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Panasonic DVX / DVC Assistant
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Old June 1st, 2004, 04:15 PM   #1
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letterbox/matte idea

Okay, here's the dealio -- I'm working on a project that, in a best case scenario, will be transferred to film. So, I'm framing everying 1.85:1, as opposed to 4:3 or 16:9. There are complicated formulas for determing how much of your monitor/LCD flipout to mask off, but I had another idea that, in my head, seems like it would work just as well, so help me out please, if you guys can. Rather than calculating, measuring and cutting little pieces of paper or whatever to mask off the LCD/monitor, couldn't I just download a jpeg or something of a 1.85:1 matte (black matte on white background), and put it on a tape, and then play the tape in the camera in VCR mode, and simply pause it, and just mask off where the matte in the picture ends? Is there a reason why this wouldn't work, besides the inaccuracy (if there is any) of the original jpeg file? I want to know before I go through all the trouble of trying to do it.
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Old June 1st, 2004, 10:44 PM   #2
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There is no reason that won't work. That is a perfectly functional way to do it: provided you calculate the 1.85:1 mask ratio correctly, factoring in the non-square pixel aspect ratio of DV pixels. It's not 720x389, which would be what you might think from doing a simple mathematical ratio conversion of 720/1.85.

It could be 720x346, meaning black bars on the top and bottom that are 67 pixels thick, if you measure by taking a strict 4:3 ratio based on the 480-line height.

Or, it could be 720 x 354, if you use the .9091 pixel aspect ratio suggested by Vegas, which would mean bars that are 63 pixels thick.

My suggestion would be to take a captured frame from a letterboxed movie and see what ratio it gives, rather than trying to make your own mask. Of course, the movie may be transferred at 16:9 for some reason as well.
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Old June 1st, 2004, 11:42 PM   #3
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I think that your math is on, but the final product may be much less than what you are looking for. There is a reason that most films today that are shot at the 1.85:1 aspect ration are done on super 35mm and not 35mm or 16mm. Resolution. While I am one of the biggest advocates for the dvx, it simply will fall way from expectation when shooting with such little resolution, and then projected on the big screen. Sure it can be done, but if your going to blow up for film, you want as much resolution as possible, and that can only be achieved with unaltered Anamorphic "optical" footage. You got the lens, use it to the fullest of it's capabilities. There is no way the SD/DV footage will ever look good from such a small amount of resolution.
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 12:39 AM   #4
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Yeah, but for reasons complicated and intricate, we decided not to go that route. So we're masking, not anamorphic-ing (surely that's a word), and that's all there is too it. Yeah, it'll look soft, but oh well. No one's tried this method, yet? If it worked for 16:9, it should work for 1.85:1, no? No one's made a 16:9 matte according to whatever specs are necessary for the DVX, and then made their own LCD/field monitor mask this way?
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 02:20 AM   #5
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Wouldn't all those settings, pixel aspect ratio, all that jazz, be the same for the DVX as with the Canon XL1s? The default settings where all that's concerned seem to work fine with Vegas 4, when using the XL1s and generating a mask. I could just use the 1.85:1 setting in Vegas, and print to tape a black mask on white background, no?
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