Ripped SD DVD Upconversion?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by MacSignal, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. MacSignal macrumors regular

    May 8, 2010
    I am not new to computers or Apple, but I am new to Apple TV and playing content ripped from SD DVD's.

    It's getting old real fast to have black bars when viewing TV shows and movies ripped from SD DVD. I have done a bit of searching on Google and MR. FWIW, I am at least as much of a "moron" on this topic as the posters who were considered morons in this MR thread that dates back to 2010.

    If I am interpreting this thread correctly, it concludes with the suggestion that the quality of the transcoding is a possible cause of content not upconverting on ATV. Both ATV and Handbrake have had a lot of updates since 2010, so I am not sure if that thread is still relevant. If you agree that transcoding is the probable cause of the lack of upconversion from ATV3, could you suggest or refer me to some other Handbrake settings that would work better? If you have another idea, please share your thoughts on the cause and the remedy.

    My workflow: rip DVD with RipIT > transcode with Handbrake using ATV3 preset > Subler for meta information > iTunes.

    (1) I am not concerned about transcoding times or files sizes. I don't care about playing any of this content on other devices. I typically watch once and delete.

    (2) I do not consider myself a critical viewer. The TV is a Sony 46 inch LCD that is 1080 capable. My $70 Sony BD player does an acceptable job of upconverting the same SD DVD's.
  2. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    There is no way to take a 4:3 from a sd dvd and have it fill the screen (no black bars) without either distorting the image or cropping it. That is not up conversion. Up conversion will take an sd video source (480i in the case of dvd's) and upscale it (through interpolation) to appear to have more detail, like a 720p image. That is, it increases the number of horizontal lines (bottom to top) but it does not change the length of those lines (side to side). So it does not remove black bars.
  3. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    He doesn't actually say 4:3- just black bars. Maybe he means black bars at the top & bottom of the screen. Even SD DVDs had original aspect ratio.

    OP, you need to dig into what is called "Original Aspect Ratio" and get a sense of what that is all about. If you are wanting edge-to-edge (no black bars on any sides) and you have a 16:9 HDTV, you'll only get that with movies shot for 16:9. Lots of movies are shot for more than 16:9 and the wider the shot, the thicker the black bars at the top & bottom. As mic J implies, you could use Handbrake cropping tools to chop off the edges of such films so that you render a 16:9 version, but that means you are chopping away content the director intended for you to see. If you can live with that, chop (crop) away.

    If you did mean black bars on the sides, you are probably dealing with 4:3 originals. Lots of TV shows were shot in 4:3 from about 2000 backwards. Some classic films were also shot at 4:3 and similar aspect ratios. Cropping can be used there too by chopping away the top & bottom to end up with a 16:9 render. But again, you are throwing away content the director meant for viewers to see. It's especially risky to crop 4:3 as you can easily chop the heads off actors.

    The benefit of black bars is that you are seeing it as the director intended- likely just like it was shown at the theaters. At the theaters, the curtains are adjusted to yield the screen shape that fits each film. In other words the curtains are the theaters "black bars".

    Again, do some searches for Original Aspect Ratio and educate yourself. Then decide if you want to watch it as it was intended to be seen (and appreciate the black bars for accommodating that view) OR learn to play with the crop settings to render everything you have as 16:9 (and probably live with some odd scenes where stuff seems to be missing because you cropped out that part of the picture. There are some old westerns where the big shootout is framed with the cowboys at the very edges of a very wide shot. Crop those scenes to 16:9 and you'll chop out both cowboys).

    To your #2 (OP), I bet you have a "zoom" function turned on on that Disc player. It is zooming in on the video as a kind of dynamic crop. In exchange, chunks of the picture is cut off to make that zoom fill your screen. If so, you are missing visuals in the movie that the Director intended for you to see.
  4. MacSignal thread starter macrumors regular

    May 8, 2010
    Just to clarify, I am mainly referring to black bars above and below. All the content I am referring to is 2005 or more recent.

    In simple terms, I am/was seeking the same visual result I get when I play a SD DVD in my $70 Sony BD player.

    Thanks for the detailed replies posted so far.
  5. Pyromonkey83 macrumors 6502

    May 24, 2009
    Above and below for recent films is very normal. Most of these films are shot in 2.35:1 ratio which is much wider than a 16:9 ratio (closer to 21:9). As a result, you will get the black bars above and below the film. This is entirely normal.

    If you do not want to see these, you can do what HobeSoundDarryl advised and crop the edges of the film, but by doing so you will be removing that part of the film that was intended to be seen in that manner. Another option you can do is buy a new TV like the Vizio CinemaWide (found here: which is natively a 21:9 ratio screen. The problem now, however, is that you will have black bars on the sides when watching all other content. :D

    This is just the life of Aspect Ratios. The black bars are meant to be there, and if you are watching the same content through a BD player and it is not giving you the black bars, then it is cropping part of the film and you are not getting the full experience of the movie.
  6. slothrob macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2007
    If you really do want to remove intentional black bars from a letterboxed movie, most TVs have an aspect ratio function that you can access from the remote or a menu option. You can use this to chop off the left and right ends of the movie to make it fill the screen. This is probably the way your DVD player was set.

    This is sort of the opposite of upscaling, though, since it is actually throwing away part of the image to make the rest of it fill the screen. Alternately, you can set Handbrake to crop off just the bars, but this will distort the image so that the actors are all tall and skinny.

    I think you'll find that if you ignore the letterboxing, you'll get used to it. They are intended by the filmmakers and you can often miss things in the movie by forcing it to fill the screen. At best, it will sometimes make it look like actors are talking to empty space or staring at imaginary objects. In the worst situations, it will actually cut off things that you need to see to follow the story.
  7. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    You're right. I made a poor assumption of linking SD dvd with 4:3 aspect ratio. :eek:
  8. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    Almost all modern HDTVs have a Picture Size mode that can stretch the source material to fit. It's a kludge but it'll fill the screen.

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