Are you square?

A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
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Dave Watterson
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Are you square?

Post by Dave Watterson » Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:03 am

For the last few years we have been told that most broadcast telly will be in widescreen (14x9) format - though there is a heck of a lot of (4x3) material still being transmitted.

Amateurs have been able to shoot 16x9 for a few years and more such material is making its way into competitions and festivals causing chaos as projectors get switched from one format to the other.

In the last few months I've become aware of an additional issue: mixed formats.

One was a 16x9 film which incorporated a few archive scenes. The archive material was, of course, 4x3. But the film maker had not adapted it by adding black edges or trimming top and bottom. The archive material was squidged to fit so we saw lots of short, fat people.

The other was a 4x3 film which incorporated a few scenes from a tv broadcast that was in 14x9. Again no compensation had been applied so this time we saw slightly tall and slightly thin people.

I have also seen a festival screen a 16x9 print with left and right edges cut off.

I suspect all these may have a common element - kit which tries to adapt automatically to the screen ratio being fed to it - or which tries to adapt whatever it gets to a screen ratio you have set.

How can we avoid such issues?

Dave

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Willy
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Re: Are you square?

Post by Willy » Tue Nov 13, 2007 1:20 am

In the last few months I've become aware of an additional issue: mixed formats.

One was a 16x9 film which incorporated a few archive scenes. The archive material was, of course, 4x3. But the film maker had not adapted it by adding black edges or trimming top and bottom. The archive material was squidged to fit so we saw lots of short, fat people.

How can we avoid such issues?

Dave
I used archive scenes in 16:9 that were originally in 4:3. As I use a casablanca to edit my films it is technically not possible to fix it with a black part on top and bottom of the film. I doubt if it is also possible with different editing computer programmes. Moreover it would also change the composition of the images. That's also very important. In my opinion your alternative would not be excellent either.

If you wish I can send you the 4:3 film and then you will see that those men in 1914 were really very short. I am much taller than my father was, and my daddy was much taller than his father. Yes, of course they look fatter, but not as fat as Hardy. They don't look ridiculously fat.

I agree that if everything would be original 16:9 material then it would be better, but I don't think we can solve this problem. It's good that you talk about it and I'm anxious to know what other friends think about it.

Anyhow I don't think that this problem has an undeniably negative effect on the atmosphere in the film and I am sure that you agree with this. I've shown my documentary already in some clubs and up to now nobody has noticed a difference. Not even the worst criticasters. This is a very good sign. When there would be only one man in close up in one of the pictures then you would see it. Now it's always a group of soldiers. It means that there is only a very slight difference. I must also say that I used the logo of my new club to start my film. It's a globe. In the logo it's not completely round, but oval... But I repeat : I appreciate your remark.
Willy Van der Linden

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Mike Shaw
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Post by Mike Shaw » Tue Nov 13, 2007 9:22 am

Well, the editor i use Avid Liquid (now back to Pinnacle) can assemble both formats on the timeline and produce a movie that properly reflects the original size. The process is fairly automatic - one has to set the property for the capture - and hence individual clips to use the original format rather than the timeline format currently being used. This can mean that a 4:3 on a 16:9 timline is blown up (uniformly) to fit the width - there is another 'property setting that can be invoked to ''fit to width (x)' or 'fit to height (y)' (there is also an option to fit to x & y but this is the 'distortion setting'). It means 16:9 on a 4:3 timeline has black top and bottom, and 4:3 on a 16:9 timeline has black on the two sides. Or the movies can be blown up - uniformly without distortion but with loss of image at the edges, to fill the screen. No problem. Your choice of result.

One can also mix different fps rates on the timeline, and make movie to a selected rate. I have mixed 25fps, 30fps and 15fps, (PAL, NTSC - and an NTSC movie-shooting still camera) all on the same timeline and produced a movie.

Sadly, Liquid is one of the best kept secrets in the PC video editing world. Because Premiere has the lion's share of the market, people seem to think ipso facto it must be the best. In my book, Premiere lags way behind Liquid in almost every area. Its the old betamax/vhs story again I fear - no question as to which was best. But whbich won the market? The one with the big money behind it.

Of course, the editor you're most comfortable using (and does what you want) is the best. For me, the options and opportunities, features and capabilities of Liquid are absolutely unequalled by any editor in its price range, as well as some editors that are far more expensive.

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Willy
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Re: Are you square?

Post by Willy » Tue Nov 13, 2007 9:42 am

Moreover it would also change the composition of the images. That's also very important. In my opinion your alternative would not be excellent either.

By "composition" I mean : I could have cut off the legs of the 50, 100 soldiers or more that are marching or part of their heads. Part of my my film is a functional mixture of photographs filmed in 16:9 and archive film footage in 4:3 but changed into 16:9. You can hardly see any difference.

In my casablanca prestige there are 10 projects. Before editing a film on one of these 10 "tracks" you have to choose : 4:3 or 16:9. A mixture is not possible.

There is only one possibility to keep the length of people in your archive footage : You can project the film on a large screen and film it in 16:9: but then - as I told you - you must change the composition (=photography) of the images.

