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Regular 16mm to LetterBox HD Output


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#1 Marquette Trishaun

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 02:37 PM

After playing with the aspect ratio on standard definition 4:3 aspect ratio video on my HD television, I have the following questions regarding a 16mm project I am shooting. I own a 16mm camera package and plan to shoot my last short film intended for festivals and DVD only on the camera before saving up to convert it to super.

Is there a significant difference in the quality of the image if you crop to the 16x9 aspect ratio and blow up during the film scan to a 1080P wide screen log file, or perform the manipulation in post say on your Final Cut system.

The reason I ask is because to the untrained eye, the manipulation games that HD televisions play to show 4:3 video in widescreen is pretty good. How does this work with regards to the fidelity of the talent you are filming. In other words, can a Angelina Jolie become distorted and fat due to a bad conversion algorithm by a cheap model TV that simply scretched the image.

How do I insure my images will maintain my artistic intent on both the HD and regular definition set. Is there a universal format I'm not aware of.

Thanks for reading this convoluted question, now save me please!!!
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#2 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 06:25 PM

This has definitely been discussed here before, try searching the archives.

Using finer grain (read slower) stocks yields the best results for this method, poor man's super 16, if you will. But I have had good experience overexposing 500 and 400 ASA negative stocks 2/3's of a stop if zooming in / re-framing later.

It is definitely better to do re-framing at the telecine stage, which you can attend and therefore supervise.

If you are unable to attend the telecine session and if you plan to for the footage to be re-framed to 16x9 at that level without you supervising it -depending how much you trust the op to do a good job- you will have to frame carefully and consistently. I have found that taking digital stills on set to submit to the colorist for color correction and framing helps tremendously if you can't be there when it is being transfered. Still nothing beats you being there.

You can do zoom in's during post if you ask for a inverse anamorphic (full frame, distorted horizontally) 16x9 transfer, but that works best when you are doing 1080 transfers.

If you do a good job lighting, shooting, framing and choosing and exposing your stocks(s) carefully, in addition to choosing a telecine lab that has a good grain reduction software on their film scanner rig, no one will be able to tell that you shot R16 and zoomed in later, unless you tell them.

Edited by Saul Rodgar, 30 December 2008 - 06:26 PM.

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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 08:40 PM

Well, if you want to keep your 4x3 frame, the best quality would be to transfer from the original 16mm negative to HD, and put side borders / mattes to keep the 4x3 frame inside the 16x9 1080P recording. You could edit using a downconversion to SD, then go back to the original HD transfers for an online.
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