I have a new camcorder and am trying to understand how things work...
I recorded a short clip and then realized it looks notably different in every app I play it back in, even if they're all set to 100% zoom. While it doesn't look incredibly different, it does look noticeably different, even though one might've thought it should look exactly the same.
The clip was made with a Canon Vixia HF R300, which is capable of Full HD, but the clip used the camera's lowest AVCHD setting of 1440x1080 ("LP" mode). It's a small MTS clip of 69.4 MB for 82 seconds of video.
In DivX Plus Player 9.0.2, it makes a very crisp clean display of 1440x1080 (measured) - but it is also clearly stretched vertically; circles are ovals and people are tall and thin. It's not ridiculously stretched, but it's unmistakable, side by side to an unstretched version. I can't find a place where DivX says what it thinks the clip's properties are.
Despite the stretching, DivX clearly gave the best-looking replay. Very crisp looking.
Premier Elements 11 says the clip's Properties are 1440x1080 with pixel aspect ratio 1.33, but at "100% mag" it actually plays as 1920x1080 (?!) and it looks grainy. But it's not stretched vertically.
In Windows Media Player 11.0, it is blown up to approx 1832x1039 even when set to video size 100%. It says the clip's properties are 1440x1088 with Aspect Ratio 1.76:1(?!). It is a little grainy, but not stretched looking.
RealPlayer 188.8.131.52 won't give clip info (it's grayed out, for some reason), but at size 100% it has the oddest thing - a very clear border (within the full-screened player) of 1440x1080, and then the video itself is playing within this border, letterbox style, at 1440 by ~808. (That's an aspect ratio of ~1.78.) This replay was not as crisp as DivX, but was probably better than the other two.
So, every single player actually plays the same clip differently. One stretches it vertically, another letterboxes it, and the other two blow it up much larger than its original 1440x1080 - even though I set every single app to 100% magnification.
What's going on here?
My theory is that perhaps the Canon used some funky way to achieve its lowest resolution AVCHD, and the various players don't know how to deal with it, and/or they have problematic / hidden / non-obvious defaults.
Possibly the camcorder actually made a 1440x808 clip, but in a 1440x1080 container. Look at how Real has an apparent aspect ratio of 1.78 - and that's what WMP says it was using, even though it didn't make sense given the dimensions. And, if DivX mistakenly stretched 1440x808 to 1440x1080... well, that's what DivX looked like.
Maybe both WMP and PE11 somehow converted it to 1920x1080... and in doing so, they did some things right, and others wrong. They correctly dropped the useless white space, if it's a 1440x808 in a 1440x1080 container. And correctly kept the proper 1.78 aspect ratio (the same as Full HD). But they incorrectly magnified it to 1920x1080.
Comments on the above... Does it sound like any of this could be possible? It's pretty amazing that a "simple setting" didn't translate to a SINGLE ONE of these popular video players/editors!
Thanks if you have the time to spare!!