Monday, February 25, 2013

The Shape Of Things To Come Part II

HD has been around for many years and its Aspect Ratio of 1.78:1 has been called WIDE SCREEN even though it is just 33% wider than the original 4 x 3 shape.  The industry is about to change again and "4K" has been suggested to be the next big thing.  Personally I don't think there is a need for 4K rez in the home given Digital Cinema still uses 2K [2048] on screens much larger than anything we would ever have in our homes.  In fact I would like to see a new shape rather than just increased resolution.  Those that follow this blog know that I love CinemaScope and welcome anything supporting the true wide screen format of 2.37:1.


US based company Panamorph are working on a system they call Folded Space which can be implemented on Blu-Ray Disc.  They claim to be able to "fold" additional picture information into the "space" currently allocated [wasted actually] for the black bars that preserve the original aspect ratio of CinemaScope films on the format.    

The following is my own interpretation of  the technology and hopefully my explanation is correct.  

True Wide Screen Mode
The image above has an aspect ratio of 2.37.  The image is large at 2560 x 1080 pixels.  To make this possible on home video, films being scanned would have to be done at 2560 instead of 1920 [2048] as they are currently being produced at for Blu-ray Disc.  This means a whole new work process for the studios, so lets hope they see the benefits.  The BDA would also have to support this.   

True Anamorphic Mode 

Because this new format has extra resolution over Blu-ray Disc's 1920 x 1080, it would be able to support other ways of viewing films in that rez.  One mode could be a true anamorphic mode.  This means the image is essentially the same vertically [1080] and simply has every fourth line removed from the horizontal resolution.  The image is therefore made from 1920 x 1080 pixels so 1:1 pixel mapping on a 1920 x 1080 projector is possible.  Note the image is squeezed.  To restore the geometry, add an Anamorphic Lens [like the CAVX MK5] and you get to see the original 2.37:1 image at the projector's full rez.  Pretty exciting stuff.     

Centre Crop Mode
Framing aside, this mode actually has a wide fan base because there many people that just wish the film would fit their screen.  This image is made from the centre 1920 x 1080 pixels of the 2560 x 1080 available from Folded Space.   

Letterboxed Mode
To keep the format backward compatible with the current 1920 x 1080 standards, a letter box mode would also be included.  This is a plus because unlike 3D, this means you don't have to buy a special version of the disc as one disc will provide all four modes.  

As mentioned above, this is still a work in progress and whilst an actual test disc is being demonstrated to the studios, they still need to adopt the new tech.  If this does succeed [and I really hope it does], you will need a new player with a special decode chip built in.  If you are into Constant Image Height projection, this is the answer we have all been waiting for because it supports a true anamorphic mode.   

Another point of possible resistance is subtitles.  I personally don't see this as a problem, however subtitles can be apart of the 'artistic' side of the production.  The following is how I believe Folded Space should handle the ST issue.   

Full Frame 2560 x 1080
When mapped 1:1 on a display that supports 2560 x 1080 rez, the STs will sit in the image because there is simply nowhere else for them to go.  IMO, this is where they belong because this is where you see them at the cinema.  Why should home video be any different. 

True Anamorphic Mode
 The only difference here is geometry of the image.  The STs remain in the same position. 
Centre Cropped Mode
Like the two modes above, the STs really have nowhere to go.  There are those in the 16:9 camp that still might not be 100% happy because they would rather read the STs on a black back ground.  Who knows, perhaps the player could generate a black bar for the STs.  

Letter Box Mode  
 In this image the STs are in the bottom black bar.  What is actually interesting is that the location of the text is actually the same for all image examples, so if a studio wishes to place the STs in the black bar for the letterbox version of the film, it can be and will still work with the other full 1080 rez versions.  

This is all very exciting and I wish Panamorph all the best with Folded Space and look forward to the day we can all buy our BDs with full 1080 rez for all title and not just those in 1.78:1.  


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