Integrating 16:9 HD and 4:3 SD

goshep wrote on 2/16/2009, 9:00 AM
Hey all,

Working on my first project using HD and SD of two different aspect ratios. I've been observing different ways broadcasters handle 4:3 SD footage in an HD broadcast but the only examples I've found are sports events. I'm not sure how these approaches will look in a documentary format (i.e. the blurred pillars that are common in a sports broadcast). Looking for input from those of you tackling the same type of projects and any Vegas specific approaches you may use. I can't imagine using "side-thirds" on the 4:3 footage but maybe that is perfectly acceptable?

Thanks as always


TeetimeNC wrote on 2/16/2009, 10:44 AM
goshep, I'm working on an HD project where I am integrating some 4:3 WWII footage that is even lower res than SD. I've seen three ways that I think are acceptable - I will probably use option 2 on this project. I have used 1 and 3 in the past as well.

1. Duplicate the 4:3 footage track, and on the lower duplicate track zoom in until it just fills the window. Then desaturate that track and apply a moderate gaussian blur. This then serves as a nice full screen background that hints of your 4:3 footage and actually looks surprisingly good.

2. The second approach is a variation of 1 above. Create the duplicate, desaturate and blur as above, but instead of making it a full screen background, make it about 20% larger than the 4:3, and overlay them in a staggered fasion so the combination of the two takes up most of the screen. This also looks pretty good.

3. If your 4:3 can be cropped without losing important information you might consider cropping it to a 16:9 aspect, keeping it original width. This way it will fill a smaller rectangle centered in the full 16:9 window. Background would be black in this case.

I'm interested in hearing ideas others may have as well.

RalphM wrote on 2/16/2009, 11:49 AM
I've had the same questions as goshep. I've seen intercut footage at the two aspect ratios and was still undecided on how I felt about it.

Jerry, can you elaborate a bit more on Option 2. Does the primary image meet one side of the screen or??

farss wrote on 2/16/2009, 12:33 PM
I've used option 1). Adding a mask to the upper track to blur the edge between the upper and lower track is an option to explore.

You could also consider resolution enhancement software such as Topaz Enhance. That might give you enough resolution to make letterboxing not too sad.

In my opinion you can fret too much over these things. If it's obviously historical footage trying to pass it off as something else could be counterproductive.

TeetimeNC wrote on 2/16/2009, 2:13 PM
Ralph, here is an example.

EDIT: Can't get the image to display, use link below.

If it doesn't show in the forum, here is the link. This would look better if the source clip was color.

Jerry, can you elaborate a bit more on Option 2. Does the primary image meet one side of the screen or??
RalphM wrote on 2/16/2009, 2:31 PM

That's a nice effect. I think this can work well when the footage is obviously from an other era and the viewer can readily accept that the ability to shoot in widescreen was not available.

I'm not so sure that mixing (even with the esthetically pleasing examples given above) works well when the material was obviously shot at the same time. For example, if I have to mix widescreen and 4:3 in shooting a live performance.
TeetimeNC wrote on 2/16/2009, 2:41 PM
Ralph, take a look at this clip around the 30 second mark. Although this is SD and stills, it is how I might mix HD and SD if the storyline permits this technique. Imagine the van shot is HD, and the subsequent shot is SD.