View Full Version : 16:9 or 4:3?

08-05-2004, 09:28 PM
Myself and a few other filmmakers are going to be starting a feature (hopefully) documentary come the fall. Although I知 still debating about weather or not shot 60i or 30p (from reading post on here, I知 leaning away from the 24p), I知 also debating aspect rations. I guess you could say I知 acting as DP on this project because I値l be filming most of it and deciding the technique ends. The main goal for this project is to get it into a few bigger film fest. I suggested 16:9 since we were going to try to screen it at festival, also because i personally like the look. The director was originally thinking 4:3 but liked the idea of 16:9. I was just wondering if anyone on here has any input? Is one better then other another for sending to festivals? Is it all just personal opinion? I知 not to concerned about film transfers since I doubt it will make it that far, but for film transfers is it better?

Any input would be great.

08-06-2004, 01:57 AM
Go 16:9, it just looks better on a large screen. It will also give your film a little more longevity if it ever gets picked up for tv since the trend is for widescreen.

08-06-2004, 05:07 AM
Also, I wouldn't lean away from 24P - I shoot 24P documentaries myself, and my workflow is exactly the same as if I were shooting 60i - and my results can stand along side of my favorite documentarians - DA Pennebaker, Errol Morris, etc.

David Jimerson
08-06-2004, 03:24 PM
WHY are you "leaning away" from 24p, *especially* in light of what's been posted on this forum? And you're thinking of filmout?

I really want to know.

I'm assuming you're using an original 100 and not a 100A with squeeze. I'd say, shoot 4:3 and crop later. You'll find it'll be very useful when framing things in post. Gives you a little extra leeway not to cut off heads, etc..

But if you're seriously thinking filmout, check with the filmout service first.

08-06-2004, 06:31 PM
i was saying i'm not really concerned about a film transfer becasue i dont think that will happen but i was just wondering. I was thinking about shooting in 4:3 and cropping in post, i've done this before (not for doc) and it worked great. I am going to be shooting on a DVX100a, so i could shot in squeeze mode. In squeeze mode, is the image stretch in the viewfinder, or letterboxed? ( I'm not goign to have a DVX in my hands for another week, so please excuss my stupid questions).

As far as teh 24p, i really dont know what to think. Some people seem to say "if you cant control the lighting it will look like shit" then others say it works great. Todd_Mattson, do you shot with light setups, or just natural lighting? ever run into the problem of not enought light?

I'll make up my mind of 24p once i can shoot some test footage and see how it all looks.

08-08-2004, 10:34 AM
"Todd_Mattson, do you shot with light setups, or just natural lighting? ever run into the problem of not enought light?"


I shoot both run & gun, and sit down interviews, and yes, I do run into situations where I don't have enough light (but kind of rarely due to my subject matter - behind the scenes docs for feature films). In those cases where I don't have enough natural/practical light available, I'll do the unthinkable - use a light. If it's run & gun, I'll generally use my Lowel iD light (which is dimmable, a feature that comes in quite handy in an on-camera light). For other situations, I'll do traditional three point lighting. The amount of light one has available shouldn't effect your decision of what frame rate to use. If there is even a remote possibly of a film out, or if you want to edit in native 24P, by all means shoot 24Pa. In fact, I can't think of too many reasons not to, especially given that you're shooting a doc....

08-11-2004, 11:30 AM
Todd_Mattson, thanks for your advance. So you shot behind the scnes for feature films. Thats awesome. Something i would really like to do. Have you done any behind the scenes for movies i might have heard of? just interested.

08-12-2004, 05:11 AM
Regarding Lighting - I'm shooting a doc in 24P that has lots of run and gun. I personally think for a doc, if the lighting isn't beautifully cinematic, it is fine. When it comes to poor lighting, I see no difference in the performance of the 100A in 24P v 60i. Bad lighting is bad ligthing, regardless of the frame rate. And with a doc, if the content is interesting, people will not care if lighting is flat or natural.

Since I work alone a lot and have no budget, here is my lighting 'kit':
2 18" China Balls
1 24" China Ball
Bulbs in a variety of wattages
reflector boards
If I'm feeling like splurging, I rent a softlight and pepper.

RATIO: Unless you're going for a 90's PBS look, shoot 16:9 in squeeze mode. 16:9 looks better (even when letterboxed on 4:3 tube), and squeeze will give you the best resolution w/o buying an anamorphic adapter. You will get used to the thin long look in the viewfinder. Remember, since width does not change and heigths stretches whole frame equally, you can still use rule of 3rd as a basic guide for a good looking shot. You could also buy a 16:9 external monitor for accurate framing.

