Just what exactly is Anamorphic Widescreen?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Derek J, Sep 9, 2001.

  1. Derek J

    Derek J Extra

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    I tried to search for a thread that explained what it is but no luck. I see the word being used a lot at HTF and I'd like to know what it means. Can someone please explain without getting too technical what the term "Anamorphic" means and how it works?
    Thanks
     
  2. MatS

    MatS Screenwriter

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  3. Derek J

    Derek J Extra

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    Mats,
    Thanks for that link. If anyone would still like to put in their two pennies then go ahead.
     
  4. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    the link mat provided is probably the most often recommended link.
    it does a spectacular job of explaining anamorphic. once i read it, i had it figured out.
    ------------------
    You step in the stream,
    But the water has moved on.
    This page is not here.
     
  5. Wes Ray

    Wes Ray Supporting Actor

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    "Just what exactly is Anamorphic Widescreen?"
    It's a myth...a spook story pan & scans tell their kids at night. 'Rat on your pop, and Anamorphic Widescreen will get you.'
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    Wes, [​IMG]
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  7. Jonathan Burk

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    Anders Englund Second Unit

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  9. Jerry Gracia

    Jerry Gracia Supporting Actor

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    I kinda understand why the word "anamorphic" is used on DVD. On a 4:3, the image on DVD appears stretched when the 16:9 setting is activated, much like a "scope" 2.35:1 image appears stretched on a 4:3 film cell even though its really squeezed.
    DVD is in a 4:3 > 16:9 transition period so the use of the word "anamorphic" isn't terrible IMO.
    ------------------
    LuvLBX
     
  10. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Oh yes it does matter.
    I argued for 15 minutes with a THX rep who insisted that there was no real reason why they should push for "anamorphic" DVD encoding (when the 4x3 lbx Abyss was coming out) because the "stretched" pixels on an anamorphic DVD weren't as good as "real" 16x9 video.
    I explained that the pixels on DVD are stretched whether 4x3 or 16x9 images are stored...in one case taller than wide and in the other case wider than tall...so there was no real reason to consider one aspect ratio (4x3) the "real" one and the other somehow "stretched".
    The fact is that DVD can store a real 4x3 encoded image and a prefectly real 16x9 encoded image. Pixel shape, as someone previously mentioned, is irrelevant.
    There are plenty of other "experts" with opionions that are affecting the DVDs that you and I watch...and many of them have ideas that are not accurate. Why won't MGM or Warner 16x9 encoded a 1.66:1 title when Disney can do it with Tarzan and improve the maxiumum resoluion of the disc? No one has complained about the windowboxing bars that I'm aware of...yet MGM and Warner seem to think that the overscan that makes these anomolies invisible to Joe Six pack doens't exist while they add edge-enhancement to every disc they can.
    I've been arguing for the last few years that "16x9 encoded" should be the term we HT enthusiasts use...not "anamorphic". Don't make it sound to anyone that 16x9 discs take a back-seat, are second-best, or are somehow an "add on" that's not as good as REAL 16x9 video.
    DVDs aren't NTSC. They are Standard Definition video. They can store 720x480 component progressive digital video in either 4x3 or 16x9 aspect ratios. I know it. You know it. We've got to get the "experts" who make our discs thinking that way too.
    -dave
    [Edited last by DaViD Boulet on September 10, 2001 at 11:33 AM]
     
  11. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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  12. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    I'll be happy. This a topic I really feel strongly about because it's conceptions about DVD as an "NTSC" format that end up producing DVDs like Abyss or Titanic.
    Here's the bottom line: Your DVD isn't an NTSC-limited source...but your 480I DVD player is.
    Let's think about what makes NTSC what it is:
    Composite video, 4x3 aspect ratio, 480I active picture area.
    Now think about DVD. It's component. It can support BOTH 4x3 and 16x9 native aspect ratios. It can support 480I AND 480P video.
    The way we can watch those component, 480P, 16x9 DVD images on our NTSC-conforming TVs is because of what the DVD player does. It downconverts. It can matrix component video down into S (which is actually bypassing an inherent NTSC step) and composite signals. It generates a 480I signal from a DVD regardless of how that video originated...film, true 480P video or 480I video. It can downconvert 16x9 resolution to display on 4x3 screens.
    It's your DVD player that's NTSC.
    Guess what Standard Definition digital TV is. It's 480x720 resolution (just like DVD). It's component digital (again), 480I/P capable (just like DVD) and (you guessed it) supports both 4x3 and 16x9 aspect ratios.
    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's a duck. Standard defition DTV signals are identical in resolution and encoding features (16x9/4x3/480I/480P) to DVD.
    I guess I'm starting to repeat myself. That's because here we are buying progressive-scan DVD players to output component video in 480P format to our 16x9 front projection systems...and we still have people making our discs calling DVD an "NTSC" format.
    Laserdisc was the inherent composite, 4x3, 480I - NTSC format that we lived with for years. DVD has done more to improve things than just gone digital. It's given us Standard Definition DTV resolution potential.
    -dave
     
