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mixing wide and full screen footage

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Mike Weber
mixing wide and full screen footage
on Sep 12, 2007 at 9:35:17 pm

How does you handle it when you have a mix of 4x3 and 16x9 footage in the same show? (Artisitically speaking, not technically speaking). Let's say your interviews are all 16x9, but most or all of your b-roll is 4x3. I tend to just fake-letterbox the full screen footage by sliding the image down a bit and add a widescreen matte filter, so that it matches the native widescreen stuff. On TV, I've seen it done this way some times, but other times editors just mix it up - wide & full, and after awhile I kind of forget about it. (Particularly if content of show is good.). What do you think?

Mike


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Del Holford
Re: mixing wide and full screen footage
on Sep 13, 2007 at 2:24:02 pm

Hi
Since HD is by definition 16x9 I assume you are meaning SD.
We shoot HDCam and use it for SD projects and depending on the B-roll I chose to crop or letterbox. I first try to crop but if the image is cropped too much I usually bring in the HD to the timeline (rather than downconvert on ingest) and pan within the 4x3 template. If the photographer left too little safe edge, then I letterbox. At that point I add a letterbox mask and unify the entire project. I also have to do this when I slow-mo/timewarp letterboxed footage that shows jitter at the top & bottom of the transition to black in the letterbox. Ditto for zooming or moving on the X, Y, & Z axes. When time constraints don't allow time to do this, I concede and mix the footage.

Del
fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS3
Charlotte Public Television


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cowcowcow
Mark Suszko
Re: mixing wide and full screen footage
on Sep 13, 2007 at 6:48:13 pm

That's a good and typical trick. Where possible, I'd break up the screen into a letterboxed 1third/ 2 thirds pair of side by side boxes. Put your SD shots of what's being talked about in a box that takes up one third of the 16:9 screen, and crop the originally 16:9 stuff to take best advantage of the remaining 2/3, and if needed use Del's trick above to unify everything with a final overlay mask.

You can also shrink the 3:4 stuff smaller, but repeat it in multiple boxes vertically or horizontally or freeform positioned. This depends on the mood and pace of the piece you're trying to make, of course.

When the 3:4 stuff needs to be full screen in a 16:9 window but looks too jaggedy and blocky when blown-up, make two identical tracks of the video, layer it so the back layer is a half-transparent, blurred, or faded monochrome version filling the whole frame, then put the smaller, sharper full color version over that in a box as big as you can stand, positioned using the Rule of Thirds. The parellel action between the two identical tracks unifies all the motion. Makes it look like something you planned to do all along rather than a last-minute fix to cover mismatched footage.



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grinner
Re: mixing wide and full screen footage
on Sep 14, 2007 at 1:42:50 pm

I either just letterbox the whole show or call it art.
I dont mind mixing 4X3 stuff with 16X9 stuff. Never have.



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c1dumbkid
Re: mixing wide and full screen footage
on Oct 3, 2007 at 12:50:57 am

I guess it kinda depends on what you think the majority of the moniters it is going to be viewed on are 16x9 or 4x3.

I'm finishing up a video where I was forced to use a native 16x9 camera and a native 4x3 camera and I know that most of the people watching it are probably going to be watching it on a 4x3. So I'm letter boxing the 4x3 footage to match the 16x9. Then that gives you a little wiggle room to do some creative stuff that will add a different dynamic to the product. I am going to add a slight white stroke on the top and bottom lines of the video which gives it kindof different look, and I can play with the background (where the letterbox bars are). You can have a soft muted motion background or whatever behind the footage, but visable where the letterbox bars should be. You could even make it change with the flow of emotion in the video.

This is my prefered way, to make it fit a 4x3, because my work gets shown on dvd's not the air waves, so the dvd player and tv will compensate to show the 4x3 on a 16x9 tv with out distortion, it just has black on the right and left sides of the frame.


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Lu Nelson
Re: mixing wide and full screen footage
on Nov 24, 2007 at 8:42:56 am

Hi Mike,

another thought with unifying these two, if you want to have something consistent and have to scale up the 4x3 footage to match you 16x9 sequence, is that you can also get away with distorting your 4x3 footage a bit to gain some vertical room.

In Final Cut Pro, the optically correct way to scale 4x3 in a 16x9 sequence is at a scale of 133% and a distort value of 33. However it will also fill the screen horizontally at other values such as: scale 130/distort 30, scale 125/distort 25 etc. I find you can even go as low as scale 120/distortion 20 before it starts to look odd. This reduces the 'blow up' effect a bit by recovering some vertical resolution, and also helps reduce the cutting off of heads in your 4x3 stuff. If consistent throughout the project the audience will not notice the distortion.


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