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4:3 Squeeze option on DVD player - Degrades the quality of 4:3 framed DVD's?

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#1 of 3 OFFLINE   Ray Ruggaurs

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Posted March 15 2008 - 07:41 PM

Hi everyone! I've noticed that my DVD player has a 4:3 squeeze option. It appears to output 16:9 DVD's in a squished 4:3 format and add pillar boxes to 4:3 content DVDs. My observations good for: - watching letterboxed 4:3 movies as it allows the film to take up all the horizontal real estate on a WS TV (with the help of the TV's zoom modes), and - full screen 4:3 movies with 16:9 menus with the latter's benefit that I don't have to change the setup on the TV) BTW, this is for a widescreen TV. Now for 16:9 content theoretically there's no loss of data since 480 or 576 anamorphic is a still a 4:3 shaped rectangle. But for 4:3 content, is the DVD player removing vertical information to make room for the pillar boxes? In other words - is this set up not getting the most out of a fullscreen 4:3 DVD? I assume then for full screen 4:3 DVD's I'm better off using the 4:3 letter box or 16:9 wide option to retain the full resolution of 4:3 content? Thanks

#2 of 3 OFFLINE   Allan Jayne

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Posted March 18 2008 - 04:57 AM

It depends on the player but usually it does degrade the quality for standard definition and usually does not degrade the quality for 720p and 1080i output from the player.

It depends on the player as to whether picture information is lost to do the pillar boxing. If the player has enough bandwidth and performs the conversion properly, then there will be enough detail capability remaining after the pillarboxing so all the picture information is preserved.

4:3 squeeze on a DVD player is pillarboxing. It is meant to make up for the shortcomings of TV sets. It is for those 16:9 tv's that lock into 16:9 mode for one reason or another. You use the 4:3 squeeze on 4:3 shows. Yes you can use it for non-anamorphic letterbox shows and then use zoom on the TV.

4:3 letterbox on a DVD player is only for those (actually most) 4:3 TV's that don't have a 16:9 option or an easily adjusted height (VSIZ) control.

But use the 16:9 mode on the DVD player as your first choice, assuming you can adjust the TV aspect ratio to your liking. This provides the best resolution for all DVD's.

The 16:9 mode from a DVD player does the least massaging of the video signal, doing nothing at all if you did not choose upconversion. The TV can stretch video any way it wants to (or within the controls provided, any way you want to.)

Because 720p and 1080i have 16:9 as their normal mode, it is not unusual for the TV to lock into 16:9 when receiving those signals including from an "upconverting" DVD player. But a TV that locks into 16:9 mode for SDTV (480i and 480p) is not worth buying.

Technically the SDTV DVD video signal comes over with about 720 pixels worth of detail horizontally. To do the 4:3 squeeze mode for both 4:3 and 16:9 DVD's, the DVD player leaves the first eighth and last eighth of the video frame width (pixel rows) blank (to make pillarboxing) and only the middle is used for the picture. Players upconverting to HD format, and HDTV sets, should have enough bandwidth so the middle of the picture can still reproduce all 720 pixels per scan line. A few SD DVD players and a few SDTV's have enough bandwidth to preserve all 720 pixels of pixels in the middle, but most don't. If the full width of the player's video output was just 720 pixels, 540 pixels across remain after leaving the sides blank.

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#3 of 3 OFFLINE   Ray Ruggaurs

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Posted March 18 2008 - 11:22 PM

Thanks very much for your advice Allan! My DVD player does upscale to 1080i so hopefully it does use all 720 worth of detail in its upscaling. I'm mainly considering using the 4:3 squeeze for non-anamorphic letterboxed stuff, using the 4:3 squeeze, upscale 1080i and the TV zoom function to fill all the screen real estate horizontally. The only other option I've found that preserves the aspect ratio and shape is to turn off upscaling, use 16:9 wide or 4:3 letterboxed and the TV zoom. I think its because the TV zoom function works differently for standard definition content and high def content. Thanks again!

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