewfinder showing the full frame is the Sony HDR-Z1. All of the others (DVX-100a, XL-1s, XL-2, PD170, etc) overscan, which means you are recording more than you can see. The XL series cameras can accept a monochrome CRT viewfinder which shows full frame (underscans) but it's expensive.

So if you're doing something critical then you unfortunately need to hook up a professional monitor with underscan capability. Alternatively you could use a laptop with a firewire connection and software like DV Rack or BTV Pro. But once you know what to expect it isn't too hard to make allowances when you frame your shots.

In the end, it may not really be a problem because all consumer TV's overscan as well. If you are distributing on the web it could be problematic, although you could just crop or mask the unwanted area before your final render.
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Old February 12th, 2005, 03:42 AM   #3
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Re: objects in viewfinder may be closer than they appear?

<<<-- Originally posted by Christopher Harring : if this is hooked up to a projector or large-format television, will we see the lights and mics? -->>>

To a projector: yes as there is no overscan or almost none.
To a 4:3 TV: yes as the top and bottom will not be overscanned.
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Old February 14th, 2005, 05:29 AM   #4
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Are you sure on that last part Bejamin? I am pretty sure that a
TV overscans all the sides (my masks in Vegas seem to think the
same, why would they otherwise make them like this)? I was also
under the impression that teletext was in either the top or bottom
part of the overscanned area.

On projectors it usually is selectable, at least it is on mine. I have
an Infocus X2 here and I can set it up as a TV (which is the default)
or have it underscan.
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Old February 14th, 2005, 10:00 AM   #5
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Chris,

Glad your "dog-umentary" is going well! Not sure why you need light stands to shoot stray dogs, though....

Anyway, yeah, the stuff is in the picture, and that's bad. If you were only watching it on TV, it would be okay, but unfortunately, the movie will probably be viewed on DVD and on a projector, where the full frame will be shown.

So, you have two options: either crop or resize. If you crop, you'll just be adding a frame of black around the video, which people probably won't notice. If you resize, then you'll be expanding the shots with the stands and mics in them, which will result in a small loss of quality, which may or may not be noticeable.

This is one of the reasons why I shoot 4:3 and crop to 16:9 instead of shooting 16:9 to begin with. That way, I can move the shot up and down inside the letterbox to reframe and get rid of any crap that showed up at the top or bottom.

Note that they also do this in Hollywood. If you've ever seen a trailer in the theater whose aspect ratio is much different than that of the upcoming film, a lazy projectionist might just run it without the proper matting, and you'll be able to see booms and lights all over the top of the picture that normally get matted out by the projector.

Ryan
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Old February 14th, 2005, 08:43 PM   #6
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<<<-- Originally posted by Rob Lohman : Are you sure on that last part Bejamin? I am pretty sure that a
TV overscans all the sides (my masks in Vegas seem to think the
same, why would they otherwise make them like this)? -->>>


Yes you are right, a TV overscan all sides. But he is shooting 16:9, so if it is seen letterboxed in a 4:3 TV, the top and bottom sides will not be overscanned. Hmmm, it would be clearer with a drawing...


And Ryan, if you crop your 4:3 video you don't get a 16:9 video but simply a 4:3 one with black bars. It means you have much less resolution than a 16:9 video. It is not noticeable on a standard TV but you can see the loss of quality on a projector and even on a big 16:9 TV.
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Old February 14th, 2005, 09:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
[/i]Originally posted by Benjamin Durin[/i]

Yes you are right, a TV overscan all sides. But he is shooting 16:9, so if it is seen letterboxed in a 4:3 TV, the top and bottom sides will not be overscanned. Hmmm, it would be clearer with a drawing...
You know, I was noticing today that my letterboxed image on a 4:3 TV was being overscanned, the top and the bottom.

I was surprised.
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Old February 14th, 2005, 09:55 PM   #8
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Benjamin,

Wait a minute.... When I crop my 4:3 video it doesn't magically become stretched to a 16:9 picture with no loss of resolution?!!!!! Oh crap!!!! Now I'll have to go back and reshoot all of the award-winning movies I've shot this way!

Seriously, though, I'm not an idiot. I'm fully aware of the resolution loss, and feel that the control I have over the picture in post is well worth it. I also have the luxury of being able to screen my completed films on a huge screen here in Baltimore (at monthly Filmmaker Salons at the Patterson Theater), and I have been extremely happy with the quality of the video. The resolution loss is a non-issue, because it in no way detracts from the quality of the movie. In fact, I have received numerous compliments and accolades from fellow filmmakers on the high quality of these films.

Regardless, I would much rather crop 4:3 and get a small resolution loss than have to worry about reshooting an entire scene because I found out two weeks later that the boom was in the shot. Especially when I have a cocaine crazed LA-transplanted director breathing down my neck in editing. Hypothetically speaking, of course....

Ryan
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Old February 14th, 2005, 10:18 PM   #9
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Ryan, I didn't take you for an idiot but the way you wrote your post could mislead a lot of people. And congratulations for all your awards.


Bryan, what was the source ? I will make a test tonight with a DVD.
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Old February 15th, 2005, 08:26 AM   #10
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Benjamin,

Glad you don't think I'm an idiot. I cried a little when I first read your message, but I think I'm better now.

