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  1. #1

    Default TV Aspect Ratio Functions

    I realized the other day when designing a level that I didn't know how my level would look on a standard definition tv. (I play and create on a hdtv.) Obviously the resolution is lower, but the tvs have different aspect ratios as well. I asked on the help forum and it seems that an eighth of the screen is cropped from the left and another eighth of the screen is cropped from the right!

    This means that people who create levels on hdtvs need to be extra careful to avoid placing things the player must see on the left and right sides of the screen. Oppositely, people who create levels on sdtvs must be careful to ensure that they have extra filler material on the right and left sides of the screen so people with hdtvs don't see areas they aren't supposed to!

    So I have a couple suggestions to fix this problem (which makes designing a solid LBP level more complex).

    1) Create an option in the publish menu (like locked and copyable) for aspect ratio. It has two options 16:9 (hdtvs) and 4:3 (sdtvs). You set it for whatever aspect ratio you used when designing the level and it letterboxes the screen to make sure that the player is looking at the same aspect ratio.

    So if you made your level on a hdtv you set it to 16:9. If someone plays the level on a hdtv it fills the screen. If someone plays it on a sdtv they get black bars on the top and bottom so they get a smaller picture but can see everything.

    Oppositely, if you made your level on a sdtv you set it to 4:3. If someone plays the level on a sdtv it fills the screen. If someone plays it on a hdtv they get black bars on the left and right so they can't see anything they aren't supposed to.

    2) Instead of doing number one Media Molecule can provide us with options to improve our ability to check our levels for hdtv/sdtv compatibility.

    Basically, instead of having the options play or edit on your moon, you should also have the option playtest. What this does depends on your tv.

    If you have a hdtv it basically grays out the left and right edges while playing so you can see what will be cut off for sdtv players.

    If you have a sdtv it letterboxes it and then does the same thing so you can see what hdtv players will be seeing in addition to what you would normally see while playing.

    An option similar to these on camera zones would also be nice.

  2. #2

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    Why options? You don't need them.

    Media Molecule would only need to make so the game becomes letterboxed when in 4:3.

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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by RangerZero View Post
    Why options? You don't need them.

    Media Molecule would only need to make so the game becomes letterboxed when in 4:3.

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    Yeah, but they didn't do this (for whatever reason). So it would be nice for us to be able to see what we and other players are viewing.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcf View Post
    Yeah, but they didn't do this (for whatever reason). So it would be nice for us to be able to see what we and other players are viewing.
    If it's was a concern for most people and it wouldn't be feasable technically speaking at this point, they could add a toggeable "4:3" canvas in create mode. When you toggle it on there's a rectangle that would appear (just an outline of course) on screen and basically framing the region that correspond to what 4:3 screens would display.

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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by RangerZero View Post
    If it's was a concern for most people and it wouldn't be feasable technically speaking at this point, they could add a toggeable "4:3" canvas in create mode. When you toggle it on there's a rectangle that would appear (just an outline of course) on screen and basically framing the region that correspond to what 4:3 screens would display.

    .
    That's only half the problem (and half of one of the solutions I offered). The other half of the problem is that people creating levels on a 4:3 tv need to be able to see what it looks like in widescreen so they can make sure they build far enough offscreen that everything is hidden.

  6. #6

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    I understand but I was suggesting an idea just in case it wouldn't technically possible to MM to offer letterboxed 4:3 or options for it.

    I personally think it's not there because it causes them problems like slowdowns and crashes maybe. In fact, a letterboxed 4:3 isn't a image magically cropped but a zoomed out camera view point + 2 black bars simulating you're the correct ratio. This is how most do it. Still, this takes alot of juice because the engine/game needs to run way more things at the same time.

    With my canvas solution it doesn't become perfect of course but it fixes the greater problems at least. The could be levels where you need the wholescreen for it to work (like my DigIt!) level. But most of the time, a 4:3 level won't be broken in 16:9 unless it lets your read some password/combination you're not supposed to see from a another room. I understand levels/rooms edges might not "hide the background" large enough but i won't break most levels.

    I really wish for 4:3 people there would be a letterboxed option mind you. It would completely solve any problems.

