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Old December 20th, 2005, 10:12 PM   #1
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How Bad Is Fake Widescreen On Consumer Cameras?

I understand that widescreen on most consumer cameras, especially mine, is not true widescreen. I am also aware that you are throwing away resolution away when you use this fake widescreen feature. However, I am wondering just how bad all of this is. At the moment I have two questions about this:

1. Just how bad will this resolution loss look, especially if the video is put on film.

2. If a video shot with fake widescreen is put on film and later scanned into a computer for a DVD transfer, does it become true widescreen, and how does that look?

Any answers would be deeply appreciated. Picture examples are welcome too.
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Old December 20th, 2005, 10:18 PM   #2
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If you have the money to do a film transfer/pulldown to 35mm, you will have the budget for the correct cinema camera!?

Perhaps you could clarify what you mean by film?
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Old December 20th, 2005, 10:25 PM   #3
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Right now I don't have the money for an adapter unfortunately. I especially don't have one for a film transfer either, lol. I'm saying if I were to sell a video to someone and they would pay for a 35mm film transfer of it.
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Old December 20th, 2005, 10:32 PM   #4
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Stuff like burning engines on the Concorde, kids running out of a high school for life saving reasons as well as the most obvious example of our era, are the only times I have seen consumer camcorder footage become part of a film production. Being in the worst place at the right time with best available technology covering human tragedy is worth money, but you can't cast yourself into those roles very easily.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 01:03 AM   #5
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I always wonder why people even factor a film bump into the equation. I mean, how many FUNDED finshed productions ever get film distribution? Is it 5%? Those were all mostly shot on HD or film by the way. Even if you do get lucky enough to get distribution most likely you will be in a handful of theaters for what? 2 weeks? a month? After that your product will live forever on a digital medium be it DVD, Blueray, HD-DVD, etc.

Bottom line, dont make your focus the thing that is the most unlikely and the format that will display your work for the shortest time.



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Old December 21st, 2005, 03:05 AM   #6
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What camera are you using? If you are using a consumer cam that "masks black bars" to the 4:3 image or only uses a specific area of the "square" CCD then it would be better to shoot in 4:3 and decide where to go in post. You can place black bars in post or you can stretch the image slighly and then use black bars also to have a slightly higher resolution image. If you are going to film then maybe your camera is true 16:9??? If not then the image produced by the camera may not be up to the massive scaling to 35mm


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Old December 21st, 2005, 04:39 AM   #7
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Mick,
1. Resolution loss with fake widescreen relates to reduced vertical resolution because only part of the available CCD pixels in vertical direction are used. The in camera conversion (uprez) is very bad (extra strong vertical aliasing) when interlaced footage is to be uprezzed. Progressive looks better.
2. Once the artifacts and resolution loss are there, they stay there whatever transformation is being used.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 09:08 AM   #8
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Some short answers based on my lmited experience shooting fake widescreen on a 1 chip & 3 chip camera and anamorphic adapter widescreen on the 3 chip (Gl-2).

It looks just fine on a standard def TV. On a large screen or when projected it still can look pretty good although you can begin to tell the limits of the resolution. Still, I have had my fake widescreen from the GL-2 projected, from DVD no less, at "film" festivals and it was just fine for the audience. If you content is good and the rest of the production is up to par nobody will notice the limits of the resolution you shot at.

I'm not sure the anamorphic adapter is really worth it, given the compromises you make with zoom range, focus, barrel distortion and even chromatic aberration. But when you stay within in its limits, it does produce a somewhat sharper image when projected.

I wouldnt worry about the film transfer unless you have a realistic offer to pay for the transfer and distribute the results. If your movie is that good you could probably reshoot the whole thing in a better format for a small cost compared to the total budget. So just go make it with what you have in the meantime.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 10:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mick Foley
I understand that widescreen on most consumer cameras, especially mine, is not true widescreen. I am also aware that you are throwing away resolution away when you use this fake widescreen feature. However, I am wondering just how bad all of this is.<snip>
You know, this actually depends largely on the camera. I used to shoot "fake" 16x9 with my Canon Elura all the time and it looked very good. It appeared to do a better job than cropping and stretching in post. However, I've used a Sony PD150 - a fairly expensive pro DV camera - and its 16x9 is HORRIBLE. For that particular camera it would be far better to shoot 4:3 (which it does fantastically) and crop/stretch in post.

