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Output Blanking - How to Choose the Right Aspect Ratio?

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Dereck Hoekstra
Output Blanking - How to Choose the Right Aspect Ratio?
on Sep 2, 2016 at 3:08:09 am

Trying to figure out the best aspect ratio to output my project to. This is the first time I'm delivering to a lot of different platforms (web, blu-ray, film festivals). Currently using DaVinci Resolve Lite so I'm going to be limited to a max res of UHD (3840 x 2160) for the time being.

My project was shot between 4480 x 1920 (2.33) and 3072 x 1782 (1.72), so i'm thinking of producing at UHD as a happy medium between the two resolutions so I don't have to scale the 3k media up too much to meet the 4.5k media. Both of those aspect ratios are not common for delivery so there's a lot of panning and scanning I know that needs to be done.

I nervous of getting myself stuck by scaling to the "wrong" aspect ratio that say a certain film festival/theater requires of me. I'd prefer to deliver this as close to cinema widescreen as possible, 2.35, 2.39 or 2.40.

(1) Whats the most common cinema widescreen ratio that theaters/cinemas will request or recommend?
(2) Is there anything to be concerned about when delivering to Blu-ray? Aspect ratios and formats to avoid?
(3) What would the potential issues be say if I pan and scanned this to an uncommon aspect ratio like 2.33, the native ratio of my 4.5k footage, and set my timeline to a custom res of 3840 x 1648? Would there be a lot of distortion issues when playing on different devices/projectors?
(4) Can you make custom "Output Blanking" ratios in DaVinci, or do you have to use the ones given?

Thanks!


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Marc Wielage
Re: Output Blanking - How to Choose the Right Aspect Ratio?
on Sep 2, 2016 at 4:50:00 am

What does the cinematographer say? This is more of a creative choice than a technical one.

If you're releasing in 1.78 (HD and UHD), then you'll actually be doing a lot of tilting & scanning -- not panning per se.

To me, the ultimate answer lies with these questions: 1) how was the framing during production? 2) what are the intentions of the story? 3) what will be the biggest potential audience for the show?

If the answer to the third question is home video, to me, it makes more sense to frame for 1.78, shoot for 1.78, and release in 1.78. But I've always felt that very few films really need to be in 2.39; the rare exception are wide-vista Westerns, sprawling action/adventures, and historical epics. Intimate human dramas, comedies, romances, and "typical" indie productions... not so much.


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Joseph Owens
Re: Output Blanking - How to Choose the Right Aspect Ratio?
on Sep 5, 2016 at 3:32:16 am

Yeah... ecchhh.

[Marc Wielage] "What does the cinematographer say? This is more of a creative choice than a technical one. "

Grade, of course in the lowest aspect ratio, and then keep cropping/letterboxing from there. We've had this issue forever and the worst compromise solution was "common top line". Too late, you got me started.

Sometimes I wonder [Roger Daltrey] if we are going to have to start demanding ground glass references again. Cause there ain't no cure for...

jPo

"I always pass on free advice -- its never of any use to me" Oscar Wilde.


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Marc Wielage
Re: Output Blanking - How to Choose the Right Aspect Ratio?
on Sep 6, 2016 at 5:40:17 am

Joe, I always at least ask for a framing chart, because I never know what the DP really intended on the set. I've gotten quite a few Red 1.90:1 projects in the last year, and some clients are baffled when told that their distributors expect 1.78:1 for HD release.

I'm surprised that more people don't shoot 5K and then crop on all four sides to 4K 1.78, simply because they'll have a lot more room to reframe in post. But that would require thought, a custom reticle, and a chart on set.


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Dereck Hoekstra
Re: Output Blanking - How to Choose the Right Aspect Ratio?
on Sep 6, 2016 at 6:24:50 pm

Thanks for the input so far guys,

The cinematographer and director intended it to be outputted to widescreen since the strong majority (90%+ of the media) was shot at the 2.33 aspect ratio. At this point, i'm thinking of producing at 2.33 because it doesn't sound like its going to lead to any serious consequences at this point (e.g. distorted playback, having to redo a ton of work over again). If a theater/distributor asks me to deliver a file at 16:9, I'll adjust the vertical resolution of the timeline to match their request and add black bars/output blanking to the top and bottom of the frame while still maintaining the 2.33 image inside. If someone requests a file at 2.35, 2.39, 2.40, etc. I'll create a new timeline with a wider output blanking setting and tilt the vertical resolution of the image to best fit that tighter aspect ratio.


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Marc Wielage
Re: Output Blanking - How to Choose the Right Aspect Ratio?
on Sep 7, 2016 at 2:01:20 am

I would tell them not to use 2.33 since it's not an accepted aspect ratio for theatrical or home video. 2.39 or 2.40 can work just fine; some have used 2.35 in the past, but I generally tell them that 2.40 makes more sense for home video because the math is easier.

More from Brad Allen's excellent "Resolution/Aspect Ratio Cheat Sheet," which I use all the time and highly recommend:

http://unravel.com.au/files/Unravel_Resolution_CheatSheet.pdf


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Dereck Hoekstra
Re: Output Blanking - How to Choose the Right Aspect Ratio?
on Sep 7, 2016 at 8:31:17 pm

Thanks Marc! I'll pass that by them, I have no problem producing at 2.40 instead if that's going to be a easier ratio for theaters/distributors to handle.


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