Downconversions to SD

Decide on aspect ratio, timecode.

Downconversion is a process of transferring a high definition master onto a standard definition videotape.

There are several considerations when downconverting your HD masters. First of all, you may downconvert your camera tapes prior to offline. In addition to this you will likely downconvert your finished master to standard definition.

This can be achieved through SD output of the VTR itself or through a third party converter. Standalone converters typically provide better picture quality but cost more. Ask plenty of questions before committing to either method.

In some cases you’ll need to specify whether you require DF or NDF timecode.

Aspect ratio of the SD downconversion also needs to be specified.

Since HD screen is wider than SD screen you need to specify how to deal with this. The options are:


Top and bottom black matte is added and the image is not cropped. This effectively turns a 4:3 monitor into a 16:9 monitor but the top and bottom of the screen are not utilized.


Original widescreen image is squeezed to fit a 4:3 frame. Video must be unsqueezed by the monitor or another device before it reaches viewers. This method is commonly used for DVDs.

Center Crop

A 4:3 area from the center of the original widescreen image is extracted while the sides are cropped off. This method may compromise titles and important action that takes place close to the edge of the frame. This is the quick and dirty way of providing a full frame 4:3 SD downconversion.

Pan and Scan

Similar to Center Crop a 4:3 area is extracted from the original widescreen video. The crop is not locked in the center of the screen. The operator has the ability to move the area left and right so no important action is excluded from the frame. This type of downconversion is the best option for 4:3 full frame deliveries but it is time consuming and can be costly.