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NLE dilemma - 16:9 material captured as 4:3


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#1 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 12:00 PM

Relating to my other NLE post, Ive just discovered that I have a dilemma regarding aspect ratios. The footage I shot was recorded in 16:9 but I now realise that my Ulead Video Studio software has been capturing it as 4:3. Not surprisingly, my footage looks slightly distorted. The version of Ulead that I have is quite old (5.0) and doesn't look like it accomodates widescreen footage. Even so, I don't think I would have the technical know-how to correct the problem (I saw some info on another forum regarding altering aspect ratios in NLE and to be honest, that was over my head - way too technical.)

I'm submitting the finished film on DVD to a television station as part of a competition. Would a television station likely have the ability / resources to restore the footage on the DVD back to it's original aspect ratio without losing quality?

For a PAL DV AVI, Ulead captures the file as 720 x 576 dimensions. Out of curiosity, if I wanted to retain the 16:9 aspect ratio during capture with SD video, which dimensions would I be looking at?
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 01:12 PM

The footage is 720x576 (for PAL) regardless of the aspect ratio. The pixels are not actually considered to be square in either case; for 4:3 they are very nearly square, but if you shoot images of a circular object then view the 720x576 frame uncorrected on a computer monitor you will have a very slight vertical ellipse. For PAL 16:9 they are extremely non-square, and of course considerably different to 4:3. Very old software may not properly understand this distinction, but really at that point you are into very old software, and even a flinty-hearted luddite such as myself would probably recommend an upgrade. In any case, the thing to understand here is that you are not dealing with different amounts of data, you're just dealing with data that describes a different thing, and all the aspect ratio choice does is cause the display to scale the image accordingly. There is intrinsically no "conversion"; in technical terms all you're doing is setting a marker in the video data that says "this is widescreen."

Even slightly more up-to-date software will allow you to view and edit things in 16:9. However, this situation does have a saving grace. Since there is no low-level difference between the two, you can safely edit your entire production in your old software, grin and bear the distortion you're looking at while you work, and simply note to the people who're going to be using it that it's in 16:9.

There is an alternative: probably you will edit your video and export the finished production to a file, from which you will make a DVD. It's possible to run a conversion tool on this file which will set the widescreen marker, and your DVD software will, hopefully, if it's any younger than your edit software, understand what's going on and behave accordingly.

But to be honest, this is a clumsy work-around; you should get more recent edit software. It's usually possible to get something like Premiere for very little money when you buy certain pieces of hardware and it is very complete.

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#3 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 10:11 PM

Thanks Phil!

"Since there is no low-level difference between the two, you can safely edit your entire production in your old software, grin and bear the distortion you're looking at while you work, and simply note to the people who're going to be using it that it's in 16:9."

So this includes a video file that is on a finished DVD? I am sort of rushed for time (not enough time in a day to be playing around with software correcting the aspect ratio problem myself.) If the crowd receiving this can restore the film to it's original aspect ratio from the DVD, then I'll be more than happy with that.
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 09:36 AM

There is a marker on the DVD that will tell the playback equipment that it's 4:3, but you should be able to make it clear to the receiving organisation that this is to be ignored - most equipment lets you set things manually, too. It isn't so much a case of "restoring it to the right aspect ratio" as just assuming that it already is the right aspect ratio.

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#5 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 02:28 AM

Thanks for confirming that, Phil.

Update: Well this is interesting. When I finished editing the film and played it back in Windows Media Player, it was in it's original widescreen format. However, when I made a DVD of the video file (using relatively recent DVD burning software) it was again squashed to 4:3 aspect ratio.
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#6 David Desio

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 09:59 AM

Thanks for confirming that, Phil.

Update: Well this is interesting. When I finished editing the film and played it back in Windows Media Player, it was in it's original widescreen format. However, when I made a DVD of the video file (using relatively recent DVD burning software) it was again squashed to 4:3 aspect ratio.



Do you have After Effects? You could try brining in the capture scratch files, and seeing how AE displays them. If it is still 4:3 then try making a comp in the aspect ratio that you want and resizing the video manually to fit. So if the video looks squished, resize it until it looks normal. Then export the file as an animation and bring that into your NLE.

I don't know the NLE that you are using so this may be all for nothing. But have you tried just manually stretching the footage in your editing program to the correct apsect ratio?
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