Widescreen switching bit/signal

I’ve trawled the forums for the answer to this, but can’t find anything definitive. Firstly, I understand the principals of non-square pixels, and why Blender shows PAL 16:9 output as a squashed 4:3 window etc. I’ve seen many answers to others questions saying “… it might look strange in Blender, but when shown on a TV it will look correct…” etc.

OK. So I’ve set my render settings to PAL 16:9. The Blender preview window shows a squashed 4:3 image, as expected. But, when I load the finished .AVI (raw) video into Windows Media Player, it still displays as 4:3. When I load the AVI file into Pinnacle Studio 9+, it also appears as a 4:3 video.

Now the crucial bit: On my camcorder, when I select widescreen (genuine widescreen, not crudely letterboxed using black bars), the camcorder shows a squashed 16:9 image on its 4:3 fold out screen, just like Blender’s preview window. No problem there. However, when I load the camcorder’s DV output into Pinnacle Studio9+, Pinnacle detects that the footage was filmed in widescreen and correctly switches its preview window to show the 16:9 output format.

Now, I understand all that happens is that the camcorder has added a ‘widescreen’ or ‘aspect’ switch/signal to the recorded video file to indicate to other devices that the footage should be displayed in 16:9 mode.

So, can Blender be made to set the same switch/signal in its output so that Pinnacle will recognise the file as 16:9? Or must I use something like VirtualDub to manually add the widescreen signal to the AVI file?

This brings me back to the answers to similar threads which say “… it might look strange in Blender, but when shown on a TV it will look correct…” - the problem being I can’t get the 16:9 video from Blender to appear on a TV screen in 16:9 (i.e. using Pinnacle to edit my Blender output and burn a DVD)!

I’m not sure about Pinnacle, I have a crude version that came with my ATI graphics card but I don’t really use it. Have you tried burning to disk and then playing your footage from the disk? or are you simply trying to preview the footage on a TV from your graphics card.

I know that After Effects has a button on the comp window that is for pixel aspect ratio correction, however when this button is toggled it always gives you a pop-up reminder that this is for preview purposes only. What this means is that you will see the corrected aspect ratio of any input footage displayed correctly on the computer monitor, but if your render settings are are not the same as the input footage (e.g. 1.0666 D1/DV PAL input source and 1.422 D1/DV PAL Widescreen composition render setting) then you will still render with the composition setting of 1.422 D1/DV PAL Widescreen rather than the 1.0666 D1/DV PAL setting of the input source.

After Effects can also be set to maintain the original aspect ratio and frame rates of compositions nested within other compositions. Check your documentation as Pinnacle may or may not have this ability.

If none of the above works for you then you could also try rendering a small clip (a single frame) to a different format such as QuickTime or a still sequence (tiff or png are good if you need transparency for compositing) to see if anything changes.

BTW, QuickTime is a much more robust and versatile aplication.

This might be useful for others so here’s a solution I found:

  1. Render the ‘PAL 16:9’ AVI Raw video from Blender. [This file will be detected and played as 4:3 in both Windows Media Player and Pinnacle Studio 9.]
  2. Startup up Windows MovieMaker (free with XP).
  3. Import the file and drag it to the timeline.
  4. Goto MM’s Options menu and choose the 16:9 output option.
  5. Resave the video as DV-AVI format. MM saves using the Type I DV format, which Pinnacle and many other apps can’t load, so…
  6. Use ULead’s free DVConverter application (http://www.ulead.com/download/dvconverter/download.htm) to convert to Type II.

This video will now have it’s 16:9 Display Aspect Ratio (DAR) flag properly set, so will be detected and displayed correctly as 16:9 in Windows Media Player and Pinnacle Studio 9.