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Old November 16th, 2009, 04:36 AM   #1
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Changing 4:3 into 16:9

Hi:
My archives are full of Betacam- and DVCAM-stuff shot in 4:3-mode. But nowadays all tv-station demand 16:9. In order to use some old footage, here comes a question: Is there a way to transfer 4:3 to 16:9 in best quality? I work with Final Cut Pro.
Thanx: Heiner
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Old November 16th, 2009, 04:54 AM   #2
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It can be done in finalcut. You need to create the sequence as 16:9. I am however not sure whether that would constitute a transfer.....
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Old November 16th, 2009, 05:16 AM   #3
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I get asked to put a lot of 4:3 film and VHS footage onto DVD these days. I always ask the client first, but invariably they have 16:9 TVs so it makes sense to make them 16:9 DVDs and have their original 4:3 images pillarboxed.

This means they don't suffer any stretching distortion, they don't have to access the (for most) incomprehensible aspect ratio menus on their TV's remote and should they play the DVD into an old 4:3 CRT, say, then the image will be letterboxed and pillarboxed at the same time. Of course they don't know this - all they see is a slightly smaller 4:3 picture within their 4:3 TV tube.

Don't know about FCP, but my Premiere does it easily.

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Old November 16th, 2009, 07:06 PM   #4
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FCP allows 4X3 in a 16x9 timeline with pillar boxing.

Good Luck
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Old November 16th, 2009, 07:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
... so it makes sense to make them 16:9 DVDs and have their original 4:3 images pillarboxed... and should they play the DVD into an old 4:3 CRT, say, then the image will be letterboxed and pillarboxed at the same time. Of course they don't know this - all they see is a slightly smaller 4:3 picture within their 4:3 TV tube.
I'm afraid you're making a mistake there, significantly reducing the spatial resolution!

A well set DVD player will feed the TV the required aspect ratio, so if you make a correctly authored 4x3 DVD, it will play full screen on a 4x3 oldie and it will automatically put up the pillar boxes on a 16x9 TV set.

So if your source is 4x3, you should make a 4x3 DVD!
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Old November 16th, 2009, 10:17 PM   #6
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Zoom to fit. thats all.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 03:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ervin Farkas View Post
I'm afraid you're making a mistake there, significantly reducing the spatial resolution! So if your source is 4x3, you should make a 4x3 DVD!
Thanks for the feedback Ervin. Could you expand on the resolution hit please?

Here's my pov. I'm making DVDs (SD by definition). Now a 720 x 576 DV frame can be 4:3 or 16:9, so the widescreen one is 'less sharp' if you like, having its 720 pixels stretched to fill the wider screen.

My 4:3 pillarboxed image is 540 pixels wide sitting centrally within the 720 pixel 16:9 screen. But if I'd made it as a 4:3 DVD, wouldn't this still be true - wouldn't the 720 pixels be shown 540 wide on a 16:9 TV?

I do agree that having a letterboxed and pillarboxed image shown on your old 4:3 CRT is losing a lot of resolution (because it's now a 540 x 405 image), but it's interesting to see that the BBC is showing more and more World War 2 footage this way so that they don't have to crop the image or have people see it distorted.

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Old November 17th, 2009, 12:08 PM   #8
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That works for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nik Skjoth View Post
Zoom to fit. thats all.
I have to supply 16:9 footage of my past TV Press junkets (shot in 4:3 on either Beta SP, or DigiBeta) to the networks using these older press events in their current entertainment news shows.

I just zoom to fit, re-center, and then tweak the image a bit. Works very well for the type of clips I am suppling (pretty much a static one or two shot, seated talent). Not quite HD quality, but pretty damn close.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 12:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
Thanks for the feedback Ervin. Could you expand on the resolution hit please?
If your DVDs are played back on an old SD television set, your image is only 540x405 as you said.

If your DVDs are played back on and HD set, either the TV (if an SD DVD player is used) or the Bluray player will have to scale up SD to HD. Now, if you left all your pixels (720x576) in place, the scaler will have a lot more to start with, compared to only 540x576 when pilarboxed.

Clearly, your HD video will look better scaled up from a 720x576 original.

I hope this explains it,
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Old November 17th, 2009, 05:48 PM   #10
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I've recently done a few 16:9 standard definition projects where most of the footage was shot on a Z1 but I wanted to include some 3 minute clips shot in 4:3 with my VX2000 about 7 years ago.

I did just what Nik and Enzo did - drop the 4:3 clip into the 16:9 sequence and zoom out to the full width. I even got fancy and keyframed a couple "camera moves" to help the composition in the 16:9 frame.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out. We would probably all notice it, but I suspect that most regular viewers wouldn't. Regardless, it would have ruined the whole look of the project to suddenly switch to a pillarbox view.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 01:25 AM   #11
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Just to be clear Boyd - your VX2k footage was zoomed into so that there was no distortion and you could pan up or down as you chose which bit of the original 4:3 frame you included within your new 16:9 rectangle?

You say, ' would have ruined the whole look of the project to suddenly switch to a pillarbox view', but as I say, British broadcasters are doing this more and more with old WW2 footage, Beatles film and anything originally shot on 4:3.

So, pillarboxed to be sure, but no loss of image or resolution and most importantly no distortion.

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Old November 18th, 2009, 11:26 AM   #12
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Client needs come first

Tom, like Boyd, I have to furnish clips in the format the client wants. You might want to try dropping your 4:3 stuff into a 16:9 timeline and tweak it to bring the apparent resolution up a bit. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at what it looks like on a big screen HD TV.

Boyd, thanks for the keying tip. Never really considered doing that.
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Old November 19th, 2009, 08:38 AM   #13
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Yes Tom, I zoomed the 4:3 footage to the full width of the 16:9 frame, then was able to slide it up and down as needed to adjust framing. No, it is not at all optimal, but it looked better than I expected, and for me it was the right choice to stay in 16:9.

I thought it would look especially bad to have one pillarboxed clip in the middle of a 30 minute 16:9 project. It's a personal choice, and may not be the right one for every person or every project.

Here are a couple of the clips. At 640x360 on YouTube, you can get away with a lot more of course... I keyframed a zoom as well as moves in these examples.

YouTube - Madama Butterfly Philadelphia 2002
YouTube - La Traviata Philadelphia 2003

For comparison purposes, this was shot with the Z1 and is obviously a lot sharper. But I don't find the "soft focus" look in the other clips too objectionable.

YouTube - Porgy and Bess, Philadelphia 2007

It also has a lot to do with the kind of shot. On a wide shot, it won't look so good. But you might still think of creative uses. I had a full stage shot of La Traviata from the VX-2000. It looked very soft to me even in 4:3, but the audio was good and the color sense was nice. I used it behind a credit roll, and it looked like it was intentional - a shallow depth of field shot with the credits in sharp focus against a soft background.
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