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Aspect Ratio Blues

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Richard Hendrick
Aspect Ratio Blues
on May 11, 2011 at 3:27:33 pm

I am a producer who is now forced to do a lot more editing (and shooting) than heretofore. This means I know just enough to make me dangerous in these endeavors and even more respectful of those who do them full time.

I have a project shot in xdcam ex 1080p 30. For reasons I cannot now recall, I edited this (FCP 6.06) in SD in the timeline. The sequence settings seem to revert to 3:2 instead of 4:3, but in any case they are NTSC DV (3:2); Pixel Aspect Ratio: NTSC – CCIR 601 / DV (720x480); Field Dominance: None; 29.97.

It looks fine – undistorted – except that it has black strips top and bottom as well as on the sides. This is the picture I get on a flat-screen as well when I make a DVD. I am assuming this is not what I want or should have, since it seems the picture could be larger on the screen, but I don’t seem to be able to get back to anything else, without distortion. I have checked fora here and have not found a solution. Removing attributes looked promising but I ended up with a picture too large for the frame. This piece runs more than an hour and a half, so I am not inspired by the thought of somehow re-editing, though I am resigned to several hours of re-rendering.

The end-use of the material will be a DVD with closed captions (actually subtitles) as well as made available on line.

Thanks in advance.


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Stephen Smith
Re: Aspect Ratio Blues
on May 11, 2011 at 3:51:52 pm

Are you saying you have HD footage in a NTSC DV timeline and everything looks good. But then when you burn it to a DVD and play it on a 16 x9 TV you get black on the top and bottom and left and right and you would like it to feel the whole screen with out any black?

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Motion Tutorials


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Alan Okey
Re: Aspect Ratio Blues
on May 11, 2011 at 4:55:42 pm

You edited in a 4:3 SD sequence instead of a 16:9 anamorphic SD sequence. When you dropped your HD source clips into the timeline, FCP automatically letterboxed the source clips.

Try the following: Create a new anamorphic SD sequence (I'd suggest creating an NTSC DV 29.97 anamorphic sequence). Drop one of your HD source clips into the timeline. FCP should apply the proper scaling and distortion automatically. Select the clip in the timeline, and copy it (command-C).

Next, go back to your original sequence and check the anamorphic button in the sequence settings dialog box. Then highlight all of your clips in the timeline, right-click and choose "paste attributes." Check "basic motion" and "distort,' then click OK. This should apply the correct resizing and distortion settings to all of the clips in your original sequence.

I'd also sugest that you change the sequence compressor setting to ProRes 422 (if it's not already). You definitely don't want to apply DV compression to your XDCAM EX footage prior to compressing it for DVD.

In the future, you'll get better quality if you simply edit in a native 1080p30 XDCAM EX sequence, export a self-contained quicktime and use Compressor (with frame controls enabled and resizing set to Best) to create your DVD assets directly form the HD source file. Compressor's scaling algorithm (when set to Best) is much better quality than that of FCP.


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Stephen Smith
Re: Aspect Ratio Blues
on May 11, 2011 at 5:08:58 pm

I agree with editing in HD. Then exporting out and letting compressor down convert it. It looks much better then letting FCP down convert the footage. FCP adds stair stepping. Best of luck.

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Motion Tutorials


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Richard Hendrick
Re: Aspect Ratio Blues
on May 11, 2011 at 5:40:12 pm

Thanks Alan. This looks like it puts me on the right track, though trying it once, the picture looks like it might be a bit distorted in the vertical, i.e., the faces appear a bit long. A few questions: Should the sequence setting be NTSC DV (3:2) or NTSC (4:3)? Second, what pixel aspect ratio?

3. What should the picture in the Canvass look like - e.g., in relation to any blue or gray borders and to overlays?

4. What does copying the first clip do without pasting it anywhere?

5. I have some titles and a stills in the sequence that naturally get distorted; will I be rebuilding them or could I deselect them before pasting attributes?

I will definitely not edit in anything but native in the future.

Thanks very much.


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Alan Okey
Re: Aspect Ratio Blues
on May 11, 2011 at 6:25:43 pm

[Richard Hendrick] "Thanks Alan. This looks like it puts me on the right track, though trying it once, the picture looks like it might be a bit distorted in the vertical, i.e., the faces appear a bit long. A few questions: Should the sequence setting be NTSC DV (3:2) or NTSC (4:3)? Second, what pixel aspect ratio?"

Sequence setting should match the following image:



If you open a clip from your timeline in the viewer by double-clicking on it, the scale and aspect ratio attributes should match those shown in the following image:




[Richard Hendrick] "3. What should the picture in the Canvass look like - e.g., in relation to any blue or gray borders and to overlays?"

I don't understand your question.

[Richard Hendrick] "4. What does copying the first clip do without pasting it anywhere?"

It copies the attributes of the source clip, which you can then paste using the "paste attributes" command.

[Richard Hendrick] "5. I have some titles and a stills in the sequence that naturally get distorted; will I be rebuilding them or could I deselect them before pasting attributes?"