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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by RangerZero View Post
    I understand but I was suggesting an idea just in case it wouldn't technically possible to MM to offer letterboxed 4:3 or options for it.

    I personally think it's not there because it causes them problems like slowdowns and crashes maybe. In fact, a letterboxed 4:3 isn't a image magically cropped but a zoomed out camera view point + 2 black bars simulating you're the correct ratio. This is how most do it. Still, this takes alot of juice because the engine/game needs to run way more things at the same time.

    With my canvas solution it doesn't become perfect of course but it fixes the greater problems at least. The could be levels where you need the wholescreen for it to work (like my DigIt!) level. But most of the time, a 4:3 level won't be broken in 16:9 unless it lets your read some password/combination you're not supposed to see from a another room. I understand levels/rooms edges might not "hide the background" large enough but i won't break most levels.

    I really wish for 4:3 people there would be a letterboxed option mind you. It would completely solve any problems.

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    It's a very simple function and won't cause slow down. What you're thinking of is upscaling, which can be processor intensive. This isn't upscaling, it's letterboxing versus pan and scan.

    I think you've got your concepts backwards. Letterboxing is the one that doesn't crop. It's a shrunken image, with black bars on the top and bottom to simulate a wider aspect ratio. There is absolutely no cropping involved. Pan and scan does simple cropping without any zooming in or zooming out. Both of these require virtually zero processing power.

    Basically, what seem to be suggesting is that you think Media Molecule should do suggestion 2 from my OP but only implement half of it. So people with hdtvs will be able to check their levels for sdtvs. However, you are arguing that Media Molecule should intentionally not implement it for sdtv users. Thereby not allowing them to check their levels for the aspect ratio of hdtvs. That doesn't seem like a very fair implementation. People with sdtvs should be able to make high quality levels and not need to worry about whether a hdtv user will see the "inner workings" of their level which are supposed to be hidden.

    Why not implement the suggestion for both types of users as originally suggested?
    Last edited by dcf; 03-15-2009 at 12:57 PM.

  8. #8

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    did you try changing the video display settings in the PS3 menu. I know there is an area to choose aspect. I was just thinking if you force it to the widescreen setting that it might squeeze the picture on to your standard size screen, so you can see the whole playing field a widescreen player would see. It would be like the reverse of when you watch tv on widescreen, and it streches it making everyone look fatter. I dont have a standard size screen so cant test it but you could give it a try and see if you notice any diffecences when changing the setting.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by deboerdave View Post
    did you try changing the video display settings in the PS3 menu. I know there is an area to choose aspect. I was just thinking if you force it to the widescreen setting that it might squeeze the picture on to your standard size screen, so you can see the whole playing field a widescreen player would see. It would be like the reverse of when you watch tv on widescreen, and it streches it making everyone look fatter. I dont have a standard size screen so cant test it but you could give it a try and see if you notice any diffecences when changing the setting.
    I also only play on a hdtv. However, any "solution" that involves altering the ps3 display settings is suboptimal. There should be a simple way to check your levels for wide/standard compatibility and it should exist in the game.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcf View Post
    It's a very simple function and won't cause slow down. What you're thinking of is upscaling, which can be processor intensive. This isn't upscaling, it's letterboxing versus pan and scan.

    I think you've got your concepts backwards. Letterboxing is the one that doesn't crop. It's a shrunken image, with black bars on the top and bottom to simulate a wider aspect ratio. There is absolutely no cropping involved. Pan and scan does simple cropping without any zooming in or zooming out. Both of these require virtually zero processing power.

    Basically, what seem to be suggesting is that you think Media Molecule should do suggestion 2 from my OP but only implement half of it. So people with hdtvs will be able to check their levels for sdtvs. However, you are arguing that Media Molecule should intentionally not implement it for sdtv users. Thereby not allowing them to check their levels for the aspect ratio of hdtvs. That doesn't seem like a very fair implementation. People with sdtvs should be able to make high quality levels and not need to worry about whether a hdtv user will see the "inner workings" of their level which are supposed to be hidden.

    Why not implement the suggestion for both types of users as originally suggested?

