Questions about letterbox/anamorphic and squeeze trick

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jason Price, Oct 21, 2001.

  1. Jason Price

    Jason Price Second Unit

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    I recently bought a Panasonic 36HX41 HDTV, which has the auto-squeeze trick. Since getting this tv, I have some questions about letterbox vs anamorphic. Here's my understanding of the two:
    Letterbox:
    The smallest picture of the two. Vertical picture height is approximately 2/3 of the height of a 4:3 tv.
    Anamorphic
    Preferred format. Slightly taller image, but still black bars top and bottom.
    With my new tv, I told my DVD player that I had a 16:9 tv. After doing so, I verified the squeeze was working. I have noticed that on my DVDs labeled as anamorphic, the picture size is actually what I'm used to for letterbox. The menus and such, however, conform to the anamorphic picture size. This might not make sense, so here's an example:
    TPM DVD. Squeeze trick kicks in immediately, and all menus fill the entire usable screen, leaving probably 2" top and bottom for the black bars. Once the movie starts, the vertical height of the picture shrinks, and the black bars are now about 3"-4" wide.
    Is this normal? Shouldn't anamorphic DVDs use the entire screen area available when in "anamorphic squeeze" mode (smaller black bars)? Maybe I'm a little confused on the differences, so if someone could set me straight, I'd appreciate it.
    Thanks.
    ------------------
    -Jason
    If at first you don't succeed, see if the loser gets anything...
     
  2. Sean Conklin

    Sean Conklin Screenwriter

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    Yes this is normal. While your TV is VERY nice, it is still 4:3.
    Anamorphic squeeze does not take away the black bars.
    Without Anamorphic squeeze(if you have a 4:3 TV, and dvd player set to 4:3 letterbox)every 4th line I believe is removed so the picture ratio is the right size.
    With Anamorphic squeeze(4:3 TV, dvd player set to 16:9)the dvd player displays the full enhanced Anamorphic picture(no lines removed)and the TV automatically squeezes it down to it's correct ratio.(Without the squeeze your picture would be stretched and unwatchable on a 4:3 TV, with your dvd player set to 16:9)
    So without going into too much detail, YES the black bars will still be there to ensure the correct ratio is displayed on a 4:3 TV.
    Basically you will still have the same sized black bars with the added benefit of enhanced Anamorphic resolution.
    A 2.35, 1.85 or any widescreen ratio(Anamorphic or letterbox) movie cannot be displayed correctly on any 4:3 TV(squeeze or not)without the black bars to put it into it's correct scope ratio.
    *EDIT* I wanted to add that TPM probably has a 1.33 menu screen.(I haven't viewed it yet, but a lot of discs are this way.
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    Sean
    "I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates who said.......I drank what?"
    [Edited last by Sean Conklin on October 22, 2001 at 01:00 AM]
     
  3. Rick Radford

    Rick Radford Supporting Actor

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    Now wait a minute. Are you saying that with a 4:3 squeezable set, the DVD player should be set to 16:9?
    I thought I tried that and couldn't tell and difference from setting the DVD player (RP91) to 4:3 P&S or 4:3 letterbox (for a digital DV TV).
    I'm a little lost on what settings control what with all the options here.
    I have an aspect button on the TV remote, but I don't recall ever seeing the A/R being wrong (ie, all proportions appear correct for the mode chosen by the system) and needing to be changed manually.
    I understand about the black bars on 4:3 sets, but am wondering if my settings (4:3 P&S) are adversely affecting the PQ I see (which looks pretty darn good to me).
    ------------------
    --RR
    [Edited last by Rick Radford on October 21, 2001 at 11:52 PM]
     
  4. Sean Conklin

    Sean Conklin Screenwriter

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    Yes Rick, with a squeezable 4:3 TV you should set the dvd player for 16:9(on Anamorphic material only, I believe)
    Anything else you should set your DVD player for 4:3 Letterbox, not 4:3 P&S. If you are an OAR person you want to set your DVD player to 4:3 letterbox.
    Setting your DVD player for 4:3 P&S will Pan & Scan(display full frame) specially encoded Widescreen only discs, if the disc is widescreen and is not encoded with the P&S feature, the 4:3 P&S feature setting on your DVD player will still play it in letterbox. I do not think you will see any difference in picture quality.
    There are not that many discs out there with that P&S feature so chances are you have not played one yet.
    If your TV does the squeeze(and dvd player is set to 16:9,and TV is set to "squeeze"), and your playing Anamorphic material it is possible that you don't recognize the enhanced material, some Anamorphic DVD's are more detailed and noticeable than others. And you just can't tell the difference between "squeezed" 16:9 Anamorphic and 4:3 letterbox. But on a quality transfer you should see the difference!
    ---------------
    Sean
    "I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates who said.......I drank what?"
    [Edited last by Sean Conklin on October 22, 2001 at 01:16 AM]
     
