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Old May 10th, 2005, 10:25 PM   #1
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Glen - Advice About Letterboxing?

Hello all... Havn't posted alot on here, but do alot of reading. I would like to get more involved in the community, but between work and classes don't get much time to post.

I am a college film student and have been shooting weddings for about a year now. I recently upgraded my Canon GL2's and got 2 new DVX100a's. So far I am happy with the upgrade, and think that the DVX has some nice improvements over my GL2. It does seem a bit more complicated with all the color and gamma settings though. Need to do some experimenting. Any reccomendations would be appreciated too!

My main question has to do with letterboxing the footage, or taking it to anamorphic 16:9 in post. I shot a wedding over the weekend, and despite going over the head room (and other technical and aesthetic issues) with my assistant, he left a little too much. Although I don't really want to take the hit on resolution, I'm thinking of trying to take the 4:3 footage to either 16:9 or letterboxing it, so that I can reframe the footage vertically.

I remember reading a post from Glen that he letterboxes his pd170 footage. Would you recommend letterboxing in this scenario? What about if my Bride and Groom purchase a 16:9 hdtv in the future. Will it be better to put the 4:3 into an anamorphic 16:9 format. If I do this, will their be an even greater loss in resolution when watching on a 4:3 tv, with the DVD player letterboxing the anamorphic video?

What if I put a 4:3 letterboxed and 16:9 anamorphic version on their DVD... would this be my best option?
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Old May 10th, 2005, 10:53 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Trubac
Hello all... Havn't posted alot on here, but do alot of reading. I would like to get more involved in the community, but between work and classes don't get much time to post.

I am a college film student and have been shooting weddings for about a year now. I recently upgraded my Canon GL2's and got 2 new DVX100a's. So far I am happy with the upgrade, and think that the DVX has some nice improvements over my GL2. It does seem a bit more complicated with all the color and gamma settings though. Need to do some experimenting. Any reccomendations would be appreciated too!

My main question has to do with letterboxing the footage, or taking it to anamorphic 16:9 in post. I shot a wedding over the weekend, and despite going over the head room (and other technical and aesthetic issues) with my assistant, he left a little too much. Although I don't really want to take the hit on resolution, I'm thinking of trying to take the 4:3 footage to either 16:9 or letterboxing it, so that I can reframe the footage vertically.

I remember reading a post from Glen that he letterboxes his pd170 footage. Would you recommend letterboxing in this scenario? What about if my Bride and Groom purchase a 16:9 hdtv in the future. Will it be better to put the 4:3 into an anamorphic 16:9 format. If I do this, will their be an even greater loss in resolution when watching on a 4:3 tv, with the DVD player letterboxing the anamorphic video?

What if I put a 4:3 letterboxed and 16:9 anamorphic version on their DVD... would this be my best option?
There are many ways to achieve a 16:9 aspect:
1) The TRUE bonified way with a cam that has native 16:9 CCDs.
2) Using an anamorphic adapter on a 4:3 cam
3) Shooting using the squeeze mode on a 4:3 cam then converting out to 16:9 (loss of resolution)
4) Cropping (letterboxing) in post (loss of resolution + faux 16:9)

Obviously 1 through 3 are not options for you. However despite the fact that cropping lowers the resolution- it does so by obscuring the video so the video that IS within the cropped area won't be any less than a standard 4:3 image. Shooting in a "squeeze" mode loses resolution in a different manner- it loses through interpolation when it's "stretched" in post to the 16:9 aspect thus affecting the image quality rather than just obscuring the top and bottom portions.

Anyway off from that tangent- yes cropping would be an ideal way to fix bad composition. Just keep in mind that you'll have to crop the other footage as well in that section, which can cause problems in some instances when you have a tight close up that was framed up in 4:3.
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Old May 10th, 2005, 11:28 PM   #3
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Cropping = Letter Box the 4:3?

