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Old 02-02-2013, 08:19 PM   #1
nrnoble
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Stations boardcasting in the wrong aspect ratio for older 4:3 sources

I'm baffled how often I encounter stations that broadcast a 4:3 TV series in a aspect ratio that completely wrong and the image on the HDTV is like watching thin\tall people; looks like a compressed CinemaScope movie.

In the Seattle area channel 117 (RTV) has been broadcasting older 4:3 TV shows in panel box format within a 16:9 1080i HDTV; yes, this a common way of handling TV series that were filmed in 4:3, but Channel 117 compresses that 16:9 panel box image down to 4:3, so the original 4:3 is now a tall\thin image.

To be clear, its not aspect ratio config problem with my HDTV aspect ratio, or a config problem between TV and TiVo. And I can correct the problem by selecting WideScreen on my HDTV when the station comrpesseses the aspect ratio of 4:3 sources, but then the Tivo menus are then expanded to widescreen, and are therefore messed up.

What is baffling is that nobody at the station notices that they are compressing a 16:9 image into a 4:3 when the video source is already 4:3 or a panel box within a 16:9 HDTV format.
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:07 PM   #2
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:51 AM   #3
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People just don't care. It's sad.
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:56 AM   #4
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What is strange is that when they break to commercial there is no more problem; the commercial 4:3 aspect ratio is fine, yet when they go back the older 4:3 TV series, the aspect ratio is all whacked out again. I am not a cynical person, but I imagine Homer Simpson being the in TV control room staring at the same bad aspect ratio and not seeing a damn thing wrong. I mean, its not just a subtle thing, people look like long skinny aliens.
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Old 02-03-2013, 05:17 AM   #5
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If it's like here RTV is only broadcast in 480i. Think maybe it's coming in over the satellite squished? Maybe someone thinks you should just hit the aspect button and be done with it. It's not as if they care about what it does to the TiVo menus.

I think using the aspect button on the TiVo instead of the one on your TV would also fix the issue without messing up the TiVo menus, by the way.
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Old 02-03-2013, 06:55 AM   #6
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Occasionally, you'll find that a station has purchased an SD version of a show that was originally recorded as HD. This can be because the SD version is cheaper or they don't have the right local equipment to show the HD version. This is often the reason you'll see a 16:9 show squished down to a 4:3 screen.
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:20 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by pdhenry View Post
If it's like here RTV is only broadcast in 480i. Think maybe it's coming in over the satellite squished? Maybe someone thinks you should just hit the aspect button and be done with it. It's not as if they care about what it does to the TiVo menus.

I think using the aspect button on the TiVo instead of the one on your TV would also fix the issue without messing up the TiVo menus, by the way.
Yeah before creating this thread I did test out the TiVo aspect ration button and it did not fix the problem, only the widescreen button on my HDTV corrected the problem. I think this would be a problem with anyone using a cable box as well, not just Tivo users; their menu would be all whacked out because the HDTV is expanding the signal coming the cablebox\Tivo, including the tv guide and menus.

Things like this drive me nuts in part because what I do professionally for a living is product testing to ensure high quality standards are met, and occasionally I encounter people in my industry who truly don't give damn about quality; if it works to any degree they think it should pass inspection. So when I see an aspect ratio that is completely messed up , I wonder who is making the decision that "good enough" to broadcast.
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Old 02-03-2013, 08:22 AM   #8
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On my setup selecting "Full" on the TiVo Aspect button undoes skinny actors. Not sure why it doesn't work for you - but I agree that all it would do doing is fix their foulup that shouldn't be there in the first place.
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:24 AM   #9
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Full and Zoom don't work on HD content with a 16x9 set.
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:30 AM   #10
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I don't understand why more of these stations don't use the AFD flags on their subchannels. Surely by now enough people have digital tuners and HDTVs that they can properly flag 16:9 SD and 4:3 SD programs instead of stretching or squishing, but only a few channels actually do this. CBS+ and NBC NonStop (now COZI-TV) are good examples of doing it the right way.
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:32 AM   #11
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Aspect flags are not part of the US system, unlike other countries that do it right. They had widescreen SD sets in the UK for years that worked properly, because PAL has aspect flags as part of the signal standard. NTSC and ATSC signals have no such equivalent as part of the standard.
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:33 AM   #12
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Aspect flags are not part of the US system, unlike other countries that do it right. They had widescreen SD sets in the UK for years that worked properly, because PAL has aspect flags as part of the signal standard. NTSC and ATSC signals have no such equivalent as part of the standard.
ATSC includes aspect flags: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_Format_Description
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:38 AM   #13
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People just don't care. It's sad.
The People care. They want the screen filled.