  5. Ken Seeber

    Ken Seeber Supporting Actor

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    Actually, if you have a 4:3 TV that can "do the squeeze," you can leave your DVD player set to 16:9. If you play a DVD that is anamorphically enhanced, the TV will squeeze it to the proper proportions. If a DVD is not widescreen, or is widescreen but not anamorphically enhanced, the DVD player will output the same image whether it's set to 16:9 or 4:3 letterbox.
    Jason,
    To get back to your original post, you seem to be confusing a picture's aspect ratio with the term anamorphic. They do not mean the same thing. Anamorphic enhancement is simply a way of getting additional resolution out of a widescreen DVD by using what would be wasted as black bars to store additional picture.
    A widescreen TV has an aspect ratio of 16:9, which can also be expressed as 1.78:1 (the picture is 1.78 times as wide as it is tall). A standard TV has an aspect ratio of 4:3, which is the same as 1.33:1.
    It's late, so this is an oversimplification, but most movies made before the early 1950s were shot at 1.37:1, almost the same shape as non-widescreen TVs. That's why "Thw Wizardof Oz," "Snow White," "Casablanca," "Gone With the Wind," etc., are not available in widescreen. They weren't made that way.
    These days, most movies are made in either 1.85:1 or 2.35:1. There are exceptions, but those are the two biggies. "Saving Private Ryan" is 1.85:1, "The Phantom Menace" is 2.35:1.
    The 1.85:1 ratio is almost the same as 16:9, so on a widescreen TV, they'll just about fill up the screen. The 2.35:1 ratio, though, is considerably wider, so there will still be black bars on a widescreen set. They'll appear smaller than they do on a non-widescreen TV, but the movie's aspect ratio is still the same 2.35:1.
    The menus on "The Phantom Menace" are in 16:9, so they would fill the screen on a 16:9 TV. The movie itself, though, is wider.
    You should set your DVD player to 16:9 and leave it there because your TV will squeeze the picture to the correct shape. You'll be enjoying a third more resolution with anamorphically enhanced DVDs than us poor shlubs who have 4:3 sets that don't do the squeeze.
     
  6. Rick Radford

    Rick Radford Supporting Actor

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    Jason, sorry to hijack your thread. [​IMG]
    Sean and Ken, thanks for the pointers. I'm off to reset the RP91 to 16:9 and see what, if any, difference I can tell with TPM or The Patriot.
    I'm not aware of a selectable squeeze setting on the Hitachi 32UDX10S.. but I've only had it a week or so and I may be missing a lot yet. I'm guessing it does the squeeze when given the appropriate signal/format from the DVD player.
    I know it does 3:2 pulldown when in movie mode (which I leave it set in).
    I've not been able to tell ANY difference between 4:3 P&S and letterbox modes on the RP91.. probably for reasons you mentioned.
    Is it likely that with 4:3 (either) mode set on the RP91 that I've seen TPM in letterbox rather than squeezed? Is there a way for me to know the difference between the two?
    BTW, Sean, I don't know where you are in Montana, but I've spent some time in the Missoula area.. absolutely beautiful country out there.
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    --RR
    [Edited last by Rick Radford on October 22, 2001 at 08:02 AM]
     
  7. Sean Conklin

    Sean Conklin Screenwriter

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  8. JimHal

    JimHal Stunt Coordinator

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    I hope this does not sound dumb, but does the DVD player have to be progressive scan for the Anomorphic Squeeze trick to work?
    I just purchased a Toshiba 53HX71 and have an older Sony S330 dvd player. I'm going to buy a new DVD player so I can use the squeeze option on my tv (S330 doesn't have component).
    Do I need to buy a dvd player with progressive scan capabilities? Would it be a wise option to look for even if not needed for the squeeze?
     
  9. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    quote: does the DVD player have to be progressive scan for the Anomorphic Squeeze trick to work?[/quote]
    No. Anamorphic and progressive scan are two different things.
    Not all TVs that can do the anamorphic squeeze are progressive-capable.
    However, it's reasonable to assume that all progressive-capable displays are capable of the anamorphic squeeze.
    The DVD player doesn't care about progressive vs. nonprogressive when doing anamorphic.
    [Edited last by RobertR on October 22, 2001 at 01:08 PM]
     
  10. Rick Radford

    Rick Radford Supporting Actor

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    Jim,
    I long ago quit worrying about asking dumb questions. [​IMG]
    Your question is a good one, imo. But I think the squeeze is a function of the TV and not the DVD player.
    More to the point, I'm starting to think that if the TV has a really good line doubler, a progressive scan DVD player may not be as important as it used to be.
    ------------------
    --RR
     
  11. Rick Radford

    Rick Radford Supporting Actor

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    And now that RobertR responded while I was composing, I'll expand:
     
  12. Ken Seeber

    Ken Seeber Supporting Actor

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    Rick,
    In most cases you won't see any difference between your player's 4:3 letterbox and 4:3 pan-and-scan settings. The latter allows the player to zoom in on the picture and pan-and-scan on the fly, but only on discs that have been encoded to allow this. Very, very few do.
     
  13. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    Not all "digital" 4:3 TV sets can do the squeeze, these are two separate topics.
    Not all progressive 4:3 TV sets can do the squeeze, these are two separate topics.
    The VGA cable going to the computer monitor is really analog.
    When your TV has the squeeze (16:9 mode) you leave the player in 16:9 for all disks and simply adjust the TV for the best picture.
    The overall shape and size of the picture when the player is in letterbox mode and the TV is unsqueezed should be the same as when the player is in 16:9 mode and the TV is squeezed. Any difference is a calibration error.
    A small number of TV sets do a digital squeeze which is highly inferior because it is a downconversion that continues to waste scan lines in the black bars above and below. A test that usually reveals this is to turn contrast all the way down and then brightness all the way up. If scan lines appear in the black bars, you have a digital squeeze.
    More on wide screen video: http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/vidwide.htm
     
  14. Rick Radford

    Rick Radford Supporting Actor

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  15. Rick Radford

    Rick Radford Supporting Actor

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    Allan,
    My equipment:
    DVD: Panasonic RP91
    TV: Hitachi 32UDX10S (4:3 DV HDTV, ie, 480p/1080i capable)
    Reading at your site, under Anamorphic or 16:9 Enhanced
    DVD's:
     
  16. Ken Seeber

    Ken Seeber Supporting Actor

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  17. Rick Radford

    Rick Radford Supporting Actor

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