4:3 safe graphics - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 44 Old 06-29-2010, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Why has this continued to happen? I remember shortly after the digital transition, I watched NBC SD primetime and everything was presented in letterbox. Why can't more network do this and we can get rid of 4:3 safe graphics at last?
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post #2 of 44 Old 06-29-2010, 03:16 PM
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Probably because most people are still watching 4:3 analog tv sets. And those darn corner bugs, logos, and info crawls must be seen at all costs.

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post #3 of 44 Old 06-29-2010, 03:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lkr View Post

Why has this continued to happen? I remember shortly after the digital transition, I watched NBC SD primetime and everything was presented in letterbox. Why can't more network do this and we can get rid of 4:3 safe graphics at last?

Because center-cutting has been adopted as the standard downconversion scheme by just about everyone but FOX News and it's generally viewed as much less of a distraction than letterboxing, especially when graphics are centered like the scorebugs on CBS, ESPN (NBA, NFL and College) and NBC and FOX NFL. There are far, far less people who complain (or even notice) 4:3 safe graphics (or would even know the positioning was deliberate) than there are who would jump up and down about letterboxing.
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post #4 of 44 Old 06-29-2010, 08:53 PM
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I finally convinced my parents to start watching HD on their widescreen TV. I like the safe graphics because I can say, "see everything outside the graphics and the bug? That's what you were missing when you watched standard definition stretched to fill the screen."
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post #5 of 44 Old 06-30-2010, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Mentalist5.1 View Post

I finally convinced my parents to start watching HD on their widescreen TV. I like the safe graphics because I can say, "see everything outside the graphics and the bug? That's what you were missing when you watched standard definition stretched to fill the screen."

That is a new "truth in marketing."

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post #6 of 44 Old 06-30-2010, 06:45 AM
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I think composing shots for 4:3 is a much bigger problem than 4:3 safe graphics.

Perhaps the most promising thing about ESPN 3D is that they'll actually compose for 16:9 and hopefully minimize the on screen graphics crap.

Then again, Fox might have more dancing robots in 3D.

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post #7 of 44 Old 06-30-2010, 08:29 AM
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Before the analog cutoff, stations and networks were sending separate SD and HD feeds. The graphics, particularly the bugs, could be put in the corners for their format. Now most have gone to single system delivery. They have lost complete control over how SD viewers will downconvert the HD feed such as whether it will be letterbox or center cut. AFD is being used by some networks, such as NBC and Fox, but there is no guarantee that the receiver will use it. Even when most of the viewers have gone to 16:9 displays, there is now the issue of broadcasts to mobile. It's ironic that a move to all digital has forced graphics inwards, but it was predicted long before the conversion.

Many (if not most) cable stations still send separate SD and HD feeds. I've noticed that HBO will letterbox their SD feeds. They will probably drop the SD feeds at some point and let the STBs or IRDs do any downconversions.
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post #8 of 44 Old 06-30-2010, 09:09 AM
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Most of my SD channels letterbox HD content, so I'm watching it with letterbox and pillars. Who thought that was a good idea? I wish all stations would go to "center cutting". Most of the time you don't miss the side content, and you avoid the annoying letterboxing.
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post #9 of 44 Old 06-30-2010, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spivonious View Post

Most of my SD channels letterbox HD content, so I'm watching it with letterbox and pillars. Who thought that was a good idea? I wish all stations would go to "center cutting". Most of the time you don't miss the side content, and you avoid the annoying letterboxing.

Why not just watch the HD channel then, or use the zoom feature to have the letterboxed and pillarboxed (windowboxed?) content fit your 16:9 screen?
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post #10 of 44 Old 06-30-2010, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Jakes View Post

Why not just watch the HD channel then, or use the zoom feature to have the letterboxed and pillarboxed (windowboxed?) content fit your 16:9 screen?

I don't get HD versions of all my channels. And I do watch them zoomed that way, but then the picture quality is really bad (since I've taken an approximately 720x360 picture up to 1920x1080).
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post #11 of 44 Old 06-30-2010, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spivonious View Post

Most of my SD channels letterbox HD content, so I'm watching it with letterbox and pillars. Who thought that was a good idea? I wish all stations would go to "center cutting". Most of the time you don't miss the side content, and you avoid the annoying letterboxing.

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Originally Posted by Jakes View Post

Why not just watch the HD channel then, or use the zoom feature to have the letterboxed and pillarboxed (windowboxed?) content fit your 16:9 screen?

Seriously.

It never ceases to amaze me when people support altering the picture in ways that can't be undone just to suit their individual needs - especially when options exist to do the altering themselves.

This is the "full screen" home movie situation all over again.

