1. Join Now

    AVForums.com uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What Exactly is 'True Widescreen' in Camcorders?

Discussion in 'Camcorders, Action Cams & Video Editing Forum' started by Kevo, Jul 8, 2004.

  1. Kevo

    Kevo
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2001
    Messages:
    5,354
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    86
    Location:
    Manchester
    Ratings:
    +144
    OK, I've heard of anamorphic lenses and 16:9 CCDs on pro cameras as the REALLY TRUE WIDESCREEN methods!

    I've also heard of 'fake widescreen' methods like adding borders and electronically distoring the image like the older Sony's used to do.

    But what exactly is this new 'True Widescreen' feature I see mentioned a lot nowadays and just how 'true' is it when compared to the two I mention above?
     
  2. Xeonic

    Xeonic
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    The simple answer is that in the latest camcorders now have a large enough pixels array to capture a widescreen image at the same "500+ line" resolution as the non-widescreen images!

    The previous generation didn't have enough pixels, so "blanked off" the grid to give a 16:9 format, but by using less pixels, produced a lower quality image.

    With increased resolution, the actual grid used is bigger than required for either 4:3 or 16:9 images! But the extra pixels, which would be redundant, are now used so the video camera can imitate digitial still cameras, allowing 2MP or 3MP stills to be taken with the same camera.

    I'm sure someone will correct any technical inaccuracies ;)
     
  3. klr10

    klr10
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2003
    Messages:
    801
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Sawbridgeworth
    Ratings:
    +27
    'True widescreen' is a very misleading expression. In its purest interpretation it means that the camera in question uses a CCD image sensor (or sensors) that is shaped with a 16:9 aspect ratio (in other words shaped like a widescreen TV). This means that the captured image is naturally widescreen shaped. This is what most companies consider to be 'true widescreen' - however, there are very few consumer priced cameras that have this new shape sensor.
    The next best thing to this is to use a special lens (anamorphic) which allows a widescreen image to be 'projected' onto an old shape 4:3 sensor (or sensors) by optically 'squashing it' - this is then stretched back out to the correct shape by editing software or by the widescreen TV it's connected to. This is a good compromise because it uses all available areas of the image sensor(s) and allows the full pixel count to be maintained in the image.
    The final way of doing it - which is by far the most common, and the cheapest method - is to switch off an area of pixels at the top and bottom of the sensor(s) to obtain the correct aspect ratio. The picture is thus the correct shape, but image quality is compromised due to the reduction in the number of pixels used (wasted). Hope this helps....
     
  4. MartinImber

    MartinImber
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2001
    Messages:
    3,851
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    71
    Location:
    Worcester
    Ratings:
    +21
    My TRV33 does proper anamorphic widescreen

    full CCD - stills
    trim top - bottom - 16x9
    trim sides as well 4x3

    So more CCD is used for 16x9 :thumbsup: :clap: :smashin: :beer:
     
  5. klr10

    klr10
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2003
    Messages:
    801
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Sawbridgeworth
    Ratings:
    +27
    Do you mean you have an anamorphic adaptor on the lens of your camcorder? I've never seen such an adaptor for your camera, I suspect your camera is using the method of switching off pixels.
     
  6. klr10

    klr10
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2003
    Messages:
    801
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Sawbridgeworth
    Ratings:
    +27
    The use of the word anamorphic is seriously confusing this widescreen issue. Anamorphic is a word derived form the Greek and means 'he who is being reshaped'. The anamorphic lens was originally used to create widescreen movies on 16mm and 35mm film by horizontally squashing the image onto the narrow film in the camera. There was a corresponding projector lens which stretched the image back out again. This is not to be confused with the pixel switching methods being used in camcorders. There are anamorphic adaptors available for the low end 'pro-sumer' camcorders (Sony PD150, Canon XL1, Panasonic DVX100) which allow their 4:3 CCDs to be used fully for 16:9 images using this old squashing method.
    New True widescreen...? It would appear that some of the new camcorders have a 'compromise' shaped CCD which can have various different areas of pixels switched off for different shaped images and is not to be confused with real true widescreen or anamorphic widescreen methods. Hope this makes it a bit clearer...
     
