Are “cinema” and “extended

#165236
AvatarRob
Participant

Are “cinema” and “extended” 2 settings in your camera that attempt 16:9? If so, one is Letterbox and the other is 16:9, but it’s not true 16:9. I’ll explain what I mean.

Letterbox footage is 4:3 footage that has the top and bottom cropped off. On a 4:3 television it will look fine. If you watch a 16:9 movie on a 4:3 TV, you’ll notice it will look the same as your letterboxed 4:3 footage you shot. Now this is the downfall on letterboxed footage: If you watch that same 16:9 movie on a wide screen TV, it will fill the whole screen. But what happens if you watch regular 4:3 footage on a widescreen TV? It has black bars on the sides because it isn’t large enoughhorizontally to fill the screen, ya know what I mean? Now if you take that 4:3 footage and now letterbox it, then watch that on a widescreen TV, not only will it still have the black bars on the sides, but it all has the image cut off at the top and bottom from the letterboxing, and that looks horrible. It’s like a 16:9 image that doesn’t fill the screen; like it was scaled down or something. Does this make sense?

Now this is what I mean by “not true 16:9.” If you’re camera doesn’t have 16:9 CCDs or CMOS sensors, then it will not shoot true 16:9. Since your camera has 4:3 sensors instead, what your camera is doing is stretching the image, and then when you capture it with 16:9 settings, your NLE will squeeze it and you will end up with a 16:9 image. This image will look the same as a letterbox 4:3 image when you watch it on a 4:3 TV, but it will also fill a widescreen TV like your 16:9 movie. The downside to this is all that stretching and squeezing degrades the image.

In conclusion, if you want a cinematic look, you want a 16:9 image whether you achieve it via letterbox or the stretching mode of your camera. If you are POSITIVE your film will only be viewed on a 4:3 TV, then the letterboxed 4:3 image is the way to go because it doesn’t degrade the picture. But if you think there is a chance it will be viewed on a widescreen TV, then shoot the stretched method.

I personally think letterbox will suffice since not maybe people have widescreen TVs yet. If you plan on shooting a lot of films in 16:9 though, a camera that shoots true 16:9 might be a nice investment for the future though.

I hope that helps. Good luck

ps. if you want a cinematic look, there is more you have to do besides shoot 16:9 and 24p. So don’t forget to light like film, execute camera movements like film (no zooming!), try to get the shallow depth of field of film, etc…

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