OT: Which is better widescreen - 4:3 cropped or "16:9 mode?"

Jessariah67 wrote on 1/23/2005, 7:26 AM
My assumption has been that 16:9 mode would be better than "cropped 4:3" because you're not "throwing anything away." (The one drawback I have found is the distorted picture in the camera. Tthough a 16:9 monitor shows a perfect picture, it doesn't help the camera operator...)

My camera having 16:9 guides in 4:3 mode - combined with the fact that Spot & his associates never sleep and have given us Ultimate S - makes me wonder which is the best way to go.

If you convert 4:3 to 16:9 and play it on a 16:9 TV, are you "zooming in?" Is there a noticeable loss of quality?

Just wondering what others think or may have experienced.



BillyBoy wrote on 1/23/2005, 8:30 AM
As a wide screen newbie myself I'm rather surprised as to what is considered "wide screen" and like many things it depends.

For example I recently bought a couple big Hollywood release DVD's to see how they would play on my new big screen plasma. For example the new release Troy with Brad Pitt. It comes in a "regular" plus "wide screen" and "full screen" version.

I got the "wide" version. Well, this is the result. The FBI warning and a brief intro fills my plasma screen. However the movie itself has borders on both the top and bottom. So in this case "wide screen" means a aspect correct wide screen picture. Sorry, I HATE that. I didn't spend $$$$$ of dollars for a plasma monitor to have black bars on it. So I guess I should have got the "full screen" version which (am i right?) would stretch the picture to fill the screen at be a "stretched" 16/9 version.

Worse, if you view a "wide screen" 16/9 movie on a none HD channel on top of the vertial bars, you're treated to two gray bars on either side so it looks like sh...

Now the burning issue was what happens if you have a bunch of home brew DVD's you made with Vegas and/or authored in DVD-A? Well, originally I assumed and asked in this forum is there any benefit to re-rendering using the wide screen template. I was told it simply sets a flag.

But... the plot thickens. Any DVD player will on its own expand a DVD to wide screen format if it has a wide screen format on its menu. So playing some of my extensive collection of old 4/3 DVD's I burned using DVD-A, they FILL the screen, (no borders anywhere) and I didn't have to change a thing.

epirb wrote on 1/23/2005, 8:49 AM
ahh the age old complaint I get from my customers when I do entertianment systems.
"How come I see black bars on the top and the bottom of my new 16x9 widescreen tv, with some DVDs?!"
This is very simple and you,BB will get it right away.
Full Screen version DVDs are made to "fill the screen"(but throw away some of the frame to do it)
Wide screen versions are meant (in most cases ) to display the motion picture in the format it was shot in.
As you know most hollywood films are not shot in 4:3 or even 16x9.
they are shot at either 1.85 widescreen or 2.35 cinamascope.
When you watch a DVD in widescreen format your 16x9 tv will still have black bars, because you are seeing the frame in its entirety without distortion or cropping. You are actually seeing more/all of what was originaly shot.
If you get a chance, get a 2 copies of a DVD one wide screen and one full frame.(Day After Tomorrow is a good example, but bad movie) and watch and see how much is cropped off in the Full frame version.
Then with the widescreen version displayed at normal format, pick a sceen that you can use for a good reference, and then change your TV's format to stretch or zoom the picture to fill the screen(get rid of those black bars) See the picture distortion that occurrs? I do this often with people, and once explained you'll prefer the original format and not eevn notice the black bars.
Partof it is the emotional feeling of "I just paid a sh**load for this widescreen tv and I'm not getting my pixels worth! " ;0 )
BillyBoy wrote on 1/23/2005, 8:58 AM
I get it. <wink> I just don't like it. I thought one of the ideas of going HD was you were suppose to see the movies as they were filmed.

So the 64 dollar question is why again are we stuck with a aspect ratio that is different and doesn't faithfully reproduce what the big boys in Hollywood wanted?

This sounds like a dumb question and maybe it is.

