Originally Posted by DOBE
Bob: Great tips as usual. However, the situation you describe, above, has always been confusing. All displays and STBs will stretch 4:3 formatted programs when being broadcast in 480i/480p (SDTV channels). I think this is the situation you are describing. Your tips are great under those circumstances.
I've always found that watching 4:3 programming OTA on an HD (720p/1080i) channel offers better PQ and SQ than watching it on a digital only (480i) channel. For me, the problem has always been that very few STBs will allow stretching of 4:3 programming being broadcast over an HD channel (OTA or otherwise). The side black/grey bars are broadcast with the 4:3 programming.
The D* Sony HD200 allows you to *force* a 4:3 formatted program being broadcast on a 720p/1080i channel down to 480p. The program can then be nicely stretched, from the sides, to fill the 16:9 screen. The HD 300 allows this without down-rezzing the output resolution. Although an anamorphically perfect stretch is not possible, the Sony does an excellent job. I greatly perfer this to the side bars. I still watch a lot of 4:3 programming over HD channels.
Will the D2 stretch a 4:3 formatted program from a source, such as the D* HR20, which does *not* allow stretching of 4:3 material being broadcast over an HD channel? If so how? Thanks.
The short answer is yes! I'll tell you how in a moment (grin!). But here's a hint: It doesn't involve forcing downscaling to 480i or 480p!
First understand that the issue of who does the pillar box bar generation *ONLY* matters if the resolution is still 480i or 480p. If the SDTV has already been scaled up to 720p or 1080i there are plenty of extra pixels per line already. So using some on either side as pillar box bars still leaves enough in the center of each line to carry the entire original information content of the SDTV image embedded in that 16:9 frame.
So for example if you decide you want to use a scaling standard DVD player set to 720p or 1080i output (not recommended, of course since the Anthem scaler is so good) then it is just fine to let the player do pillar box bar generation when watching a 4:3 content disc (as for example a DVD of a TV show).
Similarly if you decide for whatever reason that you want to watch SDTV from your HDTV cable or satellite box with that box doing the scaling to 720p or 1080i (DEFINITELY not recommended since the scalers in these boxes are awful) then it also does no harm to let the set top box generate pillar box bars.
But if the SDTV signal is coming in to the Anthem at 480i or 480p, you do NOT want the source device to generate pillar box bars. Let the Anthem do it using the Scale Out option because, again, that happens AFTER the image has been scaled up.
What I'm leading to here is that there is no problem when an HD station sends you a 1080i or 720p 4:3 program which is pillar boxed. The pillar box bars are added AFTER the image has been scaled up to 720p or 1080i.
And generally the reason it looks better is that their HD transmission is technically cleaner than their SD transmission. OTA SDTV is damaged by the way the signal is modulated into TV transmission frequencies and then demodulated in the TV tuner. And SDTV via cable or satellite is often either over-compressed or damaged in other ways in the video chain from the station to your TV. It could be as simple as the quality of the video tape they are playing or the player they are using.
[DirecTV is a major offender here -- dramatically over-compressing many of its SDTV channels.]
One of the more subtle improvements is that the HD "color space" is richer than the SD "color space".
So yes, watching SDTV on HDTV channels can lead to good results. Although if you are seeing DRAMATICALLY better results that indicates the corresponding SDTV channels have problems.
OK back to your question.
The trick is to set the Anthem's Crop Input setting to 4:3 in the Video Source Adjust menu! There is also a shortcut to this available under the Mode key on the remote.
Having done that, the 4:3 image embedded in the 16:9 HDTV frame is extracted (by cropping the sides) just as if 4:3 content had been sent to the Anthem in the first place.
And having done THAT, you can now set the Anthem's Scale Out to Anamorphic and the image will be uniformly stretched to fill the 16:9 screen!
Or you could set the Anthem's Scale Out to Panoramic to get the non-uniform stretch that also (almost) fills the screen but leaves the center of the image less distorted because the stretching is non-uniform.
But wait there's more! You could set the Anthem's Scale Out to Letter/Pillar Box and get a 4:3 image embedded in a pillar boxed 16:9 frame! Urh why would you want to do that, you ask? Isn't that what you started with?
Yes, except THESE pillar box bars are generated by the Anthem instead of by the source station -- which means you get to contol their color! Cool, eh?
Next, as an excercise for the reader: Try experimenting with the combination of Crop Input / Edges On as part of this. There are some useful tricks here for cleaning up the edges of noisy 4:3 content embedded this way.
Your Anthem Video Source Adjust options! Collect them all!