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What Happens in Vegas...
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Old January 1st, 2008, 06:05 PM   #1
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720p to letterboxed NTSC

I can never get it right and a search of similar threads haven't been of any help. All the threads are about cameras. My source is animation software.

I render my 1080p projects into Vegas 8 as 720p AVIs to achieve real time 24 fps speed while editing. When finished, I want to create a DVD using DVD Architect which will show my 16:9 format from edge to edge when played from any conventional DVD player on a TV set.

But what happens is I get the left and right sides somewhat cut off.

To render my project from Vegas I use any of the conventional rendering templates under Render As, such as MPEG-2 HDV 720-24p, or DVD Architect 24p NTSC widescreen and with all the combinations of custom settings or default template settings I can come up with a perfect 16:9 video image on my computer screen, but never on a TV screen.

I've been making these DVDs at regular intervals for my producers to see my WIP but they have yet to see an entire clip without the edges cut off.

It sounds so simple yet I've been stumped for too long now. I'm sure someone here has already spotted where I'm going wrong -- please tell me.
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 04:55 AM   #2
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Let me rephrase my question then; can Vegas create a letterbox effect which will not have the left and right edges cut off when screened on TV?

I see letterboxed programs on TV all the time without the sides cut off. If this can't be done with Vegas, how Pro is Vegas then?
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 06:54 AM   #3
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I'm thinking out loud here, certainly a monologue since there is no dialogue...

Could it be, that the HDV 1080p format that is generated in HD video cameras and imported into Vegas has built-in black bars by default on the sides to compensate for the edge cut off during letterboxing?

Since no one has complaints about their footage being cut off at the edges during letterboxing there must be a difference between 1080 footage coming from cameras and the 1080 footage I create in my animation application. If this would be the case, then the issue lies within the way I export 1080 footage from my animation software.

Am I the only animator using Vegas? Should I look into Premiere, or other NLEs? I've tried SpeedEdit which has given me very poor playback results so that I never got as far as experimenting with letterbox exports.

I am utterly stumped on this one and I suppose I should once more turn directly to Sony...
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 09:08 AM   #4
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Paul, this sounds like an overscan issue to me.
Are you making allowances for the 5% Safe Action Area / 10% Safe Title Areas?
The animation instructors at the college I work for try to get the students to understand this concept but, until you see your final project on a TV screen (and how much gets lost at the edges), it really doesn't hit home.
If you don't completely understand this concept, Wikipedia has articles on overscan and safe area.
In case you're wondering, overscan still happens with LCD and plasma sets.
It's not as bad as it is on CRT sets but it's still a problem - and is applicable to all video formats, be it SD or any variation of HD.
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 09:14 AM   #5
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My first question to you is this: exactly how much of the edge is being cut off? Is it just that last portion of the frame, or is it cut like a 4:3 image?

When the video plays on the tv is there black bars (letterboxing) at the top and bottom or does the image fill the screen?

Next, check your settings again. When you select the render function the save box comes up. There's an option that says "Stretch video to fill output size (do not letterbox)." Make sure that there is no check in that box. Select one of the DVD Architect templates that say widescreen (24p widescreen in your case). Make the file and that should be it. It sounds like you've already used the templates, but make sure that the one box isn't checked.

Based on the fact that you say the image is full on your computer, I tend to think that you're losing just the edges of the final image on the tv. If that's the case, it's not an issue with the dvd, it's an issue with tv's. On the computer you see every pixel, on a tv they have an overscan area so you loose about 5% of the image on both edges. If you're not seeing the overscan area that's normal for a standard tv. Upgrade to an hd set and you won't have that problem.

Next, if you can't upgrade your tv set and you absolutely have to see those edges, use the pan/crop function within vegas. If the files are just for quality checks then you make the image smaller so that it fits even within the underscan area of a standard tv. You lose resolution and you don't want to do that for the final output, but if you're running quality checks that you need to see the edges then that should help it.

Also, it's possible that if the image is fine when the dvd is played on your computer, but is stuck in 4:3 or some other aspect on the tv, it might be your dvd player. Different players handle formating different and they aren't all equal. Try it on a few different dvd brands if you think that's the case and see if there's a difference.

Vegas has the same level of control and quality as all the other editors. You can switch but don't expect to get any different results. Every editor today has great quality and features, they just have a different way of using those features. Other editors may output the widescreen perfect the first time, and give you headaches when you try to mix different types of files on the timeline (one of Vegas's many strong points).