Why then didn't the "standard" for wide screen TV's end up being 16/8.2 or whatever it works out to so there wouldn't be those annoying black bars on top and bottom?

I feel faint and need to sit down. Somebody explain it to me. Why then is the screen on plasma and LCD's as fat (taller) then they have to be or should be?

SonicClang wrote on 1/23/2005, 9:33 AM
I will absolutely never understand the gripe people have with the "black bars" on the top and bottom of the screen. The very first time I watched a movie in widescreen (Die Hard in 1994) I was a little annoyed, until my friend's dad came in and explained that you're actually seeing the true vision of the director and cinematographer. I've been using a camera since I was 10 years old, I can understand the artistic side of keeping everything you saw in the viewfinder at the time you shot it. I'd hate if someone came along and refocused the frame on what they felt was the most important thing going on.

For one, Billy Boy, there really isn't even a standard right now for wide screen. One film claiming to be 16:9, really won't even be a true 16:9. Die Hard, for instance, is a TRUE 16:9. That movie is about the widest I've ever seen. Same as Lord Of the Ring. Both VERY wide movies. But then I'll watch some DVD's that claim to be wide and there's hardly any black at the top and bottom. So the fact that you saw black at the top and bottom of your widescreen TV doesn't surprise me, and it shouldn't piss you off.

A while back I thought up an invention, and it would be no more than "pulling the wool over peoples' eyes". What is my invention you ask? Make it so you can close little peices of plastic over the black bars so people think it's part of the TV. You see, I think if your standard household TV came wide, not a single person would have a problem with it. So why do people have a problem with the black bars? I've heard many reasons, but the dumbest and most ignorant reason I've ever heard was, "The picture is getting cut off!!" Anyone who says that is a complete moron.

As for the grey bars on the sides of a non-stretched picture, you can make those black, they don't need to be grey. That should be in the menu of your TV. If you can't find it look at the owner's manual.

As for stretching a non-widescreen format to fill your screen... What, do you want to feel like you have a disease or something? Stretching a picture is nothing short of the work of the devil. My brother-in-law used to stretch broadcast TV to fill the screen and I couldn't watch it for more than a minute without feeling ill.

About the original question: That's really all up to you. It's all about how you want to shoot your video. I always have my camera on 16:9. Yes, my family members get widescreen Christmas videos. I think they all understand why widescreen is better.
JohnnyRoy wrote on 1/23/2005, 9:45 AM
> My camera having 16:9 guides in 4:3 mode - combined with the fact that Spot & his associates never sleep and have given us Ultimate S - makes me wonder which is the best way to go.

With regard to Ultimate S, I am Spot’s only “associate” and I have been known to sleep from time to time but I try not to make a habit of it. ;-)

What Ultimate S does is convert 4:3 to 16:9 the only way you can in post, which is to sacrifice resolution for aspect ratio. Since 4:3 is shot at 720x480 resolution, if you were to expand the horizontal (720) the image would just be stretched and look distorted. That leaves you with cropping the vertical (480). So converting 4:3 to 16:9 (without an anamorphic lens) will always result in a loss of vertical resolution. When viewed on a 16:9 monitor you will essentially be zooming to fill the 480 vertical resolution.

If your camera has an anamorphic lens then the lens will squash the picture horizontally while it is recording on tape making it distorted (taller). This allows you to stretch it horizontally in post to make it look unsquished and still maintain the 480 vertical resolution. So you only get true 16:9 when you use an anamorphic lens.

My camera has a 16:9 mode that crops so it is no better than shooting in 4:3 and cropping later. Because of this, I never use the 16:9 mode on my camera. It leaves me more choices when editing. If your camera shoots true 16:9 anamorphic then that would be better than using Ultimate S. If it is just cropping, then it doesn’t matter which way you do it.

SimonW wrote on 1/23/2005, 10:50 AM
Because then if someone made a film in 1.85:1 such as Saving Private Ryan you would have black borders on the sides instead of the top and bottom!