When I see an NBC basketball match on TV the players are always very tall in particular after the match when they are interviewed. The TV-presenter looks like a dwarf. When I am standing next to my son I feel submissive.

We're all giants now.
Have you ever been in Rye, one of the most beautiful historic towns in East Sussex ? The pretty half timbered houses have small doors because people where much smaller in the 17th century. I admit that was already 3 centuries ago, but the last decades people have grown.

Maybe I have done wrong by using the logo of my new club. The globe covers the whole screen. This makes you think : maybe the editor had problems with 4:3 and 16:9.
Willy Van der Linden

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Mike Shaw
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Post by Mike Shaw » Tue Nov 13, 2007 10:00 am

Not sure if that is an answer to my post Willy, but if so - no, there is no change to the composition except that black borders will appear either at the top/bottom, or the sides, depending on the original format and the final format being used. 16:9 appears 'reduced' in size in a 4:3 environment. Similarly, 4:3 appears to occupy only the centre of the screen in a 16:9 environment. I don't think that's what you mean by composition change though. Chopping off parts of the picture can be achieved if that's what is wanted. Usually, though, that is not desirable.

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stingman
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Post by stingman » Tue Nov 13, 2007 10:36 am

Very bad and poor editing IMO. No excuse. If there isn`t an automatic way of doing it then do it manually and resize it , while editing, making a border is possible.
For my logo, (which is 4:3) I can zoom in and it still looks good. I have enough room with my logo to do this. If you had alot of head space then you could do it with a 4:3 shot of someones head, because when you resize it it does it all in proportion.
I`m glad people are taking notice of 16:9 and using all that extra space at the sides. It really is a blessing.

Now all I need is my old fogies video club to get there heads out of that dinosaurs bottom and get a 16:9 projector. 4:3 looks so tosh! I will film in 16:9. The judges tv`s are all 16:9! When they show the film at the club it will have the sides missing! There problem!!
Ian Gardner
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Willy
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Post by Willy » Tue Nov 13, 2007 11:05 am

[quote="Mike Shaw"]Not sure if that is an answer to my post Willy, but if so - no, there is no change to the composition except that black borders will appear either at the top/bottom, or the sides, depending on the original format and the final format being used.


Good photography/compositon means for instance : the eyes of the person being filmed are at 1/3rd from the top of the screen. Using black borders at top/bottom means changing the composition, but as I told you with a casablanca you cannot mix 4:3 and 16:9 images on the same editing track. Maybe with a different computer programme you can. I know that you are a computer freak, Mike. Also Ian uses a computer programme. Maybe there is a friend who uses a casablanca just like me. What does he think about it ?

I think that my option was still the best. Try to do the following thing : film a group of people in the distance in 4:3. Afterwards in 16:9. You can hardly see the difference with your naked eye.
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Mike Shaw
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Post by Mike Shaw » Tue Nov 13, 2007 2:46 pm

I'm very confused by these answers. Maybe I'm just more senile than I thought.

If projecting 16:9 on a 4:3 screen, to get the full picture there will have to be black top and bottom. Changing the picture size doesn't affect the composition, merely the size. Same way with a 4:3 pic on a 16:9 screen (tv): without distorrion, there will be black borders down the side. Composition unchanged, only size of the pic being viewed.

When mixing 16:9 and 4:3 formats in one movie - as can be the case when using material from days of yore, having shot the bulk of the today stuff with a 16:9 camcorder - as most are these days, there are options when dealing with the 4:3 material (if the final movie is to be in 16:9 format).

1. Distort the picture from its 4:3 shape to the 16:9 shape. Result. People get fatter and shorter.
2. Enlarge the 4:3 clip so that its width fits to the 16:9 screen. result, top and bottom of the 4:3 image is lost.
3. Leave the picture in its original 4:3 format. Result, black borders to the sides. Less picture to be seen than with a 16:9 format, but everything is to proper proportions.

What am I misunderstanding here? :?

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Post by ned c » Tue Nov 13, 2007 3:26 pm

One way to put mixed aspect ratio clips into a 16:9 edit is to make them picture in picture on a black background. They can be resized, cropped, color corrected etc as required.


Ned C

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Willy
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Post by Willy » Tue Nov 13, 2007 3:58 pm

Mike Shaw wrote:I'm very confused by these answers. Maybe I'm just more senile than I thought.

If projecting 16:9 on a 4:3 screen, to get the full picture there will have to be black top and bottom. Changing the picture size doesn't affect the composition, merely the size. Same way with a 4:3 pic on a 16:9 screen (tv): without distorrion, there will be black borders down the side. Composition unchanged, only size of the pic being viewed.
_____________________________________________________

Oh, Mike, what a word ... "senile" ! In Dutch it has a pejorative meaning. Not in English ? _____________________________________________________

When mixing 16:9 and 4:3 formats in one movie - as can be the case when using material from days of yore, having shot the bulk of the today stuff with a 16:9 camcorder - as most are these days, there are options when dealing with the 4:3 material (if the final movie is to be in 16:9 format).

