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Old July 12th, 2005, 04:06 PM   #1
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Vegas and DVX100 Letterbox CORRECTION!!

Okay, this is a fairly significant discovery I've made while creating my film
http://www.neilslade.com/Mirror.html

This concerns LETTERBOX created video with the DVX100:

I have been really surprised to see that no one else has gotten this, and it makes a HUGE difference

The problem is this-- you create letterbox video with the DVX100, only to lose a significant portion of the image on the right and left sides when you edit and render USING THE VEGAS RECOMMENDED whitepaper settings- which includes this fatal flaw:
Project properties .9091 pixel aspect ratio.

Not only does this distort the image in the preview window, but a good 15% of the edges are lost outside the safe areas (show safe area grids in preview windows.)

When you render for DVD, you get a so-so semi-widescreen letterbox image that is halfway between true "widescreen" letterbox, and plain old 4:3

You can correct the preview window distortion by right clicking the preview window, and selecting "simulate device aspect ratio" but that does nothing about losing all of the "widescreen" letterbox image on the sides.

By simple choosing Project Properties Pixel Aspect Ratio 1.0 Square, you accomplish several things at once:

1) You get a correct undistorted aspect ratio in Vegas preview window
(it is then not necessary to make corrections by right clicking the preview window and selecting simulate device option)

2) maintain FULL width of image captured on tape, and creating true "widescreen" letterbox proportions.

Please note, this has NO EFFECT on normal non-letterbox created video.

WHEN RENDERING to MPEG-2 leave the aspect ratio alone in the rendering options, for standard TV display, i.e. 4:3

Per below, the idea of shooting full frame normal, and then cropping later-- this defeats the entire idea of letterbox in the camera, which is a REALLY great concept. You want to see what your widescreen view is while shooting- not just guessing, or taping up your LCD.


You may thank me for this new and incredible discovery by getting a copy of my new movie created with the DVX100 and Vegas 6, and DVD architect :-)
http://www.neilslade.com/Mirror.html
Happy filming!

Other free info on good DIY projects here including a semi-fisheye DVX100 lens QUALITY for about $100, boom pole, etc---

http://www.neilslade.com/Papers/DVXlens.html

Last edited by Neil Slade; July 12th, 2005 at 08:23 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old July 12th, 2005, 07:24 PM   #2
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interesting you should mention this..

i have NEVER had a problem converting aspects of the dvx or working with variable aspects within vegas, in fact i do alot of demo work specificlaly showing how easy it is to do this.
as for correcting the differences,

firstly, shooting with the black bars on the DVX is not a very good idea IMO. the fact that your literally removing so much information at the shooting level doesnt give much room for frame corection in post.

Instead, shoot with a full screen, frame what you can as per normal, then apply a 16:9 mask in post. Reframe what needs to be reframed in past by using the pan crop tool.
Rendering in vegas is a little faster than realtime when using a PNG formatted mask, so the processing is very minimal.

From this finished project you can then reimport that into Vegas or any other transcoding tool .
If your using vegas, you can literally switch the project setttings to 16:9 and apply the aspect change to that newly rendered clip.
you wont need to adjsut the pan crop as vegas will chop the blak bars off for you.
when transcoding in vegas, turn off the "do not letterbox" button

remember one thing, when applying the simulate device aspect in vegas, you WILL notice vertical jaggies as your monitor is square pixel. Vegas applies this "stretching" to compensate that difference.....
These distortions will remain intact if you do not turn off the simulate device feature.

another thing about square aspect, is that it is designed for HDV mpg2, or web based presentations or outputting to film. Remember, you are changing the aspect of the pixel grid so in effect your changing the way the TRUE image is being presented. You will notice your subjects look a little rounder/fatter. Some people may not find this flattering..

Again, i have never had a probelm with the method of masking then cropping that mask in post for 16:9 if needed. It give leverage for correction and also allows for the chose to "upgrade" my client to 16:9 which in turn means more $$ (hey this is business.. )
From here, the easy solution to 16:9 delivery is creating a 16:9 project, importing 4:3 and changing its aspect to 16:9, export out as widescreen and turn off "do not letterbox"
the DVD playback device will do the rest

much simpler this way than tryin to manage a myriad of numbers and aspects.