One hint about large screen projection: If you do not go to print, consider a line doubler when video projecting. This will soften the image a bit, but greatly reduces the video look, which is more apparent on a large screen.

I guess all this could be summed up by saying shoot 16:9 @ 24P and worry about your content and interviews, not your lighting.

My 2 cents.

08-15-2004, 01:08 PM
How much quality do you lose when you shoot in squeeze mode verses shooting with an anamorphic adapter? Is it noticable on a TV screen?

08-15-2004, 01:20 PM
according to Barry Greens excellent guide on anamorphic the DVX has a resolution of approx. 350 lines when shooting in squeeze mode compared to 540 lines when using the anamorphic adapter.
For viewing on a regular TV this should still be ok. Just remember to shoot with thin or mid line detail. When using thick line detail the resolution goes down to 270 lines and you can see the difference between 350 and 270 lines even on a regular TV.

08-16-2004, 01:57 PM
Hi Kyle,

I agree w/ Jaochim - if only viewing on a TV, you should be fine with squeeze. However, when projecting large screen (I projected on roughly a 18' x 12' image) There was noticeable loss using the squeeze function, especially on wide and action shots. Unfortunately, I didn't have any shot w/ an anamorphic adapter, so I can't say how much better this would have looked. As I mentioned above, we rented a line doubler which softened the image a bit, but make it look much more presentable.


08-21-2004, 03:06 AM
"Just remember to shoot with thin or mid line detail. When using thick line detail the resolution goes down to 270 lines and you can see the difference between 350 and 270 lines even on a regular TV. "

ソIt,s true? ソwhy? In my DVX100AE I find more resolution in "thick" mode (I make the test with a Hi Resolution Monitor Pro, JVC TM-H1900). I know Barry says the best resolution is with thin mode and I trust in all his words ;) but my eyes watch more definition (maybe more detail in thick mode) I'm very confussed.

08-28-2004, 12:26 PM
alrighty, i need some more reason to shot 16:9, i wanna shot it that way, but for some reason the 3 other filmmakers i'm working with wanna shot 4:3. I stressed 16:9 since our main goal is to send it to as many festivals as possible. ANyone else have any good reason, other then the fact it just looks better?

08-28-2004, 12:30 PM
also (keep in mind i dont have a cam so i cant test this out yet), what would have more resoluation? 4:3 or squeeze mode? wouldnt they be the same, or is squeeze mode better?

Neil Rowe
08-28-2004, 12:50 PM
shooting in 4:3 uses the full max res of the cam.. you cant go any higher than using all the ccd pixels it can use.. you can only go lower, letterbox obviosly has the same image resolution as far as quality of image..since all it does is cover up part of the image with black.. it doesnt lower the quality of the remaiing part of the image that is still showing. *but uses less pixels for a smaller pixel dimension in terms of used resolution image size wise. * squeeze also uses less pixels.. and then dumps a bit of image quality resolution on top of that by stretching out the image.. squeeze is the worst mode to shoot in for terms of image purity or clarity, but for small format viewing.. it is a very easy way to shoot for 16:9 viewing. but realistically for the most part everyone has 4:3 tvs. and will be wathing your footage letterboxed anyway if you author it in 16:9 so you might as well just shoot letterbox, and have it that wat to start instead of dumping quality to *stretch it to 16:9 just to have it letterboxed back to the center of a 4:3 screen..

..but if you want/need *it to fill out a widscreen *16:9 display for small format viewing for some reason, then sqeeze would be the way to go if you cant shoot anamorphic.

BUT you are talking 16:9 for a festival.. which is LARGE format viewing.. so DO NOT USE SQUEEZE AT ALL.. either shoot #1 anamorphic, or #2 letterbox it (in cam or in post) for the best results.

08-29-2004, 09:58 AM
"BUT you are talking 16:9 for a festival.. which is LARGE format viewing.. so DO NOT USE SQUEEZE AT ALL.. either shoot #1 anamorphic, or #2 letterbox it (in cam or in post) for the best results."

Thanks man, that all makes sense

09-08-2004, 12:05 PM
so can anybody explain why 30p is so much darker? I'm just curious.

09-08-2004, 12:52 PM
30P is about 1 f-stop less sensitive than 60i. That's mainly due to line-pair summation which is used on interlaced material to get greater sensitivity, but is not possible on progressive-scan.

Another thing that makes 30P look darker is that usually in the "progressive" scene files in the camera, they also have auto-iris set to -3 or so, which means that the camera is biasing towards a half-stop underexposure.