Look, if you play an an anamorphic DVD and use the widescreen stretch mode on the TV you are getting a much higher resolution than you would if you played it letterboxed and used the 'zoom' function on your TV.

People, make sure your DVD player is set for a 16:9 TV, it'll be in the setup options. You should have no need to zoom. Instead you use the 16:9, or 'wide' mode of the TV to unsquash the picture. If someondy makes a 1.85:1 film (the first Bad Boys is another example) it will fill most of your screen.

a 16:9 shaped TV was the best compromise for all ratios., while being a sensible size for most peoples living rooms. That's why it was chosen.
John_Cline wrote on 1/23/2005, 10:58 AM

There is not now, nor has there ever been, a single "standard" wide-screen aspect ratio. Movies are shot in 16x9 (which is 1.78:1), 1.85:1 and 2.35:1. Unless the programming is exactly 16x9, then you will have the black bars on the top and bottom or the sides. I suggest you find a way to get comfortable with this reality.

p@mast3rs wrote on 1/23/2005, 11:03 AM
Johnny Roy said "What Ultimate S does is convert 4:3 to 16:9 the only way you can in post, which is to sacrifice resolution for aspect ratio. Since 4:3 is shot at 720x480 resolution, if you were to expand the horizontal (720) the image would just be stretched and look distorted. That leaves you with cropping the vertical (480). So converting 4:3 to 16:9 (without an animorphic lens) will always result in a loss of vertical resolution. When viewed on a 16:9 monitor you will essentially be zooming to fill the 480 vertical resolution."

So what if you have a crappy consumer cam that squishes the picture in "16:9" Does Ultimate S crop the black bars from what was recorded in the squeeze mode or do you lose additional resolution from the already squeezed 16:9 fromt he camera?
Chienworks wrote on 1/23/2005, 11:15 AM
Kinda makes me wonder what all the hype was over Super 8mm where the picture was actually narrower and taller than 4:3. *shrug*

I made a video for a website once that was about 2:5 aspect ratio, much taller than it was wide. If fit in with the page design, and since the majority of the video was a full body shot of someone speaking, it worked well. I would hate to have fit the same subject into 2.35:1.
Jessariah67 wrote on 1/23/2005, 11:15 AM

By anamorphic lens, are you talking about an adapter or something inside the camera? Like the 16:9 mode in the GL/XL series - the image is "squished" in the viewfinder, but on a 16:9 monitor - and in Vegas - you get a 16:9 image with no distortion. And since you're not "cropping" anything, I'm assuming this gives you a "better picture" since all of the pxels are being used in the finished image.

Is that what you meant?

Spot|DSE wrote on 1/23/2005, 11:38 AM
It's not an adaptor inside the camera, but rather an attachment to the existing lens that squeezes the image to fit, and then it's un-squeezed by Vegas.
http://www.centuryoptics.com/products/dv/16x9/16x9_37mm.htm might help explain this better. (don'tcha just love bookmarks? )
p@mast3rs wrote on 1/23/2005, 11:52 AM
of note, anamorphic adapters arent cheap either. ;)
Jessariah67 wrote on 1/23/2005, 12:05 PM
So, if I just don't have the budget for a $900 adapter, the next best thing is to shoot in 16:9 mode (my camera "squishes" instead of "crops"), grab an lcd converter for the camera operator and then use Ultimate S for the pulldown to 24 frames?

BTW, speaking of cropping...I recently watched an indie in "widescreen" format that didn't letterbox on a 4:3 set. You just got the "middle" of the picture. I don't even know how they did that -- "poor man's pan & scan..."

Thanks again for the input.
JohnnyRoy wrote on 1/23/2005, 12:42 PM
I don’t own a GL or XL but I would imagine that it “electronically” squeezes the picture to get the same effect. Like any electronic effect, I would imagine that doing it with “glass” is cleaner (otherwise who would pay $900 for an adapter?).

