Aspect ratio problems on Mux C & D channels?

cpm

Standard Member
I've recently noticed problems with the aspect ratio on some Freeview channels on my Pioneer DVR-540HX [Hardware version 410, software version 101j].

When I switch to an affected channel when it's showing a widescreen programme, the picture is initially correctly displayed in widescreen format but after about a second, it switches to a 4:3 aspect ratio with black bars down either side. When it switches, the picture is not horizontally squashed (that is, the sides are chopped off instead of it being horizontally compressed).

I've noticed the problem only seems to affect channels on multiplex C and D.

Channels exhibiting the problem: Sky three, 4 Music, Dave, Dave+1, Film 4, Sky News.

Channels that are okay: BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, CH4, Five, ITV2, BBC Three, BBC Four, ITV3, Ch4+1, More4, QVC, BidTV, ITV4, E4, Five US, FIVER, BBC News, BBC Parliament.

Other channels might also be affected, but I've not been able to confirm (e.g. because they were transmitting 4:3 content or were off air at the time).

A few weeks ago I also noticed that 4 Music was transmitting a 16:9 picture but horizontally squashed in a 4:3 aspect ratio.

I've tried rescanning the Freeview channels.

I've had my DVR-540HX for around two and a half years now and I haven't seen this problem before.

The programmes are correctly shown in widescreen when viewed via my Samsung TV's built-in Freeview tuner.

Does anyone know what's going on please?

Thank you.
 

scribbler101

Active Member
There has been another thread on this recently. IIRC it happens when a 16:9 recording is transmitted in 4:3 then displayed in 16:9. Or vice versa. Or something.
 

TroubleMaker

Novice Member
There's a current thread on the dvd-recorders-recording-media forum on this affecting Sony DVD HXD870 & HXD970 DVD recorders on Mux D. I suspect Arqiva may have changed something around about last Thursday, but it's not completely clear to me whether the fault is with Arqiva, or whether they have simply exposed a latent bug in the receiving equipment.

I hadn't noticed it on Mux C, but maybe I just don't watch much of their meterial. It's interesting that it's not just Sony equipment that's affected, I wonder if it could be a fault in some common component that's used by several manufacturers?

There's been a suggestion that Freeview know about the problem and are acting upon it, but you might want to contact the Pioneer just to set the ball rolling, and just in case Arqiva don't (or can't) do anything to fix it...
 

scribbler101

Active Member
That's the thread I mentioned earlier! Wherein the great Fernandez said as follows:

Music channels in particular will appear this way as the majority of music videos are made in (some sort of) widescreen and when shown on a 4:3 channel will have black bars at the top as it's shown in letterboxed form and black bars at the side as it's a 4:3 transmission viewed on a 16:9 display - which I said in post 4
The only way of getting rid of the black bars at the side is to 'Zoom'/'Just Fit'/'Cinema', or whatever the particular TV calls it, and artificially distort the picture as you have found - but you'd still be left with black bars at the top and bottom.
It's a no-win situation if you want the screen completely filled at all times
 

gemed

Novice Member
I posted this on the plasma forum earlier on today
"I have an irritating problem on my Pioneer 428XD since last week.
Sky news ( and Sky sports 3) on freeview is now in 4:3,although it is in 16:9 fleetingly when I change channels.
My Humax 9200 via scart,and my Panasonic HD/DVD via hdmi both still give 16:9 on Sky news freeview.
I have rescanned the Pioneer,but its still 4:3.Its definitely 4:3,as if I change aspect ratio ,it just gives an incoorect picture.Sounds like a software issue on the Pioneer,anybody any ideas ?.All my other channels are normal 16:9.
Thanks "

Interesting that other makes are having the issue as well !
 
Just FYI,

These channels display correctly on my Sony 40X3000 LCD's own Freeview tuner and via a Sony HXD710 DVD recorder. However, they are wrong on my other Sony DVD recorder, a HXD870.

It may not be a coincidence that the first two are actually Sony "proper", whereas the latter is actually a rebadged Pioneer.
 

scribbler101

Active Member
If I understand Fernandez's post, it is not an equipment problem; it is the consequence of channels broadcasting 16:9 recordings in a 4:3 format - ie with bars top and bottom - and the TV then turning the 4:3 (including black bars) into 16:9, so leaving black bars to right and left.
 

tasker

Active Member
on digitalspys forum there is a reply from Arqiva:

For the last few days I've had aspect ratio problems with all channels from multiplex D and today the same problems have started with multiplex C channels, Sky Three/Sky News/Dave/E4+1
(Sony RDR-HXD890 connected to KDL40W4000 tv by HDMI)
Both multplexes are operated by Arqiva, so I gave them a call (phone number on their website) and was put through to a tech guy who confirmed that work started on Mux D a few days ago and on Mux C today.
The worrying thing is he could not give any commitment as to how long the works would last or that the transmissions would even return to normal for those affected, which seems to be mainly Sony recorders.

hope this helps:)
 

TroubleMaker

Novice Member
I'm not going to repeat all of what I said on the other thread, but wanted to stress...

