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4x3 Title Safe in 16x9 Environment

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Chris Hale
4x3 Title Safe in 16x9 Environment
on Mar 6, 2009 at 5:13:06 am

I produced a spot in 16x9 with a logo bug and lower thirds... the master control engineer kicked it back because the titles and logo were not 4x3 title safe... we have just transitioned to fully digital broadcasting... his concern was that 8-10 year old analog sets would center cut the image, which to my understanding those sets wouldn't handle the digital signal anyway without a convertor box, in which case would letterbox the image... so the problem is moot. He insisted that all the networks were still honoring the 4x3 title safe area even with 16x9 material... well... he is right... BUT... my thought is that they are compensating for analog 4x3 sets and now that the country is going digital, this is no longer needed for the US, but where they air in other countries it would make since to protect those areas.

Please, any thoughts would be welcome... incidentally, they are still airing local 4x3 content and so my set displays that as a little box, due to being pillared.

Chris Hale
Producer/Editor
chris@halepost.com
http://www.halepost.com


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Gary Hazen
Re: 4x3 Title Safe in 16x9 Environment
on Mar 6, 2009 at 4:26:59 pm

"...his concern was that 8-10 year old analog sets would center cut the image, which to my understanding those sets wouldn't handle the digital signal anyway without a convertor box, in which case would letterbox the image.."

I don't think digital converters are limited to letterbox. The user can change the mode to center cut if they want.

my thought is that they are compensating for analog 4x3 sets and now that the country is going digital, this is no longer needed for the US

This compensation is going to continue for longer than you think. There's a huge misconception that once the DTV rollover is complete that the 4:3 aspect is dead. It's certainly near the end for 4:3, but it hasn't been put to sleep yet. Many people will continue to use 4:3 displays and choose to view the material as center cut. Eventually the broadcasters will abandon the old safe title standards and move forward. Some of this is already happening - just watch a little broadcast TV and see how many of the titles get clipped.

From a creative perspective this transition to the DTV era is challenging. Having to design graphics that work in both 16:9 and 4:3 (center cut) is a compromise. It never looks the as good as it would if you designed for 16:9 only. But you have to step out of your box and look at it from the end customers perspective. If you design a cool graphic that's out of 4:3 title title safe and it gets cropped during broadcast, then the effort that went into creating the graphic is wasted. If the crop cuts off critical information, such as a web address, then you've done a disservice to your customer.

"...the master control engineer kicked it back because the titles and logo were not 4x3 title safe..."

This is the bottom line, you have to comply with the standards of the broadcaster. If the spot doesn't make it to air the advertising isn't very effective. If the spot gets kicked back for non compliance you could miss a deadline and have a very angry client on your hands. What I'm trying to say is learn to work within the current system instead of fighting it.



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