  7. thebrummy_one

    thebrummy_one
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    372
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    East London
    Ratings:
    +7
    These replies make it as clear as a muddy pond on a foggy day!!! or am I just think...?
     
  8. MartinImber

    MartinImber
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2001
    Messages:
    3,851
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    71
    Location:
    Worcester
    Ratings:
    +21

    IT SWITCHES OFF PIXELS FOR 4x3 - READ IT PROPERLY

    If I used a lens on 4x3 mode the picture would be less detailed, so since more pixels are used in 16x9 than 4x3 I would say it is a proper widescreen camera
     
  9. klr10

    klr10
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2003
    Messages:
    801
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Sawbridgeworth
    Ratings:
    +27
    Sorry Martin, I did read it properly but I didn't agree with your use of the term anamorphic. The CCD in your camera seems to be a compromise between 4:3 and 16:9. I would have said that a true widescreen camcorder would use the whole CCD with no pixels switched off, but I guess we will agree to disagree! Either way at least it demonstrates the way this can be interpreted by the marketeers of the various manufacturers. Please accept my apologies if I upset you, I'm just trying to remove the confusion (and failing by the look of it).
     
  10. Kevo

    Kevo
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2001
    Messages:
    5,354
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    86
    Location:
    Manchester
    Ratings:
    +144
    So is this newer method of TRUE WIDESCREEN as advertised on some consumer camcorders the 16:9 CCD method which has been used by pro models for several years or is ist still a cheaper/psuedeo compromise?
     
  11. AOD

    AOD
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2001
    Messages:
    707
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    London
    Ratings:
    +4
    I guess it may depend on who makes your Camcorder.

    Like MartinImber I also have a TRV33, my understanding of this model is that the CCD is a 16:9 shape and all of it is used when recording in widescreen, hence True widescreen.

    To record in 4:3 the "sides" are switched off/ignored.

    As stated, the other option is that the CCD is 4:3 and in order to record in widescreen, the CCD is "letterboxed" with a portion of the top and bottom of the CCD being switched off to leave you with an active 16:9 area.

    I would imagine that pro units have had 16:9 CCDs for longer than consumer models, which (amongst other things) would go some way to explaining some of the cost differential. I haven't had any experience with pro equipment though (more experienced with SLRs than camcorders), so this is something of an assumption.
     
  12. MartinImber

    MartinImber
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2001
    Messages:
    3,851
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    71
    Location:
    Worcester
    Ratings:
    +21
    No worries everyone!

    OK this is how the TRV33 CCD works, it has taken experimenting and reading to work this out.

    Firstly it is a megapixel chip just over 1000x1000 - very roughly 4x3 shaped the whole CCD is used for photomode memory stick pictures.

    1152x768 AFAIR

    The top & bottom are then chopped to use for widescreen - ie a 16x9 shape using all the width - steady shot area, and most of the height. The next stage is what makes the camera unusual.

    The 4x3 mode does not use the whole CCD but as far as I can tell uses the middle only.

    On full wideangle the 16x9 picture is the same height but wider!!!!!

    So 16x9 uses roughly 1000 across and 700 down, 4x3 about 800 across and 700 down.

    The signal is recorded anamorphically
     
  13. MartinImber

    MartinImber
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2001
    Messages:
    3,851
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    71
    Location:
    Worcester
    Ratings:
    +21
    OK so basically the CCD is not quite a 16x9 chip but it is never used for video anyway
     
  14. melliott1963

    melliott1963
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2001
    Messages:
    427
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Ilford, Essex
    Ratings:
    +4
    This also explains why, in the manual for the TRV33, it says that, and I quote:-

    If the zoom lever is set to the W (wide) side, the recording angle will become wider than that of the usual tape recording

    In other words, to get 4:3 recording, all the camera does is effective chop the sides off (as already stated).
     