Related story: yesterday I came across a 4:3 crop of a movie on the Hallmark HD Movie channel - with a message that the format had been altered "to fit this screen". Seeing as how it was airing on the HD channel, it cerainly didn't fit my screen.
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post #12 of 44 Old 06-30-2010, 11:52 AM
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Another argument (in the US) is that (most/all?) CECBs only offer centre-cut and permanent letterbox - with no AFD dynamic switching ?

Thus if you have a small 15" 4:3 set or similar, fed by a CECB, you may prefer 4:3 centre-cut rather than 16:9 letterbox (as letterboxed content in such a small screen can look quite small) Thus you have to expect that whilst CECBs offer a 4:3 centre cut option, a chunk of your audience will be watching the 4:3 central portion only. If this is an audience you care about - you'll design your graphics accordingly.

Another reason people may still be watching in 4:3 centre cut on larger displays is that if you run your CECB in permanent 16:9 letterbox mode, irrespective of your screen size, any 4:3 network content that is broadcast pillarbox in 16:9 will appear as a small 4:3 postage stamp surrounded by black on your larger 4:3 display. (Unless AFD switching to centre cut is triggered on pillarboxed content) Again far from ideal.

If CECBs and other STBs and broadcasters supported AFDs (as OTA boxes in the UK do) then you would have fewer viewers watching 16:9 content in 4:3 centre cut mode, however even then I suspect you have to expect some.

I guess in the US there are still also issues about analogue and SD 4:3 cable feeds being automatically derived from 16:9 HD stations as well? (With no AFDs, and no separate SD feed, then a permanent 4:3 centre cut of the HD station for SD 4:3 rebroadcast is the only way of avoiding postage stamp in 4:3 SD?)

Also - for international sporting events - you can expect the main 16:9 graphics to be 4:3 safe for countries which are either still 4:3 SD (there are quite a few), or are 16:9 SD/HD but have to also simulcast in 4:3 SD. (Sport is one of the few genres that is often converted to 4:3 full-screen rather than letterboxed)
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post #13 of 44 Old 06-30-2010, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by sneals2000 View Post

Another argument (in the US) is that (most/all?) CECBs only offer centre-cut and permanent letterbox - with no AFD dynamic switching ?

Thus if you have a small 15" 4:3 set or similar, fed by a CECB, you may prefer 4:3 centre-cut rather than 16:9 letterbox (as letterboxed content in such a small screen can look quite small) Thus you have to expect that whilst CECBs offer a 4:3 centre cut option, a chunk of your audience will be watching the 4:3 central portion only. If this is an audience you care about - you'll design your graphics accordingly.

Another reason people may still be watching in 4:3 centre cut on larger displays is that if you run your CECB in permanent 16:9 letterbox mode, irrespective of your screen size, any 4:3 network content that is broadcast pillarbox in 16:9 will appear as a small 4:3 postage stamp surrounded by black on your larger 4:3 display. (Unless AFD switching to centre cut is triggered on pillarboxed content) Again far from ideal.

If CECBs and other STBs and broadcasters supported AFDs (as OTA boxes in the UK do) then you would have fewer viewers watching 16:9 content in 4:3 centre cut mode, however even then I suspect you have to expect some.

I guess in the US there are still also issues about analogue and SD 4:3 cable feeds being automatically derived from 16:9 HD stations as well? (With no AFDs, and no separate SD feed, then a permanent 4:3 centre cut of the HD station for SD 4:3 rebroadcast is the only way of avoiding postage stamp in 4:3 SD?)

Also - for international sporting events - you can expect the main 16:9 graphics to be 4:3 safe for countries which are either still 4:3 SD (there are quite a few), or are 16:9 SD/HD but have to also simulcast in 4:3 SD. (Sport is one of the few genres that is often converted to 4:3 full-screen rather than letterboxed)

Would you say the tv license has helped in this respect?

Here the boxes were discounted per gov't subsidy (don't know why they even cost more than $20 to be honest). Gov't didn't require it as they should have, so its a conundrum. But, as more people simply want flat panel televisions (note I didn't say they were interested in 16:9 viewing), this may be moot in the coming years once non-OTA viewers can be coherced into watching HD by providers mapping HD to the SD channel slots.
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post #14 of 44 Old 06-30-2010, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spivonious View Post

Most of my SD channels letterbox HD content, so I'm watching it with letterbox and pillars. Who thought that was a good idea? I wish all stations would go to "center cutting". Most of the time you don't miss the side content, and you avoid the annoying letterboxing.