Im in PAL land, but i dont see how it would be any differnt in NTSCville
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Old July 12th, 2005, 08:04 PM   #3
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not quite

Pictures are worth a thousand words

LOOK HERE: http://www.neilslade.com/widescreen.html


If you are shooting normal mode on your DVX-- everything I've written above is irrelevant. This is for people using the letterbox mode.

For some reason, and I spoke with Sony Vegas techs about this, and even they don't understand why at this point- selecting square pixel ratio in project properties when working a letterbox 24p video from the DVX-- it turns out perfectly proportioned both on the Vegas preview AND ON THE EXTERNAL MONITOR.

This is precisely my point-- everyone takes for granted that you are going to lose area outside the safe area-- in the case of Vegas/DVX its ridiculous. You get a half-assed version of widescreen letterbox on a regular TV, and lose 15% of your picture in the process.

I LOOVVVVVVVVE Vegas, just wanted this part of it to work perfectly.


I was first alerted to this problem after looking at several LETTERBOXED commercial DVDs-- I noticed that my Vegas letterbox was too high, and not wide enough, it was half way between widescreen and normal-- not a good widescreen on a regular TV-- just kinda.

Choosing square pixels in project properties perfectly reduces THE ENTIRE VIDEO IMAGE-- so it truly fits the horizontal width of the TV, and is not chopped off on the sides, just to make the image taller. It then matches the horizontal width of the screen, as IT SHOULD.

By simply changing the aspect ratio in the project, you gain back all of it.

Its a ONE CLICK DEAL. - Project properties, one click to square pixel.

None of all the junk masking and converting a 4:3 image, instead- One click, done.

It does NOT change or distort the images and change the shape of people's faces as you suggest. I would not tolerate a smidgen of distortion, much less loosing 15% of my image--- which everyone seems to think is part of the deal.


On the DVX, you lose nothing by using the letterbox mode-- except area you don't even want on the top and bottom. You gain absolutely nothing by remaining in normal mode if your final output is going to be letterboxed/wide.

Post cropping-- heck, I did a fine from letterbox when I needed to. It was minimal. To shoot normal just because you think you might need to crop later-- The whole point of in-camera letterbox preview is to see WHILE YOUR SHOOTING what your frame looks like.

Further, I ran an experiment to see if I could make a true widescreen image by cropping the DVX letterbox in Vegas-- bleeech. You would think it would work fine.

Nope. You lose image quality and sharpness. Don't know why-- but its a fact. Been there, tried it, rejected it in an effort to create a true widescreen output from the DVX footage.

Hey, I'm the last one to suggest that one size fits all-- but I think many people who will try this suggestion will have a very big grin going after seeing the result. I've passed the word on to Vegas support, and I would actually expect to see changes in their white paper reflecting my discovery some time soon.

Last edited by Neil Slade; July 14th, 2005 at 07:39 PM.
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Old July 13th, 2005, 01:05 PM   #4
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to streamline, ive responded to your comments as they go along

"If you are shooting normal mode on your DVX-- everything I've written above is irrelevant. This is for people using the letterbox mode."

((Why would you need to when in NLE settigns are aaavailable to you.. this is my point, you are losing the flexibilty to reframe))

For some reason, and I spoke with Sony Vegas techs about this, and even they don't understand why at this point- selecting square pixel ratio in project properties when working a letterbox 24p video from the DVX-- it turns out perfectly proportioned both on the Vegas preview AND ON THE EXTERNAL MONITOR.

This is precisely my point-- everyone takes for granted that you are going to lose area outside the safe area-- in the case of Vegas/DVX its ridiculous. You get a half-assed version of widescreen letterbox on a regular TV, and lose 15% of your picture in the process.

((Thats the way The DVX manages its safe zone. Remember that the DVX has an oversized CCD (from what i have been told), so its "safe" area is slightly larger than what youd get from another camera of its range.))

I LOOVVVVVVVVE Vegas, just wanted this part of it to work perfectly.

((Im intrigued, as i am yet to find any of this a problem))

I was first alerted to this problem after looking at several LETTERBOXED commercial DVDs-- I noticed that my Vegas letterbox was too high, and not wide enough, it was half way between widescreen and normal-- not a good widescreen on a regular TV-- just kinda.

Choosing square pixels in project properties perfectly reduces THE ENTIRE VIDEO IMAGE-- so it truly fits the horizontal width of the TV, and is not chopped off on the sides, just to make the image taller. It then matches the horizontal width of the screen, as IT SHOULD.