  15. El Indio

    El Indio
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Messages:
    35
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Ratings:
    +0
    I think true widescreen refers to the fact that the images are recorded as ~950 x 576 instead of the usual 720 x 576.

    Anamorphic wide screen compresses the 950 across to 720, hence data/quality is lost.

    Naturally, the camera requires a CCD with > 950 pixels across for this to work. The shape of the CCD is irrelavent.

    El.
     
  16. BadAss

    BadAss
    Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2001
    Messages:
    2,967
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    86
    Location:
    England
    Ratings:
    +182
    El Indio has hit the nail on the head.

    At the moment there is no such thing as a true wide screen TV. Just a TV that pulls an 4:3 image out to fill a 16:9 screen. Resolution does not change.

    My PC G/Card does true wide screen at 1280x768 but i havent got a monitor to match it, so its useless.

    The truth is true wide screen is a device which will display the true W/S resolution.

    Anything else like anamorphic lenses, digitaly squeezed camcorders, W/S TV's are a fix, manipulating a 4:3 image to fill a 16:9 display.
     
  17. Duncan Craig

    Duncan Craig
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2003
    Messages:
    258
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    The Grim North
    Ratings:
    +17
    For your interest, all pro SD WS cameras capture pictures to tape at 720x576 (CCIR 601) active pixels, edit systems all work at this resolution. Its a 4:3 recording with an anamorphic recording in it. Your WS DVD is exactly the same.

    Most 16:9 Pro camcorders use 3 2/3 inch CCDs which are 16:9 shaped, with various resolutions.

    I have an anamorphic adaptor for my VX2000, and it quite good...
     
  18. BadAss

    BadAss
    Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2001
    Messages:
    2,967
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    86
    Location:
    England
    Ratings:
    +182
    I have the VX2100 which does it digitaly. Is there much difference between the two? Anamorphic v's Digital?
     
  19. Duncan Craig

    Duncan Craig
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2003
    Messages:
    258
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    The Grim North
    Ratings:
    +17
    A difference, yes.

    It looks a lot sharper when you use the lens, there's no internal image resizing so all the chip surface is used.

    I make commercials on my VX2000 (just lo-budget stuff - I hire digibeta for high-end work), so it's important to get the most out of it (all commercials must be delivered in widescreen), and I'm not going to lay out $10k for a Sony DVCam just to get 16:9 when a £500 lens will tide me over for a while.
     
  20. se_warner

    se_warner
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2000
    Messages:
    62
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Location:
    Sandhurst, Berks,UK
    Ratings:
    +0
    I am new to the mini DV camcorders although I used to have an older camcorder 10 years ago. I have just purchased a JVC GR-D200 and it offers Cinema and Squeeze modes. From what has already been posted I guess that cinema just drops pixels top and bottom (and it switches my tv into Cinema mode). However, Squeeze compresses the picture in from the sides and expands back when displayed on the TV. Am I loosing any pixels or quality in using this mode? The viewfinder is full so I don't think that I am. Any comments?

    Thanks
    Steve
     
  21. BadAss

    BadAss
    Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2001
    Messages:
    2,967
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    86
    Location:
    England
    Ratings:
    +182
    The squeeze mode sounds like its using the full 4:3 resolution of your camera, and relys on your tv to convert it back again.
     
  22. Roy Mallard

    Roy Mallard
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Resolution is the same on 4;3 and 16:9 domestic camcorders at 720x576, the pixels are shaped different, 'square' (although actually very slightly off-square) ona 4.3 and non-square, horizontally longer, on a 16:9 cam.

    Anamorphic lenses (such as made by Century and Optex) are expensive add-ons more suited to the prosumer realm (they have big threads 52 or 58mm) where cameras like the XM2 and PD170 all have regular 4.3 chips, the anamoly to this is the remarkably average Sony PDX10, which has a 16:9 chip.