Agreed. "Blowing up" the picture to 16x9 results in terrible picture quality, especially when the source is analog cable or compressed to death 'digital' cable. Plus it sucks when you watch that SD channel on an actual SDTV too.
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post #15 of 44 Old 06-30-2010, 04:17 PM
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The problem in the US is that, besides the CECBs (which are a small percentage of the viewers), there are so many providers that one can not count on them using AFD when it's available. More customers would probably complain that they are not getting a full image than ones about losing the edges. You can't tell what you're missing if you can't see it. US broadcasting was slow to adopt AFD and proper dialnorm, things that should have been done before the analog cutoff. AFD may be a moot point after it finally becomes widespread in use as most will have 16:9 displays. Loudness is a whole other issue that is getting everybody's attention now that the government is getting involved.

I expect 4:3 safe graphics and bugs to be with us for several years to come. NBC and FOX have made considerable efforts to support AFD. From what I've read CBS doesn't seem to be interested. Their CEO was reported to dislike letterbox.
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post #16 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by TVOD View Post

I expect 4:3 safe graphics and bugs to be with us for several years to come. NBC and FOX have made considerable efforts to support AFD. From what I've read CBS doesn't seem to be interested. Their CEO was reported to dislike letterbox.

Looks like Fox took another step this week (7/24) by utilizing AFD on their MLB telecasts. The scorebox and 'MLB on Fox' bug have been moved outside of the 4:3 safe area and the picture will show up as letterboxed on an SD set if your local provider and/or converter box supports AFD. I can imagine there's at least one person in this thread, if he's a baseball fan won't be happy with this development.
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post #17 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by StudioTech View Post

Looks like Fox took another step this week (7/24) by utilizing AFD on their MLB telecasts.

I noticed last week that they were utilizing AFD on the game, even though the graphics were still 4:3 safe. Looks like that was the opening salvo! Some discussion of this in another thread -- some are reporting a center-cut image from their cable provider. I imagine that will be common until everyone gets their act together.
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post #18 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by StudioTech View Post

Looks like Fox took another step this week (7/24) by utilizing AFD on their MLB telecasts. The scorebox and 'MLB on Fox' bug have been moved outside of the 4:3 safe area and the picture will show up as letterboxed on an SD set if your local provider and/or converter box supports AFD. I can imagine there's at least one person in this thread, if he's a baseball fan won't be happy with this development.

Just happened to check what you were saying and it appears WVBT here does not support AFD. Sucks if you're an SD viewer.
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post #19 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by StudioTech View Post

I can imagine there's at least one person in this thread, if he's a baseball fan won't be happy with this development.

I'm not really a baseball fan, but pissed off none the less. Thanks FOX, way to defecate on the SDTV viewers. I'll have to take my CECB out of cropped mode just to see what kind of ant farm of a baseball game FAUX expects me to watch.

Oh, the minute I flipped on the TV the first thing I noticed is the numbers for the score are cropped off the screen. Jeez thanks, they couldn't have put the score box on the RIGHT side of the screen so at least the numbers would be visible but not the inning/outs/bases?

Time for me to fire off an email to my good friends at FOX.
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post #20 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StudioTech View Post

Looks like Fox took another step this week (7/24) by utilizing AFD on their MLB telecasts. The scorebox and 'MLB on Fox' bug have been moved outside of the 4:3 safe area and the picture will show up as letterboxed on an SD set if your local provider and/or converter box supports AFD. I can imagine there's at least one person in this thread, if he's a baseball fan won't be happy with this development.

Here in Detroit, Brighthouse picks up WJBK OTA and center-cuts it. So the graphics are cut off at the edge on the cable analog SD feed.

Walking the fine line between jaw-dropping and a plain ol' yawn.
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post #21 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 04:34 PM
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Personally if I was stuck in SD I would rather have the pitch count and bases and all stuff that changes more often then the score on the screen then the game score. If its a low scoring game I can pretty much remember the score, and if not they say it every half inning...
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post #22 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by ncsu1 View Post

Personally if I was stuck in SD I would rather have the pitch count and bases and all stuff that changes more often then the score on the screen then the game score. If its a low scoring game I can pretty much remember the score, and if not they say it every half inning...

Interesting... I'm not much more than a casual baseball viewer, so. Which could explain why a check of the *local fox station's* website and Facebook page didn't have any complaints at all. It's not a local team, plus the diehard fans might not even care about the score too.

Besides, I'll bet if FOX had control over what airs on the SD channels and showed the game with bars today, there would be more comments over that than the cut off graphic.
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post #23 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 05:18 PM
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Anyone catch any clips of this? I missed the games.
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post #24 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 05:38 PM
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I posted a screen cap over in this thread:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...3#post18953683
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post #25 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 05:44 PM
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If they're bold enough to do it on Fox News Channel, I don't know why they wouldn't be bold enough to do it all the time.
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post #26 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by videojanitor View Post

I posted a screen cap over in this thread:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...3#post18953683

Good for Fox!

