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Discussion Starter #1
I just bumped into this forum. It looks like there are some knowledgeable people on here.
Does anyone know when all picture transmissions will be in 16:9? There are still lots of 4:3 and other transmissions that don't fill a 16:9 screen, including 16:9 that doesn't fill the screen. I am wondering if anyone knows if, or when, this will go away.
I am kind of holding off on buying a big screen until this is sorted.
Thanks.
 

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Every HD channel is in 16:9 today.

My suspicion is SD channels will remain 4:3 for many years to come.
 

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Here's the FAQ on Black Bars. Since there's a lot of 4:3 material out there from older programming, you're going to see a lot of 4:3 for quite a while. As for upconverted widescreen SD with bars all around, there's plenty of that too.

Most new programming is now produced in HD or 16:9 Widescreen, so eventually that's what you'll see most, but various aspect ratios will be around for a long time to come: Many new BD movies are 2.35:1, so there will be bars above & below the image there too. This will never be "sorted out" as indicated in the FAQ so you can purchase your HDTV now.

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=76089


Here's a post useful for those new to the forum - FAQs, Search Tips, Optimization, etc:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=57741
 

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Discussion Starter #4
4:3 & black bars

Well, it is pretty obvious that I found the right place. More questions than I asked were answered very well, plus all of the questions I asked. Thanks for the link referrals too.
Cheers
 

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Every HD channel is in 16:9 today.

My suspicion is SD channels will remain 4:3 for many years to come.
except when they are not? :)

it just irks the bahjeepers out of me to turn on an HD channel only to find the programing
not only letterboxed but pillar boxed as well (bars on all 4 sides so my 40in TV becomes a 26) kind of defeats the purpose of a 16:9 HD TV. The worst offenders in this seems to be National Geographic, History and HGTV. I even am considering getting one of those image processor boxes (there around 1200$+ so a bit pricey)
Letterboxing/pillarboxing, stretched and zoomed pix are evil, just say no :)
 

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don't jump to blame the BDU's. Some companies think it looks "COOL" to film a show with the black bars, probaly because they do their editing on a 4:3 tv and it looks cool. they probaly assume it fills the screen full on a 16x9, boy are they ever wrong. why someone would use the "matted" black bars in 2011 is beyond me? atleast film it full 4:3 so we have black bars on the sides only. geesh
 

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What's even more amazing to me are the commercials that are shown letterboxed & pillarboxed on HD channels. The advertiser made a conscious decision to have a commercial shot in widescreen - almost certainly in HD, but then we're to believe they were too cheap to deliver a letterboxed SD version plus the widescreen HD version to the station? No way.

I don't know anything about the advertising/broadcasting industry, but if I were spending money on advertising I'd certainly want proper SD *and* HD versions going out to the stations, so I can't believe that it's the advertiser's fault. In fact I can't believe that in 2011 you'd have to supply both formats - an HD master copy should suffice.

That leads me to believe that either the advertising middlemen that sell and distribute these adverts or the TV stations that show them are incompetent or lazy. You'd think the station could at least know that a letter/pillarboxed advert is being inserted on an HD channel and scale the image content to fullscreen for the duration of the commercial.

Oh well, yet another reason why I watch everything but live sports via my PVR or Netflix.
 

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I'm pretty sure that the adverts that you see windowboxed on HD channels are SD widescreen. I prefer to leave them that way as with programming of the same aspect. That way I can decide whether I want to zoom the image and get poor PQ or leave it the way it is.

The true HD commercials are appearing on the HD channels fullscreen.

The subject of black bars and various aspects has been discussed many times on this forum and we always end up with the same discussion. The people who want to see things OAR and the people who wish to see distorted and/or poor quality and/or cropped images to avoid black bars. I'm with the former group.

Here's the previous lengthy discussion on the topic.

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=92477
 

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The issue of commercials being window boxed (black bars on all sides) is usually because most stations don't have the ability (yet) to automatically switch from letterbox to centre cut on their SD channel. If the commercial has not been protected for a 4:3 centre cut, they need to show it window boxed on the HD channel to prevent the centre cutting from removing valuable picture detail.
 

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Why can't the stations just zoom the window boxed 16:9 commercial and leave the black bars on the top and bottom to preserve the aspect ratio?

There was a JVC HD camcorder commercial on the HD channels last year that was squished horizontally--if I used horizontal stretch on my Bell 9200 it made everything look normal. I was surprised that an ad for an HD camcorder couldn't even get the aspect ratio right.
 

