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^ Yes I wish rage would stop artificially enlarging the letterboxed videos to full 16:9. The worst though (or good if you're recording in 4:3) is when they air an old letterboxed video in its original aspect ratio randomly, as occasionally happens (e.g. with LA Style's 'James Brown Is Dead' and Big Fun's 'Can't Shake the Feeling')... so you can sit up waiting to change aspect ratios, and then when it airs, find out you did it for nothing . Luckily I caught both videos in the 'right' ratio anyway, but it (very) occasionally happens. I too don't like those 'in between' 4:3 and 16:9 videos that you can't get in the right ratio no matter what you try.
This is such an important topic I've created a new thread.
I have to be the dissenting voice here.
I used to think like you do, but I changed my mind over the years and now I have firmly come to the view that what rage does is exactly the right thing. There is no point transmitting letterboxed 4:3 content as windowboxed 16:9 content. Not only is it against MPEG standards, value is subtracted by sending all that empty digital data that is a big fat border. Letterboxed 4:3 content pillarboxed on a 16:9 screen (the result is called "windowboxing") looks dumb. Really, really, really dumb and I hate it when less educated broadcasters do it. It is completely wrong and I'm glad I've seen the light.
So rage does the right thing by removing any content-free black borders then magnifying the real visual content until it fills a 16:9 screen in either height or width.
The other thing is that MPEG-2 digital content is 720 x 576 pixels (PAL) regardless of whether the content is intended to be displayed 4:3 or 16:9. Same number of pixels, all that changes is the pixel aspect ratio (anamorphism). If you set a digital recorder to capture only the central 4:3 part of a 16:9 broadcast, you are only capturing 540x576 pixels. You are throwing away 25% of the transmitted content - which might be black bars, or might be image content!
So I do what everyone should do - record the raw DVB-T MPEG-2 data stream as broadcast with no processing. That way you capture all of the content and you don't have to worry about "second guessing" how material might be pre-formatted or presented.
If the presentation then really irriates you for whatever reason, then you can always use any vaguely decent digital video editing programme to modify the broadcast stream to just how you like it. You can, for example, easily convert 16:9 content to letterboxed 4:3 if you really, really want to. But if you pre-modify the content by only recording in 4:3 format, then can you cannot go in the reverse direction if your guess is not correct. You are stuffed, permanently losing any content outside of the 4:3 area you captured.
Analogue TV and 4:3 screen aspect ratio is dead, people. Time to move into the 21st century.
Sounds very detailed and confusing to me. I record rage/ABC through Foxtel and change the setup guide on Foxtel to 4.3 when recording original 4.3 videos or other 'old' content. I absolutely despise those black bars. I remember when I recorded the rage Wildcard in 2008 accidentally in 16.9 and forgot to change it to 4.3 prior. 95% of the videos had black bars and I deleted the whole lot, regardless of whether I wanted the video or not.