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To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)

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Frank Laughlin
To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jan 18, 2011 at 2:51:46 pm

Working on a 1080p documentary with a first time director who is very concerned about how HBO does things re: using standard def footage in a 1080p frame. We've looked at countless HBO docs to try and ascertain 'the formula'.

What I can see by eye is that HBO seems to be scaling up and stretching everything to fit the 16:9 screen. Haven't seen a single 4:3 frame amongst them (even talking heads -- or, should I say, fatheads :-))

Do any of you know if there is a particular aspect ratio/formula that HBO uses to format the SD?

Any experiences/recommendations for placing the SD footage?

Thanks in advance for any feedback.


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Chris Tompkins
Re: To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jan 18, 2011 at 3:15:19 pm

Why not use a background behind the 4x3 that is 1080?
Grfx or double up the images and stretch/blur/lower opacity of the background.

Chris Tompkins
Video Atlanta LLC


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Scott Davis
Re: To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jan 18, 2011 at 3:28:24 pm

I just finished onlining a huge doc with tons of SD archival material that needed to go in a 1080 frame. All I can say is it is a shot by shot decision. Landscapes, shots without people; most of the time can be stretched. Shots with people? No way. Scale and crop. I personally do not like pillar boxing or putting a "graphic" in the back. Its just my personal taste.

Scott Davis
View Scott Davis's profile on LinkedIn



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Frank Laughlin
Re: To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jan 18, 2011 at 3:51:10 pm

Thanks, Scott. But...

Several of the talking heads I'm using are full-frame in SD, meaning if I just scale, I'm going to see eyes to lower lip, maybe just nose. And, as I said, pillar boxing is verboten (with this prod company). In looking at 'high-end' docs, everything is stretched. It stunned me, I would have said 'no way', but EVERYTHING is stretched, as far as I can tell.

- Frank Laughlin
Digitonium


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Scott Davis
Re: To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jan 18, 2011 at 4:31:51 pm

There are only 4 option: Stretch, scale and crop, pillar box, or the graphic in the back ground. There is no other way. I trust you that people are stretching shots with people in them (even interview) I just would advocate to pillar box in your case. Its not like a talking head shot is "interesting" visually anyway and its a hell of a lot more preferable than having someone with a completely squished head.

As far as "hi end" docs using cards. Come on!!! They are so cheap! So unbelievably cheap now! Suck it up, drop a few hundred bucks and get one. The only reason I can see not to is if the vast bulk of your material is file based. But then without the card how are you going to monitor on a broadcast monitor to even see if your images are ok.

Scott Davis
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David Roth Weiss
Re: To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jan 18, 2011 at 4:44:33 pm

[Scott Davis] "There are only 4 option: Stretch, scale and crop, pillar box, or the graphic in the back ground. There is no other way."

Well, see the fifth way option in my post below Scott... It's actually a very elegant solution in many cases.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums. Formerly host of the Apple Final Cut Basics, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Scott Davis
Re: To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jan 18, 2011 at 4:47:58 pm

Nice!!! I never new that existed. Thanks so much David for the tip. That would have been so useful recently.

Scott Davis
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David Roth Weiss
Re: To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jan 18, 2011 at 4:54:28 pm

[Scott Davis] "Nice!!! I never new that existed. Thanks so much David for the tip."

You're very welcome sir, but the real thanks goes to fellow Cow Andy Mees for coming up with that one.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums. Formerly host of the Apple Final Cut Basics, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Nancy L. Sutton Smith
Re: To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jul 26, 2014 at 10:47:41 pm

Hi David,

"Well, see the fifth way option in my post below Scott... It's actually a very elegant solution in many cases."

I don't see that 'post below' and I would really like to know the fifth way. I am dealing with 4/3 camcorder footage and scaling and stretching just hammers it. If you could direct me to that post I would so appreciate it.
Nancy

Nancy L. Sutton Smith
Northeast Community College
Mass Media/Journalism/Post Production Instructor
Sutton Bay Media Company


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David Roth Weiss
Re: To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jul 26, 2014 at 11:33:55 pm

Hi Nancy,

Andy Mees' free Elastic Aspect plugin is no longer at the old link I originally posted, but it's still available, and still free from FX Factory at this link:
http://fxfactory.com/info/elasticaspect/

I think you'll find it to be the ideal alternative to the four traditional (and always funky) methods of adding 4x3 material to a 16x9 timeline, as it horizontally stretches those parts of the frame that are hardly noticeable, rather than stretching the entire frame and turning your subjects into "blockheads."

Let me know how you like it and if you ultimately use it.

- David

David Roth Weiss
ProMax Systems
Burbank
DRW@ProMax.com

Sales | Integration | Support

David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Frank Laughlin
Re: To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jan 18, 2011 at 4:50:32 pm

Scott: thanks for your thoughts. No idea what you're referring to re 'cards' or monitoring. Not an issue. Monitoring out to 10-bit HD monitor.

Re pillar box, I agree, but it's not an option. Producer won't do something HBO doesn't do. And I can't find a single pillarbox in any HBO doc.


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Frank Laughlin
Re: To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jan 18, 2011 at 3:31:46 pm

Thanks, but we've taken a look at all of the doesn't-fill-the-frame options. Again, in looking what 'the big boys do' (HBO, etc.) there is no 4:3 footage used (in a 4:3 format). I'm not looking for optional ways to stay with 4:3, I'm looking to see if there exists a magic formula for how much stretching is too much, etc.

It looks to my eye that HBO is scaling the video up about 275% and using an aspect ratio (per FC's aspect sizing) of about 15. Can anyone confirm? Add? Subtract? Scale :-)

- Frank Laughlin
Digitonium


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Scott Davis
Re: To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jan 18, 2011 at 3:38:59 pm

There is no "magic formula" It depends on the image. If you are scaling and cropping then you have to scale up enough to fill the 1920x1080 frame at a minimum. Sometimes you have to go bigger to get a decent composition. Doing this within FCP does not lead to the best results. If your 4x3 material is coming off of tape then a Kona/Matrox/Blackmagic/Terranex are your best options. If you are coming from a file then use Compressor. Shane Ross has a good article somewhere here in the Cow on how to do that.

Scott Davis
View Scott Davis's profile on LinkedIn



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Chris Tompkins
Re: To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jan 18, 2011 at 4:18:50 pm

I'm sure "hi-end" docs would using one of the preferred methods of: Kona/Matrox/Blackmagic/Terranex during or before ingest.

That being said,

Dropping a SD 4X3 image into a HD timeline and having a background of some kind does not mean you are submitting SD material. It will still be a rendered finished HD file.

Chris Tompkins
Video Atlanta LLC


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David Roth Weiss
Re: To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jan 18, 2011 at 4:41:29 pm

Frank,

Try a progressive stretching filter, such as Andy's Elastic Aspect at the link below. This type of filter allows you to stretch the less important areas of the frame while preserving the key areas, such as human beings. These types of tools are a great compromise, and are used on many high-end docos.

http://web.me.com/andymees/Free_and_Easy/main/Entries/2008/3/3_Andy’s_Ela...

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums. Formerly host of the Apple Final Cut Basics, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Bret Williams
Re: To Stretch, Or Not to Stretch (SD in 1080 project)
on Jan 18, 2011 at 8:31:47 pm

I used that one myself for some 1080i broadcast stuff last fall. Even on panning video. As long as something in the frame looks right, people tend to accept it was a fisheye or wideangle lens. I also did a lot of montaging. Instead of cutting between talking head and broll, show 'me both like in the Woodstock movie.

Bret Williams
Web Design . Motion Graphics . Video Editing
http://www.bretwilliams.com


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