  13. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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  14. Jeffrey G

    Jeffrey G Agent

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    This is really a great link. If everyone could read this article, they would understand what they're missing with Pan-n-Scan.
    Thanks for the info. I learned a lot myself.
    ------------------
    Jeff Gossett
     
  15. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    No, No, No. I don't understand why people have such a hard time with this.
    quote: Yes they are. They are squeezed into the 4x3 frame. They are then stretched back to their original aspect ratio for 16x9 televisions, or squeezed back to their original aspect ration for 4x3 televisions. None of this has an impact on the final picture which people see on their screens, other than increased resolution for 16x9 TVs.[/quote]
    Re-read my post. I'm right. It's that simple. DVD supports two aspect ratios: 4x3 and 16x9 (MPEG 2 actually is designed to support a 3rd aspect ratio...20x9, but the designers of DVD chose to leave out that option). Most people use the laymen's term "anamorphic" to describe the 16x9 aspect ratio option, but it's really just word games. if we all had 16x9 TVs with only a few people having 4x3 sets, these same people would have labeled the 4x3 discs as "anamorphic" instead.
    There's no literal "stretching" going on on the disc. You've got a disc that's encoded with a 4x3 or a 16x9 image. Period. Again, re-read my post and think about it. A 16x9 TV isn't "unstretching" anything when it plays back a 16x9 DVD. It's just playing the image filling the entire screen. A 16x9 set has to "sqeeze" a 4x3 image and windowbox it to keep it the right shape. Does that mean that 4x3 images are anamorphic? The term "anamorphic" only has relevance if you arbitrarily assume that one shape is "the one" and the other shape is an add-on. As far as the digital encoding of the DVD is concerned, it's just a matter of a 4x3 or a 16x9 option.
    quote: You're correct, DVDs can hold any format. But any format won't be reconized by your DVD player. The only two formats (AFAIK) reconized by DVD players are the PAL and NTSC formats. And even that has it's limitations... A PAL formatted disc will not play on many NTSC players (region issues aside).[/quote]
    Again, re-read my post. yes, our R1 discs have a little "NTSC" logo because they are designed to ultimately be compatible with NTSC TV (because all R1 DVD players are desinged to output NTSC-compatible signals). But the DVD is literally storing a 480x720 Standard-Definition digital signal that is being down-converted to NTSC restrictions for your TV upon playback. Component, 16x9, progressive-scan images...which DVD can store in their native form...are NOT NTSC.
    Heck, your DVD player is actually performing the 3-2 pulldown with discs mastered from film storing only the source 24 fps information. Is it starting to make sense? That 24 fps (progressive) information wasn't NTSC compatible until your DVD player did 3-2 on it to output 30 frames/60 fields-per-second 480I video.
    Fact:
    DVDs store a standard definition digital signal that uses 480 x 720 resolution for discs intended for NTSC playback (and uses higher resolution for discs intended for PAL playback which doesn't exactly coorespond to the American's spec for a Standard Def DTV signal). But the inherent quality of the signal on your disc is NOT NTSC-limited. Your DVD stores its image as component (NTSC-limited would be composite). It can store 24 frames-per-second Progressive scan (NTSC-limited would be 60 fields per second interlaced only). DVD can store a REAL 16x9 aspect ratio image (NTSC-limited would only be 4x3). Your DVD player makes sure that this standard-definition digital signal gets downconverted to whatever level it needs to for your 4x3 interlaced NTSC television.
    I'm not trying to be caddy. I'm just trying to debunc (sp?) one of the biggest and most desctructive myths about DVD...that it's "just another NTSC medium" when it, in fact, is so much more.
    -dave
    [Edited last by DaViD Boulet on September 11, 2001 at 02:23 PM]
     
