Fixing Letterboxed Widescreen content on HD DVDs

HD DVD obviously rocks on HD content, but the SD content on the discs often grates me as it is displayed as widescreen content with black bars on the top and the sides. This happens because the original content (usually Extras) came from old fashioned DVD, and was 16:9 content letterboxed into a 4:3 frame. Thats ok, but if you just ask the HD DVD player to show that, it will add bars on both sides, so you end up with bars on every side. You can see this here , which is from the Extras from Bourne Supremacy. To make the problem more obvious I changed the outer frame color to blue and ran the content on a 4:3 monitor. (I am not picking on Bourne: every title I have seen does this, Bourne happened to be lying on my desk). Please excuse the low quality of the shot and ignore the stickies on the monitor.

So, HD DVD content creators, here is the code to fix it:

// All arguments passed in pixels based on the video size

// Common values are 480, 60, 60

// Code assumes a 1920x1080 aperture

function Zoom43WS( VideoHeight, TopMargin, BottomMargin )


var scale = 1080.0 / (VideoHeight-TopMargin-BottomMargin); 0, -TopMargin*scale, new Player.createVideoScale(scale*16,16),0,0,1920,1080,"00:00:00:00");


Now some content (like the Bourne clip shown) has sections which are 16:9 and sections which are full 4:3, so you might need to switch the zoom back at different times. Here is the code to use when 4:3 content kicks in:,0, null, 0,0,0,0, "00:00:00:00");

To detect when to switch, you can use Scheduled Events, though you'll need to do something extra to handle FF and REW (as those events don't fire then). That is left as an exercise to the reader.

Comments (3)

  1. Tyler says:

    I hope the studios will take notice.

  2. Very important note as well is the use of ‘null’ (instead of a 1/1 video scale) when turning off the scaling; this will force the player to scale the video so that it fills the screen vertically. If you use a scale of 1/1 and the video is not 1080px high, your video will sit in the middle of the screen with the dreaded borders all around it.

  3. Andy-Pennell says:

    I forgot: don’t try this on ihdsim and expect it to look right. Its changeLayout implementation is broken.

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