I see two issues here. One is that even if AFD is being utilized, there is no guarantee that the SD conversion will utilize it. Fox has the best chance of all the networks for AFD support as the splicer system bypasses the station's ability to inadvertently strip it. However it still requires that the providers and the CECBs can use it. Even worse is that some providers may feel that letterboxing will generate more complaints and just center cut everything.

The second issue is the bigger picture of how long the 16:9 format will be compromised for support of legacy 4:3 displays. The mobile ATSC M/H standard also uses a widscreen format. The 14:9 compromise may seem like a good idea, but it still further delays the transition to widescreen framing. My opinion is now that the analog cutoff has been passed that it's time. Sorry to those who may need to tolerate smaller images from letterboxing. Perhaps 16:9 framing will motivate the quicker adoption of AFD as viewers will question why they are missing part of the image. It's got to happen sooner or later, and to me it might as well be sooner.

We'll know the transition is complete when the bugs move back full time to where they were when HD and SD were sent separately.
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post #27 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by TVOD View Post

We'll know the transition is complete when the bugs move back full time to where they were when HD and SD were sent separately.

I'm with you. Where I work, I campaigned to make our local bug match the one used in the splicer -- and they bought it. So whether in network or local, our bug is always in exactly the same spot -- out of the 4:3 area -- with exactly the same luminosity/opacity and size.
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post #28 of 44 Old 07-25-2010, 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by TVOD View Post

Good for Fox!

I see two issues here. One is that even if AFD is being utilized, there is no guarantee that the SD conversion will utilize it. Fox has the best chance of all the networks for AFD support as the splicer system bypasses the station's ability to inadvertently strip it. However it still requires that the providers and the CECBs can use it. Even worse is that some providers may feel that letterboxing will generate more complaints and just center cut everything.

My station attempts to do AFD every chance we get. The issue is the cableco's aren't interested in it. The reason I keep hearing about is when they pass AFD and some program goes letterbox, their phones ring off the hook with people complaining about the "black bands above and below the picture" so they would rather center cut and let the stations deal with the viewer when the graphics are not in 4:3 safe title zone. We run about 3 hours a day of AFD programming and as far as OTA viewers go, to my knowledge, we have had no complaints.

Quote:


The second issue is the bigger picture of how long the 16:9 format will be compromised for support of legacy 4:3 displays. The mobile ATSC M/H standard also uses a widscreen format. The 14:9 compromise may seem like a good idea, but it still further delays the transition to widescreen framing. My opinion is now that the analog cutoff has been passed that it's time. Sorry to those who may need to tolerate smaller images from letterboxing. Perhaps 16:9 framing will motivate the quicker adoption of AFD as viewers will question why they are missing part of the image. It's got to happen sooner or later, and to me it might as well be sooner.

As long as the FCC is requiring cable to continue with an analog feed (until 2012), 4:3 safe title will be here. After that, I suspect it will be a station by station decision. I have heard that within my own company, they would rather do AFD but as long as cable is so "center cut" centric, they are not pushing AFD since it doesn't buy the viewer much.

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post #29 of 44 Old 07-25-2010, 07:41 AM
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Are there really still 4x3 viewers complaining about "black bands?" Letterboxing has been ubiquitous for at least 10 years.

Of course, I can remember 10 years ago when the CBS HD feed had its logo outside of the 4x3 title safe area.
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post #30 of 44 Old 07-25-2010, 08:46 AM
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Are there really still 4x3 viewers complaining about "black bands?" Letterboxing has been ubiquitous for at least 10 years.

Of course, I can remember 10 years ago when the CBS HD feed had its logo outside of the 4x3 title safe area.

Absolutely. They complain everyday. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of them out there, decades worth of old habbits that die hard, probably mostly older and lower income viewers who have no interest or funds to go HD. My parents still complain when they get a DVD and the picture is "cut off".

I wouldn't say the letterboxing has been ubiquitous for at least 10 years. It's existed, sure, expecially for people watching DVDs, and some networks using it (NBC, etc) but not untill the last year or two has there been so much of it.

Personally, I prefer center cut. It's much less distracting, especially when watching an SD program on an HD set (where you get two sets of bars). Center graphics are mostly an issue on 24 hour news channels, and sports. Everything else can easily go with centercut with very little impact on the HD viewing experience.

I shoot and edit local commercials (among other things) in a dual market area, where depending on which market and station the commercials will run, it could be HD or SD. For SD, I insist on center cut, but some clients and producers demand a "hybrid" where they use the black bars for text, etc. But, when making the HD version for certain stations that can accept it, they have tough decisions to make, because we framed everying in production too tight to leave room for the text, and in HD they are forced to layer it over the image (not any black bars) and it sometimes covers key elements of the image (peoples heads, chins, etc.) Try to exlain this during the shoot, it's like speaking French while in China. It's amazing how something so simple as geometry leaves people confused.
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