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As 57 said this has been discussed endlessly but let's see if I can distill it down to the bare essentials.

There are two major issues at work here:
1. 16X9 HD material that is not 4X3 safe and
2. Stations that cannot completely separate their SD feeds from their HD feeds.

If a station CAN separate HD and SD feeds and run different content simultaneously then issue #1 won't effect the HD output. The content, be it program or commercial, can air full screen with no bars, top, bottom or sides on the HD channel. If the content is 4X3 safe the sides are cut off by a downconverter for the SD channel and again no bars are needed. If the content is not 4X3 safe (it has important graphics on the right or left in the 16X9 extra zone) it will be letterboxed to preserve that info for 4X3 viewers. This letterboxed view will only appear on the SD output.

If a station CANNOT separate HD and SD feeds and must run the same content simultaneously and the HD content is not 4X3 safe then the HD output must be letterboxed so that the 4X3 side cut version of the same content on the SD channel preserves those important graphics. In this case, HD viewers see bars all around and SD viewers should only see bars at the top and bottom. If the content is 4X3 safe the sides are cut off by a downconverter for the SD channel and again no bars are needed.

These two scenarios are the bane of all broadcasters. I have worked at both kinds. Content arrives in different formats. Sometimes only one version is provided, HD or SD. Sometimes that SD material is already letterboxed. Sometimes the HD content is 4X3 safe, sometimes not. Sometimes both HD and SD are provided but the station can't use both due to the limitations mentioned above.

Each broadcaster tries to adjust the content for the channel but at the same time can't cut off those critical graphics with phone numbers, web addresses or those ridiculous automobile financing details. Some will upconvert letterboxed SD material to avoid bars on HD channels but some can't, again due to those limitations mentioned above.
 

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^^^^

57 sent me some info about Active Format Description which may help with the problem. It's already used by PBS, NBC and DWTV. I believe it may also be used on CBC Doc. According to what I read, AFD will allow SD terminals & TV to properly display the 16:9 show in either letterbox or full height format, with the user being able to select whichever is preferred. Since Rogers has DWTV and apparently CBC Doc using this, I assume the Rogers SD terminals can handle this. However I have no way to test it, as I no longer have any SD gear. Perhaps, as a Rogers employee, you can verify that the SD boxes or analog sets with HD boxes can use AFD.
 

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AFD is one piece of the puzzle. The station also needs an automation server to automatically broadcast the correct AFD info. CBC apparently plans on installing an Automation server and use AFD this August (currently the aspect ratio switching is done manually).

As for Rogers, they currently receive separate SD and HD feeds from the stations. I don't think it has been decided if they will switch to receiving a single HD feed with AFD info, or continue to receive separate feeds.
 

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Set the box for a 4:3 TV, and the TV to 4:3 mode.
I don't think that would do it. I ran a 4250 with an analog 4:3 set for about a year. It would receive the HD channels and convert them to letterbox. When that auto channel started, I had to switch to the SD only channel to see a full height 4:3 picture.
 

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I don't work in the cable division but from my personal experience with both SD and HD cable boxes, currently these boxes do not respond to AFD signals. As a side note...Fox also uses the AFD to trigger a letterbox mode on their commercial satellite receivers for affiliates. Fox Sports Networks have begun broadcasting HD games that are not 4X3 safe. They are putting their scorebugs and graphics outside the 4X3 safe area. Stations that used to side cut the 16X9 HD feed and downconvert it for their SD viewers now take the SD feed from their network supplied satellite receiver. It creates a downconverted letterboxed SD signal whenever the AFD signal triggers that mode.
 

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I don't think SD cable boxes can down convert an HD feed so it really doesn't matter if they support AFD since they will only work with SD feeds, which will have already been converted to 4:3 by either the broadcaster or the BDU (possibly using AFD if available).
 

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^^^^
16:9 SD is also supported in ATSC. So, AFD would allow it to be displayed in 16:9 or wide screen sets and in letterbox or full height on 4:3. While HD is better than SD, 16:9 SD is preferable to 4:3.
 

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16:9 SD is also supported in ATSC. So, AFD would allow it to be displayed in 16:9 or wide screen sets and in letterbox or full height on 4:3.
Although supported in ATSC, I don't think any of the BDUs use it.
 

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I don't subscribe to DWTV anymore, but when I did, my HD cable box correctly identified the AFD tag and presented it in widescreen. However, it would only work if the cable box was set to output 1080i.
 
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