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» Film-Tech Forum   » Community   » The Afterlife   » Watching films on HD video. (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Watching films on HD video.
Stephen Furley
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From: Coulsdon, Croydon, England
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 - posted 07-23-2014 08:03 AM      Profile for Stephen Furley   Email Stephen Furley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I haven't had a television for about six years now, since the 14 inch Sony CRT died; I can watch DVDs on my laptop. I'm thinking of getting a new HD one, probably 22 inch since I live in a very small room. Have borrowed one at work to try, and have been watching a few films on HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. This morning I was running a copy of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" on HD-DVD, and noticed something that I've seen on various other films; very obvious matte lines. I've projected the Harry Potter film in a cinema, I can't remember whether on 35 mm or digital, and don't remember seeing such obvious matte lines then. Has anybody else noticed this when watching on HD video?

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Paul Mayer
Oh get out of it Melvin, before it pulls you under!

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 - posted 07-24-2014 01:14 PM      Profile for Paul Mayer   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Mayer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Native AR for 2K or 4K video is 16:9 or 1.78. If the source is intended to be matted or protected for 1.85, and the distributor wants to show the complete 1.85 picture area, there will be a small amount of "matte" showing at the top and bottom. Some distributors opt for filling the 1.78 HD frame, sacrificing a bit of print picture area at the sides.

For 'scope or 70mm sources the situation is much more visible - the widescreen source is usually sized to display the entire width of the image within the 1.78 HD frame, resulting in quite noticeable blank display area at the top and bottom (and corresponding loss of vertical resolution). Or, some distributors will opt instead to fill the height of the HD frame with the wide source image, severely cropping off the sides of the source. Of course if the source is 1.78 it can be distributed in HD straight away.

Some studios have opted for slight undersizing of their 1.85 source images, resulting in blank display areas on all four sides of the display. This was done to deal with the overscan common in CRT displays - some studios continue to do this even though most home consumers have now converted to flat panel displays.

In digital origination (especially 4K and 7K), 21:9 imagers are now commonplace, resulting in an AR 2.33. Also, 21:9 flat panel 2K and 4K displays are becoming more common. Again, the distributor decides how to handle this for HD or UHD - go with 2.33 as is, or with slight letterboxing at the top and bottom of the display, or with cropping off the sides of these legacy source formats.

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Monte L Fullmer
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 - posted 07-24-2014 01:28 PM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Interesting on the DVD/BR release of the 2009 release of "Avatar" when this set came out, it was formatted 1.78:1 for HDTV viewing.

Now, was the original feature photographed this way and 2.39:1 was extracted for widescreen viewing, or was film zoomed up for this DVD/BR release?

-Monte

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Frank Angel
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 - posted 07-26-2014 02:44 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There was a proposal many years back on how to deal with the mis-match of format aspect ratios when converting film to TV. A now defunct production house in NY which made transfers for cable outlets used a method that I thought worked very well. I had watched a number of their transfers on u-Matic tape and I must say, it solved the big problem with scope pictures and the dreaded letterbox bars.

What was done was, they tweaked all the variables. On a scope title, they zoomed in slightly, thus loosing a small portion of the sides of the image, not much more than you would find happening in many of the theatres of the day that were multiplexed from singles. Then they did something that they don't do today but I think could very-well satisfy the comsumer's silly aversion to seeing black bars -- they added a very small amount of vertical compression by not fully stretching out the scope image. The result was an image that lost a only a bit on the sides, had a bit of anamorphic compression still left in the image and had a small amount of back on top and bottom, much smaller than a fully letterboxed scope image. With this method you were seem nearly all of the scope image, had to tolerate a small amount of letterboxing and a very tolerable amount of unstretch distortion.

What is amazing about this is that the compression that was left in was easily tolerated to the point that most laymen didn't even notice it. Surprisingly the eye/brain seems to compensate for that distortion quite effectively; in fact, any time you look at object from an angle, some distortion is created, but your eye/brian accept that as fine. This seems to happen with these transfers as well. In fact, after watching a whole movie like this, when we'd switch back to a regular movie, everything looked unnaturally stretched until the brain readjusted.

Using this system, yes, you lost a small amount of side information, and only had to endure small bands of black on top and bottom, but not as much you normally would if you didn't introduce that compression, and you had to endure the compression, which, as I said, actually was not a problem at all.