I've also been able to discuss this with an Arqiva engineer today, but be aware they won't normally talk to Joe Public. He confirmed a new platform had come into service last Thursday when all of this began, but they certainly didn't seem to be aware of this specific problem, and they didn't seem to have got wind of it during their own testing - but maybe that's just because they don't happen to have any of the affected Sony/Pioneer boxes. You can't expect them to test with every single box that's sold.

That being the case, if Arqiva are 'at fault' then somebody from the manufacturers probably needs to tell them exactly what it is about their broadcasts that is causing the problem. Alternatively, maybe Arqiva have enabled some previously unused feature in the broadcasting spec, and there's a bug in one or more manufacturer's treatment of that feature, and then the manufacturers will need to fix it.

There's other scenarios beyond the above, but come what may I feel sure that the manufacturers need to get involved, and talk to Arqiva. And I'm predicting that the manufacturers won't be inclined do so unless we (their customers) give them a hard time...

In the majority of cases, manufacturers' helpdesks will dismiss any inquiries about aspect ratio as 'user error', as will the majority of respondents to forum posts on the subject and let's face it, in the majority of cases they'd be right. Not this time though, don't be fobbed off.
 

cpm

Standard Member
I've recorded a working 4:3 broadcast, a working 16:9 broadcast and a broken broadcast to DVD and compared the Widescreen signalling (WSS) by playing it back on my PC (you can see the WSS at the top of the picture, usually off the top of the screen on a TV). See png attachment. The WSS on the problem broadcast looks the same as the 4:3 broadcast to me. I'm not sure what the proves (if anything).

Widescreen info is also in the Active Format Description (AFD) but I don't know how to check it myself.

Maybe the AFD is correct and WSS is wrong and most Freeview tuners apart from Pioneer use AFD?

Thanks very much for the informative replies so far - I'm glad it's not just me.
 

Attachments

The WSS is saying: "This is a 16:9 picture, but only the centre 4:3 section is important"

What this boils down to is that instead of sending 4:3 pictures using the entire 720 x 576 video, they're sending everything as anamorphic - ie pillarboxing the 4:3 picture into a 16:9 frame. Most receivers seem to ignore this and simply treat it like a 16:9 image, displaying the 4:3 picture and the broadcasters' own pillarbox bars. However, the "faulty" ones are acting on the WSS and implementing their own pillarbox blanking as well (which is easy to spot, as they blank off a lot more picture than they should, producing a much squarer image).

The WSS sample above indicate that the channels in question are transmitting an incorrect WSS for 16:9 material.
 

TroubleMaker

Novice Member
The WSS is saying: "This is a 16:9 picture, but only the centre 4:3 section is important"

What this boils down to is that instead of sending 4:3 pictures using the entire 720 x 576 video, they're sending everything as anamorphic - ie pillarboxing the 4:3 picture into a 16:9 frame. Most receivers seem to ignore this and simply treat it like a 16:9 image, displaying the 4:3 picture and the broadcasters' own pillarbox bars. However, the "faulty" ones are acting on the WSS and implementing their own pillarbox blanking as well (which is easy to spot, as they blank off a lot more picture than they should, producing a much squarer image).

The WSS sample above indicate that the channels in question are transmitting an incorrect WSS for 16:9 material.

Steve,

You're obviously way more savvie on this technology than I am, but can I just clarify the symptoms that I see (and I think other Sonys too), as I'm not certain it completey fits your analysis....

When I switch my HDD recorder to (say) Film 4 when its broadcasting a proper 16:9 film, I momentarily get exactly what I expect - a 16:9 picture with correct linearity that fills the screen. Then it suddenly discards all picture detail from both sides, leaving me with a perfectely linear (unsquashed) 4:3 picture.

The same broadcast, at the same time, when viewed directly on the TV's internal tuner & decoder is fine with a full-screen 16:9 picture - there's no pillarboxing present at all.

It seems to me,for all the world, as if the 'faulty' boxes are rendering the picture for full-screen display on a 4:3 TV, despite the fact they're connected to (and setup for) a 16:9 TV. That apsect could well be related to WSS info that says "this is 16:9, but only centre 4:3's important", which sounds a bit like "you can choose whether or not not discard the edges depending on what TV set you're connected to".
 
