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  1. #1
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    British Readers - 14x9?

    A guy I work with swears that "Britain has gone 14x9". When I asked him to clarify he said that 14x9 is the new television standard adopted in England. I said I doubt this, and I suspect that they are simply broadcasting a certain amount of programming in 14x9 as a compromise, rather than actually shooting and delivering in this ratio.

    However he is quite adamant. He even thinks we should do the same thing.

    Can any British people clear this up? What cameras are you using? What aspect ratio are you shooting in? What aspect ratios are your TVs?

    I know I can Google the answers (and I already have to some extent) but I want to hear it from the horse's mouth.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  2. #2
    Hi there Dave,
    After reading through most of your great site to learn the tricks of home videos I've decided to become an active member of the forums and find this thread awaiting me!.

    Our TV's are the usual mix of 4x3, 16x9, SD & HD.
    Yes, the broadcasters (Satellite, Cable or Terrestrial) do indeed put out some but not all material (usually older feature films) in 14x9, it is not uncommon to find a widescreen film that is letterboxed on a perfectly configured 16x9 setup.

    Turner Classic Movies is one of the biggest "offenders" of this type of output.

    However new material is indeed produced with 16x9 in mind, and very recently we have begun the process of migration to HD content.
    Last edited by BloodyL; 8th Aug 2006 at 22:24.

  3. #3
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    Hey thanks a lot BloodyL. That's pretty much as I understood it but it's nice to get it confirmed.

    I can't understand why my colleague would want to shoot in 14x9 instead of 16x9. 14x9 just doesn't seem worth the effort of changing. He works mostly on sports (rugby and cricket) and they shoot in 16x9. I think at first he enjoyed it but became frustrated because they still have to shoot everything in 4x3-safe mode, compromising the 16x9 version a lot.

    I've been shooting a bit on 16x9 and I have to say I love it. 4x3 seems so limiting in comparison. Unfortunately our free-to-air broadcasters are being very slow to adopt widescreen but with a new satellite service coming next year it will hopefully change. We'll see. The channel I work for is still 4x3 but purchasing new 16x9 gear later this year.

    BTW, some films will still need to be letterboxed in 16x9 to preserve the true aspect ratio but it shouldn't be too severe.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  4. #4
    Senior Member SC358's Avatar
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    Are you sure they're actually shooting in 14x9 rather than shooting in 16x9 and framing for 14x9? If so, I guess someone's buying those 14x9 lenses or formats.

    I've been ticked off (for a very long time) when it was first proposed to SMPTE as a new format - and this is going back to the late 90's. At that point I just kept shaking my head in total disappointment, to this day I still don't see the point of it.

    Well just like anything else, it won't go anywhere if people don't go for it... remember IBM's PC Jr??
    SC358
    Relationships are based on compromises - behavior accepted is behavior repeated.

  5. #5
    Having just had a look back at your aspect ratios page I must admit I mistook 14x9 for cinemascope, we do get feature films presented in the cinemascope OAR which result in letterboxes on a 16x9 setup.

    Anyhow, now that I have corrected my erroneous knowledge of AR's via This interesting link I would have to say that from practical experience this is done in the TV reciever box rather than any material being recorded in this format natively.
    The 3 main content providers I use (Sky Satellite, ntl: telewest Cable and Freeview Digital Terrestrial) offer options within their digital set top boxes which allow for:

    *4x3
    *4x3 Pan & Scan (Or Center Cut)
    *4x3 Letterbox
    *16x9

    According to the images and text on that site, 14x9 would correlate to 4x3 Letterbox. (Even that site hasn't got it quite right though!)

    My (un)educated guess is that your friend has seen someone over here with a 4x3 set who has set the reciever to 4x3LB to regain the full image width and try to retain as much of the OAR as possible.

    Hope this helps!

    Cheers.

  6. #6
    Ok, now it is becoming obvious that I don't know what the heck I'm talking about!

    This site is making things a bit clearer for me from a production standpoint.

    A memory has surfaced while I type that some of the TV's I have owned have offered 14x9 formats but I only seem to recall that feature being a part of the 16x9 set ratio settings, how strange!

    My own viewpoint is that 14x9 is not needed, as I pointed out earlier our STB's allow for 4x3 Letterboxed presentation, why complicate the production process even further with another design consideration?

    After all this they could possibly be shooting with 14x9 in mind but why they are doing this is beyond my comprehension, I'm not aware of any Digital Set Top Boxes offering 14x9 as a ratio setting.

    Curiouser and curiouser!

  7. #7
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies, I guess the situation is murkier than first thought. Unfortunately I've just come home from minor surgery and I'm not thinking at all clearly myself - the medication is still in control.

    SC358, I don't know of anyone shooting in 14x9. My colleague, however, is convinced that British producers are routinely using it to shoot in. He actually claims that it's some sort of national standard in England. This is certainly not my understanding but I would prefer to get the real facts before poo-pooing the idea.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  8. #8
    Member vegasarian's Avatar
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    Just joined your forum Dave and been looking through the posts. Dont know if this helps to clarify the 14x 9 thing here in London...
    The UK broadcasters, in general, do widescreen by framing the
    important action for an imaginary 14:9 format (or its safe area), and
    then simulcast 16:9 images cropped and zoomed to 14:9 for analogue
    (4:3) broadcasts. The reasoning here is that this will supposedly give the 4:3 viewer more picture and less black bars, but not all countries feel this
    sort of gimmickry is necessary. Shooting and protecting for 14:9 is, as
    far as I know, primarily a British thing.

  9. #9
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    Thanks vegasarian, that does clarify things. I can certainly see the logic in the 14x9 approach, but I'm glad to see it's just a transitional solution rather than a separate format as my colleague claims.

    On a side note, my father was visiting relatives in England recently. Apparently my grandmother awoke one morning to find that her TV had "black lines at the top and bottom". From the way my father described it, it sounded like 14x9 on a 4x3 screen. My grandmother thinks there is a fault with her TV but I'm wondering if there has been a change to the broadcast aspect ratio.

    Are you aware of any change in the last few months which might have been responsible? She thinks it happened to lots of her television programs all at once.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  10. #10
    Member vegasarian's Avatar
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    As far as I'm aware and only regarding the BBC, there has been no recent change.

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