I though it was an interesting approach and one which stopped my lady at the time from constantly complained throughout a movie that the image was "cut off on the top and bottom." That alone made me give it thumbs up!

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Marcel Birgelen
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 - posted 08-30-2014 07:25 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Most scope to 1.78 conversions are pan and scan concoctions. Many movies are also shot with a "TV safe area" already in mind so the sides can easily be cropped off the picture.

I would never choose for such a release, but it seems that people got an aversion to those black bars.

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John French
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 - posted 08-30-2014 11:31 AM      Profile for John French   Email John French   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Frank Angel
What was done was, they tweaked all the variables. On a scope title, they zoomed in slightly, thus loosing a small portion of the sides of the image, not much more than you would find happening in many of the theatres of the day that were multiplexed from singles. Then they did something that they don't do today but I think could very-well satisfy the comsumer's silly aversion to seeing black bars -- they added a very small amount of vertical compression by not fully stretching out the scope image. The result was an image that lost a only a bit on the sides, had a bit of anamorphic compression still left in the image and had a small amount of back on top and bottom, much smaller than a fully letterboxed scope image. With this method you were seem nearly all of the scope image, had to tolerate a small amount of letterboxing and a very tolerable amount of unstretch distortion.
The problem with this is that you're still losing some of the original picture, precluding people from ever playing it back at its original aspect ratio if they prefer it that way (black bars and all!)

There's no reason modern players couldn't do this sort of processing themselves, leaving the user free to switch it on or off as they prefer.

In any case, the vast majority of Blu-Ray releases these days seem to be at their original aspect ratio (with black bars), so I'm happy.

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Terry Lynn-Stevens
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 - posted 08-30-2014 11:38 AM      Profile for Terry Lynn-Stevens   Email Terry Lynn-Stevens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Marcel Birgelen
Most scope to 1.78 conversions are pan and scan concoctions.
Are you sure about that Marcel? [Embarrassed]

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Marcel Birgelen
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 - posted 08-30-2014 05:06 PM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: John French
There's no reason modern players couldn't do this sort of processing themselves, leaving the user free to switch it on or off as they prefer.
I'm not sure if the Blu-Ray specification allows for this, I highly doubt it actually. But if it would, you could put the "pan, scan, zoom, stretch" into a metadata track. The problem though, is that this would require quite some image processing being done inside the actual player.

Many people also use the deform-and-mingle "intelligent" zoom functions built into their TV to stretch the black bars away. They seemingly don't mind to look at a bunch of eggheads.

quote: Terry Lynn-Stevens
Are you sure about that Marcel?
Sure about what exactly?

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Terry Lynn-Stevens
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 - posted 08-30-2014 05:53 PM      Profile for Terry Lynn-Stevens   Email Terry Lynn-Stevens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
The problem with this is that you're still losing some of the original picture, precluding people from ever playing it back at its original aspect ratio if they prefer it that way (black bars and all!)

99% of viewers really do not care, especially if a 1:85 movie has been moved to 1.78

We used to have dual inventory DVDs as well as both P&S/WS on each side of the same disc, all we really see now is just WS as pan and scan is pretty much pointless.

quote: Marcel Birgelen
I'm not sure if the Blu-Ray specification allows for this, I highly doubt it actually. But if it would, you could put the "pan, scan, zoom, stretch" into a metadata track. The problem though, is that this would require quite some image processing being done inside the actual player.
What exactly would this achieve? Its a stupid idea that will only confuse people more.

The stetch/zoom function is only there on the TV for legacy discs/content that were made before 16x9 anamorphic.

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Bobby Henderson
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 - posted 08-31-2014 02:32 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The issue of whether or not a movie is cropping away visual detail by filling a 16:9 HDTV screen varies from one movie to the next. There is no simple "one size fits all" procedure.

The only way movie producers are forced to pan and scan a movie image when making a full screen 16:9 HD version is if the movie was filmed in a process that doesn't match the HDTV screen aspect ratio at all. Anamorphic 35mm has the 2.39:1 aspect ratio locked in. The same thing goes for classic Techniscope movies. 5/65mm formats deal with the same thing to varying degrees. You'll lose a little off the sides converting a 2.20:1 70mm movie like Lawrence of Arabia to 1.77:1. You'll lose a whole lot more converting an anamorphic 5/65mm 2.70:1 movie like Ben Hur into 1.77:1. Classic IMAX movies will lose some of the top and bottom of the image when cropped to 1.77:1 aspect ratio.