JohnnyRoy wrote on 1/23/2005, 12:53 PM
> So what if you have a crappy consumer cam that squishes the picture in "16:9" Does Ultimate S crop the black bars from what was recorded in the squeeze mode or do you lose additional resolution from the already squeezed 16:9 fromt he camera?

I believe it will just crop the black bars because these cameras are really storing 4:3. In fact, Ultimate S is perfect for this because Vegas will not know this footage is cropped to 16:9 because of the black bars (which really make it 4:3)

The bottom line is: Ultimate S will crop the aspect to 16:9. If you give it 16:9 footage, it will do no cropping. If you give it 4:3 footage with black bars, it will crop the black bars for you. If you give it 4:3 footage without black bars, it will crop the image to 16:9 and you should check that it didn’t crop an area that you want to keep. (in which case you should move the crop area but not change its dimensions) Ultimate S has no idea what the actual contents of the video are. It’s just adjusting the aspect to 16:9 if it isn’t already.

BillyBoy wrote on 1/23/2005, 1:39 PM
Hmm... another chewy topic. First, when I put something inside quotes like I did for "standard" that simply means a defacto standard, not something carved in stone. I KNOW there are no standards relative to what's a "wide" format size, that's part of the problem. Everybody does their own thing.

Even something more simplistic like "wide" verses "full" is misleading. I wonder how many people have bought DVD's labeled "wide" assuming it filled the screen. I did, but not before ASKING the sales person and that's what he told me. The term "full" is further misleading in that it implies you pick another version something is missing or shrunk so if you buy "full" you see the whole thing where in fact it more accurately means its a stretched version that should fill the screen.

Second, I'm constantly amazed that some people think what is their experience equals everyone else's experince. Case in point the vertical bars at the sides of the screen. I ALWAYS read the manual. In the model I got their are two adjustments. One is a screen saver, another adjusts the brightness of these bars. Just to illustrate the dumb lauguage used in manuals, especially those translated from Japanese to English which is common for electronics, they say set the brightness of the sidebars to "bright" to make them as DARK as possible. How is that for nuts? There is no way on my set to make them totally black which would mean they would disappear. Further the degree of grayness varies depending on the channel. I find these EXCEEDINGLY annoying and totally useless. Since they are obviously part of the broadcast signal and only seen if you're setup to view wide screen on a wide screen receiver WHY aren't they black to avoid burn in automatically?

Finally, for those that don't understand the "gripe" about black bars utterly destroying the "look" of the broadcast, how would you feel if your photographs developed came back with big fat ugly bars on the top and bottom? Be honest... you wouldn't like it at all.
Barry_Green wrote on 1/23/2005, 2:27 PM
>>Kinda makes me wonder what all the hype was over Super 8mm where the picture was actually narrower and taller than 4:3. *shrug*<<

? Super 8 is 4:3. It's wider and taller than regular 8mm, but it retains the 4:3 aspect ratio.

In fact, for those who want to delve into this, *all* film formats in common use are 4:3 (except Super16).

The first films made, in fact just about all commercially-released films prior to the advent of television, are all 4:3. Watch any old pre-1950 movie, they're all fullscreen 4:3. 8mm, Super 8mm, 16mm, 35mm, and full-frame Super35mm are all 4:3 formats.

Television was introduced with a 4:3 picture precisely because that was what was needed to reproduce the film image (as all film was shot 4:3).

After television came out, Hollywood producers were worried about how they could continue enticing people to pay money in the theaters, since they now had the opportunity to watch TV for free at home. They tried many things, but one thing that stuck was widescreen. Many different widescreen ratios were tried, but the ones that "stuck" were 1.85:1 (also known as "flat", and a common ratio in American theaters); 1.66:1 (also "flat", common in Europe); and 2.35:1 (or 2.37:1 or 2.39:1), produced by using anamorphic lenses.

How does a 4:3 film frame (also known as 1.333:1) become 1.85:1? By cropping. They actually just crop off the top and bottom of the film frame, by covering it up in projection. You're actually only seeing a smaller part of the full 4:3 film frame projected in the theater. They use about 22x12mm out of the full 24x18mm film frame.

