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This weekly course covers the most common questions videographers encounter when shooting and editing with DSLR cameras, from choosing a frame size and frame rate to understanding moiré. Authors Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman will also help you understand the impacts of compression and the difference between cropped (or micro 4/3rds) and full-sized sensors in cameras, and much more. This continual FAQ guide is a handy way to find the answers to the questions that plague you the most.
Richard: So in our last movie we talked all about aspect ratios and what they mean. You know, and I think it became pretty obvious that we live in a 16:9 world, and sometimes we deliver in 4:3. But I still have clients ask me, well, why would I do this project in 16:9? You know, they're so used to shooting on Beta equipment or traditional cameras, and they are, it still exists. You know like, well, what do you mean why shoot 16:9? Robbie: It's an unbelievable thing. I still get asked that question all the time, which is kind of shocking, since our lives over the past 5 or 10, 15 years have kind of become dominated by widescreen displays and widescreen presentations, and that kind of stuff.
And there are a couple of reasons for 16:9. First I just want to point out that any time that you're in an HD movie mode on your DSLR, you're by default recording 16:9. There is no special switch you have to change or setting in the menu, you're recording 16:9. And one of the real reasons to shoot 16:9, or that wide aspect ratio, is because from a sort of human physiology and sort of perceptive kind of model. 16:9 takes up more of a peripheral vision, and in the display, a large display like a movie theater or nice home theater or something like that, it's going to be more engaging, and it's more how we see the world.
You know if you put your hands up to your eyes like this and sort of emulate a square, right, you're kind of blocking off a large part of your peripheral vision, right? That's not how you see the world. We see the world in more of a widescreen type view. Richard: Well, what's interesting is how 16:9 itself actually involved as an aspect ratio, movies in general. Movies used to be 4:3. You know, we started, and that's what they were, and then television came along. And with TV they are, oh well, we need to do something different, we need a wider screen and-- Robbie: The movies wanted to do something different.
So they even went not just 16:9, they went crazy, right? In Cinemascope and all these other aspect ratios that were just mega wide. Richard: If you've ever gone to a Cinerama Theatre, it's just incredible. You know, these giant aspect ratios, and over time things sort of backed back down. And I think what we're seeing now is that really, while there's lots of aspect ratios still in use, 16:9 is becoming dominant, because as people are going to theaters less, but have nice home theaters and movies and portable electronic devices playback movies, 16:9 has become the standard.
So if your client is asking you, well, why shoot 16:9? I don't know, a lot of the folks who are delivering still have 4:3. A thing that I say is okay, I want you to go to a big-box electronics store and tell me how many 4:3 TVs you find. Robbie: Right. And that's a good point. I mean the other thing, too, is that as you know, it's sort of an inevitable thing that these cameras over the next thee, four or five years will probably shoot even better than our current crop of HD. 2K, 4K, 5K, digital cinema resolutions and a 16:9 would still be germane then, because it's a widescreen display.
Now the one thing I will say though that's kind of interesting about 16:9 is that versus 4:3 that we've previously talked about is that when you shoot 16:9 for aesthetic reasons, people like to sort of get those go back to that super widescreen type look. So for final presentations often times people will do things like, they will map the image off with black bars. Well, if you do that with a 16:9 shot you don't have a lot of area to work with, you end up getting these little strips. So one thing that people do oftentimes is that they'll shoot 4:3. Now, not standard def 4:3, but the protect for 4:3, and then they'll mask that off and maybe blowup and enlarge the image a little bit, giving us that look.
But most of the time shooting 16:9 is going to be the choice that you want, you get that by default on HD modes on these cameras. Richard: So if you're talking to your client, you try to convince them what to do. I think the key here is to say, look, pretty much the whole industry has gone to widescreen. It might not be a true 16:9, you'll see slight variations and things like mobile phones and everything else, but when people turn on video these days, they expect it. I think the biggest bellwether that signified a change was when YouTube went to from 4:3 video to 16:9. Robbie: Yeah, that's a good point.
And you know just the thing is again, you don't have to think about it. We're making a big deal of this is 16:9 versus 4:3. The thing to point out is when you're in standard-def modes on these cameras, you'll be probably shooting 4:3 and all HD modes will be shooting 16:9. Richard: Yeah. And remember, those gray bars on the back of the camera are there for a reason, while you could see through them, you're not actually recording the video that's in the gray bar area, so just make sure you compose the shots the way you want.
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