4:3 or 16:9?

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: Nov 6 2001

An upcoming project needs to be output in both 4:3 & 16:9. Is this better filmed in one or the other, then convert? or film in both formats and use separate edits.
Cheers guys.

Do not follow, I may not lead. Do not lead . . . I may not follow.

Alan Roberts
Alan Roberts's picture
Joined: May 3 1999

What I'd do is shoot and edit in 16:9 with a proper 16:9 camera. Then, at the export/save stage, output the 16:9 version, then make a 4:3 and output that. The only issue is whether you do this stage as a centre cut-out, or 14:9 letter box.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Joined: Nov 6 2001

Cheers Alan. Anyone with experience of either method?

Do not follow, I may not lead. Do not lead . . . I may not follow.

Dave R Smith
Joined: May 10 2005

Hi Branny,
I haven't had such a split requirement to-date.
My Z1E has 4:3 guides, so I can film in HDV with subject matter aligned within guides and capture/edit as SD widescreen.
For 4:3 project, the 16:9 footage on pc can be imported maintaining pixel ratio and side verticals cropped. This would mean a quality loss.

This could be worked around by re-importing the HDV content, with the 4:3 downconvert option, so no quality loss, but would need to re-edit content - or circumvent by using batch list or EDL from 16:9 project.

I would make 16:9 the 'main' project as that's the standard our industry has imposed upon us. In filming with the 4:3 guides, you will be tempted to film to the edge of the guide, so the 16:9 perspective doesn't look silly with all subjects in centre. BUT, need to allow for overscan in the 4:3 for CRT etc., though for pc's you know detail is seen right to very edge.

If 4:3 screen is pda's etc, then resolution loss isn't really a concern - and could even use NLE or after affects to cut out 4:3 variant from 16:9 and be able to left/right bias when required.

Joined: Jul 18 2003
Dave R Smith wrote:
I would make 16:9 the 'main' project as that's the standard our industry has imposed upon us.

There are also very good technical reasons for going with 16:9 as the main route, and deriving 4:3 from it, and that's due to interlace. Rescaling along the horizontal (as when deriving 4:3 from 16:9) is a fairly simple process - the line structure is unaltered - doing the equivalent vertically isn't.

As others have said, a true 16:9 camera should have the ability to display 4:3 markers in the viewfinder. When shooting, make sure that no ESSENTIAL detail is to the side of these

And if burning to DVD, if a 16:9 version is burnt, any player can then output either the original 16:9, a 4:3 centre cut, or a letterbox version. Make a 4:3 DVD and that's it. There is really no reason now to ever set out to produce a 4:3 only version.