You could either deselect them before pasting attributes, or select them afterwards and use the "remove attributes" option.


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Michael Gissing
Re: Aspect Ratio Blues
on May 11, 2011 at 9:31:31 pm

Why are people still using DV timelines? So wrong. It is a codec that will ruin good pictures, adds a further degrade by transcoding and extra render time in order to soften and add artifacts that make the mpeg encode even blockier. Only consider DV sequences when you footage is DV and even then I don't recommend it over ProRes422.

Best approach is to edit in a sequence that matches the camera codec. This requires the least rendering. In this case it also avoids letting FCP do the HD to SD scaling. So in future, (or if you want to sort this one out with best quality) copy everything into a matching XDCam sequence and remove scaling/ distort attributes, then follow the workflow outlined in the FAQ, using Compressor to make the SD mpeg file.


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Alan Okey
Re: Aspect Ratio Blues
on May 11, 2011 at 9:49:31 pm

[Michael Gissing] "Why are people still using DV timelines? So wrong. It is a codec that will ruin good pictures, adds a further degrade by transcoding and extra render time in order to soften and add artifacts that make the mpeg encode even blockier. Only consider DV sequences when you footage is DV and even then I don't recommend it over ProRes422.
"


That is precisely why I recommended to Richard that he change the sequence codec to ProRes 422. Obviously it's best to work in a native HD sequence and let Compressor do the downconversion to SD. However, in Richard's case, he had already prepared graphics at the SD sequence size, so it would have been a lot of backtracking for him to go back to a native 1080p 30 sequence at that point. He'll know to work in a native HD sequence next time.

As for why people still use DV timelines, it's most likely because it's the default easy setup in FCP, and people new to editing/FCP often simply choose the default. Things that may seem obvious to seasoned editors aren't always intuitive to those with less experience. Fortunately, they have the Cow as a valuable resource!


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Michael Gissing
Re: Aspect Ratio Blues
on May 11, 2011 at 9:55:03 pm

[Alan Okey] "Fortunately, they have the Cow as a valuable resource!"

Hear hear..


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Chris Borjis
Re: Aspect Ratio Blues
on May 11, 2011 at 10:59:31 pm

funny experience with that.

I had someone edit an entire 30 minute program.

the footage was 720P HDV.

They had edited the entire thing in a DV sequence and didn't realize anything was wrong until I pointed it out.



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Richard Hendrick
Re: Aspect Ratio Blues
on May 12, 2011 at 3:29:51 pm

Alan (et al), thanks so much; it appears to work. I do believe I will have to re-do the graphics and titles. Neither option you suggested produces a usable result, but that is small potatoes. As it turns out and thanks to you and the Cow, I've gotten a rather cheap lesson.

I will be putting an STL file of subtitles on this in DVD Studio Pro before going to final DVD. Any precautions?


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Chris Borjis
Re: Aspect Ratio Blues
on May 12, 2011 at 4:42:33 pm

[Richard Hendrick] "I will be putting an STL file of subtitles on this in DVD Studio Pro before going to final DVD. Any precautions?"

I'm glad you asked that....

When the .stl is made, make sure that the timecode entries match the sequence.

If the sequence is drop-frame, make sure the timecode entries in the .stl also are drop-frame otherwise it will fail on import.



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Richard Hendrick
Re: Aspect Ratio Blues
on May 12, 2011 at 8:30:40 pm

Hey Alan, as I said, it looks fine and I have re-done the graphics and titles. I do want to confirm one thing. When I brought the HD source clip into the sequence I created with your settings, FCP asked if I wanted to change the sequnce settings to match the clip settings. I assume the correct answer is "NO", since I just made the settings I wanted the clip to conform to. Right?


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Alan Okey
Re: Aspect Ratio Blues
on May 13, 2011 at 2:46:08 am

[Richard Hendrick] "I do want to confirm one thing. When I brought the HD source clip into the sequence I created with your settings, FCP asked if I wanted to change the sequnce settings to match the clip settings. I assume the correct answer is "NO", since I just made the settings I wanted the clip to conform to. Right?"

Correct, don't change the sequence settings in this case.


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Richard Hendrick
Re: Aspect Ratio Blues
on May 26, 2011 at 11:55:47 am

I'm back. I had to wait for some last second changes from client. When I exported sequence to QT Movie, it displays on my computer in QT Player with a slightly distorted (squeezed so people appear taller and thinner) picture. The settings for QT export were

Setting: Current Settings
Include: Audio and Video
Markers: Chapter Markers

Recompress All Frames - Unchecked
Make Movie Self-Contained - Checked

The QT Movie Inspector shows
Format: Apple ProRes 422, 720 x 480, Millions
16-bit Integer (Little Endian), Stereo, 48.000 kHz

Current Size: 720 x 480 (Actual)

When I played this sequence in FCP, it looked fine.

I am really running into serious deadline problems and would greatly appreciate any help.


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