  16. Graeme Clark

    Graeme Clark Cinematographer

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  17. Sean Moon

    Sean Moon Cinematographer

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    I dont think anamorphic is a destructive term at all...it is an all encompassing term describing a DVD designed to work on a 16x9 set, but also work on a 4x3 set when the player converts it. Simple as that. So calm down David...settle your sphincter, as you are getting a little too emotinal on the semantics of this argument in my opinion.
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  18. David Tolsky

    David Tolsky Supporting Actor

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    Did anyone stop to think that perhaps the term "anamorphic" comes from film production? Anamorphically shot films are films that are squeezed photographically with special lenses that squish the image. It isn't until these images are unsqeezed in the special unsqueezing projector lens that we get our super widescreen image. This was the basis of Cinemascope, introduced by Twentieth Century Fox (and was a way to fight the threat of the advancements of television-but that's another story [​IMG] ). Anyway, that leads me to believe that a similar process of squeezing and unsqueezing is going on with dvd's enhanced for 16 X 9 tv's.
     
  19. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Hey,
    I'm calm.
    This just happens to be one of those topics that I really feel is important to clarify.
    Graeme Clark,
    Yes, I realize that all these web-sites talk about "streched" this and "stretched" that. I used those terms too when I sold 16x9 TVs and DVDs when I was an AV salesperson.
    Here's the deal. That's not really what's happening. Yes, I know that even sites like the digital bits say the word "stretched". Even Craig Eggers of Toshiba says "stretched' when referring to "anamorphic" DVD.
    Early on somehow the term "anamorphic" got picked for DVD. I think it just got popularized because, obviously, when you watch a native 16x9 image on a 4x3 TV it looks tall and skinny...or "stretched".
    What words people use to call 16x9 DVD in their conversation is no biggie. I'm just trying to explain to those of us who are AV junkies here at the forum what really goes on.
    The DVD format is a digital format. It encodes images with 480 x 720 resolution. These images can either represent a 4x3 aspect ratio or a 16x9 aspect ratio.
    Since most people have 4x3 TVs, the assumption with giving terms to these two aspect ratios is that 4x3 is somehow the "standard" and 16x9 is somehow an add-on or something that's squished to fit. It's not really...it's a regular 16x9 image just like the "real" 16x9 image you get on HDTV or 16x9 SDTV.
    Naturally if you play back a 16x9 image on a 4x3 set with no downconversion it will look stretched tall and skinny. But if you play a 4x3 image filling the screen of a 16x9 set it will also look distorited...fat and wide.
    So the bottom line is that in a technical sense, there's no real difference to the way a 16x9 or 4x3 image are recorded onto a DVD. Depending on your point of view as to which shape TV is "normal" or standard is what causes you to label the other aspect ratio as "anamorphic" because it looks distorted on your set. Think about it...if we all had 16x9 TVs...and we watched a DVD that was 4x3 in aspect ratio...we'd all call 4x3 DVDs "anamorphic" because they looked distorted on our sets.
    Again, the reason why I think it's important to understand that in reality there's nothing "anamorphic" about a 16x9 DVD is that when terms like that get going (as it already is) then even industry leaders, who aren't technical gurus, start to form opinons about things based on the way these terms sound. You have no idea how difficult it was to explain to the THX rep I spoke with that 16x9 DVD mastering was a benefit when all he could say was "but why do you care so much since anamorphic DVD won't ever be as good as "real" 16x9???". Just insane.
    So that's the deal. Like I said, ignore all the "stretched" things you've read all over the internet and everywhere else. Accept for a moment that that term "anamorphic" and all the "stretched" things it implies are a matter of semantics and don't really explain the true nature of what's going on the disc. Think about the logic of what makes one aspect ratio "standard" and the other somehow stretched. We could flip a coin and decide that 16x9 is the normal one and suddenly call 4x3 stuff "anamorphic" because it looks "stretched" when it fills a 16x9 screen.
    I just prefer to describe DVD the way it really is. 4x3 or 16x9. Then we wouldn't have people writing letters to the editor of SGTHT asking why the same "FULL" mode on his 16x9 HDTV works to display "real" 16x9 HDTV images as well as "anamorphic" DVD images. Even SGTHT didn't get it.
     
  20. Bruce F

    Bruce F Agent

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    David,
    I understand your explanation....
    The question that it raises is what exactly is the difference between a region 1 and a region X DVD?
    Based on what I understood you to say, the data appears to be significantly the same on both regions...
    Should I assume that the basic difference is an encoding so that the marketing people can keep folks in region X from seeing region Y discs? Is in fact that actual data carrying the film data the same?
    Thanks for taking the time to explain all this [​IMG]
    Bruce
     

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