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Old December 31st, 2006, 11:13 PM   #1
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16 x 9 with 4 x 3 TV

Got a surprise when testing this setup. I was under the impression....... that if I shoot in 16 x 9 SD with my Canon XH-A1, it would appear as letterboxed on any 4 x 3 TV.
Doesn't seem to be the case. Confused.... What I'm seeing on my 4 x 3 monitor is an anamorphic squeeze (tall distortion) instead of letterboxing. If this is the case, then how do u ever see letterboxed on a standard TV?
I thought I knew what to expect here but now....

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old December 31st, 2006, 11:25 PM   #2
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I'm not familiar with the A1... does it have an option to letterbox the output using firewire or component video like the Z1? Regardless, the best way to view 16:9 on a 4:3 TV is probably to burn a DVD from your video. If you create a proper anamorphic DVD then the DVD player will provide the letterboxing when connected to a 4:3 TV set.

Aside from that, as you learned, 4:3 TV's don't generally "understand" 16:9...
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Old December 31st, 2006, 11:53 PM   #3
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thx for the reply. I guess I need to try a few more things.

Happy new year. since it's still two hours away out here.
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Old January 1st, 2007, 01:22 AM   #4
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I once used an GL2 (otherwise I'm a Sony man) and got what I wanted, a 16x9 DVD. I set my parameters right in Adobe Premiere and Encore and had no surprises - this is where you mistake might be. Come back with details of your setup, software, etc so you can assist you further.

Happy New Year to you too!
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Old January 1st, 2007, 09:39 AM   #5
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David, if you're shooting for a DVD then you can let the DVD player do the correction by flagging the footage as anamorphic in your DVD authoring software (rather than letterboxing it in editing).

By doing it this way DVD players will either display it letterboxed or as a 4:3 crop, depending on the viewer's preference (or you can fix playback to be letterbox if that's what you want).

Anyway, you retain more resolution that way rather than by letterboxing.

If you're shooting for tape then my suggestion doesn't help in the slightest.
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Old January 1st, 2007, 11:52 AM   #6
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thx for the replys

anyone have an idea as to how we see letterboxing off-air or on cable? Most new programming I see on my 4 x 3 TV is letterboxed
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Old January 1st, 2007, 12:25 PM   #7
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Well in that case I'm sure that 4:3 material is being broadcast with the letterbox in place (black bars above and below the image) - your TV set isn't doing any of the work, it's just displaying the full 4:3 frame. If that's what you want, then you can export a letterboxed 4:3 version of your 16:9 project but as Alex says, you will not retain the full resolution of the image and it won't look as good for people who have widescreen TV's.

I don't know what software you use, but in FCP you can just drop a 16:9 clip into a 4:3 sequence and the software automatically letterboxes it. It will require rendering however, and also take up twice as much disk space since you'll end up with two versions.

BTW, I think it's pretty common for the networks to use 14:9 letterboxes as a compromise for 4:3 TV sets since not as much space is lost to the black bars. Personally I dislike this approach....
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Old January 1st, 2007, 12:26 PM   #8
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A pro monitor can typically make this easier.

A 4x3 "tv" set likely won't understand anamorphic squeezed footage, but professional monitors generally do. Any modern monitor with a "blue gun" button for setting brightness qualifies and should have a "16x9" button. Invoking it corrects anamorphic content and lets you view the picture properly in real time. Another reason spending money on a decent pro monitor is, IMO, some of the best money you can spend in your suite.

The "anamorphic flag" once set, should tell FCP how to display and work with the footage, but I had instances back a few years ago where I had to go into the Motion tab and set the "distort - > aspect ratio" value to .80 or so. (I forget the precise number, do a web search for anamorphic conversion and you can easily find the ratios for all the various letter box variants)

I've only had two projects in the past couple of years that were destined for wide screen SD TV "in store" displays. Shooting them in Anamorphic and flagging the DVDs to stretch the content out to the full width of the destination screens ended up being easier than I expected. It just took some testing along the way.

The bigger problem I remember is that you can stretch via the camcorder setting, the computer NLE software, the signal flag embedded in your data file, the menu settings on the DVD player, AND/OR the display mode setting on the playback screen.

