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Old September 16th, 2004, 08:02 AM   #1
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Alternate Aspect Ratio?

from time to time i'll see a film that appears in an aspect ratio somewhere between 4:3 and 16:9. so not as wide as your typical widescreen production, but not as "square" as standard TV. a documentary called "shalom y'all" was the latest in a number of these that i've seen. (shot on film, i think, but that's neither here nor there.)

i'm intrigued by this in-between ratio as a half-measure, a way to shoot my own documentary work without an anamorphic adaptor, then crop it in post so as to give the finished product a feel that's a touch more cinematic, w/o sacrificing a ton of resolution. (a good thing if i ever blow up to film, or screen digitally on large screen.)

is the ratio i'm referring to a standard but little used one? (futzing around in final cut, i found no matte that fell between 4:3 and 16:9.)

any thoughts on this idea would be appreciated.

thanks,
phb
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Old September 16th, 2004, 08:09 AM   #2
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I think you are referring to 14:9 which the BBC is using a lot I believe.
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Old September 17th, 2004, 01:17 PM   #3
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A lot of US televisions shows (Angel immediately comes to mind) and commercials have used 14:9 to imply a cinematic quality without losing so much of the 4:3 picture space.
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Old September 17th, 2004, 02:52 PM   #4
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"imply cinematic quality" is exactly what i'd like to do. so i think i'm going to matte 14:9 in post. which begs a couple more Q's, which maybe i should post elsewhere, but will start here:

1. i'm using final cut express, which doesn't appear to have a 14:9 letterbox matte as one of its widescreen effects options. any idea if there's a plug-in out there that will give me the desired ratio, or if i can create a 14:9 matte from w/in the application.

2. i'm shooting with a gl-2, which has a 16:9 guide option for the LCD screen. do you think it's possible for me to create digital 14:9 guides that would appear on the LCD? (i know there's a way to create mattes, bugs and logos using the memory card, that get printed to tape--obviously i wouldn't want the guides to appear on the tape.)

thanks,
phb
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Old September 17th, 2004, 03:15 PM   #5
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Paul:

The "European" standard for features is 1.66, which is still a bit more cropped than 14:9. The "American" standard is 1.85. In between these falls 1.78 (16:9)

Keep in mind that if you do ever blow up to film, you will likely have to crop part of your image to comply with more standardized aspect ratios.

Widescreen television shows (such as "ER" and "The West Wing") are all delivered in 16:9. Many 4:3 shows are composed in both aspect ratios and finished in 16:9 HD, then a 4:3 standard def extraction is made for traditional delivery.
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Old September 17th, 2004, 04:41 PM   #6
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Can't you deliver 2.35 on a DVD without cropping? I'm sure I have seen it done. If so how do they go about doing that? (film to DVD)
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Old September 17th, 2004, 05:28 PM   #7
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Nope: DVD's are either 4:3 or 16:9. To get 2.35 they crop the 16:9 picture down.
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Old September 18th, 2004, 07:30 AM   #8
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<<<-- Originally posted by Aaron Shaw : Can't you deliver 2.35 on a DVD without cropping? I'm sure I have seen it done. If so how do they go about doing that? (film to DVD) -->>>

Anything wider than 1.77 has to be letterboxed within
the 16x9 frame. (So--the "black bars" is part of the picture--which is kind of a waste.)

In reality--everything coming out of the DVD is 4:3...it is just that the DVD player is smart enough to "push down" the height of 16:9 material for viewing on 4:3 tv sets. On 4:3 stuff...it does nothing.

On widescreen 16:9 HDTV's---it just outputs an "unmolested" full height picture...and your 16:9 "stretches" it out--and it looks right.

It would be awesome though...it they delivered special 2.35 DVD's that were enhanced for HDTV's both VERTICALLY and HORIZONTALLY and worked with them new fangled DVD players that upconvert to HDTV resolutions. (Like the Zenith DVB--318)

One could get a serious resolution boost...
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Old September 18th, 2004, 01:40 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Barry Green : Nope: DVD's are either 4:3 or 16:9. To get 2.35 they crop the 16:9 picture down. -->>>

a correction is called for here, since a DVD can truely represent a 2.35 ratio without any cropping

for example, filming native 16:9 with an anamorphic adaptor will approximate 2.35 (2.37). To represent this properly you need to edit in 16:9 then apply a vertical scale of ~0.75x. The 4:3 image will look like a letterbox anamorphic, but will display as 2.37 via the DVD on a widescreen tv (with flag set to 16:9).

No cropping necessary.
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Old September 18th, 2004, 01:52 PM   #10
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<<<-- Originally posted by Paul Bravmann : 1. i'm using final cut express, which doesn't appear to have a 14:9 letterbox matte as one of its widescreen effects options. -->>>

You don't need any plug-ins to achieve any aspect ratio you desire. I'm assuming that FCE is like FCP here, but I'm told that it is. Double-click on the clip you want in the timeline so that it opens in the viewer. In the viewer window, click on the Motion tab. Click on the triangle next to Crop. Now you can move the Top and Bottom sliders anywhere you like. If you come up with a setting you're happy with you can copy the clip in the timeline then use the Paste Attibutes command to apply them to other clips. Or you could just make a note of the numeric values of the Top and Bottom parameters and enter them manually.

You will have to render any clips that you crop.
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Old September 20th, 2004, 03:52 AM   #11
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John: the idea is not the cropping but the resolution loss because
the end format is ALWAYS 720x480 (NTSC) or 720x576 (PAL). So
in the end 2.35 will loose you more resolution on the output format
than native 16:9 will.

Paul: you can use my Letterbox calculator to get the size of the
letterbox you will need for 14:9.

When I enter the values I get back:

picture height: 416 pixels
bar height: 32 pixels

That would be the minimum height since you may want to take
TV safe zone into consideration.
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Old September 23rd, 2004, 09:01 AM   #12
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<<<-- Originally posted by Charles Papert :
Keep in mind that if you do ever blow up to film, you will likely have to crop part of your image to comply with more standardized aspect ratios.

charles: i guess if i would have to recrop for a blowup, that would defeat the purpose--to maintain most of my mini DV resolution, while delivering a product that has a slightly more cinematic feel (due to a touch wider ratio). i go to the theater and see stuff shot in 4:3 all the time. is it really unlikely that a venue would be able to project something in 14:9?

thanks,
phb
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Old September 23rd, 2004, 09:05 AM   #13
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<<<-- Originally posted by Rob Lohman :

Paul: you can use my Letterbox calculator to get the size of the
letterbox you will need for 14:9.

When I enter the values I get back:

picture height: 416 pixels
bar height: 32 pixels

That would be the minimum height since you may want to take
TV safe zone into consideration. -->>>

very useful, rob. so i guess if i figure out the height of the GL-2's lcd screen in pixels, translate that to milimeters, i should be able to make some sort of mask for it.

as for creating a 14:9 mask in final cut, any suggestions? the numeric values that one can enter in the "motion" menu don't seem to correspond to anything in particular.

thanks,
phb
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Old September 23rd, 2004, 02:58 PM   #14
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Somewhere on here is info on how to create masks (titles) in Photoshop to be put on a flash card (SD card) and can be viewed in camera, I believe it's called a Title-Mix. Anything with RGB 11,11,11 values or lower will be keyed out (in a GL2), so create a 14:9 mask where the letterboxing is RGB 12's, and the center is <11. You can then turn the title on in camera, frame your shot, then turn it off and shoot. Or if you want, you can just leave it. Somewhere on DVInfo is a tutorial for how to do this.
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