Anamorphic Widescreen the Wrong Choice?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Adam Lenhardt, Jun 29, 2001.

  1. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    I was messing around in Photoshop today with a Phantom Menace screencapture. Just for fun, I added black bars and squeezed the image into the unstretched anamorphic form. Then I manually deleted every forth line and added addition black space on the top and bottom. Then I had Photoshop squeeze the same image down to it's proper AR and added the black bars. The results surprised me:
    On the Advantages and Disadvantages of an Anamorphic Transfer
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  2. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    Interesting. Of course actual DVD players use different algorithms to perform the downconversion, with differing degrees of success. They usually don't just "throw out" every 4th line without doing some interpolation that smooths things out a bit.
    But anybody serious enough to be this discriminating in comparing video quality should get serious enough to buy a widescreen set or be willing to accept the slight degradation in picture quality as the price they pay to stick with a 4:3 TV.
    Quality loss watching anamorphic DVD downconverted on a 4:3 TV vs. letterboxed: slight
    Quality loss watching non-anamorphic DVD on a 16:9 TV or projector vs. anamorphic: significant
    The bottom line is that widescreen DVDs should always be anamorphic (yes, even 1.66:1). The technology should not be "dumbed" down. And statistics about the number of 4:3 sets vs. 16:9 sets in use don't sway me one bit on this - the vast majority of those 4:3 set owners would never spot the difference if you pointed it out. A good percentage of them have sets that are so badly calibrated they couldn't even begin to see it.
    Of course, I own a widescreen HDTV, so I'm a completely unbiased source of information on this. [​IMG]
     
  3. Hendrik

    Hendrik Supporting Actor

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    "...As such, non-anamorphic picture is actually the better choice on a square television.
    ...granted, except when the 'square' television features the 16:9 mode - which is true of many, if not all, large-size (28" diagonal and up) European 4:3 TVs (e.g. Sony Wega, Panasonic, Thomson...)
    . . .
     
  4. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the note, page updated accordingly.
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  5. Ron Eastman

    Ron Eastman Second Unit

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  6. cafink

    cafink Producer

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  7. Bjoern Roy

    Bjoern Roy Second Unit

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    Adam,
    First of all, where did you get the screenshot from? Is it directly off the DVD transfer? That would be magnificent, it completely lacks edge enhancement. Please elaborate.
    Second, about the upper 2 pictures. While its true an anamorphic transfer has 33% more vertical resolution than a non-anamorphic sibling and thus look 'crisper', your comparisson is terribly exaggerated. The non-anamorphic version seems to have more like 50% of the resolution in both dimensions rather than having only 75% vertical and 100% horizontal. For your convenience, i uploaded a correctly downsampled non-anamorphic version of the first picture here:
    [​IMG])
    b) they know how to do it, but don't want to implement it, because the commonly used chipsets don't offer the functionality yet, and they don't want to or can't design their own logic
    Best regards
    Bjoern
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  8. Craig Robertson

    Craig Robertson Supporting Actor

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    i hate pop ups. [​IMG]
     
  9. John CW

    John CW Supporting Actor

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    Your results seem a *little* exaggerated! For example the difference between a non-anamorphic and anamorphic transfer on my $2000 Widescreen TV is no way that apparent (although I *wish* it was! [​IMG]). The improvements are definitely there, but your example is like putting on glasses!
    Anyways, I was going to make a point: If you read your article it implies that an "NTSC TV" means a non-widescreen TV. You should refer to a non-widescreen TV as "4:3" or "1.33:1". You can have an NTSC Widescreen TV easily!
    Not sure if this was an oversight on your part, but it certainly comes across confusingly! [​IMG]
    Laters!
    ~ John
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  10. AaronMK

    AaronMK Supporting Actor

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    I watch on a 4:3 27" TV, and with a Panasonic, the results of anamorphic downconversion were easy to see. It pretty much used the "remove every fourth line" method and jagged edges were a little distracting. With the Sony I have now, it looks much better. There are still artifacts from downconversion, but you have to specically look for them in most cases.
    There is no reason to not use an anamorphic transfer. Most players today do a good job downconverting, and even with the Panasonic I used to have, it was not worth giving up the benefits that would be provided when I do eventually get a 16:9 set. Even though I don't have a widescreen set, I will still be less likely to purchase a disc if it is non-anamorphic.
     
