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Old September 29th, 2009, 01:22 PM   #1
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4:3 or letterboxed for old unfinished project? Help me decide!!!

I shot a kids video (about horses) a few years ago on a DVX100 camera. All the footage is 4:3 SD obviously. Life happened and the project got put on the shelf, but it is killing me to see the footage go to waste. I would like to resurrect the project and finish the post on it.

Do you think a 4:3 video is marketable? Should I letterbox it or leave it as is. If I letter box it, it might stretch better on a HD display.

I would love to get your feedback!
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Old September 29th, 2009, 02:12 PM   #2
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best to use 4:3 if your thinking about sales. Many broadcasters won't except letterbox anymore. You can also do a version in anamorphic later.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 02:31 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Diffenderfer View Post
All the footage is 4:3 SD obviously.
Why's that obvious? The DVX has two different 16:9 SD modes...
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Old September 29th, 2009, 02:34 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Chris McMahon View Post
Why's that obvious? The DVX has two different 16:9 SD modes...
Because the a and b version have squeeze mode, not the first version. the first version has letterboxed which is not 16:9, it is letterboxed (4:3 cropped).
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Old September 29th, 2009, 02:35 PM   #5
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I was not aware of that.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 02:44 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Michael Dalton View Post
best to use 4:3 if your thinking about sales. Many broadcasters won't except letterbox anymore. You can also do a version in anamorphic later.
It will be direct to DVD - sold to libraries and such.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 08:18 AM   #7
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Interesting question given that I'm rather in the same situation. I'm working on a historical project that has four sections, one of which is using some 50 year old 8mm film footage. Obviously, that's 4:3. The three others were/will be shot 16:9 but are mostly interviews or using 4:3 and square photographs. I've settled on 4:3 for the project for consistency. This will be delivered on DVD with no HD output planned.

I tried using the "blurred box" approach to get the old film into 16:9 but it just looked stupid so 4:3 was the logical choice for this project. I thought about mixing formats but it created some technical DVD authoring issues I'm not comfortable dealing with.

I'm a big believer in shooting in whatever format you expect to deliver. Since I had no control over the old film, a significant part of the decision was made for me. I don't think it will hurt the project.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 08:31 AM   #8
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Tripp, remember that even Stanley Kubrick sometimes chose to work in 4:3. Eyes Wide Shut was lensed in 4:3... You're in good company.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 09:58 AM   #9
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If I were you Bob I'd assume that all buyers of your DVD will be viewing it on a 16:9 TV from now on, so I'd edit it as a pillarboxed production. It's what the BBC are doing more and more with WW2 and Beatles footage - the sort of films that would be disastrous to crop and would look stupid stretched.

All the 4:3 film transfers I do these days are pillarboxed productions - that way wide-screen set owners don't have to search through the remote's options to try and find the format change toggle. If I simply do the transfers as 4:3 the majority of owners simply see the footage expanded sideways, with short, fat 1970s people.

If they view my transfers on an old 4:3 set they see a letterboxed and pillarboxed (correctly proportioned) image. It appears to be an image rectangle within a black border, and looks fine.

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Old September 30th, 2009, 01:22 PM   #10
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On a project covering my grandson's progress towards his private pilot liscense the first part was shot in 4:3 ( I didn't have a widescreen TV at that time ) while the rest was done in SD 16:9. What I did was to take the early footage, bring it into a 16:9 project on the timeline and use the PIP effect to magnify it until I had lost the pillarboxes.

The "effect" allowed me to adjust both vertical and horizontal position as well as magnification so I was able to compose so it looked like it was shot in widescreen. Yes, it did lose some definition but so far I am the only one who even notices.

I maintain a "training video" that somewhat parallels what I teach in an 8 hour Defensive Handgun class. Started out with Sony Digital8 in 4:3, Sony MiniDV in 4:3, and when I began using a Panasonic PV GS500 I made the decision to do no more shooting in 4:3. Next partial revisions will be with Canon HF100 and whatever HD video DSLR I have at the time.

So to keep the look somewhat consistent I did the magnify/crop till I could fill the 16:9 frame with all the 4:3 stuff and it works. Again, there is difference in definition for those who look/notice it but the students have made no comments on that. They pay attention to what is demonstrated and how things are done.

We each make our choices.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 03:43 PM   #11
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Though my heart says stay in 4:3 (why not? as a ratio it held strong for many decades and looks fine) my head agrees with Tom. Most people watch 16:9 TVs and have them set to widescreen and don't adjust the image for different ratios (don't even know the difference) or have it set to auto adjust. Obviously that can look pretty bad for 4:3 footage. I'm always amazed when I point this out to folk and a) they never realised everyone looked a bit fat and b) prefer it that way as they don't like the black bars down the sides (they also seem to prefer a colour contrast such that humans look like sunburnt aliens!)
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Old October 1st, 2009, 01:47 AM   #12
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....prefer it that way as they don't like the black bars down the sides.
When I transfer old ciné footage or 4:3 VHS and so on to 16:9 DVD I ask the client his views on these 'black bars'. He can have them any shade or colour he likes of course, including sky-blue pink with yellow dots. When I demonstrate old 4:3 pillarboxed footage being upscaled on my 46" LCD the sheer size makes the black edges insignificant.

Like Bruce says, content is all.

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Old October 1st, 2009, 12:10 PM   #13
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Bob,

you really have only two options. If you deliver in HD, you have to uprez the footage, then box it in your HD project. I think you meant pillar box though...

But if your final product is standard definition DVD, keep it 4x3. If you edit in a 16x9 project, you throw away valuable pixels... Besides, a correctly authored DVD will show in the correct format on today's screens.
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Old October 1st, 2009, 01:32 PM   #14
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I see no reason to letterbox DV unless you just dig the look. Most viewers will just feel cheated out of some picture.
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Old October 1st, 2009, 02:16 PM   #15
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Thanks for the responses and good ideas. I could probably do a pillarbox version and a 4:3 version on the same DVD. I doubt the consumer would understand pillarbox though.

What would I do, edit in a 16:9 timeline?
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