((So youre saying that your adjusting your aspect to fit within the safe zone? Thats what this is sounding like to me.. ))

By simply changing the aspect ratio in the project, you gain back all of it.

((Ie you gain all of the frame?? ))

Its a ONE CLICK DEAL. - Project properties, one click to square pixel.

None of all the junk masking and converting a 4:3 image, instead- One click, done.

It does NOT change or distort the images and change the shape of people's faces as you suggest.

((If you change ANY aspect away from its native format, you WILL be distorting it, especially if your using square pixel to compact the frame to fit within the safe zone))

I would not tolerate a smidgen of distortion, much less loosing 15% of my image--- which everyone seems to think is part of the deal.
((Lose?? if you run an in cam mask, you will lose the visible area, however your actual resolution doesnt change. I think this is where people are gettin it wrong. This also applies to the Squeeze mode, whch basically crops where those black bars would be and applies a strecth to fill the frame. Your not actaully "losing" anythign, but you are shrinking your actual visible frame.. i think this is where people are getin it all mixed up.))

On the DVX, you lose nothing by using the letterbox mode-- except area you don't even want on the top and bottom. You gain absolutely nothing by remaining in normal mode if your final output is going to be letterboxed/wide.

((I disagree, but ive explained why in my initial response as well as the top part of this one. Each to their own :) ))

Post cropping-- heck, I did a fine from letterbox when I needed to. It was minimal. To shoot normal just because you think you might need to crop later-- The whole point of in-camera letterbox preview is to see WHILE YOUR SHOOTING what your frame looks like.

((If your shooting run and gun, you may not have that flexibilty. On top of that, sometimes reframing allows you to finetune continuity, but again, each ot their own, if you find no use for it, groovy, but i wouldnt write off reframing considering its a common practice. ))

Further, I ran an experiment to see if I could make a true widescreen image by cropping the DVX letterbox in Vegas-- bleeech. You would think it would work fine.

Nope. You lose image quality and sharpness. Don't know why-- but its a fact. Been there, tried it, rejected it in an effort to create a true widescreen output from the DVX footage.

((cropping your black bars wont give you widescreen. you need to adjsut the aspect to 16:9 of the clip itself while it is in a 16:9 project. dont use ANY cropping else youll get that distortion your mentioning. Youll get a pseudo digital zoom if you do that))

Hey, I'm the last one to suggest that one size fits all-- but I think many people who will try this suggestion will have a very big grin going after seeing the result. I've passed the word on to Vegas support, and I would actually expect to see changes in their white paper reflecting my discovery some time soon.

((umm.. i dont mean to burst your balloon, but adjusting an aspect isnt a major discovery, and considering the amount of work thats been pumped out with this cam and Vegas as its NLE, youre the first one ive heard mention this "problem"
Also considering Panasonic have been in the game for many years, this is the first time ive heard of an "aspect/frame problem" from any of their cameras.
Safe areas are common in all cameras, it might be an idea to check out afew other cams to see how they manage it.
Also i honestly dont see how an aspect ratio can be wrong when the company in question knows that the camera itself will be used for a variety of deliveries, so maintaining that industry standard would be paramount

Dont get me wrong, theres nothing "wrong" with what you say, but i just feel that there are other ways to do what your doing.
Theres no right or wrong, just a difference of opinion
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Old July 13th, 2005, 07:27 PM   #5
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Its okay

Yes, agreed, different people find different solutions.

What I didn't care for was that the "safe" area is so large from the DVX-

and so, when you process per whitepaper recommendations, you really dont get a letterbox that equals commercial DVD letterbox proportions- you get this half way thing between widescreen and 4:3, and THIS bothered me. It was half baked widescreen, and I wanted REAL widescreen proportions from my camera and software.

Also, as long as your output from Vegas uses the .9091 pixel aspect ratio, you still end up with this.

My solution, one click, switch to square pixels in Vegas-- you get true widescreen, use all the area on the DVX image, etc.-- it solves many problems at once, without any distortion of the image. None, zero-
I MEASURED IT USING A TEST SQUARE...! I am VERY sensitive to any kind of distortion, whether it results in image distortion, color, sharpness anything-- and I have no tolerance for any.

YES YES YES try it! You gain ALL of the frame, exactly-- this is what is so fantastic, and amazing that nobody else has stumbled on this before.