Movies filmed in Super35 and videotaped with electronic d-cinema cameras yet distributed in 'scope aspect ratios will have quite a bit of extra vertical image detail that can be restored when converted into a 1.77:1 full screen HDTV version. Unfortunately restoring that extra image detail is not as simple as it seems. First, there is the matter of image composition. Shots, such as dramatic close-ups, will appear more loose and not quite so dramatic with that extra image detail restored. Then there is the matter of how the digital intermediate just about all movie productions use was rendered. Did they render the DI, CGI effects and any other elements in 'scope or 1.77:1? If they rendered the DI in 2.39:1 then the whole movie would have to be panned and scanned if cropped to 1.77:1.

I prefer movies shown in their original aspect ratio. I don't mind the black bars from letterboxing at all. The black bars don't take up much of a HDTV screen. It's certainly much easier to watch a 'scope movie on a HDTV screen than it was on standard definition 4:3 ratio TV sets. The black bars took up 43% of the screen on those old TV sets.

Really large HDTV screens have grown much more affordable, which makes watching letterboxed 'scope movies even easier. I recently bought a 65" Samsung 240Hz LED "Smart" TV. The thing has a very narrow frame (or bezel), making the picture seem almost like a drive-in screen in my living room. It's a nice step up from the modest sized screen I've used for the past 4 years.

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Marcel Birgelen
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 - posted 09-02-2014 01:53 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Terry Lynn-Stevens
What exactly would this achieve? Its a stupid idea that will only confuse people more.
It's not a stupid idea to begin with...

It would allow for single-inventory media. People that don't know better get the version that best fits their playback device and the people that DO know, aren't stuck with a crappy version because they inadvertently bought or rented the wrong one.

quote: Terry Lynn-Stevens
The stetch/zoom function is only there on the TV for legacy discs/content that were made before 16x9 anamorphic.
While I agree that those functions primarily exist for this very purpose, people, who generally don't care, find creative ways to abuse them to get rid of "pesky black bars".

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Frank Angel
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 - posted 09-02-2014 09:30 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Funny thing is, this obsession with filling the whole screen no matter what, seems to be a pecularly American thing. My understanding is that in Europe and Japan, from the very early days of 'scope, broadcasting letterboxed movies was a very common thing and they had no problem with it. If any of our European brothers can verify this, please do. Seems the Europeans would rather see the whole picture instead of only half of it, whereas their American neighbors would rather distroy composition in favor of eliminating those "pesky black bars" that bother us so much. Differnce of perspective, I suppose, if not brain capacity.

quote: Bobby Henderson
Unfortunately restoring that extra image detail is not as simple as it seems. First, there is the matter of image composition. Shots, such as dramatic close-ups, will appear more loose and not quite so dramatic with that extra image detail restored. Then there is the matter of how the digital intermediate just about all movie productions use was rendered.
Problem is with any of those formats that record visual information above and beyone what is the intended composed image, and which can then later be restored, as in any film shot 35mm full-frame or VistaVision, the problem is, the cinematographer and director have COMPOSED for the scope aspect ratio. It matters not that in the camera they have 1.85ar and I suppose they have 1.77ar marked off with a reticle, bottom line is, they were composing for ONE aspect ratio -- 2.35. Sure, it just so happens that because of the medium, other aspect ratios can be extracted for different display types, but that HARDWARE, not aesthetics. The hard fact is, there is only ONE aspect ratio that the filmmaker composes for when he's looking thru the viewfinder and that's what the audience should see. It is the only ONE is the correct. I say, all the rest are only approximations for the convenience of the hardware and in the end have to be seen as detrimental to the aesthetic of the work itself.

I always thought the whole VistaVision concept was a joke with people saying, "Oh, it's terrific that from the VV negative you "extract" 1.33 for TV and 1.85 for theatres that don't have scope and 1.66 for Europe -- it's all there in the negative." And I am thinking, that's supposed to be a GOOD thing that people can see the film that was COMPOSED for a scope aspect ratio other than in that aspect ratio? A scope film came be seen in 1.33ar on a TV set? This is a positive?

Just because it can be done doesn't mean it should be.

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Bobby Henderson
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quote: Frank Angel
Problem is with any of those formats that record visual information above and beyone what is the intended composed image, and which can then later be restored, as in any film shot 35mm full-frame or VistaVision, the problem is, the cinematographer and director have COMPOSED for the scope aspect ratio.
That is what's supposed to happen with formats like Super35 on 35mm film and people extracting 'scope images out of high priced video cameras.