No, you are seeing exactly the same as me - perhaps I explained it badly! The underlying picture is true 16:9, but the HDD is adding its own pillarbox blanking at the sides, effectively giving you a 4:3 'centre cut-out' of the 16:9 picture. This would be a perfectly acceptable (if somewhat pointless) thing for it to do if the broadcaster was transmitting a 4:3 picture already pillarboxed into a 16:9 frame.
 

TroubleMaker

Novice Member
No, you are seeing exactly the same as me - perhaps I explained it badly! The underlying picture is true 16:9, but the HDD is adding its own pillarbox blanking at the sides, effectively giving you a 4:3 'centre cut-out' of the 16:9 picture. This would be a perfectly acceptable (if somewhat pointless) thing for it to do if the broadcaster was transmitting a 4:3 picture already pillarboxed into a 16:9 frame.

Clunk, the penny drops. Your explanation was fine, I was being slow, thanks for persevering. The broadcaster's blanking bars contain actual picture detail, so if you display the broadcaster's 'bars', whuch you end up displaying a full picture.

These HDDs have an option somewhere called something like "display 4:3 in full mode" and I already noticed that causes the errant pictures to be stretched E-W to fill the screen, which I think is consistent with your analysis.

So, despite the fact that there's an annoying inconsistency between vendors, I guess this puts the ball frirmly back in Arquva's court...
 
No, you still haven't got it, but it really is me who isn't explaining it well!

Take the example where the broadcaster wants to show a 4:3 programme. They can either transmit it in 4:3 properly (ie using the entire video frame, which means the TV has to do the work of converting it for display on the 16:9 screen), or they can transmit it as a 16:9 picture, where the 4:3 image is in the centre and there are black pillarbox bars at both sides.

In the above case, your TV is simply showing what the broadcaster is transmitting. However, your HDD is adding *its own* black pillarbox bars, covering up the ones that the broadcaster is sending. That's all fine, if a little pointless.

What is happening on the "faulty" channels is that the broadcaster is showing a full 16:9 widescreen picture, but flagging it as though it contains 4:3 material. Your TV is ignoring this and simply showing you the entire picture, but your HDD is again adding its own pillarbox bars.

Is that a bit clearer?
 

turbo_slackjaw

Standard Member
I'm getting a different problem which sounds like the opposite of what others are getting. I'll try and explain this the best i can.

When watching certain freeview channels through my sony hdx870 the picture starts off perfect just like i expect to see it. After about a second or so it then zooms in and heavily overscans the picture cutting alot of content mostly from the sides sometimes completely removing the channel watermark from view.

The same channel watched at the same time from the internal freeview reciever on my samsung tv displays perfectly. I have checked and double checked all settings and believe them to be correct.

This is annoying because i can manually adjust the picture to zoom in but not zoom out unless i want to watch it in 4:3 which i obviously don't.

Anyone else experienceing this?
 

tungy

Standard Member
I've reported this problem the other day (exactly as described by TroubleMaker) here: -

RadioandTelly Forum - Freeview - Aspect Ratios have changed 29 Jan 2009

Again, the equipment used conforms the Pioneer/Sony theme. See below.


Plasma TV: Panasonic TH-42PE30
Internal DVB tuner re-scanned and no problems.

Freeview Box: Poneer DBR-TF100
DVD Recorder: Sony RHR-HXD995
Connected via RGB Scart to seperate AV inputs on the plasma.
Connections secure.
Aspect ratios odd.

The Pioneer model is a couple of years old, whereas the Sony is the current
model. Panasonic TV is 4/5 years out of production.

As has been stated before, there does seem to be an issue with certain Pioneer/Sony items. but looking at this thread I would ventrue that they
are simply more capable of interpreting the WSS flag than others, thereby
highlighting a transmission problem.
 

batteries

Novice Member
I'm getting a different problem which sounds like the opposite of what others are getting. I'll try and explain this the best i can.

When watching certain freeview channels through my sony hdx870 the picture starts off perfect just like i expect to see it. After about a second or so it then zooms in and heavily overscans the picture cutting alot of content mostly from the sides sometimes completely removing the channel watermark from view.

The same channel watched at the same time from the internal freeview reciever on my samsung tv displays perfectly. I have checked and double checked all settings and believe them to be correct.

This is annoying because i can manually adjust the picture to zoom in but not zoom out unless i want to watch it in 4:3 which i obviously don't.