  11. Matt Heebner

    Matt Heebner Stunt Coordinator

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  12. LukeB

    LukeB Cinematographer

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    Well I started reading your page but I was bombarded by pop-up windows, which is a no-no for me. Sorry but I have no intention of returning.
     
  13. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    This MAY (not IMO) have been an argument that had merit in 1997, but here, now- 2001, it no longer applies, IMO.
    Television is moving, albeit too damn slowly, toward 16x9 programming. DVDs should be made with the future in mind. If anamorphic downconversion really bothers you, you have two basic options:
    1. Get a Sony DVD player.
    2. Buy a widescreen TV.
    I would submit that someone who is highly concerned with video quality would go for #2. With a 2.35x1 disc shown on a 4x3 screen, you are either going to have jaggies, or a soft picture. With only 270 lines of picture info, there's simply no way around it.
    Personally, I'm hoping that HD-DVD (or whatever it will be called) will include 20x9 encoding, and the TVs of that time will have a "squeeze mode" much like the 4x3 Sonys do now.
    Todd
    P.S. The pop-ups are very annoying.
     
  14. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    Adam:
    Bjoern and John raise some good points . . . and you have yet to return to the thread to respond . . .
    . . . or was it always your intent--especially given your subject line in this Forum--to hurriedly scurry off and never return to the "zoo" after dropping bloody cold cuts just outside the "tiger" cages? [​IMG]
    Cheers,
    Paul
     
  15. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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  16. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    Someone who has non-anamorphic and anamorphic DVDs is probably better off getting a 4:3 set that does the squeeze so s/he can get the best of both worlds.
    I do agree that all widescreen DVDs should be anamorphic and this is something I always look for when I buy a DVD. If it's not anamorphic, I won't buy it even though my TV does not do the squeeze because I know one day(hopefully in the near future) I will own a TV that is either widescreen or does the squeeze. I always think ahead.
     
  17. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I have a 4:3 TV right now, so if any DVD's look crappy because of the down-conversion....I could care less.
    When I get a 16:9 monitor, I'll only have to replace 5 of my DVD's (2 are/will be availible for upgrading to 16x9).
    Basically, it may look poor on my 4:3 monition, but they'll work perfectly for the wide TV. Get what I'm saying?
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  18. Michael St. Clair

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    It is true that no matter how good your player performs downconversion, that the downconverted image will be inferior to a new (not an old recycled laserdisc) non-anamorphic letterboxed transfer on a 4:3 set with no squeeze mode.
    But if the player has a good downconversion circuit, it's a worthwhile tradeoff (future-proofing your collection at a very slight decrease in sharpness in the meantime).
    I cannot recommend the Toshiba players for use on regular 4:3 sets, but that's a whole story in and of itself. Such cheap downconversion should not be used in any players.
     
  19. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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  20. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    Michael,
    You said:
    "It is true that no matter how good your player performs downconversion, that the downconverted image will be inferior to a new (not an old recycled laserdisc) non-anamorphic letterboxed transfer on a 4:3 set with no squeeze mode."
    This may be true with ALL other factors being equal. But, rarely are all things equal. I own about eight or 10 non-anamorphic DVDs - some considered "good" quality - and none of them even compare in terms to video quality to my better anamorphic DVDS. (My 4:3 TV unfortunately doesn't perform the squeeze.)
    Again, I agree with your point - just something I wanted to point out. Practically speaking, it seems to depend on the particular disc for 4:3 TV owners who don't have the squeeze.
    [Edited last by Dave H on August 26, 2001 at 07:20 PM]
    [Edited last by Dave H on August 26, 2001 at 07:21 PM]
     

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