Most of the Super35 movies I've seen over the years look more like 1.85:1 movies that had been cropped down a little farther. They've all used varying degrees of playing it safe image composition, basically just using a rule of thirds principal in the vertical, but not across. They just make sure the actors' faces are in the safe action area. Who cares what gets cropped off at the top or bottom of the frame. In the end you get an unremarkable 'scope ratio image.

I'll go so far as to say Super35 movies whose image was deliberately composed for 2.39:1 are in the minority.

When a production is really going to compose 'scope correctly they have to do more than just frame it a certain way. It affects the production design, how sets are built and decorated. It's a fact of life if you're using a 35mm motion picture camera with anamorphic lenses. The Super35 process allows a crew to get around some of those difficulties. But in avoiding some of those difficulties they also end up with blah quality compositions. It's playing it safe widescreen.

Anamorphic 'scope hasn't been perfect either in how directors, DP's and producers have used it. In the 1980's and on into the 1990's plenty of anamorphic 'scope movies were made with the needs of panning & scanning for VHS home video release in mind. We all have seen plenty of shots of an actor's mug positioned at the far left or far right end of the screen and a whole lot of nothing on the rest of the frame. Some of those shots end up making more visual sense when they are cropped to 1.33:1. They would be locked into a 2.35:1 or 2.39:1 frame, but tried to keep all the important stuff in a 1.33:1 zone within that rectangle.

To see 'scope composed consistently well throughout the entire movie a viewer will typically need to watch movies made before the home video revolution got underway in the early 1980's. There are exceptions in the 80's and 90's era.

In more recent years panning and scanning hasn't been needed to such an extreme since most people have rectangular HDTV sets now. However, there's still a fairly big difference between 1.77:1 and 2.4:1. Playing it safe practices of image composition are still very common.

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Marcel Birgelen
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quote: Frank Angel
Funny thing is, this obsession with filling the whole screen no matter what, seems to be a pecularly American thing. My understanding is that in Europe and Japan, from the very early days of 'scope, broadcasting letterboxed movies was a very common thing and they had no problem with it. If any of our European brothers can verify this, please do. Seems the Europeans would rather see the whole picture instead of only half of it, whereas their American neighbors would rather distroy composition in favor of eliminating those "pesky black bars" that bother us so much. Differnce of perspective, I suppose, if not brain capacity.
That's not an easy question to answer, at least not objectively. For example, if I look at my parents: Before the remote got replaced with something more akin of a Nintendo Wii controller after the last upgrade to a "Smart TV", this remote featured a prominent "Zoom" button (actually, the TV in my living room still features a similar button obviously [Wink] ). It didn't call itself "Zoom", but it had that symbol featuring some rectangles and arrows on it. As you would expect: It cycled trough a whole bunch of "smart" deform-to-fit modes. My mother would quite commonly hit that button until all black bars where gone... My mother is the role example of the average, non-tech-savvy user. I guess there are millions of people like that in Europe, too.

But... In Europe, we've still got something like large, state-owned TV stations. You know, those huge broadcasting organizations like the BBC. Most countries in Europe have their version of the BBC in one form or another, often even multiple versions. Those same organizations actually broadcast full feature length movies without ANY commercial break and even more shocking, they often even play the credits, sometimes even in their full glory!! Most Americans would call it a waste of tax money and many Europeans would probably most happily agree. But what most of those organizations have in common is that they still do care a bit about quality. So they tend to broadcast movies in their original aspect ratio.

Personally, I got used to "black bars" even as a kid. They were an integral part of the movie experience on TV. Also, once 4:3 died away, and 16:9 became common at the end of the 90s, those black bars for scope movies became a whole lot more bearable.

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Carsten Kurz
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 - posted 09-04-2014 11:10 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It's true that for a lot of people here those black bars serve as something like a quality indicator. 'Oh, black bars, a MOVIE, not a cheap soap opera or documentation'.
That's why TV advertizing started to use 'scope like' fake ARs to make their crap look more 'serious'.

I can't remember ever seeing a cropped or pan&scan movie on german TV.
There certainly may have been a few poor flics that had been treated into this from the transmitted source, but in general, that doesn't happen at the broadcasters.

- Carsten

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