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Old January 2nd, 2008, 09:16 AM   #6
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Nope, Mike, this is not the case. I am a seasoned pro who has made hundreds of TV spots. This is an issue of portions of the video simply being chopped off by the TV screen. I can see the entire breadth of the video when played on a computer monitor, when tested with the Preview option i DVD-A, but once rendered to DVD and played in a DVD player, the sides of the video are outside of the screen.
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 09:27 AM   #7
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It most certainly IS an overscan issue. You've made "hundreds of TV spots" and this is the first time you've run into the overscan "problem?"
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 09:29 AM   #8
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Many thanks Ben (and Mike too) because I'm beginning to get it --

I have all my settings set correctly as you list them Ben, but I just thought the overscan cutoff is too severe; it's about half (or just slightly less) of a color bar -- I see only half of the blue on the right and the off-white on the left. Is that simply overscan?

Thanks for the advice on the Pan/crop function; this seems to be what I should try next.

Since I was under the impression that Vegas renders out whatever it sees in its project window, I was hopping that if I made a Project Properties Custom Template 1,440 x 720 I would create an extra black area on both sides of my project -- which truly comes out looking that way when viewed in Vegas -- but once rendered to DVD, the black gets cropped off -- a bummer.
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 09:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cline View Post
It most certainly IS an overscan issue. You've made "hundreds of TV spots" and this is the first time you've run into the overscan "problem?"
That's right. I have yet to make a widescreen spot even though I have spots running almost every day as we speak; Comcast animated spots, to mention one series, and there is plenty of text on those.

There's a first for everything. I learn something new with every new job.
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 09:54 AM   #10
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I am still baffled by this issue. When I see letterboxed spots on TV, their top and bottom bars are much wider than what I see on mine; the images on TV are basically much wider. Are those shot at the same 16:9 aspect ratio, or are they cropped in their respective NLEs before exporting to compensate for overscan?
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 10:12 AM   #11
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All televisions, including LCD and Plasmas, overscan to some degree. I don't know of any professionals that attempt to compensate for overscan other than to pay attention to safe action and safe title areas when you're shooting or generating graphics and animation. This applies to 16x9 as well as 4x3.
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 10:32 AM   #12
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That's why I believe that I am dealing with something beyond just an overscan issue, and I feel this way because my image appears as something much less stretched out than what I see on letterboxed widescreen imagery on TV.

Cropping what I have on my timeline (zooming up) solves my immediate dilemma to make WIP DVDs for my producers of my current project, which will eventually be scanned to 35 mm anyway and is made to be viewed only on a movie screen.

I have difficulty believing that this is what I should do if I had to make a letterboxed TV spot. If this is the case, than indeed a better solution would be to export my projects from my animation software with black bars added to the sides to begin with, thus creating the same effect as if I would zoom back in Vegas but doing so without loss of quality; true?
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 11:09 AM   #13
 
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Maybe post some pix/stills of the image being cut off.
As John says, you're clearly and concisely describing an overscan issue. Vegas absolutely renders exactly what the preview window displays; nothing more and nothing less. Put a line chart into Vegas and render it. You'll see it.
Is it possible you're creating graphics with a weird PAR other than 1.0? Which widescreen aspect are you working with in your animation software? There are several. 1:85;1 2:39:1, 2:00:1 and so forth. If your animation software offers various settings, could this be the problem?
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 11:18 AM   #14
 
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Right click on the preview window.check to see if you have "Simulate Device Aspect Ratio" checked. This has caused a similar problem for me, in the past.

Also, some TV sets or DVD players will resize the image, especially auto upscaling to 1080. Make sure the player stream is set to display native resolution.
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 11:50 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle View Post
Is it possible you're creating graphics with a weird PAR other than 1.0? Which widescreen aspect are you working with in your animation software? There are several. 1:85;1 2:39:1, 2:00:1 and so forth. If your animation software offers various settings, could this be the problem?
I think the problem is my perception of what I see on TV. First, I watch very little TV. Second, I flipped through my cable set now and see indeed all sorts of widescreen aspect ratios -- most of them just like mine. I suppose the ones that appear wider with fatter bars at top and bottom are just different aspect ratios favored by spot producers.

Bill, Simulate Device Aspect Ratio makes no difference on my setup. My secondary screen and all my monitors are 1920 x 1200.

As I have said, my problem is with what I see after I render to DVD, but, embarrassed, I now understand that even that is what it should be, 16:9 with overscan.

Thank you all for your patience with me.

(If you care to see what I am working on now, you can find some clips here:
www.mydogtulipfilm.com )
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