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Old February 23rd, 2010, 08:10 PM   #1
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How to filim in HD 16:9 but output to 4:3?

I know this is kind of a basic questions, but I am a bit new to this and have only filmed and edited in HD. I am using a Sony HDR-SR12 handycam that shoots AVCHD in 1920 X 1080. It also has an HQ HD mode that is 1440X1080 (this seems to be a 4:3 aspect ratio, but still looks like 16:9 on the viewfinder)

I am trying to produce a video for the web (Amazon) and they only support 4:3 aspect ratio. I am using Vegas Pro 9 for editing. I can't decide how to set up the Properties for editing, and which would be the best format for rendering out to? Could use some pointers on this.

Should I film in 1440X1080 and then use HDV 1080-60i (1440x1080, 29.970 fps) as my project preference and render to HDV 1080-60i (1440x1080, 29.970 fps) as well?

They prefer ouput in either .flv, mpeg-2, or wmv

I would appreciate any wisdom on this. Thanks! JD
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Old February 23rd, 2010, 08:16 PM   #2
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Both 1920 X 1080 and 1440X1080 are wide-screen. Start a 4x3 project, drop these on the timeline, and you have two options:

1. Leave the black bars at the top and bottom.
2. Open each in Pan/Crop, right-click it, and choose "Match Output Aspect". This will then zoom in and cut off the two sides but you will no longer have black bars.
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Old February 23rd, 2010, 08:36 PM   #3
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How to start a 4:3 project

Ed,

Thanks for the speedy response. When you say start a 4X3 project, can you give me a specific template that you'd recommend? Do I modify a template to pick a 4X3 aspect ratio? Most of the default templates in Vegas appear to be 16:9.

For my own edification, you stated that 1440X1080 is a widescreen aspect ratio. How does that work? Is it because the pixels are not square? 1440 divided by 1080 is 1.33? I'd like to understand how that works.

Thanks again!
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Old February 23rd, 2010, 09:00 PM   #4
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Yes, 1440x1080 is anamorphic widescreen using nonsquare pixels.

The only way to get an "HD" 4:3 video would be to shoot in widescreen, crop off the part of the image area outside the 4:3 boundaries, and then pillarbox the result (black bars on the sides) as you re-render the cropped result to a 16:9 widescreen video file. Otherwise, if you create a direct 4:3 video image, the image will be downconverted to standard definition (720x480). And even if you can technically create 4:3 high-definition video files in Vegas, the HD authoring software will downconvert such 4:3 HD videos to SD since there is no BD authoring software that I know of which does not cost you an arm and a leg which recognizes HD videos in any aspect ratio besides 16:9 widescreen.

In other words, the only way that you can get 4:3 in HD (as authored onto BD or AVCHD DVD) short of spending tens of thousands of dollars is to put pillarboxes within the 16:9 widescreen image.

Last edited by Randall Leong; February 23rd, 2010 at 10:00 PM.
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Old February 23rd, 2010, 09:36 PM   #5
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Output to 4:3

Randall,

Thanks for your detailed explanation. I think what I am shooting for is the best quality 4:3 output I can get from my camera. I don't want to have a widescreen image in a pillarboxed format. I want my video to completely fill a 4X3 frame. When I am shooting the video scenes for this, I guess I can just keep objects in the center of the frame, knowing that the left and right edges will get cropped when I output to 4:3.

I think I understand conceptually what I have to do to get there. I'm just still fuzzy on what template to use to set up Vegas before adding my video to the timeline, and then what format should I render to for best results?

I am sure I can do a bunch of experiments myself, which I am not opposed to doing, but if someone can save me the heartache, I would welcome the suggestions. Thanks to everyone who has replied. I always learn something new!
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Old February 23rd, 2010, 09:50 PM   #6
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Jamie,

I actually tried to upload a sample HD video which had already been cut to a 4:3 aspect ratio, and it came back with an error message which read (my paraphrasing) that "The image resolution is too high. Please lower the resolution and then resubmit the video." (or words to that effect).

While that might have been true of the Web site I tried to upload my sample video to, the one that you're trying to upload to might accept HD video content directly if cropped to the 4:3 aspect ratio. In this case, then yes, Vegas (without using DVD Architect) will allow you to use a custom setting which allows you to set the exact resolution and pixel aspect ratio. In this case, manually change the image width from 1920 to 1440 pixels while keeping the pixel aspect ratio at 1.0000 (square pixels). Alternatively, you may use one of the 1440x1080 templates but manually change the pixel aspect ratio from 1.3333 to 1.0000 in the rendering properties for that template. Then, deinterlace by changing the field order setting in the custom rendering template properties to "None (progressive scan)" and set the deinterlace method in the project properties to either "Blend fields" (default) or "Interpolate fields". And don't forget to crop the image on the Vegas timeline before you perform the render. Finally, when that is all done, you might want to recompress (transcode) the video to a video format which Amazon accepts.

In short, you will want to use a 1080-60i template but with the field order setting manually changed in the template's properties to "None (Progressive Scan)". This, without changing the frame rate setting at all, will result in a 30p video which is required by most Web sites.
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Old February 23rd, 2010, 10:34 PM   #7
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Thanks!

Randall,

Thanks for all the great advice, and for going the extra mile. Much appreciated. It took a while but I just finally figured out how to set my camera to record in SD 4:3. I may try some tests with that, and then filming in HD and using your suggestions. I'll see what works best.

Actually the best thing would be for Amazon to join the 20th Century and allow HD video :)
But until then............
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Old February 23rd, 2010, 10:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randall Leong View Post
And don't forget to crop the image on the Vegas timeline before you perform the render.
This step is crucial (if you place the cursor on the timeline to the very beginning of the video clip) because Vegas will letterbox the video by default.
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Old February 24th, 2010, 11:07 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie Dull View Post
...I want my video to completely fill a 4X3 frame. When I am shooting the video scenes for this, I guess I can just keep objects in the center of the frame, knowing that the left and right edges will get cropped when I output to 4:3...
This is a very common shooting technique, usually referred to as "shooting 16:9 but protecting 4:3".

If you look closely at all forms of professional wide screen production (feature films, network TV, etc.), you'll see that almost all shots have been framed such that a crop to 4:3 will include all important action and characters in the scene.
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