Handycam Aspect Ratio Selector

Discussion in 'Video Cameras' started by melianbriggs, Feb 8, 2007.

  1. melianbriggs

    melianbriggs Guest

    Hello Everyone, My question to the group is again around aspect
    ratios. I got some good info last time around, albeit a bit technical
    at times - be gentle!

    It seems that the DCRHC35E being used (in conjunction with adobe
    premier elements 3.0) has a selector that gives me the option to use
    16.9 or 4.3 and my tv is a widescreen. I also believe that most future
    tv screens will be 16.9 so I want to capture my recordings using this
    aspect ratio. My problem is when I select this (16.9) I have black
    bands above and below the image displayed on the LCD. This occurs even
    though the LCD itself is widescreen. When in playback mode I have
    another widescreen option which gives the option of either "letterbox"
    or "squeeze". Now I am confused a bit here, does this option solely
    affect the playback being watched on the camcorder and presumably a tv
    or other monitor, or would this affect my editing abilities as well.
    When I switch between "letterbox" and "squeeze" it seems to squash the
    display from left to right (horizontaly). It doesnt look right. When
    in camera mode or capture mode should I be selecting 16.9 in order to
    edit and playback in widescreen? And is this true widescreen? What is
    true widescreen? HELP!!!

    Does anyone have a sony handycam and do they have any tips or issues
    regarding my questions?

    kind regards to the group
    melianbriggs, Feb 8, 2007
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  2. melianbriggs

    John Russell Guest

    True Widescreen means the sensor is large enough to extract a 16:9 image
    using 576 lines of video. Earlier 4:3 camcorders allowed you to create 16:9
    from a letterbox. i.e only 432 lines.
    John Russell, Feb 14, 2007
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  3. melianbriggs

    John Russell Guest

    P.S. The 35e is a 4:3 camcorder. The LCD is 4:3. When you select Wide it has
    to use letterbox.
    Sony viewfinders are 4:3. Therefore you select to show wide either as
    letterbox, or stretched vertically.
    John Russell, Feb 14, 2007
  4. melianbriggs

    John Russell Guest

    Becuase 4:3 camcorders extract a letterbox to create 16:9 you can leave this
    to the PC editing stage. Doing it on the camcorder is convienient for those
    who never edit on a PC. On the PC, editing software will allow you to select
    what part of the video you extract the 16:9 from. Often the "best" 16:9
    would have been slightly above or below the centre.
    John Russell, Feb 14, 2007
  5. melianbriggs

    melianbriggs Guest

    Thanks John, does this mean that the widescreen LCD is sort of "just
    for show"? I must admit I haven't had too much opportunity recently to
    get to grips with using to camcorder/software etc - which means I have
    not had much trial and error going on. If I keep my selections as 4.3
    and use the PC to edit in 16.9 will this work if I select 16.9 in
    adobe elements 3.0? Is there a "hard and fast" rule here? Do I keep my
    mode selections either one or the other as previously mentioned (by
    another member) - then just use my TV to select 16.9 and therefore
    "stretch" the picture somewhat to give the best playback?

    I think I understand most of what you explain and I imagine that my
    lack of experience accounts for the remaining areas of confusion. I
    would like to say that I appreciate the info and many thanks.

    melianbriggs, Feb 14, 2007
  6. melianbriggs

    Jukka Aho Guest

    Since you can only find that option in playback mode, it probably
    affects playback only. Some old 4:3 tv sets cannot squeeze the
    full-frame 16:9 (16F16) image to the correct proportions, so the camera
    needs to do that for them. That's what the letterbox (16L12) option is
    for - it frames the 16:9 image inside a 4:3 frame with black bars. But
    if you have a genuine 16:9 set, or a modern 4:3 set that reacts to
    widescreen signalling, "squeeze" is probably a better option.
    Perhaps the tv set does not support line 23 widescreen signalling (WSS),
    or it is currently set up in a forced 4:3 mode. Check out the "ZOOM"
    button (if it has one) on the remote or the aspect ratio settings in the
    If the images shot in 16:9 mode appear to fill the entire frame without
    any black bars when captured to a computer, yes.
    One definition for "true widescreen" is that the 16:9 image is shot in a
    16F16 mode. In other words, when captured to a computer, it fills up the
    entire 720×576 pixel frame, without any black bars.

    Another definition for "true widescreen" is that the lens and the CCD
    chip in the camera can provide enough data/details for filling up the
    entire 720×576 pixel frame, without cheating (for example, by
    mathematically interpolating a lesser number of pixels over that area,
    which is what some low-end camcorders do.)
    You might want to test both modes - the 4:3 mode and the 16:9 mode - by
    shooting a printed resolution test card. That's a good way to assess
    whether the 16:9 mode is suitable for your needs or if you like the
    quality of the 4:3 mode better. See here for more information (click on
    the images and read the "Do your own test" section):

    Jukka Aho, Feb 14, 2007
  7. melianbriggs

    :Jerry: Guest

    I doubt any 4:3 TV set can, although they should be able to disregard
    the information outside the standard 4:3 aspect ratio, if the TV has
    problems that suggests the fault is with the recoding play-out device
    as the implementation of 'WS standard' was done in such a way to make
    it totally backwards compatible.

    so the camera
    I get the feeling that there is some confusion here as to true 16:9
    and masked and zoomed 4:3, my understanding is that any camcorder that
    'letterboxes' the image is masking the top and bottom of the image and
    zooms to fill the 16:9 aspect on external play-out (the way the
    camcorders VF OR LCD displays the image is no pointer as to how the
    aspect ratio is being obtained) - this output /should/ then get the
    sides lopped off if feed into a 4:3 TV, if your still with me?!...
    Many people have their sets set to 16:9 rather than either 'Auto' or
    manually selecting the correct ratio - not always the owners fault,
    many warehouse sheds can't set their sales displays up so what does
    the average owner know (yes I know they should RTFM....).
    :Jerry:, Feb 15, 2007
  8. melianbriggs

