7 Replies Latest reply on May 6, 2009 12:47 PM by the_wine_snob

    Aspect ratios, letterboxing and project settings, oh my!


      Hi there. I wish this stuff weren't so confusing. Here's my scenario. Someone shot some HD video and delivered it to me on a DV tape. When I play this tape in my Panasonic PV-GS400, it appears letterboxed, even though my camera supports "true" widescreen. This part doesn't really surprise me. Now, however, I'd like to create output from this tape that is 16:9 WITHOUT the letterboxing. When I output to 16:9, I get letterboxing on both the sides and the top and bottom. So, here are some other questions around this:


      1. What difference do the Project Settings make in terms of the output. I see the aspect ratio stuff in the XML and I have actually played with this a bit to see what happens. What I don't understand is that you choose pixel aspect ratio when exporting/outputting the movie, so how do the Project Settings interact with the aspect ratios on output?


      2. Is there a way I can get the video I now have that appears letterboxed in 4:3 and "double letteboxed" when re-output to widescreen, to appear "correctly" as widescreen? Did the person who created the tape for me (remember, they shot HD, then did some editng and rendered a new DV tape that appears to be 4:3 with letterboxing) make an assumption that I would not be able to view the tape on my camera unless he made it 4:3?


      3. I put a video up on YouTube in their "HD" mode by using the 720p 30fps preset in PE. My project was created in "standard" 4:3 mode. This video appears with what I guess to be interlacing lines when viewed in YouTube's "HD" mode. Check it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2z3HuU0Wb0


      4. I don't really understand if there are formatting differences or what the differences are between "standard" DV and HD. Do HD cams use standard MiniDV tapes? Is it possible to get a tape from an HD cam that will appear on my cam as though I shot it in widescreen mode?


      Thanks in advance. Let me know your thoughts. Sorry for all the questions.



        • 1. Re: Aspect ratios, letterboxing and project settings, oh my!
          Paul_LS Level 4

          Sorry I am a little confused, as you say the video is high definition yet your camcorder is standard definition. HDV is MPEG2 and your camcorder would not be able to play the tape. Unless the video was shot in standard definition in the high definition camcorder or converted to standard definition and then transfered back to tape. So I am not sure what is going on with the tape.


          Regarding your questions:

          1. The project preset fixes the frame size and aspect ratio for the project. However if you export to a different frame size/aspect ratio the way the export looks will depend on the media. Say you have a widescreen 16:9 project and you import both standard 4:3 and widescreen 16:9 media and the default scale to frame size is on. If you exported this as widescreen 16:9 MPEG say... the standard 4:3 media would be exported with bars on the side and the widescreen 16:9 media exported fitting the frame. If you exported the same project as standard 4:3, the standard 4:3 media would be exported fitting the frame with no bars on the side and the widescreen 16:9 media will be exported letterboxed.


          2. To get your video to appear widescreen you would have to de-select Scale to Frame, right click on the clip in the timeline and deselect. Then scale the video to fit the frame using Scale and if necessary Position. These are found under Motion when the clips Properties Panel is open. Note this will reduce the quality as you are "blowing up" the video frame. And it sounds like the video was shot 16:9, exported as 4:3 to give the letterboxing and then exported to 16:9 again to give the bars at the side.


          3. So if I understand your project was created in standard 4:3 project and exported at 720p, is that correct?


          4. As I mentioned initially HDV is MPEG2 shot to miniDV tape and can not be played back in a standard miniDV camcorder.


          Best bet would be if he had captured in HDV, converted to widescreen DV and then transfered back to tape as widescreen DV. You could then capture this as widescreen DV, but obviously in standard definition not high definition. Then you would start with a standard definition widescreen format and export to the same format.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Aspect ratios, letterboxing and project settings, oh my!
            xmellman Level 1

            So, according to the videographer, "The footage was shot with High Definition Cameras at 16x9 (widescreen native). There is nothing to convert, some tv's do not fill the screen and show as letterboxed. Otherwise you'll have to convert the footage to 4:3 aspect ratio and then stretch it so it fillls your tv screen which I don't recommend." Earlier he had said that he converted the footage to SD and put it back to tape. I assumed that this meant 4:3 aspect ratio, but he then said, "SD/HD has nothing to do with aspect ratios (16x9, 4:3), the widescreen native format is intact. We check this against vector scopes and color calibrated field monitors. Consumer televisions do not always display footage correctly." So, I think he is saying that the tape should have 16:9 footage in it, but that my camcorder is just not able to play it back correctly. Again, it displays on my camcorder LCD (which is 4:3) as letterboxed. But, when I shoot widescreen on my camcorder, it squeezes the 16:9 image to 4:3 in order to display it. When I import this into PE, I get true 16:9 aspect ratio. But when I import his footage, I get 4:3 letterboxed. I'm still confused. Sorry if this doesn't make sense.

            • 3. Re: Aspect ratios, letterboxing and project settings, oh my!
              Paul_LS Level 4

              I see your camcorder is standard definition.  It is not true widescreen, your camcorder stretches the video vertically, maybe this is the problem.

              • 4. Re: Aspect ratios, letterboxing and project settings, oh my!
                xmellman Level 1

                I'm getting messages via email and also on the forum. I tried responding to your email and it bounced. Here is my reply:


                Yes - the camera has two modes - 4:3 and 16:9 for recording. It seems that for playback, it can recognize tapes IT recorded using the 16:9 mode, but maybe this particular tape is not being correctly recognized and the camera is playing it back 4:3. I can't find a setting to force 16:9 playback anywhere on the camera or in the documentation (it's a Panasonic PV-GS400). I'm not sure where to go from here. I might just ask if he can supply me with an AVI file so I can import it directly to PE, unless someone has another suggestion.



                • 5. Re: Aspect ratios, letterboxing and project settings, oh my!
                  the_wine_snob Level 9

                  As for the e-mails, that is notification of a reply to your post. It is set in forum preferences. It's really an e-mail from the Adobe forum, and not the responder (though responders could also e-mail you, but that would be a bit less likely). You cannot respond to the e-mail notification, as it is generated by a one-way server on Adobe.



                  1 person found this helpful
                  • 6. Re: Aspect ratios, letterboxing and project settings, oh my!
                    xmellman Level 1

                    Well, all of the emails from the forum have this at the bottom:



                    This message was sent to: xmellman


                    To post a reply to the thread message, either reply to this email (recommended) or visit the message page:



                    If you post by replying to this email, be sure to leave the square-bracketed text at the end of the subject line as it is. This will help ensure that your message is posted correctly.





                    This implies that the preferred method of responding to forum posts is via email.

                    • 7. Re: Aspect ratios, letterboxing and project settings, oh my!
                      the_wine_snob Level 9

                      Thanks. Looks like some things changed with the new forum. I have not "subscribed via e-mail," since the changeover. Please ignore my comments, as they obviously do not hold true any longer. Sorry about that.