August 05, 2010

What Aspect Ratio Should I Use?

I'm starting the storyboard for my next cartoon, and I've got the plot mostly worked out in my head. It's gonna be another Fester Fish cartoon. On a somewhat related note, tomorrow will be my last day of work for this summer. I'm looking forward to having a couple of weeks off before school starts, and I'm hoping to get a big chunk of the animation done for the cartoon during that time.

I've recently gotten a laptop computer, which is most likely what I'll be doing the animation on. Since the screen is more of a short rectangle shape than the other computers I've used in the past, I'm considering doing the cartoon in widescreen. Most golden-age cartoons are 4:3 or so, so I'm concerned that doing it in 16:9 might distance it further from that 30's-40's feeling I hope to achieve. On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be any practical reason not to make it widescreen when everything else these days is. 'Fullscreen' has become something of a misnomer, because now it mostly results in there being black bars on the side of the image.

Youtube, my TV and the computer I'm using have all switched to widescreen, so it would certainly make things easier for me to do it like that, but possibly at the expense of that potential "old-fashioned cartoon" feeling.
What do you guys think? Should I do my next cartoon in widescreen, or... not widescreen?


Bruce Walker said...

Aaron, you might want to consider creating a 4:3 image frame within a 16:9 content area. Ie: make your vid look old-school, but delivered within a widescreen "envelope". That way when it's projected it won't confuse the DVD player, projector, switcher, or what-have-you.

This is kind of a rotated letter-boxing: you'll be putting black bars down both sides of your image. This also gives you the opportunity to put fake 35mm sprocket holes and worn/soft-focus/spliced/torn effects along the sides to add to that vintage look.

I've got old 4:3 DVDs that get displayed in the wrong aspect ratio because the DVD player thinks one thing and the projector thinks something else and it's all a techno-cluster-frack. All my DVDs (and AVIs, etc.) that were mastered as 16:9 (or wider, like Tron which is 2.2:1) display fine.

Joseph Giardina said...

major changes would be;
1. the amount of pencil time needed to create something in 16:9, the amount of time needed to make BG's in 16:9 will increase, and when a character needs to exit frame you'll have to cover more ground.

2. Framing your shots will be drastically different. You'll notice that you can't frame your shots and compose things the same way in 16:9. close ups will seem closer, and med and far shots will seem further away. You'll have a lot of room on either side to work with. over the shoulder shots are akward enough as it is and they seem to be even more so in 16:9 (though you probably wont be dealing with that if you are doing the 1930's feel).

3. render, save, and load time in every program will be a lot longer if you are doing it in 16:9 HD.

These are just some things to think about. I don't think any of them are negative, as long as you go into it knowing what to expect.

Also, I don't think that you should worry about the 16:9 aspect ratio detracting form the 1930's feel. its the content of the animation that matters.

I really love you work, and I look forward to your next cartoon.

ADC said...

Doing it in widescreen would be neat to see, but as Bruce and Joseph have said it would take more time.

I would do some experimentation with Widescreen first, try out some things and see how it plays out. See if you really want to animate to a bigger canvas first, I'd hate to see you use up energy if you don't feel content afterword.

If you do go for widescreen, I suggest you watch some films that use widescreen predominantly (like Ben-hur, Gone with the Wind, etc) see how they compose the scenes and what not.

Good luck, and I hope you'll be efficient with your time.

Zoran Taylor said...

Classic theatrical cartoons are usually seen in 4:3 nowadays, but they never actually were. They're not full widescreen, but they are the same as what films were at the time. I forget what that AR is called, but it's not 4:3.