    Jukka Aho Guest

    I have one (Salora SP55A1, bought in 1998 or so), and I have seen
    reports of many others.
    They don't usually do it that way. Instead, they reduce the vertical
    deflection so that scanlines will be drawn on the screen in a tighter
    pattern. This results in a letterboxed image.
    If you feed full-frame 16:9 (16F16) pictures to an old 4:3 set that does
    not have the above-mentioned functionality it will display tall and thin
    I have an old Sony DCR-TRV210E (a Digital 8 camcorder) that allows
    switching modes between "16:9" and "4:3".

    In "16:9" mode, the camera displays black bars - a letterboxed image -
    on the (4:3-shaped) viewfinder and on the (4:3-shaped) LCD screen.
    However, it records true 16F16 images on the tape. (That is, the images
    that are recorded on the tape fill the entire 720×576 pixel DV frame.
    This can be easily checked by capturing the data on the computer via a
    Firewire cable - no black bars there.)

    In "4:3" mode, the camera displays a full-frame 4:3 image on the
    viewfinder and on the LCD screen, and that's what it records on the
    tape, too.

    Now, this particular camera model still cheats in the widescreen mode by
    only using the centremost area of the 4:3-shaped CCD chip for obtaining
    the 16:9 images. The chip, of course (this being an old and cheap
    camcorder) does not have enough resolution for providing full 576 pixels
    in the vertical direction for widescreen images. To cope with that
    problem, the image is automatically resampled (stretched, interpolated)
    to 576 pixels in-camera, and then recorded in full-frame (16F16) format
    on the tape. So, resolution-wise, the camera fakes it, but technically
    it still produces "true" 16F16 images.
    The DCR-TRV210E, at least, does not have a centre cut-out option for
    lopping the sides off of a 16:9 image. (IIRC, it does not even have a
    letterboxing option for playback.) But it does make use of the line 23
    widescreen signalling (WSS) which allows it to tell the tv set if the
    material that is being played back is in the 16F16 format.
    Some tv sets - quite counter-intuitively, if you ask me - do not follow
    the WSS signalling in 'AUTO' mode. Instead, they may reserve the 'AUTO'
    label for their built-in black-bar detection heuristics mode. (Which of
    course isn't gong to work for discerning genuine 16F16 [full frame 16:9]
    signal from genuine 12F12 [full frame 4:3] signal, since neither has
    black bars.)
    Jukka Aho, Feb 15, 2007
  9. melianbriggs

    :Jerry: Guest

    If it can display a 16F:9 picture than it's not a 4:3 set then, is
    it - the tube might be to a 4:3 aspect ratio - the TV set is a WS
    switchable though.
    That's simply wrong. If you feed a 16F:9 broadcast signal to a 30 year
    old set you see the correct 4:3 ratio picture (as if the broadcast was
    4:3) with correctly proportioned people etc. displayed. The standard
    for broadcast was for the WS (what ever the aspect used) service to be
    backwards compatible, that it is, if you are getting tall thin people
    there is something wrong with your set or what it is being feed with.
    It's quite possible that some camcorder manufactures, DVD authoring
    soft / hardware etc. are not implementing the standard correctly and
    are thus breaking the TV!
    :Jerry:, Feb 15, 2007
  10. melianbriggs

    Jukka Aho Guest

    I would call a tv set with a 4:3 tube a "4:3 set" regardless of whether
    it also supports full frame 16:9 signals or not. (The set was not
    advertised with anything "16:9" related
    back when I bought it. I did not even know about the switching/squeezing
    capability in advance.)
    That's true for analogue broadcasts because they letterbox the 16F16
    material to 16L12 or 14L12 format before broadcasting. It's not true for
    16:9 capable video cameras, because they will output the 16F16 signal
    "as is". (At least mine does.)
    Feeding a 4:3 set 16F16 pictures when the set does not know how to
    handle that type of signal results in tall thin people. There's no magic
    to it.
    DVD players and DVB (Freeview) set-top boxes usually have a menu option
    for choosing whether they should letterbox the 16F16 images or not. I
    don't need to letterbox anything in advance for my 4:3 telly because it
    can handle 16F16 signals and wide-screen signalling all right.

    I usually tend not to, since I can - at least theoretically speaking -
    get a better picture by letting the TV handle the squeezing, instead of
    doing it in an external box and wasting big parts of the active video
    signal for the black bars.
    Jukka Aho, Feb 15, 2007
  11. melianbriggs

    John Russell Guest

    Thanks John, does this mean that the widescreen LCD is sort of "just
    If the buttons are on the side of the LCD then it's a 4:3 LCD. To fit a
    16:9 LCD Sony put the buttons on the bottom. The 35E is a 4:3 camcorder with
    a 4:3 LCD.
    To create Widescreen from a 4:3 Letterbox requires scaling. There are all
    kinds of ways this can be done. It dosn't follow letting the camcorder do it
    will be better than doing it using editing software, and differnt editors
    will use different algorthms.

    If you record in 4:3 you won't be worse off. This image will contain the 432
    lines the camcorder would have used to generate Widescreen.

    If you set up your editor to generate widescreen you will get a widescreen
    editing screen. Your 4:3 video will fit in the middle, with black columns
    either side. You will have to apply a widescreen pan/scan filter to extract
    a 16:9 image from the 4:3.
    John Russell, Feb 15, 2007
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