The TV stations listen to The People. They don't care if it's incorrect.
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:46 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Arcady View Post
Full and Zoom don't work on HD content with a 16x9 set.
Is RTV aired in other than 480i? It's an SD alternate channel. It a station is airing it in HD they're wasting bandwidth.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:10 AM   #15
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Is RTV aired in other than 480i? It's an SD alternate channel. It a station is airing it in HD they're wasting bandwidth.
The first post of this thread is about RTV broadcasting in HD.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:14 AM   #16
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It's in there, but what I should have said is that it's not required. It is actually pretty sad how few the number of channels exist that even care. I won't watch stretched or squished content. Discovery started slightly zooming their old SD content. It's just sad. The picture does not need to fill the screen.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:32 AM   #17
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Discovery started slightly zooming their old SD content.
They've been doing that for a long time now. At least it preserves the aspect ratio of what they do show (just crops a bit from the top and bottom).
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:35 AM   #18
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Travel Channel has their weird stretching thing that makes everything all weird and distorted.
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:54 PM   #19
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They've been doing that for a long time now. At least it preserves the aspect ratio of what they do show (just crops a bit from the top and bottom).
Cutting off the top and bottom is the opposite of preserving the aspect ratio. That is how you mangle the aspect ratio.
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Old 02-03-2013, 03:59 PM   #20
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The way the Discovery channels handle upconversion, people are neither too skinny nor too fat, nor does the shape change as they move across the screen. That, to me, is "preserving the aspect ratio". Unless you're talking about a different process than the one I've seen.
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Old 02-04-2013, 12:14 AM   #21
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On my setup selecting "Full" on the TiVo Aspect button undoes skinny actors. Not sure why it doesn't work for you - but I agree that all it would do doing is fix their foulup that shouldn't be there in the first place.
For me it only works on when the image is 480i or 480p, it does not work in this case because the station is putting the 4:3 image in a panel box within a 16x9 image.

Quote:
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Full and Zoom don't work on HD content with a 16x9 set.
Yes, the TiVo button does nothing on channel 117 because its a HD 16x9 format. However, the "Widescreen" button on the TV expands things out to the proper aspect ratio. When in widescreen mode, commercials and Tivo menus are screwed up (off screen).
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Old 02-04-2013, 12:21 AM   #22
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The way the Discovery channels handle upconversion, people are neither too skinny nor too fat, nor does the shape change as they move across the screen. That, to me, is "preserving the aspect ratio". Unless you're talking about a different process than the one I've seen.
I guess I should revise my original statement. I have only discovered one station that consistantly does it incorrectly All the other 250 stations handle it without any problems (AFAIK). TCM some times messes up on their non HD channel, but otherwise they are fine 98% of the time. TCMHD never has any problems.

And in the case of Channel 117 in Seattle, when they cut to commercial, their 4:3 commercials have the proper aspect ratio so everyone looks normal, but when they return to the old TV series, everyone looks like tall skinny aliens. If they can get the 4:3 aspect ratio right for their paying advertisers, then why not do the same for the 4:3 TV series, that is the puzzling question.
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:22 AM   #23
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The way the Discovery channels handle upconversion, people are neither too skinny nor too fat, nor does the shape change as they move across the screen. That, to me, is "preserving the aspect ratio". Unless you're talking about a different process than the one I've seen.
If you cut off parts of the picture that were intended to be seen, then you are messing up the aspect ratio. Just like taking a 2.35:1 movie and chopping it to 1.78:1 (as HBO does with most 2.35 movies) is not preserving the aspect ratio. Or taking a 1.85:1 film and cropping it to 4:3 would be an example of not preserving it. You don't necessarily have to squish or stretch the image to ruin the aspect ratio.

But the worst is when they stretch the edges of 4x3 content to fill a 16x9 screen. It makes me feel sick sometimes.