How does a 4:3 film frame become 2.39:1 (the current anamorphic widescreen standard)? By cropping off the side to make room for the optical soundtrack, leaving a 1.2:1 tall image area; and then they shoot through a 2:1 squeeze optical anamorphic lens. The image gets squeezed 2:1 onto the 1.2:1 film frame, and then unsqueezed during projection, yielding about a 2.4:1 widescreen image.

Super16 is the variant format. Regular 16mm was designed with a sound stripe on the side, but nobody's used the sound stripe for many years, so people widened out the gate to include the sound area as picture area. That makes the frame 20% wider, giving Super16 a native aspect ratio of about 1.66:1. It's the only commonly-used motion picture film frame that's not 4:3.

What about Super35? Super35 is a full-frame picture format that uses the full width between the sprockets, and full height of the frame. But it's still 4:3. Super35 is often used to shoot 2.39:1 widescreen films like LOTR and Harry Potter, but they do it by cropping off almost half the film frame. Almost half the film's height is ignored, they only use a small wide strip of the full frame width, so the 1.33:1 image gets cropped down vertically to become 2.39:1.

Nowadays there are basically two aspect ratios that are common in movies, which are 1.85:1 "flat" and 2.39:1 "scope". On a DVD, the 1.85:1 movie usually gets transferred to a 1.78:1 (or 16:9) "anamorphic" DVD, almost line-for-line... there is a very, very minimal difference between 1.78:1 and 1.85:1. For "scope" movies, the 2.39:1 image gets its full width transferred to DVD, but there's not enough height to fill the screen, so you get (you guessed it) black bars.

HD's native 16:9 cannot overcome that, because movies are made in different shapes, and the HD screen shape is fixed at 16:9. A 4:3 movie like "Citizen Kane" is going to have to have gray or black "pillarbox" bars on the sides when shown on an HD display. A 1.85:1 movie will pretty much fill the screen as you'd expect. And a 2.39:1 movie like "Star Wars" will fill the width but have black bars on the top and the bottom.
p@mast3rs wrote on 1/23/2005, 2:42 PM
Allow me to play devils advocate. So Barry, what you are saying is that with 4:3, you get the full frame? If so, its ahrd to understand how since you have to alot for the overscan on TVs.

Personally, I cant wait for the day that there no will be no more film and we can all settle on one aspect ratio. It just boggles the mind why we have so many. Not only does it make it confusing for consumers to understand, its equally as hard for content producers as well.

In a perfect world, everything would be shot digitally with an APR of 16:9. No film, no different delivery standards, one frame rate, no fuss, no muss. Kinda makes you wish HDV cameras would come down in price so we could all help usher out the MiniDV era and just produce one type of format instead of having to use digibeta, minidv, HDV, HDcam, 16mm, etc...Wouldnt that make it more simple? Of course it would but then think of all those companies that would be stuck with overstock. Its just ridiculous honestly.
farss wrote on 1/23/2005, 3:28 PM
Well actually most photographs from pro shops do come back with big fat ugly bars. Why, because the AR of most still cameras means that the frame doesn't match that of the paper. This issue predates even the invention of photography, painting were / are rarely painted to fit a 'frame', the frame is made to fit the painting. I'm sure the curators of art galleries could save a tidy sum if we let them 'fit' artworks to one size frame.
Barry_Green wrote on 1/23/2005, 5:07 PM
With 4:3, you USED to get the full film frame. Then when producers started producing widescreen movies, they came up with "pan 'n' scan" to convert those widescreen movies to 4:3 televisions, so they would actually extract only a small portion of the full film frame for use on the 4:3 TV... even though the original was 4:3, we nowadays get a 4:3 extraction out of a 1.85:1 extraction out of a 4:3 frame. Talk about ridiculous...

