Originally Posted by glangford
Originally Posted by wmcclain
Do you have WIDE/AUTO set? That is the setting that pillarboxes 4:3 titles.
No, I only have WiDE set. not auto. I'm wondering if the disc was mastered this way.
SD-DVD content -- whether 16:9 or 4:3 -- is mastered in an "in between" aspect ratio -- a matrix of square pixels which is wider than 4:3 but not as wide as 16:9. There is a data flag that comes with the video to tell which aspect ratio is intended. If flagged as 16:9 then the video is RENDERED with "non-square" pixels that are wider than they are tall -- same number of pixels, just a different shape. If flagged as 4:3 then the video is rendered with pixels that are taller than they are wide -- again, same number of pixels, just a different shape. This use of "non-square pixels" in the rendering process is how SD-DVD survived as a transitional format between traditional 4:3 TVs and the newer, wide screen HDTVs.
16:9 = 1.778. 4:3 = 1.333. For NTSC SD-DVD, what's on disc is always and only 720x480 pixels. 720:480 = 1.500, right in between.
For 16:9 content displayed on a 16:9 screen that means nothing extra needs to be done. The normal rendering process of using horizontally wider pixels is sufficient. The matrix of pixels making up each frame of the 16:9 content will just fill the 16:9 screen when rendered that way.
For 4:3 content displayed on a 16:9 screen, the rendering using tall pixels means that the image has the proper 4:3 shape -- filling the 16:9 screen top to bottom -- but the image is not wide enough to fill the screen side to side. That means that padding is needed on either side -- called pillar box bars.
In the OPPO, 16:9 Wide/Auto will detect the flag that says the SD content stream is 4:3 and will generate the necessary pillar box bars as part of upscaling, e.g., to 1080p output.
16:9 Wide on the other hand, does nothing. Since no pillar box bars are generated, that means the 4:3 source content gets rendered with those wide pixels anyway, since of course something has to go in every pixel of the 16:9 output. And so the image looks stretched horizontally.
Now you might very well channel the power-mad Yzma from "The Emperor's New Groove", and ask, "Why did we ever install that lever in the first place?"
The reason is two-fold. First some people don't like pillar box bars. They would rather see their 4:3 content stretched to fill their 16:9 display, even though that makes everything look fat (circles look like wide ovals). The alternative would be to "Zoom" in on the image so that it fills the screen left to right, but that means you lose a significant portion of the image offscreen on the top and bottom.
Most purists would recommend you watch your 4:3 shows in 4:3 -- the way they were intended to be seen -- but if you prefer otherwise, then just tell most purists to get stuffed. It's your TV.
(Even purists would suggest you limit use of black pillar box bars during the early "burn in" of a new TV to help avoid "image retention".)
The OTHER reason is for folks who prefer to have their upscaling done external to the player.
You see the addition of the pillar box bars should ONLY be done as part of upscaling the SD content to HD. Why? Because the SD video -- whether 16:9 or 4:3 -- is still always and only 720 pixels wide on each line (for NTSC video)! Same number of pixels, just a different, non-square shape.
So if you set the player to output 480i or 480p -- intending to let your AVR or TV upscale that to 1080p for you -- you should *NOT EVER* set the OPPO to ALSO add the pillar box bars! That's because those black pillar box bars will chew up a significant number of the 720 pixels across each line. The 720 pixels of the original 4:3 content will have to reside in the fewer than 720 pixels left in the middle of each line.
Which means you have just discarded a significant amount of horizontal resolution!
When the pillar box bars are added as part of upscaling, they still take up pixels of course. But what they take up are *HD* pixels. A 1080p image has 1920 pixels across each line. That means that even with the pillar box bars in place there are still plenty of pixels left in the middle to hold all the information content represented by the original 720 pixel lines of the SD image.
SO, if you are going to use 480i or 480p output from the OPPO, then set 16:9 Wide -- not Wide/Auto. And then ALSO set your AVR or TV (whichever is doing the upscaling for you) to add the pillar box bars itself.
But if you are like most folks and are using 1080p output from the OPPO, you can leave 16:9 Wide/Auto set all the time (applause from the purists!). For HD content, and for 16:9 SD content, that will do nothing. For 4:3 SD content it will generate the necessary pillar box bars as part of the upscaling -- i.e., no loss of horizontal resolution.
What of HD content, then? Well HD content uses "square pixels". 16:9 = 1.778, and the 1920x1080 or 1280x720 HD images on disc are ALSO 1.778.
So no need for a flag, and no need for generation of pillar box bars. But wait! What about the 4:3 stuff I see in Blu-ray discs of old movies? Well that's still, really, 16:9 content *ON DISC*! The studios have already INCLUDED the pillar box bars, embedded in the content, when they authored the disc. So again, 16:9 Wide vs Wide/Auto makes no differences. The player always sees HD video input as 16:9.
The same thing happens if you view a "wider than widescreen" (e.g., Cinemascope) movie. Those black bars that you see top and bottom are already embedded in the content coming off the disc. The OPPO is not creating them.
NOTE: For folks playing media files off hard discs or the network, 16:9 Wide/Auto will ALSO provide letter-box bars top and bottom if the aspect ratio of your media file happens to be wider than 16:9. So if you play a media file and think it has been incorrectly stretched vertically, that's likely because you don't have 16:9 Wide/Auto set.