Anyone else experienceing this?
Virtually the same problem with my Sharp:
http://www.avforums.com/forums/dvd-...pect-problem-some-channels-2.html#post8721523
 

Phorteous

Novice Member
Been in touch with Freeview to check they knew Mux C also had problems, which they did.
However, their response has taken a turn for the worse, not only are they not committing to a timeline for a fix they're now saying it may not be fixed at all.
Sony are even more dismissive, basically saying it's not their fault/a transmission problem/nothing they can do about it/no software updates planned.
Maybe we should be taking a different approach. Maybe we should be bringing this to the attention of the broadcasters using Mux C and D, after all, they're the ones paying Freeview and Arqiva to broadcast their channels. I don't think they'd be happy to hear that suddenly their channels have become unwatchable for a large number of viewers. Then again, I'd have thought there would be at least one executive with each broadcaster who has affected equipment.
With such a shoddy service from Freeview no wonder BSkyB are laughing all the way to the bank.
Maybe an email to Watchdog?
 

tungy

Standard Member
A large number of people must have been affected by this problem. The trouble is, do they even realise or care?

Given that most of the widescreen TVs you see are set to stretch 4:3 to 16:9
you've got to suspect that we'll have to fight not to have this dismissed as some
kind of techie/nerd/esoteric problem.

The Watchdog idea is a good one. I'm also thinking maybe Something else | Ofcom

Once we know this isn't getting fixed, it needs to be a determined and concerted effort.
 

tungy

Standard Member
For the records, there are rumours flying about that Sony/Pioneer share
the same DVB circuitry. I cannot confirm this beyond doubt

..BUT ..

as an owner
of both a Pioneer freeview box and a Sony HDD recorder, I can confirm that
DVB/Guide menus etc are near identical enough that this seems highly likely.

naturally, both devices are exhibiting the problem.
 

JulioG

Novice Member
Hi there. I've got a HDX870 conected to a Sony KDL-37P3020. The same problem here. Wrong ratios in some channels through the HDD but fine through the TV's own tuner.

In my opinion this is something to do with the HDD as it never was capable to display ratios properly as I reported on the Forum more than a year ago. http://www.avforums.com/forums/5830327-post887.html

It is true that they have changed something in they way the signal is transmited as this new problem started a week ago. Arqiva has recognised that they have been working on both MUX C and D during those days. These changes have not affected most tuners, in fact it only seems to affect the DRD-HDX Sony models and some Pioneer. Somebody above seems to think that they are using similar (if not the same) DVB.

What I mean is that these changes in the way they transmited the signal has revealed a latent bug in our particular model.

So I only see two solutions here. It either Arqiva resumes the transmitions in the way they were doing it up until last week, or Sony, via software, fixes the problem which some of their machines dealing with the Widesceen signal .

When I contacted the horrible Sony's customer services in Nov 2007 regarding my previous problem with the ratios, they were very dismisive and they never wanted to acknowledge that there was a problem with this particular model displaying the widescreen signal. My only solution was to dump my old (but fully working) 4/3 tv and get a new LCD :mad:
 
Last edited:

scribbler101

Active Member
Hi there. I've got a HDX870 conected to a Sony KDL-37P3020. The same problem here. Wrong ratios in some channels through the HDD but fine through the TV's own tuner.

In my opinion this is something to do with the HDD as it never was capable to display ratios properly as I reported on the Forum more than a year ago. http://www.avforums.com/forums/5830327-post887.html

It is true that they have changed something in they way the signal is transmited as this new problem started a week ago. Arqiva has recognised that they have been working on both MUX C and D during those days. These changes have not affected most tuners, in fact it only seems to affect the DRD-HDX Sony models and some Pioneer. Somebody above seems to think that they are using similar (if not the same) DVB.

What I mean is that these changes in the way they transmited the signal has revealed a latent bug in our particular model.

So I only see two solutions here. It either Arqiva resumes the transmitions in the way they were doing it up until last week, or Sony, via software, fixes the problem which some of their machines dealing with the Widesceen signal .

When I contacted the horrible Sony's customer services in Nov 2007 regarding my previous problem with the ratios, they were very dismisive and they never wanted to acknowledge that there was a problem with this particular model displaying the widescreen signal. My only solution was to dump my old (but fully working) 4/3 tv and get a new LCD :mad:
Now I'm totally confused! I thought this problem only arose with 16:9 TVs !

If someone can define precisely what channel I should watch I'll see what I get on my Wharfdale Freeview PVR feeding Sony Trinitron 4:3 CRT TV
 

Phorteous

Novice Member
I don't know anything about previous problems, I've only had my RDR-HXD890 for a few weeks and it's been working fine until the recent transmission changes. I don't think it's fair to talk about a latent bug in the recorder, although if Sony could be botherd they could probably produce a firmware update to compensate for the transmission changes.
As steverobertsbbc has explained in his post, the widescreen picture is being transmitted with an incorrect wss causing the recorder to crop the image. Some receivers do ignore the faulty code, others, like the Sony, pick it up. The faulty wss is Arqivas's fault. If it was a recorder fault then why aren't there the same problems with other operator's multiplexes?
 

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