About standardizing, I'd have to disagree completely. Yes it'd be simpler if everyone ran the same frame rate, same aspect size, same everything... but it'd also be quite boring and creativity-stifling. You said something like "wouldn't it be nice if HDV would come along and obsolete the whole DigiBeta/miniDV/etc..." thing... well, no, because what's coming next? How do we know that HDV is "good enough"? You could have said the same thing back in 4:3 days, "let's just standardize on 4:3", but nowadays everyone craves the widescreen look because that's what makes it look like a "movie". For standardizing on a format, we could have settled on BetaSP years ago... but that would have meant no HD, no widescreen, no ... well, the point is, something new will come out tomorrow, and something new a few months from now. I can't wait to see what it is.

Now, what would have been nice is if they could standardize the playback systems! It's just silly that North American HDTV's support 24p, 30p, 60p and 60i, with no provision for 25p, 50p or 50i. And it's equally silly that European HDTV's, which aren't even on the market yet, are not going to have support for 24p, 30p, 60p or 60i. I mean it makes sense why they'll support 25p/50p/50i, for easily displaying their existing PAL library, but... would it really have been that hard to make the sets able to play back ALL the formats? That way any video signal could be played back... that would have been the way to go.

Oh well. Maybe when we get SHDTV or UHDTV or whatever they dream up for us next...
SonicClang wrote on 1/23/2005, 5:23 PM
Haha, BillyBoy... If a photograph came back from the developer with white around the edges I'd cut it off, leaving only my picture. Unfortunately on a TV screen you can't do that.

There are no grounds for a gripe. Anyone who is annoyed by the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen are uneducated in the artistic value of framing a shot. The studio pays a directory MILLIONS to shoot a film. He/she does it in the most artistic way that fits the project, and most of the time, the artistic feel of the film comes down to one person, the director. Then, once the film is done, some techie in an office pans and scans the film to fit what he thinks is most important? Sometimes the most important thing in a shot is that little thing in the foreground that has nothing to do with the action behind it. Should a techie have free reign and be able to revisit the artistic feel of a movie? Hell no. It's retarted. It makes no sense.

You put up with the black bars because you know you're getting the true look and feel of a movie.

Broadcast television is different... That's a whole other issue.
BillyBoy wrote on 1/23/2005, 7:37 PM
Oh please... I can almost hear the violins in the background. Don't take the following personal, but here's how I feel about the Hollywood crowd:

The typical Hollywood director/producer/actor is drunk over his/her own self importance. I guess such "artistic" types never head the old expression the customer is always right.

As more and more revenue from Hollywood films comes from dumping dogs like "Troy" unto DVD's to hope to recover some of the excessive costs of producing such bow wows by giving these bozos huge unearned salaries then the bigwigs in Hollywood better sit up and pay attention and film them in a format that fills the large screen wide format TV's that Joe Average is now starting to buy in sizeable numbers.

Take a poll. Ask 100 people with new wide screen TV's if they appreciate the 'black bars' ruining the enjoyment of some movie they just bought and if or not they give a rat's ass if the movie gets slightly stretched and you'll hear 98 of them say they couldn't care less.

I'm so sorry, but I don't give a crap over some "creative" types bruised egos if the dope thinks "his" movie is runined if its 1 or 2% adjusted in ratio. There should be a single agreed upon format. Period. Where now there can b e one movie with tiny bars, another wider bars and the next none is total lunacy.

And please... if anyone thinks there is any real difference between between a ratio of 1.78:1 and a 1.85:1, visit your nearest barnyard and bring a really big shovel.
John_Cline wrote on 1/23/2005, 9:05 PM
Billy, are you off your meds AGAIN?

Here's a suggestion: any time you see a program that doesn't fill each and every pixel on your new "professional" 16x9 plasma TV, turn it OFF and take a handful of Prozac. If that doesn't work, then just throw a brick at your TV.

FuTz wrote on 1/23/2005, 9:22 PM
WHO needs a TV ? I just have to get here and it's funnier than the whole bunch of Jerry Lewis movies altogether !