By saying to crop... you mean to letterbox the 4:3.. right? Would this letterboxed 4:3 image be problematic on future 16:9 televisions. Would it be better to open my 4:3 footage in a 16:9 project and scale it to fit the frame. I've read that photoshop has a good algorithm for scaling. Would this only be done on stills though?

I have seen tutorials where people open a "filmstrip" in photoshop and paint lightsabers onto an avi file. Would it be possible to create and action in photoshop cs and have it resize each frame of one of these filmstrips. Just trying to make sure I do things the best way possible.

Thanks Alot!

Matt
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Old May 11th, 2005, 09:07 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Trubac
By saying to crop... you mean to letterbox the 4:3.. right? Would this letterboxed 4:3 image be problematic on future 16:9 televisions. Would it be better to open my 4:3 footage in a 16:9 project and scale it to fit the frame. I've read that photoshop has a good algorithm for scaling. Would this only be done on stills though?

I have seen tutorials where people open a "filmstrip" in photoshop and paint lightsabers onto an avi file. Would it be possible to create and action in photoshop cs and have it resize each frame of one of these filmstrips. Just trying to make sure I do things the best way possible.

Thanks Alot!

Matt
Wow filmstripping....thought I was the only one that used to do that. I used to ouptou .flm files into photoshop to have a greater variety of effect. Very very slow though. Also, definitly not recommended for your situation.

Regardless if you scale the footage to fit a 16:9 image or crop it to 16:9...some part of the image is going to have to be obscured- you can't make a square a rectangle without cutting some edges off, if you know what I mean.

My suggestion would be to NOT try and make it true 16:9 because it's going to yeild very bad looking results due to the interpolation from the scaling. I'd simply crop (or letterbox as you say) down to 16:9 to give you enough enough leeway to fix the composition.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 09:22 AM   #5
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I think it depends on what software you are using to edit with. I did a few tests taking some 4:3 footage and resizing to 16:9 and it didn't look that bad. I think for wedding work it could be acceptable. I edit with Liquid Edition and have set it to the highest settings for rendering. Rendering takes a little longer, but gives nice results. Not taking that in consideration, if you put your 4:3 footage in a 16:9 project, you will need to zoom in by around 33%. The nice thing is that it would like correct on a 16:9 TV and then be letterboxed on a 4:3. If you just letterbox it, it looks fine on a 4:3 but will be stretched on the 16:9. Although I'm getting use to seeing stretched images on my 16:9 when I'm watching regular tv, so it comes down to what looks good from your shooting and your system. Have fun.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 11:39 AM   #6
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What about if my Bride and Groom purchase a 16:9 hdtv in the future. Will it be better to put the 4:3 into an anamorphic 16:9 format. If I do this, will their be an even greater loss in resolution when watching on a 4:3 tv, with the DVD player letterboxing the anamorphic video?
[/QUOTE]

You can avoid a loss in resolution when you shoot the wedding in the first place using the 16:9 widescreen high definition format. Your clients may not specifically ask for high definition but there is the expectation that when you shoot digital you shoot high definition. Its almost an urban legend that digital equals high definition. So when your clients buy their first HDTV which will probably be by this Christmas they will wonder why the wedding video looks so blurry when in fact you told them that you were shooting it using digital technology. You can of course try to explain to the client that digital is not high definition but the customer is always right and you did not deliver a product to his expectations.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 01:03 PM   #7
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Hd??

Yes, but will HD really matter if the cusomer doesn't have an HD player? Just because you have an HDTV, unless you have an HD player you are not going to see those benefits. The majority of HDTV owners are still playing the medium through standard DVD players. Now having said that, that will change very soon..but slowly. I'm not sure if any of that made sence. Anyway have a good day.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 10:06 PM   #8
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Thanks All

Everyone,

Thanks everyone for their reply.