You do raise an interesting issue, which is how much cropping to 16:9 affects the audience's perception of the final quality of the film. You obviously think it makes a big difference.

I will say that I noticed a difference in quality between 4:3 cropped to 16:9 blow-ups shot on my 1-chip JVC DVF-21 (lots of jaggies and DV compression blocks) and my GL2 (smooth and slightly soft, but in a nice way). I'm sure using an anamorphic lens, or using 16:9 chips (like the ones in the XL2) produces a sharper picture, but other than that, what are the perceived differences when blown up? And does the audience care?

Regarding the overscanning of letterboxed films, of course the top and bottom (as well as the sides) gets overscanned on a 4:3 television. But there's no information there, just black bars, so why does it matter?

Ryan
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Old February 16th, 2005, 02:51 PM   #11
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Ow...neck.
The good thing about post-production fixes is that you CAN expand the frame when the director becomes microcosmically connected to fixing the 2 frames of boom fuzz that entered the frame. It's very easy to lay the "widescreen" matte on top of the footage. Especially if it's shot in 4:3 (with a different camera).
This also works when the characters are shot at sunset with a shady background while wearing white tee-shirts. THAT makes for some pretty footage. Once it's matted, that is.
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Old February 16th, 2005, 03:28 PM   #12
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Ian,

I hope Chris reads this, because I really like movies about dogs....

I find that if I stretch video more than 5% it starts to look pretty soft, and not in a good way. Digital Anarchy's Toolbox and Algolith's Resizer plugins seem to do a better job of this, but there is definitely still a limit to how much you can resize the picture in post.

The cool thing about the GL2 is that it has white lines on the top and bottom of the viewfinder to indicate the 16:9 area. So you can shoot 4:3 but frame for 16:9, and still be able to see all the crap that's going on above and below what will be the letterbox bars. But sometimes there are directors from LA who need to be constantly reminded that, "No, the boom won't be in the shot, because we're letterboxing in post, remember?"

Ryan
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Old February 16th, 2005, 08:48 PM   #13
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<<<-- Originally posted by Ryan Graham : Benjamin,

I will say that I noticed a difference in quality between 4:3 cropped to 16:9 blow-ups shot on my 1-chip JVC DVF-21 (lots of jaggies and DV compression blocks) and my GL2 (smooth and slightly soft, but in a nice way). I'm sure using an anamorphic lens, or using 16:9 chips (like the ones in the XL2) produces a sharper picture, but other than that, what are the perceived differences when blown up? And does the audience care?

Regarding the overscanning of letterboxed films, of course the top and bottom (as well as the sides) gets overscanned on a 4:3 television. But there's no information there, just black bars, so why does it matter?

Ryan -->>>

Well, this time I will think YOU take me for an idiot. But it is again a problem of vocabulary. Of course the black bars will get overscanned and no one cares. I was talking of the 16:9 picture that is actually resized by the DVD player and letterboxed, so no real overscan here. But I made a DVD test to see if some of the top and bottom disappeared in the process and there is ! On my DVD player it is about 1% of the height but I am not sure if this 1% disappear because of the resizing or because it is eaten by the black bars.

And it is only now that I understand you don't make a simple crop but you also blow-up your picture. Which is much better, especially if you have good hardware and software. You are also right that the audience will first focus on the story.
But personnally I will continue shooting 16:9 ;-)
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Old February 18th, 2005, 11:17 AM   #14
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Re: objects in viewfinder may be closer than they appear?

<<<-- Originally posted by Christopher Harring : i have a question regarding what is actually being captured on my tape, framing-wise, and what will be shown later. i have been shooting some footage for my roommate to edit. there have been some tight set-ups, when lighting elements or microphones have been j-u-s-t outside the frame (as i see it on my viewfinder and on the less reliable monitor hooked up to the camera). when the footage was imported into final cut pro, lo and behold, light stands and the like could be seen inside the matted 'safe-zone' on the image the computer was showing us. is the computer simply showing us more than will be displayed later? if this is hooked up to a projector or large-format television, will we see the lights and mics? i have to imagine that can't be the case, as i can only hope canon would make a viewfinder that would SHOW more and CAPTURE less, rather than CAPTURING more than it SHOWS.

i'm shooting on a canon xl2, 16:9, 24p. -->>>

This might have been adressed somewhere in the thread, but i figured I'd post it anyway.

I ran into this problem when I first started using the JVC HD10s. What I ended up doing was taping some test stuff (still objects, no movement, etc) that I then sent back out to a standard TV (for scan areas and 4x3), a comp monitor (for the full frame actually being captured) and a plasma (for the 16x9 area). From there I traced out all of the safe areas, cropping zones, etc etc etc using a very thin sharpy - don't knock it, it works perfectly ;-) onto the cameras flipout LCDs - just the lines, didn't fill in anything - basically it looks like a bunch of guides in Photoshop. I had originally tried fashioning some thin plexiglass screens to avoid drawing on the camera, but a number of problems came about that ultimately made drawing on the camera not that big a deal. OIS is off (not really that useful to me).

This is all relative to the CCD inside the camera. Now I can know instantly what is being captured, where I really need to be careful with, what it'll look like regardless of display orientation or aspect, what I'll actually have to edit when I transfer to a comp, etc. Very handy.
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