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Anamorphic Widescreen the Wrong Choice?


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#1 of 27 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted June 29 2001 - 11:16 AM

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 of 27 OFFLINE   GlennH

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Posted June 29 2001 - 11:57 AM

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. Posted Image

#3 of 27 OFFLINE   Hendrik

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Posted June 29 2001 - 11:58 AM


"...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 of 27 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted June 29 2001 - 03:44 PM

Thanks for the note, page updated accordingly.

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#5 of 27 OFFLINE   Ron Eastman

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Posted June 29 2001 - 04:39 PM

Quote:
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
I agree with just everything in Glenn's post except for the above statement. I think the quality loss in both cases is very significant; seeing a jagged edge on curved surfaces or jaggies in straight lines on a diagonal plane can be extremely distracting, especially on large screen 4x3 monitors.

That, however, doesn't change my opinion that all widescreen movies should be anamorphic. Since I know that a 16x9 television is in the future for most of us I prefer to be prepared for that eventuality. Hopefully for me this will be a reality before October 16th!

Great job, Adam. Very nice demonstration.

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#6 of 27 OFFLINE   cafink

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Posted June 29 2001 - 05:14 PM

Quote:
The anamorphic picture is downconverted by your DVD player by removing every forth line of resolution and replacing them with black bars at the top and bottom.

This simply isn't correct. While it's true that some DVD players perform downconversion this way (early Toshibas did, I'm not sure if they still do), there are at least as many players whose downconversion method is closer to the "combining" you did yourself with Photoshop. The picture is nice and smooth, but it's also softer, more "blurry" (as opposed to a sharp picture that has "jaggies").
 

 


#7 of 27 OFFLINE   Bjoern Roy

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Posted June 29 2001 - 10:33 PM

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:

Non-anam.

Please use this picture in your comparisson instead yours, to provide a fair comparisson between an anam. and non-anam. transfer. Newbies might get a wrong idea otherwise.

Third, while your point is valid that an anamorphic downconverted image is usually inferior to a proper non-anamorphic transfer, consider this:

- as has been mentioned, mostly Toshiba is using the 'drop 4th line' algorithm; Sony is using some sort of interpolation that doesn't show the '4th line aliasing' artefacts at all, at the cost of a slightly softer picture; Panasonic and Pioneer also manage to do that, while the result is a little less soft

- while not exactly easy, it would be technically possible for DVD player manufacturer to design a filter process that downconverts anam. DVDs so good that its output would be indistinguishable from the perfect non-anamorphic sibling

a) for video content, its very easy, you simply have to downconvert both fields seperately

b) for film content (24fps with 3:2 pulldown), you would have to apply proper inverse 3:2 pd first, downconvert the resulting film frames (24fps) and apply interlaced 3:2 pulldown again to get to 480i again

The above would be especially easy to implement for the current crop of progressive DVD players, because they already have the 3:2 pd detection build in. Thus, in the future, progressive scan DVD players might have the best picture quality when used on a interlaced 4:3 display, a side-effect of the technology.

So to answer your thread title 'Anamorphic Widescreen the Wrong Choice?':

NO, the only rational choice!

The advantages of the anamorphic treatment for 16x9 TVs or 4x3 TVs with a 16x9 mode (like Hendrik mentioned) are obvious, and as i said, the DVD player industry could make the downconvertion a mood point for the rest (4x3 TVs without 16x9 mode), if they wanted to. The fact that they haven't done so yet, means:

a) their research shows that there is no interest among most 4x3 TV owners (no complaining) and that those who would care, like the members on this board, either have a 16x9 TV anyway, or should buy one soon in their opinion (Sony, Pioneer, Toshiba anyone? Posted Image)

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 of 27 OFFLINE   Craig Robertson

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Posted June 30 2001 - 06:25 AM

i hate pop ups. Posted Image

#9 of 27 OFFLINE   John CW

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Posted June 30 2001 - 09:52 AM

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! Posted Image). 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! Posted Image

Laters!

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#10 of 27 OFFLINE   AaronMK

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Posted June 30 2001 - 11:03 AM

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 of 27 OFFLINE   Matt Heebner

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Posted June 30 2001 - 12:44 PM

Quote:
Even though I don't have a widescreen set, I will still be less likely to purchase a disc if it is non-anamorphic.

Hell...when I come across a non-anamorphic dvd, I grab it out of the player, run screaming from the living room, and fling it to the street. No remorse, no pity.
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#12 of 27 OFFLINE   LukeB

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Posted June 30 2001 - 03:13 PM

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 of 27 OFFLINE   Todd Hochard

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Posted June 30 2001 - 04:05 PM

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

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#14 of 27 OFFLINE   Paul.S

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Posted August 26 2001 - 08:57 AM

Adam:

Quote:
Originally posted by Bjoern Roy:
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.

Quote:
Originally posted by John CW:
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! Posted Image). The improvements are definitely there, but your example is like putting on glasses!

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? Posted Image

Cheers,
Paul

#15 of 27 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted August 26 2001 - 10:11 AM

Quote:
This simply isn't correct. While it's true that some DVD players perform downconversion this way (early Toshibas did, I'm not sure if they still do), there are at least as many players whose downconversion method is closer to the "combining" you did yourself with Photoshop. The picture is nice and smooth, but it's also softer, more "blurry" (as opposed to a sharp picture that has "jaggies").
Thank you for the info. There are different, minor artifacts based on the player. Good to keep in mind.