    No, I understand perfectly it's just that i'm not expressing myself clearly it seems. (****ed second language!) lol

    I was just explaining the way many letterboxed 4:3 are made in a videogames. Most of the time they zoom out the game until the distance between the right and left edge of the screen is what you would see in 16:9. Once they have the correct zoom distance like that, they apply black bars over the game, on a layer in front of everything.

    You don't lose any image, there's no "cropping" involved and you see exactly what somebody in 16:9 sees. Only difference is that you have the game running behind your black bars. Now since there's more stuff on-screen (even if the player can't see it) this might cause memory and/or framerate trouble.

    Anyhow, I now doubt it wouldn't be technically achievable since another poster on another thread said there's a zoom option in the display options of the game. Looks like you can zoom out in order to see what 16:9 people can see. I didn't verify what the guy said though.

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  11. Thanks!

    dcf

  12. #11

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    I've run the game at 576p 4:3 yesterday to finally get a clear picture of this ;).

    The opening titles of one of my levels fit quite precisely into the 16:9 aspect ratio I usually run the PS3 at, giving me an excellent opportunity for comparison of the two.

    Result: the 4:3 size is showing the exact same area as the 16:9 one. The "Display Size" option found in the start menu however is a lot more sensitive. At larger magnification settings, a sizeable portion of the view will be cut off. At the smallest setting, you get the full 16:9 picture with black bars at top and bottom. The default setting is showing palpably less in 4:3 mode than it does in 16:9, but not worryingly less (for me at least - ymmv!).

    -*-

    I'd like to add that I highly doubt the PS3 is putting black bars "on top" of the picture in 4:3 mode, throwing away a serious chunk of carefully calculated projection, culling and pixels. That'd be extremely wasteful. Besides, the above experiment shows the field of view to be exactly the same for 4:3 and 16:9. This strongly suggests the picture calculation is based on the exact same geometry. (Who in their right mind would develop and test a second method if one will do both cases?)

    If anything, 4:3 SD will most likely tear and slow down less than HD resolutions because of the significantly lower number of total pixels that need to be calculated.

  13. #12

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    There must be something wrong in your test. It's impossible you have the same field of view in 4:3 and 16:9 (not factoring the zoom option here).
    It's either not possible or one of the two modes is like the other one but deformed.

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  14. #13

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    No, it's the same. As I said (and as you suspected yourself a few posts ago), 4:3 is the same as 16:9 with black borders.

    If you don't believe me, try it for yourself. Until you do, there's little reason for you to doubt my findings.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by tameturtle View Post
    No, it's the same. As I said (and as you suspected yourself a few posts ago), 4:3 is the same as 16:9 with black borders.

    If you don't believe me, try it for yourself. Until you do, there's little reason for you to doubt my findings.
    I thought you said you needed to change the display settings in order to get the letterboxed 4:3.

    So the game does letterboxed 4:3 by default?? This contradic what another poster said in some other thread about ratio, i'm confused. If the game does letterboxed 4:3 from the get go this means nobody is at a disavantage and everything is fine. I'm lazy to change my TV and PS3 settings to test the thing out but I also remember some guys complaining they were offscreen in my Dig It! level and in 16:9 this can't happen...

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  16. #15

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    It's a bit of both in practice actually :)

    Yes, if you run a 4:3 SD display you basically have the same viewing area available as with 16:9.

    But if you do not adjust the display size in the game's pause menu, you will see less than on a HD screen (because the default option is zoomed in quite a bit). I suspect many SD users won't touch this configuration option.

  17. #16

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    Ok I get it now. It's letterboxed 4:3 is you set it so and not "by default". That explains everything actually.

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  18. #17

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    First off, I've thanked your post RangerZero to show my respect for posting in a second language. Your English is excellent.

    Second, the major issue seems to be that the game does pan and scan by default. You can switch between pan and scan and letterbox by adjusting the "zoom" function in the pause menu which most players won't do. In addition, even if they were to use the zoom feature, unfortunately, many people choose pan and scan over letterbox. Therefore it is very important to design for both.

    In TV studios, when they film, the cameras have two rectangles, showing the difference between 4:3 and 16:9 so the cameramen can make sure both are good. This is what we really need for LBP.

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