1. Distort the picture from its 4:3 shape to the 16:9 shape. Result. People get fatter and shorter.

_____________________________________________________

[i]I repeat : that's what I have done, but the people are not so fat as Dave pretended because they're in the distance.[/i]2.

_____________________________________________________

Enlarge the 4:3 clip so that its width fits to the 16:9 screen. result, top and bottom of the 4:3 image is lost.

_____________________________________________________

I don't know how you can do this with a casablanca. Do you ? Computer programme users are not more senile than casablanca users and vice versa, but maybe a computer programme like "pinnacle" has more possibilities.
_____________________________________________________

3. Leave the picture in its original 4:3 format. Result, black borders to the sides. Less picture to be seen than with a 16:9 format, but everything is to proper proportions.

_____________________________________________________

"Less picture to be seen" means "different composition" etc.
_____________________________________________________

What am I misunderstanding here? :?
Sorry, Mike. Don't forget that English is not my first language and I am sure that I am technically less talented than you are. Therefore it is better that I don't discuss about technical problems anymore here on this forum.

In fact I am more interested in the stories of films and their structures than in their technical qualities and defects. For instance I appreciate more a powerful story filmed with a bad camera and poor picture quality than a poor story filmed with the best camera that you can imagine and with high picture quality. A bird is known by its note and a man by his talk.
Willy Van der Linden

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Stu H
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Aspect Ratio Anarchy

Post by Stu H » Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:07 pm

Reading this thread I notice that no-one has, as far as I can tell, answered Dave's question about avoiding these issues in future.

There are only two ways.

First (and best):

The film maker makes the film in whatever (standard) ratio they want, clearly label the tape or disc stating exactly what kind of ratio it is and the responsibility for how it is seen passes to the individual/organisation screening the film.

The converse of this is that if you are running a competition/screening and soliciting material you make it absolutely clear what aspect ratios you are able to accept. Then responsibility for meeting your criteria passes to the film maker.

In the context of amateur film I would say that the only formats are:

4:3 (Standard DV)
16:9 Letterbox (A 16:9 window in a 4:3 picture)
16:9 Anamorphic (The WS picture is squeezed to fit a 4:3 frame, then stretched on playback. Most TV and projectors can do this)
HDV is 16:9 by default, but I imagine not widely accepted in competitions. HDV cameras can downsample footage into one of the aspects mentioned above.

As to whether to pan & scan or letterbox/pillarbox footage in mixed ratio projects is down to the individual film maker (CLUE: Pan & Scan is wrong!).

Second (and easiest):
Every film maker maker produces their film in the aspect ratio of their choice and then produces a "Screening Master" which is either 4:3 or 16:9 letterbox, that way the projectionist only has one ratio to deal with.

Note to folks wishing to mix ratios:

If your software will allow, scale the footage in question on one axis. to bring 16:9 into a 4:3 project without cropping you simply set the vertical scale of the clip to 75% leaving the horizontal scale set to 100%. Similarly for 4:3 footage in 16:9 projects all you need to do is set the horizontal scale to 75% leaving the vertical unchanged.

Casablanca users can purchase Effect Pack 8 (UKP 51) and then use the Cine Converter effect to achieve the above.

By the way 14:9 is a "bastard" format, a halfway house between 16:9 & 4:3. It allows producers to film in 16:9 without totally disenfranchising the viewer with a 4:3 TV set. Broadcasting 14:9 shows only very slim black bars top and bottom, whereas the black bars seen when broadcasting true 16:9 would scare the horses or something. There is obviously a small cropping of the frame left and right in a 14:9 broadcast.

Anyway, that's it for now, but remember what William Goldman said "Nobody knows anything."

Stu.
"Nobody knows anything." - William Goldman

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Mike Shaw
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Post by Mike Shaw » Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:34 pm

Does Casablanca have a 2d editor? If so, you could apply a 2d filter to the clip and adjust the picture size with that.

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Stu H
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Casablanca 2D Editor

Post by Stu H » Tue Nov 13, 2007 5:12 pm

I telephoned the Casablanca people for some tech support on this issue, and the way you can do it in Casablanca is to shell out for the pack containing the cine converter effect, which is obviously just a 2D DVE. To computer based editors it may seem like quite a lot of money for this particular piece of old rope, but I suppose that would overlook the convenience and ease of use for which Casablanca is famed.

Stuart
"Nobody knows anything." - William Goldman

ned c
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Post by ned c » Tue Nov 13, 2007 7:54 pm

For AMPS this year we agreed to accept HDV tape 16:9 both 1080i60 and 50 as we have an HDV deck that plays both and a matching monitor. No entries were received in these formats. We did have a few letterboxed entries but most entries were 4:3. The letterboxed entries werer marked as such so no problem.

Ned C

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Stu H
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HDV competition entries

Post by Stu H » Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:17 pm

Hats off to AMPS for leading the way in accepting HDV entries. Just because no-one submitted in that format doesn't mean they shouldn't be able to.

"If you build it, they will come."
"Nobody knows anything." - William Goldman

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