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To Letterbox or not to Letterbox Please Advise

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Broggi Khaikin
To Letterbox or not to Letterbox Please Advise
on Nov 14, 2012 at 1:04:05 am

I am finalizing my first short film which I plan to submit internationally to major film festivals. Such as Berlin, Venice, London, etc. blah. etc.

I am coming to the end and am trying to decide the best procedure for 'letter boxing" and and whether or not I should even do it.

I came across this tutorial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlMI9q01LoE) which lead to an awesome pack of PNGs and PSDs to overlay onto my footage. Which I really like the idea of to avoid re-rendering everything as opposed to using the Matte effect in FCP, and having control of the videos position underneath.

However, my question here to this wonderful community, should I letterbox? And if so, whats the best procedure?

1920x1080, HDTV 1080i (16:9), B&W 14 mins.

Thank you, I love CC.

--
weightclasses.us


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Michael Gissing
Re: To Letterbox or not to Letterbox Please Advise
on Nov 14, 2012 at 1:26:47 am

Did you shoot/ frame for a screen aspect other than 16:9?


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Broggi Khaikin
Re: To Letterbox or not to Letterbox Please Advise
on Nov 14, 2012 at 1:38:50 am

I don't fully understand your question.

But essentially no.

We shot in 16:9 on Canon 5D and 7D.

Thank you for your promt response.

Forgive my naivete.

--
weightclasses.us


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Bret Williams
Re: To Letterbox or not to Letterbox Please Advise
on Nov 14, 2012 at 2:44:02 am

Then what is there to letterbox. And, I can think of no reason to ever letterbox.


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Broggi Khaikin
Re: To Letterbox or not to Letterbox Please Advise
on Nov 14, 2012 at 3:10:20 am

Just to play devils advocate... "I can think of no reason to ever letterbox": DVD's?

Thx Bret, my intuition was not to, I said to myself - do not put big fake black bars on your frame... : )

If anyone has experience with FF's around the world very interested in their opinion.

--
weightclasses.us


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Rafael Amador
Re: To Letterbox or not to Letterbox Please Advise
on Nov 14, 2012 at 3:18:43 am

The only reason for letterboxin is to display 16x9 on old TV sets and projectors that are restricted to 4x3.
I wouldn't letterbox.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Michael Gissing
Re: To Letterbox or not to Letterbox Please Advise
on Nov 14, 2012 at 3:19:37 am

DVDs are standard def so 16:9 format is done with anamorphic (often called full height) 4:3. Letterboxing an HD 16:9 to 4:3 SD basically reduces the resolution by not using about 15% of the available pixels.

On a 16:9 monitor the picture has to be zoomed up. There is almost no reason to make DVDs letterbox to display 16:9 anymore.

However my query was do you want to letterbox a 16:9 show to say an academy widescreen framing like 2:1? If so a matte can be applied but if the program wasn't framed for this then there may be lots of reframing & keyframed moves to adjust framing.


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Brent Dunn
Re: To Letterbox or not to Letterbox Please Advise
on Nov 14, 2012 at 3:51:50 pm

If your shooting wide screen, which is pretty standard, then it isn't necessary. This was done when 4:3 standard def was the norm and you wanted to fit the widescreen or Pan and Scan format onto a 4:3 TV in order to limit the cropping that would occur to fit the format.

Brent Dunn
Owner / Director / Editor
DunnRight Films
DunnRight Video.com
Video Marketing Toolbox.net

Sony EX-1,
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 7D
Mac Pro
with Final Cut Studio Adobe CS6 Production






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Bret Williams
Re: To Letterbox or not to Letterbox Please Advise
on Nov 15, 2012 at 5:29:24 am

DVDs are not letterboxed. Common misconception. DVDs are 720x480 anamorphic 16:9 OR 720x480 4:3. The DVD player scales and/or letterboxes the content depending on the settings you provide the player when you hook it up. It asks you if you have a widescreen or 4:3 TV. You can also choose if you'd like 16:9 material displayed on 4:3 as letterbox or pan and scan (crop off sides).

If you create letterboxed 4:3 material for a DVD and play it on an HDTV, not only would you be blowing up SD to HD, which is bad enough, but you would have black bars on the sides (because it is after all just a 4:3 image with black borders) and you'd have the fake letterbox at the top and bottom. A nice little rectangle of video with a big black frame. Ugly.

Anyone with HD cable has seen it on commercials. You're watching a SD feed on HDTV so you have the pillar box, fine. But then you have a commercial that was originally created for HD, but to make an SD feed version they just shrunk it back in a letterbox. Usually because they didn't keep the graphics within 4:3 title safe so they could just crop off the sides for the SD version.


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Scott Sheriff
Re: To Letterbox or not to Letterbox Please Advise
on Nov 14, 2012 at 2:30:14 am

Two things.

You have to ask yourself, "why do i want/need to letterbox this footage?".
Letterbox is usually done for two reasons. One to overcome a mismatch in aspect ratios, between the material, and where/how you want to show it. And the other is to achieve a 'look'.
If you are doing neither, I don't see the point.

The other thing is that any alteration of you footage, whether it's some type of cropping, or a matte to produce an aspect ratio more like scope from your 16x9 footage is still going to require some rendering. No free lunch.

Scott Sheriff
SST Digital Media
Multi-Camera Director, VFX and Post Production

The Affordable Camera Dolly is your just right solution!


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair


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