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NextPreviousHomeWidescreen Confusion

michiel | 15 years ago | 11 comments | 3 likes | 8,806 views

cw4u and asterix like this!

Lots of users are confused with the widescreen standard. In this article I'll try to answer all the questions regarding this subject. When I'm refering to presets I mean the BluffTitler resolution presets in the dialog that is visible when you select the menu item FILE / SET SHOW RESOLUTION.

Everybody knows that widescreen is called WIDEscreen because the screen is WIDER. Widescreen has a higher DAR value, which stands for Display Aspect Ratio. This is the width of the screen divided by its height. Not in pixels, but in centimeters or inches. When you take your measuring tape and measure the width of your TV screen and divide it to its height you have the DAR. Ordinary PAL uses 4:3 while widescreen uses 16:9. The DAR is mostly written as a fraction because 4:3 looks better than 1.33333333.

What both standards have in common is the resolution in pixels. Both ordinary PAL and PAL widescreen use 720 pixels horizontally and 576 vertically.

But how can the screen be wider when the resolution is the same? The answer is the PAR, or the Pixel Aspect Ratio. The PAR determines the shape of the individual pixels. Widescreen is wider not because is has more pixels, but because its pixels are wider. Ordinary PAL has a PAR of 1.06 while widescreen has a PAR of 1.42. Most computer screen resolutions have square pixels which means a PAR of 1. If you like math, the formula is: Resolution Width / Resolution Height = DAR / PAR.

In BluffTitler, most people expect the shape of the render window to change when switching from the PAL DVD preset to the PAL DVD WIDESCREEN preset. However, the pixel aspect ratio of your computer screen is fixed and since the resolutions of the two presets are the same, the size of the render window stays the same.

What does change is that everything is squeezed horizontally: circles become ovals. It looks terrible on your computer screen, but when played on your TV in widescreen mode everything looks perfect.

Editing in the PAL DVD WIDESCREEN preset is terrible because everything is squeezed. So what I mostly do is to use the COMPUTER 16:9 WIDESCREEN preset when editing. This uses the wrong resolution, but it looks right on your computer screen. And just before exporting the animation I switch to the PAL DVD WIDESCREEN preset.

To make things more complex, an AVI movie file does not know anything about display aspect ratios. This information is simply not stored in the movie file, the AVI file format does not provide this. As a result you explicitely have to tell your NLE that your movie is widescreen or not. There's no way your NLE can find out this by himself because, as you will now understand, the resolutions are the same. In Pinnacle Studio, you can right click on a movie file and flag ASPECT RATIO 4:3 or ASPECT RATIO 16:9. This will make Studio interpret your movie as ordinary PAL or widescreen PAL.

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The COMPUTER 16:9 WIDESCREEN preset uses a resolution of 640 x 360, which is indeed 16:9, but a better resolution would have been 1024 x 576 because that resolution is used by some cameras and NLEs.

You can enter this resolution yourself by selecting the menu item FILE / SET SHOW RESOLUTION and entering the values:

Width in Pixels: 1024
Height in Pixels: 576
Display Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Pixel Aspect Ratio: 1:1

Note that editing in 1024 pixels wide looks nice, but when you burn your animation on a PAL/NTSC DVD it will still be scaled down to 720 because that's the standard.

michiel, 15 years ago

Latest version of BluffTitler now has a COMPUTER 16:9 - 1024 x 576 WIDESCREEN preset.

Select the menu item FILE / SET SHOW RESOLUTION to select this preset.

michiel, 15 years ago

Using the formula:

resolution width / resolution height = DAR / PAR

you can easily compute the Widescreen PAR:

720 / 576 = (16/9) / PAR

PAR = 1024 / 720 = 1.4222222222

michiel, 14 years ago

Studio 10 users should pay attention to the way they import a BT-file into the programm. I find out that you have to do that as a simple file, afterwards then you can import a hole map. If you select a map at first then it is not possible to change the 4:3 to 16:9 visa versa, because it is not highlighted, after import as single file it possible

Goofy4A, 14 years ago

Here's a comment we recieved by e-mail:

There is no aspect ratio embedded in AVI files, but it has to be specified when encoding into MPEG2. I was encoding with the default 4:3 aspect ratio. After I specified to use 16:9 in CCE, the MPEG2 output files work just fine. So the problem was with me and not BluffTitler or CCE.

michiel, 13 years ago

What if I work at 800/450 (16:9). Will I ran into problems when editing in NLE?
I have an older monitor which goes only to 1024 and when I set BT to 1024 x 576 the window srinks to 50% which is kind of small to work comfortably.

Thank you.

Utzy, 11 years ago


Edit in 800 x 450 and when you're finished switch to 1024 x 576 and export to video.

michiel, 11 years ago

To get an AVI output of 720 x 480 NTSC widescreen pixcel aspect ratio = 1.2121, what 'setshow resoluation' I should use.

siby515, 11 years ago

You can enter these value in the FILE > SET SHOW RESOLUTION dialog.

michiel, 11 years ago

To get an AVI output of 720 x 480 NTSC widescreen pixcel aspect ratio = 1.2121, what 'setshow resoluation' I should use.

siby515, 11 years ago

You already gave the answer in your question:

width 720
height 480
pixel aspect ratio 1.2121

michiel, 11 years ago

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About michiel

Michiel den Outer is the founder and lead coder of Outerspace Software. He lives in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

If he isn't busy improving BluffTitler, he is playing the piano or rides the Dutch dikes on his bikes.

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