There's really no good answer for your question of course. Its all subjective. Just test your cam with some resolution charts and some challenging subjects/scenes. If you think its good enough, then start working on your projects.

As for anamorphic adapters, well, they're going to run anywhere from the low $300s (for very small cams) to $700+. Honestly, I'd bypass that and get an Optura 50/60 that has a nice native 16x9 mode. No hassles and you get a great picture. Just my 2 cents of course.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 11:06 AM   #10
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I use a Century Optics anamorphic and feel it is more than worth the trouble. The difference in sharpness is pronounced. But if the footage is only ever going to be viewed letterboxed on a 4:3 TV there's no benefit, so you have to be realistic about the future of your footage.

They're really not as hard to use as some people think. There are separate horizontal and vertical focus points, so you have to be careful when focusing manually though. What I usually do is zoom in on the target area slightly, let the autofocus lock on, switch it to manual, and zoom out. This is the exact same process I would use with the WD58, so there's pretty much no difference, at least for me. In fact, autofocus works just fine and I usually just leave it on unless I'm worried about it shifting on me in a particular scene. I've even used autofocus in run and gun situations with this adapter and had no problems.

The limited zoom range can be a hassle. At any aperature you can zoom maybe 25 percent on a GL1 or GL2. At F4, 50 percent is no problem. That's as far as I usually go, but the manufacturer claims you can do 75 percent at some aperatures. Since I don't have a field monitor I play it safe. I favor wide angles anyway, and don't miss the zoom range.

I do like the wide angle look of the lens. There's less barrel distortion than the WD58 in my opinion. In fact, I shoot at full wide quite a lot.

A lot of people waste a lot of time trying to make sure the element is aligned perfectly. I just eyeball it and go. First I put on the sunshade and check that the top and sides are parallel with the horizontal and vertical lines at the edges of the adapter. Then I align the sunshade with the horizontal line of the bottem of the camcorder and bam, it's set. Takes maybe 20 seconds. I've also been known to play with the alignment to cheat a little, straightening out crazy dutch angles.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 12:37 PM   #11
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Thank you for all of your replies so far. Last night I was messing with my camera and found an in camera feature that does some stretching or slimming. I've heard that another way to get a widescreen image is to use this feature which I had no clue my camera could do until last night. Could someone please explain this to me though?
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Old December 21st, 2005, 05:04 PM   #12
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Check to see what kind of image you get when you shoot in widescreen mode.

If the image fills the screen but looks squished like an old spaghetti western, your camcorder is recording true anamorphic 16:9 video. If the image is letterboxed, then your camcorder is recording 4:3 letterboxed video.

Either way, your DCR-TRV260 camcorder does indeed have a widescreen mode.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 05:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Williams
I used to shoot "fake" 16x9 with my Canon Elura all the time and it looked very good.
This isn't necessarily "fake." When low cost camcorders started using high resolution CCD's, their manufacturers started sampling them in such a way as to provide the full 720x480 anamorphic image in widescreen mode. Even though the sensor is physically in the 4:3 proportion, if the letterboxed area is at least 480 pixels high then you can get full quality 16:9. Canon advertises these cameras as such. In fact, even the XL2 records 16:9 in this manner.

So if your camcorder can take stills that are at least 1 megapixel then the chances are relatively good that it's able to do "real" 16:9.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Williams
However, I've used a Sony PD150 - a fairly expensive pro DV camera - and its 16x9 is HORRIBLE.
Which is to be expected, since that camera's CCD's only have about 400K pixels. That only leaves 360 lines when cropped to 16:9.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 07:43 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Wisniewski
Check to see what kind of image you get when you shoot in widescreen mode.

If the image fills the screen but looks squished like an old spaghetti western, your camcorder is recording true anamorphic 16:9 video. If the image is letterboxed, then your camcorder is recording 4:3 letterboxed video.

Either way, your DCR-TRV260 camcorder does indeed have a widescreen mode.
I recorded some video of stuff with the slim mode today and it makes things tall and thin. Is this the anamorphic video I am hoping for?
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Old December 21st, 2005, 07:48 PM   #15
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Yup, you're camcorder is recording anamorphic widescreen video. Now all you have to do is to format it properly for widescreen DVD output.

... basically tell your NLE/DVD creation software, that your video is anamorphic widescreen - fyi, your camcorder won't letterbox the anamorphic video for you, you'll have to burn it to a DVD or play it back on a computer or widescreen TV to see it displayed properly.

Visit our Premiere forum for assistance with your software.
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