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Aspect Ratio 16:9

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Aspect Ratio 16:9
on Jan 6, 2006 at 12:58:05 pm

Hi All,

Hope this is the right place for this question - and I dont come across as too stupid!!

In the past I have been asked to create a short advert in PAL 16:9. We filmed and edited in 16:9 - DSR450 & FCP & AE Pro. It looked totally fine in the edit and when I dumped it to Beta SP - UVW1800 - it seemed ok.

This Sp was then transfered to Digi - the format needed to broadcast the advert - which was performed by another company - so I never got to see the Digi version. This Digi was then sent to the broadcastor and when I saw the advert on TV, the whole thing was larger than it should have been - with the text at the very edge of the screen/safe areas - even though in the edit the text was miles inside. I am not sure why this happened.

To confirm, when editing in FCP, the footage should looked stretched vertically on a 4:3 monitor, until I press the aspect button - then the bars should come in and create the right aspect ratio. Similarly, when I dump to SP, the image as 16:9 should appear strecthed also. And then the broadcasting company's output should sort the ratio to look ok on screen?!

I will also post this in the FCP forum - and I hope I have given you enough info.
Hope you can help.



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Jon Zanone
Re: Aspect Ratio 16:9
on Jan 6, 2006 at 2:25:57 pm

The UVW can't handle 16:9. How did you check the SP master?


"So you want to throw out the old you - but the old you is old enough to know it won't make it better"
Del Amitri - "Make it Better"

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Dave LaRonde
Re: Aspect Ratio 16:9
on Jan 6, 2006 at 6:20:45 pm

As Jon says, Beta SP is intended for 4x3 video, not 16x9. And if by "digi" you mean Digital Betacam (AKA Digibeta), it too is intended for 4x3 video.

Now, it is possible to squeeze a 16x9 image horizontally to fit into a 4x3 screen aspect ratio; I do it myself, and I go to Beta SP. It's known as creating anamorphic video. But the person playing back has to KNOW that it was intended to be 16x9 video, AND he has to be able to stretch it horizontally to fit into the 16x9 aspect ratio. You realize, of course, that this squeezing and stretching will degrade the image slightly; there's no way around it, so you must accept the fact.

Where did your problem occur: when the Beta SP was dubbed to Digibeta? When the Digibeta was ingested into the broadcaster's system? You're going to track that answer down, and you're going to have to ask some questions. Did the parties involved KNOW your video was anamorphic 16x9? Do they have the ability to convert a 4x3 image into a 16x9 image? It may have been a simple issue of miscommunication, and the problem can be rectified.

But I'd try to circumvent those tape dubs. I'd try to stay away from tape altogether. If it were me, I'd ask the broadcaster about the digital format used to broadcast 16x9 PAL. All the specifics: WMV or Quicktime? What's the codec? What's the field order? What's the sceen resolution? Frame rate? Is progressive scan okay? What's the sampling rate for audio? Bit depth for audio?

Then I'd ask the broadcaster if I could generate the approprate file myself, burn it to a DVD -- as a file, not authoring a DVD you watch on TV -- and deliver it that way.

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Martin Baker
Re: Aspect Ratio 16:9
on Jan 6, 2006 at 9:57:58 pm

There is no reason whatsoever why you can't record anamorphic onto Beta SP. Sure it's not as good as digi but neither format were originally designed for 16:9 - anamorphic video is essentially a hack.

This problem is almost certainly an error on behalf of the broadcaster. It sounds like at some point in the chain the source was thought to be 4:3 rather than 16:9 anamorphic and as a result the image has been zoomed in. Time to start asking some questions...!

Digital Heaven, London UK
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tony salgado
Re: Aspect Ratio 16:9
on Jan 13, 2006 at 1:49:41 am

It's quite obvious what occured here.

1) Somewhere in the chain of distribution the anamorphic material had a centercut extraction done which in effect cut off the text which had been composed for the 16x9 aspect ratio.

Who is to blame here well sorry to say but it all started either before or during post production.

First of all if the deliverables were to be both 16x9 and 4x3 (which a majority of shows must comply with 4x3 delivery) then it was the responsibility of the production company or editorial facility to create text within the 4x3 title safe area (center cut) to avoid cutting off the text and/or create two separate versions of the show. The first 16x9 and the second 4x3 which means two separate text passes to compose for the different aspect ratios.

Another easier option would have been to create a letterbox version from the 16x9 anamorphic version but not all broadcasters might be willing to accept a letterbox program in lieu of a full screen 4x3 center cut version.

So in a nutshell the lesson to be learned here is to always get the broadcast specs including aspect ratio deliverable in writing well ahead of shooting.

The best method to avoid a mess in the end is to start at the end of the chain and work backward to fill in the gaps.

No such thing as fix it in post (at least not cheaply or without major headaches).

Tony Salgado

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