TOO many choices!

Best practice here is to get everyone in the production chain talking and agree to squeeze/stretch as little as possible along the way. Good luck.
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Old January 1st, 2007, 12:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Morgan
Got a surprise when testing this setup. I was under the impression....... that if I shoot in 16 x 9 SD with my Canon XH-A1, it would appear as letterboxed on any 4 x 3 TV.
Doesn't seem to be the case. Confused.... What I'm seeing on my 4 x 3 monitor is an anamorphic squeeze (tall distortion) instead of letterboxing. If this is the case, then how do u ever see letterboxed on a standard TV?
I thought I knew what to expect here but now....

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
That's about right.

I got so frustrated with standard definition TVs in the US not being widescreen (while Europe has had them for years) that I decided to write a realtime letterboxing application. This has evolved into the Enosoft DV Processor.

Plug your DV camcorder into one Firewire port, plug another one (or DV converter) to a second port and run the software. No capturing, no timely rendering etc etc - true realtime letterboxing so you can view your lovely 16:9 footage on a 4:3 TV. Or, with only one DV device, display the video on the PC - if you have a dual display and the secondary display has S-video output, that can be connected to the TV.
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Old January 1st, 2007, 01:12 PM   #10
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what started all this!

Well, since 16 x 9 TV is now the standard TV to buy, I figured that I should start shooting in 16 x 9 SD format. Although my camera is an HDV unit, I thought that I would sort of split the difficulty factor by shooting and delivering an SD 16 x 9 DVD to my buyers, thinking that, although it might only be SD quality, at least the aspect ratio would fill a 16 x 9 TV, while thinking that anyone with a 4 x 3 TV would simply see it letterboxed. Actually, this is still what I would like to accomplish. However, what I'm discovering is outlined in this post.

I use Final Cut Suite, 5.1 for Intel Mac. DVDSP 4.
Cameras: Canon A1 (HDV) and GL-2 (SD) with 16 x 9 option. (Squeezed in viewfinder)
The authoring software does allow for a letterbox choice in formatting. I need to find time (lots of it), to test out what has been outlined by others above.
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Old January 1st, 2007, 01:17 PM   #11
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In addition-----

I do have a "pro" SD monitor with aspect selection. In 16 x 9 everything displays as expected. However, when this monitor is set for 4 x 3, letterboxing does not occur when playing 16 x 9 material. Not what I was expecting.
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Old January 1st, 2007, 01:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Morgan
I thought that I would sort of split the difficulty factor by shooting and delivering an SD 16 x 9 DVD to my buyers, thinking that, although it might only be SD quality, at least the aspect ratio would fill a 16 x 9 TV, while thinking that anyone with a 4 x 3 TV would simply see it letterboxed.
Well it ain't really rocket science ;-) Make an anamorphic DVD and it will accomplish exactly what you want, and it's how Hollywood distributes widescreen versions of DVD's. I don't use DVDSP but have been working with 16:9 FCP projects for a long time. I'm not familiar with the A1, but I assume it will let you shoot HDV but capture as widescreen DV. Make sure your sequence, capture and clip settings are all anamorphic in FCP. From what I've read, DVDSP will correctly recognize the anamorphic flag buried in your sequences and create the DVD correctly.

Heh, with the Christmas season now over you might even find a good deal on a widescreen LCD or plasma TV for yourself as well :-)
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Old January 1st, 2007, 01:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Morgan
However, when this monitor is set for 4 x 3, letterboxing does not occur when playing 16 x 9 material. Not what I was expecting.
Perhaps not what you expected, but this is a common issue that comes up around here. There are some newer TV's which can recognize and letterbox widescreen material, but most of them cannot. And with fewer companies making 4:3 screens these days, I doubt that it will ever be the norm.

The TV is just doing what it always does, filling the screen with the 720x480 frame. From the TV's point of view, it's doing the right thing and you're guilty of sending it something distorted ;-)
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Old January 1st, 2007, 01:34 PM   #14
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Heh, with the Christmas season now over you might even find a good deal on a widescreen LCD or plasma TV for yourself as well :-)[/QUOTE]


Don't think I haven't been looking!!
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