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DV NTSC tape has letterboxing and stretching...how to fix?

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Benjamin Reichman
DV NTSC tape has letterboxing and stretching...how to fix?
on Feb 2, 2012 at 2:45:48 pm

I am working with two clients who happen to have DV NTSC footage shot widescreen anamorphic. One client shot with the DVX100, the other with the Sony Z7U.

What I'm seeing in both projects are captures from tape that are letterboxed--in the actual Quicktime that was captured--and also stretched. I've included an image for reference:



I haven't had much experience with anamorphic widescreen in standard def, but when I've used it, it's come into Final Cut Pro without error. It's 16:9, no built-in letterboxing.

In these clips, it looks like the letterbox is 'burned in' (part of the actual video frame) and the image appears to be stretched even with the letterboxing.

I went back to one tape (from the Z7U) and tried capturing a portion with the DV NTSC capture setting, and again with the DV NTSC Widescreen setting--and had bad (stretched, letterboxed) results both times.

What am I misunderstanding here? Shouldn't these clips, opened in Quicktime player, have the appropriate aspect ratio and not have built-in letterboxing??


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Bret Williams
Re: DV NTSC tape has letterboxing and stretching...how to fix?
on Feb 2, 2012 at 3:53:09 pm

You're capturing a 4:3 letterboxed tape as anamorphic 16:9 when it clearly is not. It's getting stretched because you're telling the system it's 16:9 when it is 4:3. It would appear that either the camera doesn't support 16:9 anamorphic or that someone chose "letterbox" instead of anamorphic. Letterboxing in camera is of course completely useless and pointless unfortunately.


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Benjamin Reichman
Re: DV NTSC tape has letterboxing and stretching...how to fix?
on Feb 2, 2012 at 4:21:02 pm

So it's possible for the camera to be set to letterbox in 4:3? I don't have much experience with SD and tape cameras...

So we should bring it in as 4:3 and then resize to fit into our 16:9 SD widescreen sequence? Is that right?

And just to confirm: the letterbox is a camera setting that I can't (obviously) undo now, because it's in the tape and not in the way Quicktime Player or FCP is displaying it?

Thanks a lot,
Ben


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jerry wise
Re: DV NTSC tape has letterboxing and stretching...how to fix?
on Feb 2, 2012 at 5:04:49 pm

since you have standard def tape machines you probably also have a standard def tv. does the tape playback look this way when you look at it on a standard def tv.?
maybe it's the way you captured the footage into final cut.
i took your pic and sized it and changed the aspect ratio and it looks normal fitting into my HD monitor.


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Benjamin Reichman
Re: DV NTSC tape has letterboxing and stretching...how to fix?
on Feb 2, 2012 at 5:07:23 pm

Thanks for the responses. I tried playing the tape in a deck (no capturing, just playback) and got exactly what Bret said: a 4:3 video image which happens to have black letterboxing at the top and bottom.

What's the purpose of in-camera letterboxing? Was it so you could shoot in what was visually 16:9 and yet still output a 4:3 720x480 video for broadcast??

Just trying to figure out why the camera would even be capable of doing this in the first place.


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jerry wise
Re: DV NTSC tape has letterboxing and stretching...how to fix?
on Feb 2, 2012 at 5:38:38 pm

it seems the shooters might have not known what they were doing. we shoot SD anamorphic when no HD camera is available and we can easily mix that with true HD clips. why an SD camera would be able to shoot letterbox is a mystery to me.


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Bret Williams
Re: DV NTSC tape has letterboxing and stretching...how to fix?
on Feb 2, 2012 at 9:48:36 pm

Kinda ridiculous. But I think my old 10 year old DV camera did this. Very consumer option. For people that are just shooting and dubbing and wanted that same look they got from their Widescreen DVDs on their 4:3 TV. You're basically throwing away 1/3rd of the data from a SD signal.

I actually had a professional do it for a project. They shot days this way thinking they were shooting 16:9. We were going to the internet thank goodness cuz the blowup didn't look very good on an HDTV. Fine on SD of course.


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