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Conversion 16:9 to 4:3

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Pat FordConversion 16:9 to 4:3
by on Jul 3, 2008 at 6:31:29 am

Have done some web and forum search and I have not found exactly what I want. Am assembling footage for a corporate video. The client has given me several DVDs. Some of these are 16:9 and some are 4:3.

What is the best way to convert the 16:9 for use in a 4:3 video? The par (pixel) dimension of the the 16:9 is 1.

I am asking about resizing not DVD to AVI conversion. I have Super file converter as well as Premiere CS3.

Thanks for any insight.

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Pat FordRe: Conversion 16:9 to 4:3
by on Jul 3, 2008 at 6:54:05 am

Sorry guys, don't know where that par dimension came from.

Here are some descriptors from Super file converter:
Width : 720 pixels
Height : 480
Height : 480 pixels
Pixel Aspect Ratio : 0.844
Display Aspect ratio : 1.778
Display Aspect ratio : 16/9

Does that make it any clearer?

Thanks guys

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Greg BallRe: Conversion 16:9 to 4:3
by on Jul 3, 2008 at 3:43:48 pm

If you try to resize a 16:9 video, you won't be happy with the results. If it's critical that both the 16:9 and 4:3 look like they have come from the same source, you may want to consider just letter boxing the 4:3 footage to match the letter box from the 16:9.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Conversion 16:9 to 4:3
by on Jul 4, 2008 at 12:24:04 am

You have a couple choices for the 16:9 footage.

You could center-punch it. That is, show only a 4:3 window view of the center of the 16:9 picture. This would be like when you rent a movie that has been made "full-screen" by the pan-and-scan process. Easy to do in any NLE with just a wipe or crop.

You take a risk with a center-punch not containing all of the vital picture information due to he way the original was framed. Which is one reason why I hate pan-and-scan movie rentals.

OTOH, you have an advantage that you can shift that underlying large wide picture around on it's own layer to try and get the best 3:4 window out of it, as well as to add pans and tilts and even zooms that were not in the original. This method also doesn't hurt the final picture quality as much as scaling might.

When the original shooter is composing his or her frame, some like to shoot to "protect" the 4:3 ratio. That is to say, they shoot wide but arrange the key parts of the shot to still fall into a 3:4 center spot. You do that mostly when you are not sure but suspect that this will get a lot of use in 4:3. It is definitely an aesthetic choice you must make, and some folks say you are crippling the ability to make a better picture in wide screen if everything must be shot for "protection". A policy discussion on this is best held and agreed to before a single frame is shot.

Scaling is the other choice, re-sizing the entire frame. I think generally this is not the way to go, because it needs to radically shrink your widescreen picture to fit into a letterbox or pillarboxed window, which only keeps drawing attention to the difference in proportion. At the same time you make everything in that shot too tiny by comparison, and add distracting black bars.

If the majority of the footage is wide screen, I say, conform the 4:3 footage to match the widescreen. There are some tricks that let you get away with that. If most of the footage is 4:3 ratio, I would rather see the wide screen cropped to mach the smaller framing.

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Pat FordRe: Conversion 16:9 to 4:3
by on Jul 4, 2008 at 8:59:26 pm

Thanks for your contributions, gentlemen.

One thing I did not tell you….the footage is usually made up of the content of what once was two 16x9 screens. Sometimes these are arranged vertically; sometimes they are arranged horizontally (stacked). It’s the content of multiple screens in an exhibit.

So, this is what I have done. See if there is a problem….

I imported the footage (720x480) into Premiere. I interpreted the par to 1.2. I then scaled the video so that it all fit in the frame.

The down side to this, as someone mentioned, is that the video is much reduced in size, but all of the original footage is within the frame. And thus, the original composition is intact. For my purposes right now…I am logging…I think this is best.

Sound reasonable?

And have a great 4th weekend!!!

And Mark....I thank you for for contributions here and on other forums. Your answers are always well-written and knowledgeable. Furthermore, you do not succumb to the temptation of criticizing a relative noob (like me) for his lack of knowledge.

I think you should consider doing instructional books. Thanks for your help here and elsewhere.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Conversion 16:9 to 4:3
by on Jul 6, 2008 at 1:35:56 am

A thanks like that is like a paycheck for me, you're most welcome.

I know a little about a lot of things, but I don't know that I know enough to make a coherent book out of that. Certainly not an instructional one. Maybe 'Writing "For Dummies" books, for Dummies'? You know, how to write a "(whatever it is) For Dummies" book. Like Kramer's Coffee Table Book....:-)

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