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Old July 22nd, 2003, 11:26 PM   #1
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4:3 vs 16:9 Dumb Newbie Question

Does anyone mind helping me understand the advantages and disadvantages of using 16:9 over 4:3? It seems like most people shoot in 16:9.

I use a Sony VX2000, edit in Vegas and author DVDs on ReelDVD. If I were to do a project in 16:9 would it be as simple as shooting in 16:9 and editing the same as with 4:3 (all I've used so far)? Or are there more tricks to it?
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Old July 23rd, 2003, 02:17 AM   #2
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I shot in 16:9 with my PDX10 (its ability to shot "good" 16:9 was the sole reason that I picked the PDX10) and I do this since I have a widescreen TV. The advantage of shoting 16:9 as compared to 4:3 is that I "get the full picture" when viewing the resulting DVD on my widescreen TV. I have been told, but I haven't tested this, that properly 16:9 authored DVD show up letterboxed on a 4:3 TV.

My understanding is that the vx2000 crop its 4:3 picture when shoting 16:9 so you will get less resolution than if you shot 4:3 and a lot of users prefer to shot 4:3 and crop afterwards in their NLE.

With the PDX shoting 16:9 is the right way to go since it uses a wider angle and more pixels in this mode as compared to the 4:3 mode. When it comes to the vx I'm not sure if shoting and editing in 16:9 or shoting 4:3 and edit in post is the right way to go but I'm sure that someone will pop in and give you their view.

If you shot 16:9 with the cam (whether the PDX or the vx) the editing process is the same as when you shot 4:3 but be sure to set your preferences and your preview to 16:9 (match output aspect ratio).

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Old July 23rd, 2003, 06:49 AM   #3
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16:9 is principally the "in thing" right now. There are actually very few prosumer cameras that shoot native 16:9, however, so, until that happens, you lose resolution by converting to 16:9. Yhe only possible advantage, I can see, is to fill one of those overpriced wide screen displays selling for about 4K a pop. It looks cool, IMHO, if you can afford the gear to go widdit.
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Old July 23rd, 2003, 10:47 AM   #4
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I think Hans hit most of the important points. I have both a vx-2000 and pdx-10 and did some comparisons of the 16:9 modes here if you're interested.

Personally I think the cropped 4:3 looks a little better on the vx-2000 than the builtin widescreen mode. There may be issues which cause the DV compression to degrade the built-in mode more, however there doesn't seem to be any consensus when it's discussed around here. If you have a PAL camcorder the playing field is leveled a bit when shooting 16:9 since there are more scan lines in the image.

You might also have a look at this site which offers another approach to shooting 16:9 by using the "memory mix" function and chroma key mattes.

I don't use PC's, but just about any NLE should allow you to set a property whereby your footage is flagged as anamorphic. That will properly scale images shot using the built-in widescreen mode. Letterboxing this footage to display on a regular 4:3 TV is another step however.
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Old July 23rd, 2003, 12:16 PM   #5
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I don't have a widescreen TV so I guess there is little reason for me to use 16:9 right now. Also, it sounds like with the vx I am really just cropping off the top of the image (either while taping or editing). That doesn't sound like much of an advantage.

After looking at the images you have posted Boyd it seems clear that the resolution is better for 4:3 (on the vx).

Well thanks for the feedback that was very helpful. I think I am going to continue using 4:3 for now.
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