Editing in Widescreen

Dec 17, 2008 by Samantha Halfon · 2 Comments ·
Filed under: Editing 

Last year, our JVC Camcorder gave out after several years of good service and we decided to replace it this summer. In the meantime, we had got our Canon EOS 350D photo camera and really got to like it. So when the time came to pick a camera, we payed special attention to Canon. We ended up buying the Canon GL2. Our JVC was PAL, the GL2 is NTSC. We used the JVC as 1.33 aspect ratio (default, square) and started to use the GL2 as 1.66 (widescreen). Basically, everything is different.

When it comes to editing, there are a few things to know.

When you create your new project, you must select the right presets which can be:

  1. PAL Standard
  2. NTSC Standard
  3. PAL Widescreen
  4. NTSC Widescreen

The values that will change depending on the presets you select are:

  1. The frame size
  2. The frame rate
  3. The pixel aspect ratio

These settings will be important to have in mind when exporting the final movie and when importing outside elements like photos or animations. Of course you might also be editing in HD which is yet another format. I will not talk about HD here as we’ve not yet used it for our films.

Here is a sumup of these three values for the four availalbe presets:

Pal Standard

  • Frame Size: 720×576
  • Frame Rate: 25fps
  • Pixel Aspect Ratio: 1.067

NTSC Standard

  • Frame Size: 720×480
  • Frame Rate: 29.97fps
  • Pixel Aspect Ratio: 0.9

Pal Widescreen

  • Frame Size: 720×576
  • Frame Rate: 25fps
  • Pixel Aspect Ratio: 1.422

NTSC Widescreen

  • Frame Size: 720×480
  • Frame Rate: 29.97 fps
  • Pixel Aspect Ratio: 1.2

As you can notice, when switching from Standard to Widescreen, the frame size doesn’t change, the pixel aspect ratio does. If you need to import an image from a photo editing software, you will need to make sure your image respects this in order for it to fit (without distortion) into your movie. The same thing goes for an animation you might have produced before hand.

But why play with these odd pixel aspect ratios ? If pixels were squarred, the NTSC widescreen format frame size would be 864×486. So you can actually create your photo or animation using these dimensions and the standard squarre pixels. When using them in your movie project, these will look correct (no distortion). It’s a lot easier to handle them that way, even if it means remembering more numbers.

Here are the frame sizes (using a square pixel ration) for the two widescreen formats we are interested in:

PAL Widescreen

1024 [720 * 1.422]

576 [1024 * 9 / 16]

NTSC Widescreen

864 [720 * 1.2]

486 [864 * 9 / 16]

To illustrate these explanations, I used one of our photos and resized it three different ways then imported it to a NTSC Widescreen editing project.

  1. Resized it to a 720×480 squared pixels image
  2. Resized it to a 720×480 1.2 pixels image
  3. Resized it to a 864×486 squared pixels image

I imported these images into the project and displays them into the monitor.

  1. As expected, the first image doesn’t fit. It looks like a “Standard image” into a “Widescreen frame” with black empty lines on the sides
  2. The second image has the correct ratio, it is not distorted and fits the mointor.
  3. The third image is also correct
ntsc_wide_720-480-square

A 720x480 squared pixel image in a widescreen movie

ntsc_wide_720-480-pixel-12

A 720x480 1.2pixels in a widescreen movie

ntsc_wide_864-486

A 864x486 sqared pixel image in a widescreen movie

We had to study these issues recently as we switched to a Widescreen mode and hope our conclusions can help you understand these aspect ratio problems. We are also opened to any sggestions about working with widescreen you may have.

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  1. worldwideangle says:

    Editing in Widescreen: Last year, our JVC Camcorder gave out after several years of good service and we decided .. http://tinyurl.com/53clsq

  2. Editing in Widescreen: Last year, our JVC Camcorder gave out after several years of good service and we decided .. http://tinyurl.com/53clsq



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