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Dilemma. When to jump to 16x9?

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paboldenDilemma. When to jump to 16x9?
by on Jan 10, 2007 at 8:29:43 am

I have a bit of a dilemma. I'm still shooting with a vx1000 and two dsr200's. To shoot 16x9 well I would need three century or optex anamorphic lenses at about $900 each. I won't be making the jump to HDV for a year or so and don't want to make a $2,700 investment in lenses for old cameras unless I absolutely have to.


Has everyone (for the most part) made the migration to 16x9 or is anyone still offering their clients 4x3 content.

BTW, I shot corporate video delivered on DVD.

Paul Bolden

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tomRe: Dilemma. When to jump to 16x9?
by on Jan 10, 2007 at 12:30:02 pm

If your clients are happy with what you do and produce don't worry about what everyone else is doing.


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Jon ZanoneRe: Dilemma. When to jump to 16x9?
by on Jan 10, 2007 at 12:37:31 pm

If you have the luxury, just stop providing 4:3. Of course, I had a client complain because the 16:9 footage I provided had black bars at the top and bottom - she couldn't understand why the video didn't fill the whole screen...

At least start preparing your clients for the conversion - I always explain that 'they' (the FCC) will require a 16:9 signal in 2009. That way, at least there's a bigger reason for widescreen footage.

You could always mask your footage in the editing process and see what your clients think - I've found people think it adds something visually.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Dilemma. When to jump to 16x9?
by on Jan 10, 2007 at 3:11:33 pm

Um, John, the FCC says nothing of the kind regarding making 16:9 OR High-Def mandatory.

What is happening after the deadline is all analog stations are supposed to stop transmitting analog TV and switch to digital transmission. There is a lot of confusion about this, but basically, the aspect ratio of the screen need not change just because the transmissions are now in digital.

Not all digital will be high-def in two years, indeed, I'd say the likeliest thing we'll see is more 4 by 3 programming than ever, because the digital format's compression allows the stations (if they choose) to divide up the bandwidth of their signal into one high-def wide-screen transmission or between 4 and 6 STANDARD-def "sub-channels". So if you live in a small town with one TV station, they could, after the switch, act like a mini version of a cable TV company, and give you 6 sub-channels in regular def 4x3: an all-kids subchannel, a news sub, a weather loop sub, a repeating loop sub of the day's Oprah or soap so you're never more than 30 minutes away from the start of the show, and with scrambling and subscription systems, even "adult" subs would be possible.

The big question this brings up is how do the guys with the white belts and shoes charge advertisers for these subchannels, when except for scrambled subscriptions, there's no good way to measure viewership? In the case of the looped Oprah channel, do you offer new ad buys and slots for each repetition, or sell the slots one time for multiple plays? The rates will no doubt plummet to the level of whatlocal radio spots cost now, maybe less.
We are, as the Chinese curse suggests, about to "live in intersting times".

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Jon ZanoneRe: Dilemma. When to jump to 16x9?
by on Jan 11, 2007 at 12:43:24 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Um, John, the FCC says nothing of the kind regarding making 16:9 OR High-Def mandatory."

Exactly... It's just easier to make that change by using the vagaries of the magical, all powerful 'they' to justify a transistion to new technology. It's a little bit of a white lie, but it sometimes helps in moving the cause forward with the uniformed holders of the purse strings....


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Mark SuszkoRe: Dilemma. When to jump to 16x9?
by on Jan 11, 2007 at 5:09:21 pm

Let me ask you this: why worry about the aspect ratio or your camera at all? If the client wants it wide screen, say "yes of course we can do that", then go rent the apropriate camera and lens and pass on those costs in your billing. What, you were going to buy the camera to own and NOT charge more for the better features and lens? No, you're smarter than the average bear. So on paper, to the client, his costs would be the same, right?

I sound like a stuck record, I know (hm, time to update that metaphor)but I strongly feel producers obsess too much about physical ownership of the camera. Airline pilots don't own their jets. Guys with "ASC" behind their names don't usually own a couple Panavisions. Maybe a Bolex or some smaller camera, from earlier in their careers, but not usually a main production camera. They tend to lease or rent, depending on the length of time they use it. If the amount of use means it's cheaper to own than continue renting, then it makes sense to buy the camera instead. Otherwise, the money is put to better use invested in other things, like light kits, good tripods, good mics, etc. Things that don't get obsoleted after one NAB show.:-)

Not sinking your working capital in the camera is a GOOD thing! By renting, you always can select the apropriate tool for the specific job, instead of having to make do with something you chose a year or two back and are "stuck" with. If you own the camera, how many days per year is it actually working, versus sitting in storage, not earning money, but costing you depreciation, maintenance, insurance, etc.? My wife and I were talking to the owner of a Chinese Restaurant one day. Wife remarked the owner worked long hours and never closed on Sundays or holidays. Owner said: "They charge me building rent seven days a week, so I work to pay it seven days a week. Otherwise I will never get ahead."

There is something to be said for owning a camera if you're using it daily, and the more hands-on experience you get on a camera, the beter you handle it. But after a couple (okay two decades) years of shooting, they all pretty much seem the same to me: pictures go in this end, electrons go out that end, the only things that change are some switchology and menu settings, and they thankfully get smaller and lighter as I get older and frailer. How you line up and frame shots doesn't change. So, I have never had that fetish type love for the camera where I need to have it physically present to feel or prove to someone that I'm a videographer. I am not defined by my tools. If anything, I am defined by the results, the product of the tools I use.

So far in my career, all my work for every client has been 3x4 and that looks to remain the same for 95% of my work for the next five years. I have no client mandate for widescreen. If they ask for it, and are willing to pay for it, I can make some calls and deliver it, using rentals. They don't have to know it's rented; their bill is going to be the same either way.

Doing that next week in fact; renting a Sony HD rig for a day, for a 30-second spot project for one client that wants a wide-screen spot. We're still talking with the clients about the fact that while we will produce it in HD wide screen for them to order, as they ask, the actual stations that will be running the finished spot will be airing dubs made in SD analog, and may well ask for center-punched 4x3 versions in analog as well. We could easily fake the widescreen look by framing to protect for that ratio while shooting in 3x4 then matting it in post. In SD resolution it would seem the same to the target market.

So why even shoot it in HD if it is never going to be broadcast or watched in HD? Meh, (shrugs) personally, I will enjoy learning to do something new, and it will give us some flexibility and longevity with the original elements for some as yet unforseen future uses. That's nice. But if the major issue was saving money, for sure I'd be shooting it with the non-HD assets I already have.

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paboldenRe: Dilemma. When to jump to 16x9?
by on Jan 12, 2007 at 4:01:12 pm

Thanks for the responses everyone.

Mark wrote:
Let me ask you this: why worry about the aspect ratio or your camera at all? If the client wants it wide screen

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