In any case, I want to see the whole original presentation, no matter what the original aspect ratio. And I don't mind bars at the top or bottom or sides if it is needed to preserve that image. Unless it was shot on HD Video at a 1.78:1 aspect, then there should be some black bars on the screen.
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Old 02-04-2013, 05:08 AM   #24
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In any case, I want to see the whole original presentation, no matter what the original aspect ratio. And I don't mind bars at the top or bottom or sides if it is needed to preserve that image. Unless it was shot on HD Video at a 1.78:1 aspect, then there should be some black bars on the screen.
Well that is a personal preference not shared by all, each channel has to decide (guess) what the majority of their viewers want.

I personally would prefer 4:3 content remain 4:3 and use black bars on the sides. However when it comes to movies wider than 16:9 I would find a well done pan & scan version (versus just a zoomed version) more enjoyable in most cases than having the black bars on the top an bottom. For blu-ray I wished they offered a professionally done "full screen" option seems like with digital recordings it wouldn't be that hard to offer both on the same disk.
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:45 AM   #25
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Who's your Cable provider? Maybe they're the ones messing up (I still find it hard to believe a station would broadcast a secondary channel in HD - I didn't think there was enough bandwidth in a digital channel for HD primary and secondary channels).
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:35 AM   #26
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Full and Zoom don't work on HD content with a 16x9 set.
If you set the TV aspect ratio setting on the Tivo to 4:3, then you can toggle the aspect correction mode between panel, full and zoom for HD channels. This way you can stretch the picture horizontally to get rid of the black bars on the side by changing the aspect correction mode to zoom. You just leave the aspect correction mode set to full for normal HD programs. You lose the ability to toggle between panel, full and zoom for SD channels, but they will always be stretched horizontally to fill the screen.

The only issue this configuration causes is for letter-boxed content shown on SD channels. In that case you have to change the TV aspect ratio back to 16:9 to restore the functionality of the aspect correction mode for SD channels. Then you can set the aspect correction mode to zoom to get rid of the letter boxing.
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:38 AM   #27
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If you cut off parts of the picture that were intended to be seen, then you are messing up the aspect ratio.
No. You are cropping the image, but preserving the aspect ratio. If you stretch the image to fill the screen but retain the entire image, then you are not preserving the aspect ratio.
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Old 02-04-2013, 11:38 AM   #28
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No. You are cropping the image, but preserving the aspect ratio. If you stretch the image to fill the screen but retain the entire image, then you are not preserving the aspect ratio.
No. No. No.

If you take an image and chop off parts, you have just changed the aspect ratio.

If you stretch the image, you have just changed the aspect ratio.

Go look up "aspect ratio" on the internet.

To the person above who told me how to set my TiVo to 4:3 and ruin the picture by stretching it out to "get rid of the bars," that's the opposite of what any sane person would want to do.
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Old 02-04-2013, 12:21 PM   #29
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Well there are only 3 options as far as I can tell:
  1. Play the content as it was originally recorded. This would require placing the black bars either on the sides or top/bottom for any content that was not the same aspect ratio at your TV.
  2. Zoom the content to use your TVs full screen, this cuts out content from either the sides or top & bottom
  3. Stretching the original content to fit your TV's full screen with this no content is cut out but the hight to width ratio is changed making things taller and thinner or shorter and fatter.
I think most of us would say only #1 maintains the original aspect ratio. #2 does maintain the height to width ratio of the video remaining after the sides or top & bottom content has been cut out but it does not maintain of the overall aspect ratio of the full original video.

I have no use for #3 in any situation. I suppose 2 & 3 could be used at the same time to create a real mess again I would have no use for it.

But as I said before a movie that has been professionally zoomed (pan & scan) for content that has an aspect ratio that is wider than my TV's is fine with me in most cases. For 4:3 content (old TV Shows) I want the original recording played with the black bars.
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Old 02-04-2013, 02:59 PM   #30
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I agree with everything you said above, except maybe the part about cropping or pan&scanning 2:35 content. If it is just a dumb comedy on HBO or something, I may not care. But don't take 2001 or Lawrence of Arabia, cut the sides off, and expect me to watch it. (Most of the 2:35 movies I care about are already out on Blu-Ray, so this becomes moot most of the time.)
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