16x9 Widscreen VCDs?

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I remember seeing somewhere on this fourm that you can make a 16x9 (Widescreen) VCD. I know that the Panasonic Encoder can encode a 16x9 under the "Advanced Settings" and the "Pel Aspect" drop down menu. What would the pixel size be (352 by xxx) Thanks for any help

-- Jay (jlink84@yahoo.com), March 12, 2000


The Panasonic encoder setting for 16:9 is designed to produce/process an anamorphic image which the DVD player will sense and if the TV is a 16:9 it will play it that way. If its a 4:3 TV it will letterbox the image. For this to happen you will need to author and burn to the DVD specification at considerable cost. Not even the permitted Mpeg-1 (SIF Combo) option for a DVD will play in 16:9 from a DVD player.

The VCD specification does not include 16:9 playback and therefore has no such option to sense the anamorphic image and do anything with it - it will stay squeezed. With VCD's you must produce the correct format within the normal 352 x 240 frame as described in an answer to your last posting on this subject.

Certainly the modern DV cameras have a 16:9 option that is an anamorphic image in a 4:3 frame and unless you have the necessary software like Premiere 5.1c you will not succeed in letterboxing it to a VCD. I recently shot a 16:9 DV video of the tour down-under cycle race stage 6 and produced a letterbox vcd of slightly lower standard than the normal due to the additional processing that is required to un squeeze the image prior to the normal VCD authoring.

Unless you have an old camera the 16:9 image is not simply a 4:3 image cropped at the top and the bottom but you need to end up that way on a VCD.

Again, if you wish to play with 16:9 in anamorphic mode try authoring stills that start off as 852 x 480 NTSC (1024 x 576 PAL) down to a 352 x 240 NTSC mpeg-1 size, but the cause is lost because no VCD/DVD player will expand them or letterbox them, they will simply stay squeezed and hopeless.

-- Ross McL (rmclennan@esc.net.au), March 12, 2000.

I forgot to add that the SVCD format includes 16:9 image playback but then of coarse the Panasonic encoder is not capable, the bbMPEG encoder is so if your into SVCD's then you may acheive something with experimentation using the 480 x 480 frame size that it is based on. My guess is you will still have problems un squeezing the image and getting it to letter box on a 4:3 viewing medium.

Go here for a comparison of the two specs.


-- Ross McL (rmclennan@esc.net.au), March 12, 2000.

Just an update on using Mpeg2. The bbmpeg encoder has the option for displaying in 16:9 an it unscrambles the queezed anamorphic frame and will play correctly on a 16:9 screen. I could not find a way of making it letterbox automatically on a 4:3 screen and I cannot check what a DVD player does. I found I had to tell the software to either "hold aspect ratio" or "letterbox" otherwise the system just recompressed or squeezed it back on the 4:3 screen.

With this encoder and the Hollywood Plus decoder card it means 16:9 is possible on a nearby TV from a CDrom and appropriate mpeg2 files at a higher quality that the VCD will give. I do not have a SVCD player to check that out, someone that has may well take this further.

-- Ross McL (rmclennan@esc.net.au), March 13, 2000.

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