As for converting to widescreen- please give exact detailed step by step instructions, because I haven't successfully done that yet- been too busy on my project. Thanks

As for this pixel adjustment for DVX letterbox, NOBODY at Sony Vegas had a clue about this, their own whitepaper says nothing about this, and a thorough search on the web turned up nothing, zilch. So, I am patting myself on the back. But it was sheer displeasure with the status quo that brought me to this anyway.

Neil

Last edited by Neil Slade; July 14th, 2005 at 11:24 AM.
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Old July 14th, 2005, 04:35 PM   #6
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But why would anyone shoot anyway but 4:3 in the first place?

Save the headache and drama and learn how. Once you commit it's gone forever. I suggest learning and becoming comfortable shooting 4:3 for the many options you have later in post. You will be glad you did.

You say 'to see what you are framing?'

Consider using a sharpy or a product that slips over LCD that is transperent yet still shows you the aspect ratio you are after. The ability to crop and correct in post is a godsend; especially shooting in a verite style.
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Old July 14th, 2005, 04:49 PM   #7
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Neil, I've read through your original post, and I must confess I have no idea what you're talking about.

I've shot miles and miles of letterbox footage on the DVX100 and DVX100A. I've edited all of it in Vegas. And there's never been the slightest hint of a problem with aspect ratio at all. Using .9091 in a Vegas 24p project yields pixel-accurate editing, the frame is identical to what was shot, nothing gets cropped off.

I think the reason you've never encountered anyone discussing this before is... well... it doesn't happen. Letterbox mode works perfectly fine with Vegas.

Now... there was some talk that the very earliest DVX100's may have set the "16:9" flag in the video stream for letterbox footage. That would be incorrect, and could potentially lead to a situation like you describe. I got my first camera in February 2003, and it doesn't have any problem, so you would have had to have gotten your camera prior to that if there is any issue. I've never been able to verify whether that is true or not; I haven't encountered any DVX footage with the 16:9 flag set in letterbox mode, but if that were true, it could explain what you're encountering.

Here's how you can check: import a letterbox shot into a Vegas project, and get the file properties, and look at the default aspect ratio. If it says 1.2, then you have a problem. If it says .9091 NTSC DV, then you should have absolutely no problems, and I have to admit I don't understand what your post is about.
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Old July 14th, 2005, 06:06 PM   #8
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Please read with comprehension

John:

Obviously, editing letterbox in Vegas using the suggested settings from the whitepaper work. We give Vegas techs full credit for this. Vegas is fabulous.

No problem, if you are willing to sacrifice everything outside the safe area, and you are willing to accept the standard letterbox proportions. Everybody does.

Of course, if you are used to accepting this, you won't see any problem.

Now--

Think OUTSIDE THE SAFE BOX and re-read my post again, and maybe you'll figure out what I am talking about, especially if you actually try it.

You've got 15% OUTSIDE the safe area boundry. Turn on your grid in the preview window--- gee whiz, THATS WHAT GETS LOST ON A TYPICAL TV, even a nice Sony. Yes-- IT GETS CROPPED WHEN YOU LOOK AT IT ON A MONITOR OR TV, EVEN A WIDESCREEN TV. Sure, you see it in your Vegas preview window-- so what- YOUR AUDIENCE DOESN'T.

Compare your Vegas/DVX letterbox to say, a Fellini commercial letterbox DVD. Gee--- why is the Fellini film so much proportionally wider than my Vegas/DVX footage>>>>>>> >????

This is what tipped me off in the first place-- my Fellini 81/2 letterboxed 4:3 was proportionally WIDER on my TV than the letterboxed stuff coming out of my DVX/Vegas project. I.e. the picture was not as tall on the screen-- although the images were non-distorted-- HOW COME MY LETTERBOX was taller, and I was losing the sides of the image?? HUH?


Yes, I know how to use my camera, and there's nothing wrong with it, and it imports all my clips as .9091.



Try my suggestion,
Then you'll go--- HOLY MOLY!!!

Gee, REAL WIDESCREEN from my letterbox project, where I was losing 15% from the sides.

As to shooting everything in 4:3--- if this is such a great idea, why did commercial film cameras abandon this aspect ration decades ago?

Really guys, I love Vegas, I love my DVX-- everything works perfect-- now think outside conventional conformity and use everything outside the "safe" zone.... its a frontal lobes thing. Your brain will go "POP!!!!"
Wow.

Honest people, I'm not trying to poison your mind, this is a discovery that I wanted to share. Otherwise, have a nice day.

