I'm producing a TV spot, to be finished in standard def. We want to deliver it in 16x9 format, so that it fills a 16x9 TV. So, we are going to produce a 16x9 Anamorphic master. My question is: Do any TV stations accept spots as 16x9 anamorphic, in standard def? If so, is there a way to encode them so they are letterboxed if being watched on a 4x3 TV? OR do we have to produce two versions, letterboxed and anamorphic? Any suggestions?
If you're talking about local spots, you have to ask the station.
They may be perfectly capable of running 16x9 video. However, it will most likely be in HD, not standard definition, and if you want to deliver an anamorphic master, you're talking SD video. There is NO 4x3-16x9 toggle switch on any broadcast SD decks that I'm familiar with. The capability to do anamorphic conversions is NOT standard among all TV stations.
Letterboxed is a good alternative... but what if the station also runs local spots on the HD subchannel? Your 16x9 spot would be letterboxed AND pillarboxed, too! Ugh.
So you have to ask the station how THEY want it delivered... not how YOU want to deliver it. And guess what? If you have five commercial stations in the market, they may have five different preferred means of delivery!
It's a right royal pain, no? But don't despair, this conundrum may simply go away about a year from now, when all US TV broadcasting has to be digital. Or not.