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Someone explain "True Widescreen"

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Jason
Someone explain "True Widescreen"
on Apr 23, 2005 at 1:46:11 pm

I am currently looking for a new DVCAM camera and I'm considering the Sony DSR-500ws. This camera is native widescreen. It has 700 lines of horizontal resolution. Does this mean that if I switch it to 4:3 it will crop the edges of the image and reduce the resolution? Or, does it stretch the pixels up and down?

I've been warned against a native widescreen camera, since 75% of what I shoot is 4:3.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Someone explain "True Widescreen"
on Apr 26, 2005 at 3:41:08 pm

Boy, have you opened up a can of worms!

By "widescreen", I'm going to assume you mean a 16x9 screen aspect ratio.

There are 3 different ways a 16x9 aspect ratio achieved: by stretching the pixels of a 3x4 picture anamorphically (in DV, DVCam, DVCPro and others), by shooting high-definition (there are 10 variants of the hi-def picture) or by shooting HDV, which is high-definition digital video. HDV is the apparent latest-greatest thing. But it's still in its infancy, which means the specs are etched in jello.

Other people know this stuff a LOT better than I do, but it all comes down to this: where have you been, and where are you going? By that I mean, on what format are you currently shooting (forget the particular camera model for the moment), and on what format do you envision yourself shooting in the near future?

When you can answer the second question, the field of camera choices narrows considerably and other more knowledgable folks can help you make the appropriate choice.


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Peter DeCrescenzo
Re: Someone explain "True Widescreen"
on Apr 26, 2005 at 6:11:40 pm

[Dave LaRonde] "Boy, have you opened up a can of worms! ..."

LOL!

Yes, and there's "widescreen", and there's also "widescreen", and of course "widescreen", too -- and that's just for starters.

For example, to get an idea how insane it gets, just take the narrow topic of "widescreen DVD":
http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/special/caveat_emptor.htm

Yikes!

All the best,

- Peter

Just a friendly reminder to all: Please consider filling-in your COW user profile information so we have a better idea who you are, where you're from, and so forth. It's the friendly thing to do. Thanks!


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Jason
Re: Someone explain "True Widescreen"
on Apr 26, 2005 at 7:06:10 pm

where have you been, and where are you going? By that I mean, on what format are you currently shooting (forget the particular camera model for the moment), and on what format do you envision yourself shooting in the near future?

I shoot a lot of corporate and sales type video. I also shoot 60 Minutes style interviews for other production companies (sports shows, cooking shows, etc.) and documentaries. I typically shoot on DVCAM and I am thinking of buying a DSR-500 for its 2/3 inch chips and 16:9/4:3 capability, but have been warned that in 4:3 mode it crops the sides of the 16:9 image and reduces the resolution. I've also been told that is total crap. Which one is true?

As far as the question, "...where are you going?", I want to leave my options open. I can't afford to buy a Digibeta or HDCAM, nor would I like to, because I don't have the clientele to pay for it. I just want a high quality DVCAM camera that shoots both widescreen and standard aspect ratios.



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Dave LaRonde
Re: Someone explain "True Widescreen"
on Apr 26, 2005 at 10:11:44 pm

Ah, so you're not yet ready to take the plunge into anything other than Digital Video.

So you question is actually, "What's the lowdown on the DSR 500?"

By the way, who makes that? Sony? Panasonic? Somebody else? I don't know because I don't shoot. However, there are forums on the Cow solely concerned with DV by Panasonic, DV by JVC and DV by Sony, and you might get a faster response asking there.


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Jake Abramson
Re: Someone explain "True Widescreen"
on Apr 27, 2005 at 8:49:59 pm

I'll jump in here.

I'm not sure if "True Wide Screen" means native widescreen, but I'll treat it as if it does.

16x9 Native means that the chip is a 16x9 shape, and when you shoot in 4x3 it essentially only uses the middle of it.
4x3 Native means that the chip is a 4x3 native, and when you shoot in 16x9 you're really letter boxing your 4x3 image.

I woudln't recommend using a 4x3 chip for 16x9, and I don't really see a problem using a 16x9 chip for 4x3. The 16x9 chips are usually a bit better quality. Still though, don't expect HD quality. And if you're shooting DVCAM, then you're getting DVCAM.


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Mike Cohen
Re: Someone explain "True Widescreen"
on May 2, 2005 at 3:40:09 pm

can't you also use an anamorphic lens with a 4:3 chip, then either display the video on a widescreen...screen, or squeeze the image in post to make it "letterboxed" but in the intended screen format.

Mike


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Mark Baird
Re: Someone explain "True Widescreen"
on May 2, 2005 at 9:39:26 pm

There are several ways to get wide screen and they differ per camera, so some research has to be done on a per camera basis, but here are the basics: (and the whole good, better, best thing is my opinion only and not really shared by the industry) I will try to limit the discussion to only SD as HD is native 16:9 and therefore quite straightforward.

First, a couple of basics for those who don't know.... DV video, whether it is 4x3 or 16x9 uses the same pixel count, that being 720x480 (or in some cases 720x486 the difference is not material to this discussion) You will notice that this is neither 4x3 or 16x9, but something in the middle. The difference is in what they call "pixel aspect" in the digital world. For 4x3 each pixel is narrower then it is tall. the width is roughly .9 the size of the height. For 16x9 the width is roughtly 1.25 the height or wider then the height by a sizable margin. This means when you are looking at a 4:3 perfect circle in a native 720x480 square pixal image the circle looks "fat". If you are looking at a 16:9 image in 720x480 then the circle looks really thin.

Now, how do you go about getting the altered images on tape? there are sevearl ways.

The best IMHO is to get a camera with a 16x9 "native" image block. You will have to do some research here to find out if it is really native or if the camera manufacturer is playing games with thier definitions. A native image block will capture all the data then squeeze it into the anamorphic (squeezed) format required to store it on tape. What you DON'T want is a camrea that is takeing LESS then 480 lines of resolution top to bottom. You don't want them cheeting your vertical resolution to make a 16x9 image. When you are shooting 4:3 with this camera you are likely going to not be using the outer pixels of the image block but this SHOULD be okay. You need less horizontal pixels for a 4x3 image then for a 16x9 image.

A second, very good way (and in some ways more fool proof) is to use an optical device on the front of the lens to opticaly squeeze the picture the correct amount to image it on a standard 4:3 sensor. I like this method because it is so foolproof and you 100 percent sure of what the camera is doing. but technicly it is not as good as having an image sensor with a wider pickup.

The last way to get a 16x9 image out of a camera I have already alluded to, and that is by playing games with the pixel count. IE you take a normal 4x3 sensor and lop off some pixes top or bottom to get what you want. I don't like this because it does cost you resolution. If you are going to do this you might as well shoot full screen 4:3, protecting for the top and bottom, and just mask it in post. You are doing the same thing in the camera and you gain some options by doing it in post instead.

Now, in most of these systems the 16x9 image gets stored on tape as a "full frame" 720x480" picture. The objects in the frame are just skinneyer then they should be. Some camera systems store the 16x9 as "letterboxed" IE a black band on top and bottom with the picture looking normal. YOU DON'T WANT THIS. You are giving away resolution with this system. You always want to create the letterbox later in the process, when you actualy need it. You never want to store it on tape that way.

Hope this helps at least a little. If anyone has other thoughts or corections to this please hop in.

MB


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