I considered going with two Sony FX1's or Z1's but decided against it mainly because of worse low light performance, due to more pixels packed onto a small ccd, and the smearing. Also don't care much for HDV. A drop out causes you to lose all 15 frames in group. Wouldn't be a good thing to have happen during a wedding ceremony. Probably I would have been able to fall back on the 2nd camera but you never know. Also limited delivery influenced my decision to go with 2 DVX100a's. Anybody think I made a bad move or should have gotten 2 pd170's?

I'm leaning towards letterboxing my footage. On 16:9 they can always use 4:3 zoom... right? I'm concerned that blowing up to 16:9 and then having a DVD player down-rez in the case of needing letterbox 4:3 might be worse. Would blowing up to 16:9 look better on a 16:9 tv though? Better then zooming cropped or letterboxed 4:3? In the end, I want to make sure my video is going to be as future proof as possible for the B&G. I'll try doing some tests maybe.

Thanks everyone for their replys,

Matt
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Old May 11th, 2005, 10:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Trubac
...I'll try doing some tests maybe....
Obviously, running some tests and seeing the results with your own eyes will give you the best answer....but from the tests I've run, I feel that that DV footage captured in 4:3 and then letterboxed (loss of resolution) and THEN "zoomed" to fill my 16:9 HDTV looks downright terrible.

In comparison, DV footage captured in native 16:9 (like from a PDX10 or an XL-2) and viewed on my HDTV looks great. Not nearly as good as HD material of course, but much-much-much better than the "zoomed" letterboxed 4:3 footage. I suspect that using an anamorphic adapter on a 4:3 camera would result in nearly the same quality.

So in my opinion, if you already have 2 DVX100a's and want to deliver 16:9 material, your BEST BET is to purchase an anamorphic adapter for each camera (assuming you don't need to rely on autofocus and that you can deal with some of the minor quirks that anamorphic adapters sometimes introduce). If you can't do that, then I'd cetainly use the 16:9 "squeeze" mode rather than shoot 4:3 and then letterboxing it.

But definately TEST it out for yourself! :-)
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Old May 12th, 2005, 03:32 AM   #10
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Anamorphic

I agree with Duane. Your only "true" solution is to purchase two Anamorphic adadpters for your DVX100A. I went down this road, about a month ago. There are two problems with this solution.
1. the price... they are close to 800-1000 bucks
2. the adapter has a focus issue (if you intend to use autofocus)
After everything is all said and done I decided to go with the XL2. I know the DVX100a is a great camera, but I needed true 16:9 with 24p, they were almost the same price here in Canada after purchasing the anamorphic adapter. I actually saved a bit because I didn't have to buy a shotgun mic for the XL2.
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Old May 12th, 2005, 07:45 AM   #11
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I would also agree that it would be better to shoot in squeezed 16:9 mode or use the anamorphic adapter. Although I think there are also issues with not have full zoom capabilites with the adapter as well as the focus issue. Anyway you look at it, there will be a loss of quality trying to make your footage 16:9, not counting the adapter issues. I would bet that the squeezed mode would look the best of the all. I shoot with a DVC-80 so I don't have that option. So I've been playing with the idea of letterbox vs. adapting footage to 16:9. LE has very complex settings that do some amazing things when rendering footage. So far my tests have looked decent. Not as good as native 16:9, but still not completely unuseable. The only thing is the long render times. Around 4 times real time.

I would try the squeeze function on the DVX. Doesn't the anamorphic adapter also make the camera more front heavy?
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Old May 12th, 2005, 10:06 AM   #12
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No Anamorphic

The anamorphic adapter isn't really an option for me at this point. The footage has already been shot. I'm just looking for a way to fix some of the composition on one of my assistant's cameras. I'm still not sure which method I want to use. I'm going to try running some tests over the weekend.

Currently I'm using PPro 1.5 with Matrox RT.X100 and XTools 6122 with hotfix 2. I bought a dual 2.7ghz Power Mac G5 a couple weeks ago and am waiting for the new Final Cut Studio to be available. I would like to edit this wedding on the mac, but don't think I'll be able to wait much longer for the final cut studio release.

Thanks All,

Matt Trubac
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