    Anamorphic lenses have a couple of disadvantages forthe home user: weight & bulk, they will increase the overall size of your svelte palmcorder and make it very nose-heavy; cost, nearly as much as a midrange consumer cam; increased objective focus distance (you can't focus as closely to the camera); you can't hold focus through the full range of the zoom, you need to refocus typically around 3 times across the range of a 10x zoom; focus on longer lenses is hopeless, go above 12x and the picture is uncearable soft at the edges; the monitor picture is compressed on your camcorders standard 4:3 lcd blah blah blah, all workable for pros on abudget, not great for family cam users.

    Some cameras are now feature 16:9 guideframes (canon XM2 & XL1s) so that you can record a regular 4:3 picture but with a 16:9 guideframe so you can 'shoot to protect' your footage, yu can display it as normal on a regualr tv, or you can add a black widecreen mask in the edit to make it widescreen compatible, safe in the knowledge that your framing is safe for both 4:3 and for 16:9.

    The downside of this method, like pseudo 16:9, is that the horizontal resolution is down by about 25%, the advantage over pseudo 16:9 is that 4:3 can play back at full res on a regular TV and most widescreen tvs have a 4:3 mode, so your footage is more compatible with present standards, but can be adapted for the furture standard.

    Most NLEs are now offering a widescreen capture mode for genuine or psuedo 16:9 footage. On Final Cut & Premiere it is fairly painless to either alter the frame ration or impose blck widescreen bars.

    Forget anamoprhic convertors, if you have money to burn buy an XM2 instead of a PC330 with convertor.

    If your budget is for a PC330 buy a panasonic GS200 or 400 instead, much better.
     
  23. Quilgy

    Quilgy
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2003
    Messages:
    153
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    London
    Ratings:
    +12
    I have a Canon MVX3i which has an anamorphic lens built-in so that 16:9 images can be recorded that are full height and width when replayed on a 16:9 TV. In the viewfinder of the camera, all images at squeezed horizontally so that everything looks a bit skinnier than in reality.

    Playing back on a 4:3 TV, the image is still skinny unless you have a 16:9 button, upon which the TV removes some of the vertical resolution to restore the correct aspect (and adds the black bars at top and bottom). On a 16:9 TV though, the playback is as expected with a full widescreen aspect at the maximum resolution for the TV (analogue TV).

    When editing from the Canon in Final Cut, you can select the PAL DV Anamorphic setup which presents the image to the editor in the correct 16:9 aspect, but in the back end, retains the 4:3 anamorphic shape of the pixels. This is required for transposing the video to DVD as a widescreen image.

    ALL current widescreen DVDs on the market are encoded using an anamorphic image, so rest assured that if your camera does anamorphic, you are getting the real widescreen deal.
     
  24. Kevo

    Kevo
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2001
    Messages:
    5,354
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    86
    Location:
    Manchester
    Ratings:
    +144
    I've been looking at the Canon MVx3i and in all the reviews and specs I have read I have not seen any mention of an anamorphic lens. In fact I don't think any of the current cameras have an anamorphic lens built in (even pro models?)

    I think the MVx3i uses the (poorer) electronic psuedo method where you lose about 25% of the resolution (top & bottom cut), which is then stretched vertically to fill the 4:3 height by some means of interpolation.
    If so then i'll stick to 4:3
     
  25. MartinImber

    MartinImber
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2001
    Messages:
    3,851
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    71
    Location:
    Worcester
    Ratings:
    +21
    I Know that my (out of production) TRV33 offers a widescreen mode with higher chip resolution than 4x3.

    It uses more chip for 16x9 and cuts sides off for 4x3

    WHOLE chip used for photos
     
  26. Sweddad

    Sweddad
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    I intend to burn all my homemovies in 16:9 format (for a future 16:9 plasma-TV).

    Can I burn films in 16:9 format when using Panasonic NV-GS120EG,
    without more work than using a camera with "true widescreen" ?

    About the resolution, the Panasonic NV-GS120EG, cut picture above and below.
    But the resolution is so good, that I think I don´t notice any poorer picture.

    Or is it better to go for a Canon MVX10i ?

    Note: I have an old analog Sony video 8 camera, CCD-TR425E.
    I have recorded videos in 16:9 format (cut picture above and below).