Quote:
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.
Sorry to burst your bubble... This isn't from any DVD. I have (or more accurately had) access to about 10 high-resolution screenshots from various parts of the movie. I simply chose one and down-converted it to the proper resolution.
Quote:
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.
You are correct, for the anamorphic example I cheated a little bit. You caught me Posted Image. This was done primarily to emphasize the difference on the much smaller size of your average monitor. I wanted to be clear that Anamorphic defineately offers the better picture. It hurts my point by playing with data, so if people want this page to continue, then I'll be happy to update the image to the correct resolution.
Quote:
- as has been mentioned, mostly Toshiba is using the 'drop 4th line' algorithm; Sony is using some sort of interpolation that doesn't show the '4th line aliasing' artefacts at all, at the cost of a slightly softer picture; Panasonic and Pioneer also manage to do that, while the result is a little less soft
Carl brought this up as well, and you're both right, I over simplified the issue. While both have a slight cost to the picture, Carl is also right that many J6Ps wouldn't notice/care about the difference.
Quote:
while not exactly easy, it would be technically possible for DVD player manufacturer to design a filter process that downconverts anam. DVDs so good that its output would be indistinguishable from the perfect non-anamorphic sibling
Sure. However, since no player (to my knowledge) exists with such a complex algorithm, my point still stands. I'm not going to reply to the rest of your comments as I've addressed them already, but you're correct.

Quote:
i hate pop ups.
So do I, however they keep the costs of managing a website down significantly. If you would like to pay the $120 a year it would cost me to keep them disabled, then I'd happily accept and have the pop-ups removed. However, as this has no relevance to the topic at hand, I'll leave it at that.
Quote:
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!
It was indeed an oversight on my part. If/When I update the page again, I'll be sure to change the terminology.
Quote:
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.
Thank you for your honest opinion. I agree, Anamorphic is the way to go, and I myself refuse to buy non-Anamorphic DVDs who's OAR has a width 1.78 times greater than it's width (1.66:1 offers greater resolution, but at the cost of presentation). However, at the time I posted this, Some HTFers were of the opinion that anamorphic had no disadvantages. I wanted to show that this was simply not the case, however minimal the disadvantages were. It spurred an exellent discussion, so I'm glad.

Quote:
Hell...when I come across a non-anamorphic dvd, I grab it out of the player, run screaming from the living room, and fling it to the street. No remorse, no pity.
ROTFLMAO Posted Image

Quote:
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.
If that's you're grounds for viewing websites, than you sure as hell miss out on alot of the great things the web offers. When I started with my current host, I had only one on-page banner. However, since the online ad market has bottomed out, they need more advertising to get the same revenue. And the site costs enough as it is with out having to pay the extra $120 a year (which I can currently spend on DVDs) to keep two pop-ups from appearing. I shudder to think of how much Ron and Parker pay with such heavy bandwidth at a professional host. I would suggest you critique the content of my pages rather that refuse to read it because you had to click the X at the top of TWO windows. You don't stop watching a television series after the first commerical break on it's pilot episode, did you? Now back to the topic at hand.
Quote:
This MAY (not IMO) have been an argument that had merit in 1997, but here, now- 2001, it no longer applies, IMO.
No longer applies? When the majority of televisions in households are either 16x9 or can perform the squeeze, it will no longer apply. Currently, things are the opposite. I apologize for the pop-ups, but I thank you for actually reading what I had to present.

Quote:
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?
Nothing nearly as exciting or malicious. I simply posted it before leaving on a weekend trip, and it sunk a page or two down, and so I forgot about it. Now that you have brought it back to the top, I have replied to the posts in one fell swoop.

Adam Posted Image

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#16 of 27 OFFLINE   Dave H

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Posted August 26 2001 - 11:04 AM

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 of 27 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted August 26 2001 - 11:12 AM

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 of 27 OFFLINE   Michael St. Clair

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Posted August 26 2001 - 11:35 AM

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 of 27 OFFLINE   David Lambert

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Posted August 26 2001 - 12:09 PM

Quote:
i hate pop ups. Posted Image

Quote:
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.


Quote:
P.S. The pop-ups are very annoying.


I don't often go out of my way to promote a product, but I too got tired of these pop-up ads, in the extreme! AICN has 'em, Metacrawler has 'em, heck even Dictionary.com has 'em!!! It's beyond irritating to me to haveta spend time closing all those ad windows! Turning off Java isn't the answer on a modern internet; Java is too necessary for other things while surfing.

Well, boys 'n' girls, when I clicked on the links to the demo sites he posted for this thread, *I* didn't see any pop-up ads? Ya wanna know why?

Because I've been here: http://www.meaya.com/

There I paid $24.95 for "PopUp Ad Filter". I'll let the site go into detail, but it does EXACTLY what the name implies that it does. It makes it so that you never see those friggin' things again! It has worked for me 100%, and I can endorse it.

No, I don't get anything for recommending that you use it. In fact, it works for free for the first 30-40 popup blocks before you have to pay for anything. I am just tired of the trend toward pop-ups, and it seems that many of you are, too. So this is a friendly recommendation, that's all.

If for any reason my post here is against any HTF policy I am unaware of, then an admin can either delete it, edit it out, or ask me to edit it out. I'll understand; no resentment on my part. I'm just trying to help out other HTF members is all. Cheers,




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#20 of 27 OFFLINE   Dave H

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Posted August 26 2001 - 12:18 PM

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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