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Weird aspect ratio

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Brandon Reed
Weird aspect ratio
on Aug 16, 2013 at 1:55:17 pm

I've been having this trouble for some time now. I have 16:9 footage, that plays as 16:9 in VLC, that I am importing int After Effects. When I make a new composition strait from the source file it makes it with these composition settings:
Preset: NTSC DV Widescreen
Width: 720px
Height: 480px
Pixel Aspect Ratio D1/DV NTSC Widescreen 1.21

Now this seems all correct to me to make the composition widescreen 16:9. When I go to look at the composition it looks to be a cross between 16:9 and 4:3 and the picture looks squished. But if I hit the “Toggle pixel aspect ratio” button it displays it in 16:9 and the picture looks correct.

Now when I render the composition and play it in VLC using the default aspect ratio it looks like the cross between 16:9 and 4:3 and the picture looks squished. Now if I switch the aspect ratio to 16:9 in VLC the picture looks correct.

I have played with the settings a little bit and switched the Pixel's to Square Pixels and the composition then looks correct and renders out to the correct 16:9. Should I be using the square pixel's setting? Why when I make a composition out of the source file does it not look correct?


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Ivan Myles
Re: Weird aspect ratio
on Aug 16, 2013 at 2:33:27 pm

It sounds like everything is functioning as it should. NTSC SD footage is saved with 720x480 rectangular pixels whether the video is 854x480 or 640x480. The aspect ratio flag tells the media player to stretch the image to widescreen or squish it to standard. Changing the flag to square pixels produces the result described in your post: you get a 3:2 image that either looks like a squished 16:9 or a stretched 4:3.


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Brandon Reed
Re: Weird aspect ratio
on Aug 16, 2013 at 2:59:32 pm

I guess it may be squished into 4:3 but it still looks a little to wide to be 4:3. Any clue why I would be getting a 4:3 image when I make a composition out of the source file when the source file is 16:9?


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Weird aspect ratio
on Aug 16, 2013 at 6:35:49 pm

Because on the source file, the pixels are intended to be wider. They're not intended to be square. It happens a lot with video. You get used to the fact after a while.

Dave LaRonde
Former Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Brandon Reed
Re: Weird aspect ratio
on Aug 22, 2013 at 4:22:49 pm

So why is when I create a composition from either a video that is 720x480 16:9 or a composition that's 720x480 widescreen does it show up in a format that I believe is 3:2? All I'm trying to do is make it widescreen witch is 16:9 correct?


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Weird aspect ratio
on Aug 23, 2013 at 3:17:22 pm

Easy: you're looking at the comp in SQUARE pixels. That's because you need to toggle on the Pixel Aspect Ratio Compensation switch. It's at the bottom of the comp window, and it looks like a horizontal arrow with points at both ends.

A warning: if you add text or graphics, they'll look jagged at the edges. It happens. They render out nice 'n smooth.

Dave LaRonde
Former Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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