    If I get the NV-GS120EG (european version has no analog in), I have to record old tapes in a stationary DVD-recorder, and then put the cd into PC if I want to edit.

    If I get the MVX10i, I can connect old camcorder direct into MVX10i.

    Hmmm....<s>difficult</s>....easy choise when I write it down.....
    ....it must be the MVX10i.

    After all, I just want to have some nice homemovies, with fairly quality.

    /Sweddad (from Sweden)
     
  27. Kevo

    Kevo
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2001
    Messages:
    5,354
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    86
    Location:
    Manchester
    Ratings:
    +144
    There is nothing to gain in cropping your original 4:3 videos to 16:9 or filming in 16:9 where it cuts the top & bottom and thus removing 25% of the original frame and resolution. Even if you deliberatley compose for 16:9 whilst filming, it's still wasting the high quality resolution of Mini DV and reducing it to below
    S-Video spec!
    This is video not super35 mm!
    It's lose, lose all the way.

    The method used by MartinImber's Sony of using extra pixels seems to be the best affordable method.
    Does anybody know if the Canon MVX3i/25xi uses a similar system?
    One review says it doesn't whilst the USA equivalents say they do.
    Maybe we're being short changed in the uK (again!)
     
  28. Quilgy

    Quilgy
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2003
    Messages:
    153
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    London
    Ratings:
    +12
    I bought that camera especially because of the anamorphic lens. Prior to purchase I did a fair bit of research and this was the main reason I purchased that model.

    It has also been borne out in use of the camera and in the editing process. The poorer electronic widescreen cameras tend to embed the black bars in the video image coming from the camera and hence, 25% picture loss. The 3i does not do this. You get a full height image (ie - 576 pixels, none interpolated).

    This camera is also called Optura Xi for the US market. See this review for more info and confirmation of the anamorphic lens.

    http://www.simplydv.co.uk/Reviews/canon_mvx3i.html
     
  29. Kevo

    Kevo
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2001
    Messages:
    5,354
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    86
    Location:
    Manchester
    Ratings:
    +144
    It doesn't have an amorphic lens, if that was the case you wouldn't be able to record a 4:3 image at all. Like the rest it produces a ws image electronically.

    From your link....


    "Unlike the TRV80, which employs Sony's new wide CCD, the MVX3i's 16:9 widescreen is available in anamorphic (stretched) mode only

    Points against: Lack of proper 16:9 widescreen"
     
  30. Quilgy

    Quilgy
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2003
    Messages:
    153
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    London
    Ratings:
    +12
    Fair enough, but anamorphic widescreen is the accepted industry standard for producing widescreen images for playback, especially on 16:9 devices. Even Hollywood movies produced on film end up being encoded on DVDs as anamorphic widescreen.

    My version of poor mans widescreen is when the camera adds the black bars at top and bottom of the 4:3 image captured. These bars are then embedded in the signal sent from the camera to your TV, so you lose that 25% of the image. This becomes apparent when played back on a 16:9 TV as the image ends up having black bars all around, and you need to zoom it on the TV to get it to go fullscreen. This method is truly inferior to the 4:3 image.

    The images produced by the 3i do not have the black bars in the signal and use the full 576 pixel height of the frame.

    The real confusion here is the terminology. "True", "High Resolution", "Proper" widescreen - there doesn't seem to be much agreement on what they all mean - plus the fact there seems to be different methods and technologies in use depending on the age and price range of the equipment.

    For my needs, I wanted a camera that could take 16:9 images and deliver them anamorphically at 720x576i in DV quality, so I could watch them natively fullscreen on my 16:9 CRT TV. I also wanted to be able to produce widescreen DVDs which play back correctly on both 4:3 and 16:9 equipment, the latter fullscreen with no bars and the former with black bars to maintain the correct aspect ratio. I can achieve all of this with the 3i, so at least I am happy.

    I have been travelling around Europe with the camera this year, and the widescreen pictures it takes are fantastic for a 1CCD consumer camera. Even played back on an SD 16:9 plasma, the images look great.
     

Share This Page

Loading...