People actually discover things outside the factory, and people discover things other people miss.

If and when you finally figure out that I'm on to something-- you can send me flowers. :-) Untill you do it, I'm not going to waste my time arguing, because you obviously haven't seen it with your own eyes.

Last edited by Neil Slade; July 14th, 2005 at 06:32 PM.
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Old July 14th, 2005, 06:29 PM   #9
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I am also having a hard time understanding what you are saying Neil.


Are you suggesting that we shrink letter boxed footage so the edges of the image start where the safe-area starts? What happens when someone wants to watch your DVD on a 16:9 TV? Or on a computer where you can see right to the edge of the frame?

maybe you could create some screen grabs to help illustrate what you are talking about.

peace
jesse
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Old July 14th, 2005, 07:03 PM   #10
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No one is arguing Neil but I gether you have gotten some friction on this already?

I truley am trying to understand but I just DO NOT.

What is the bene of me shooting Letterbox In-Camera exactly? Are you saying I GAIN an additional 15% on the Sides?

What?
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Old July 14th, 2005, 07:38 PM   #11
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Web page says it all

Okay, I built a web page that shows clearly what I am talking about.

http://www.neilslade.com/widescreen.html

This should settle the issue= whew!!
thanks for looking

Neil
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Old July 14th, 2005, 08:00 PM   #12
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Ok I tried it. What's the big deal? You are shrinking the size of your image so now not only do you have letterbox on the top and bottom, but on the sides as well. This might work for 4:3 TV viewing. As long as no one has a TV that does underscan. But you're losing resolution and recompressing your footage. What if I want to watch your DVD on my computer? Now I can see the annoying black bars on the side of the picture.
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Old July 14th, 2005, 08:04 PM   #13
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OK I sort of understand now :) But can you answer a couple of questions.

1) How were you showing this on your TV? Did you encode to say MPG and show, or is this straight out from NLE to Cam/deck to TV?

2) What happens on a projector where you can see the entire picture? You will get black bits at the sides no?

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Old July 14th, 2005, 08:35 PM   #14
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Jesse's right. Your method is just scaling the image down, and adding black bars on the sides. It's losing resolution, resizing, and recompressing.
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Old July 14th, 2005, 08:53 PM   #15
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NO BLACK IS ADDED TO THE EDGE that is visible on a TV, and that is
the ENTIRE POINT

WHAT THE AUDIENCE SEES ON THEIR DVD and TV.

The IMAGE IS CRYSTAL SHARP. No loss of sharpness. Its sharp as a pin.

The image goes RIGHT TO THE EDGE, perfectly.

If you need to render for anything other than DVD, all you do is
simply uncheck square pixels in the project properties.

Please look at my web page, its quite clear.



http://www.neilslade.com/widescreen.html


Vegas simply came up with a recommendation that attempts to be ONE SIZE FITS ALL, but the REALITY is that when you use the recommended Pixel Aspect Ratio, and you make a DVD, or anything shown on a TV- you LOSE THE IMAGE EDGES!!

On top of this, and EVEN WORSE, if you use AN EXTERNAL MONITOR TO EDIT, YOU CAN"T SEE WHAT"S ON THE EDGES, and you are apt to make SERIOUS EDITING FLAWS that if your product ever does end up on the big screen, or in situations where THE ENTIRE PICTURE is shown--
EVERYTHING YOU MISSED ON THE EDGES WILL BE THERE.

This alone is reason to change to square, and if you don't, you will be screwed. Go ahead, miss what's on the edges on your monitor. I don't care.

If your movie ever makes it to the big screen, people will see all the crap you missed on the edges because you were determined to stick to conventional wisdom recommendations.



The reason I figured this all out is because I've just spent 2 and half SOLID MONTHS EDITING A DVX LETTERBOXED FEATURE FILM on Vegas, made dozens of test DVDs, and saw the problem over and over again.

I have already sold 200 copies- and about 99 percent of the people who will watch my movie, will do so on a TV. A few will watch on their computer, and it will look perfectly good to them. If I sell a million copies, I would prefer that people see an accurate widescreen version as well.

I do not care for people to miss 15% of my movie on the edges, and see a half ass letterboxed version, just because I am trying to one-size-fits all.

Either people will get it at this point, or they won't.
Enough. Have fun.

Last edited by Neil Slade; July 14th, 2005 at 09:12 PM.
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