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Aspect ratio - how can it be adjusted?

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  • Message 1. Posted by Baflar (U14392427) on Saturday, 20th March 2010 permalink

    Using the iPlayer Desktop on my computer, I downloaded the recent BBC4 programme on Schubert. It was frustrating to discover when I came to play the programme that iPlayer was displaying it in the wrong aspect ratio. The picture was horizontally compressed, giving long, thin faces and tall, oval clocks, etc. I can't see any way to adjust the aspect ratio in the playback. It clearly needs to be 'stretched' horizontally to achieve a proper 16:9 presentation. Can anyone help?!?

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  • Message 2. Posted by Andrew (U12804312) on Saturday, 20th March 2010 permalink

    I think you mean that the programme was stretched to 16:9 (assuming it was supposed to be 4:3), rather than the other way around?

    In any case, unfortunately there's no way to change the aspect ratio in iPlayer Desktop. The only solution for any time this happens in the future is if you email the iPlayer team to tell them about it, and then they can correct the aspect ratio and then you would need to re-download it if you're watching in iPlayer Desktop.

    However, as the Schubert programme has now expired, this is obviously not an option in this case, sorry.

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  • Message 3. Posted by Baflar (U14392427) on Saturday, 20th March 2010 permalink

    Thanks for the reply, Andrew. No, it was certainly a programme made for a 16:9 TV display. I have a widescreen monitor on my computer, so hoped to see the programme (on the computer!) as it should be seen, but it was forced into 4:3 format. (My TV can easily 'uncompress' the horizontal dimension on regular broadcasts and DVDs).

    If it really is unsolvable, I'd certainly like to tell the iPlayer team about it! It surely can't be that hard to put an aspect ratio choice menu onto the iPlayer itself? Do you know their e-mail address? They don't seem too keen to tell us!

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  • Message 4. Posted by Andrew (U12804312) on Saturday, 20th March 2010 permalink

    That really is unusual, I think that's the first time I've come across it that way round. Usually, when it's an aspect ratio problem it's that the programme was originally 4:3 and is showing on iPlayer stretched to 16:9 (this happened with several episodes of Porridge for instance).

    Of course, if the Beeb let us download the TV programmes in iPlayer Desktop without DRM, then you could simply use something like VLC Media Player to watch it (which allows you to change the aspect ratio if it's wrongly set in the video file). That's just a pipe-dream though...

    I have to say I don't think you'll have much luck persuading the BBC to add an option to choose the aspect ratio to iPlayer Desktop, simply because although it's a very annoying problem when it happens, it is a mistake, so if everything is working fine then the user should never need to change the aspect ratio.

    Anyway, if you want to contact the BBC about it (which I think is a good idea, the more feedback about issues like this they get the better) this is the link (you'll need to cut and paste it because the message board software doesn't recognise https links):

    https://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/templates/bbciplayer/EmailForms/emailPage

    A tip: You might get a more useful reply if you select Complaint rather than Enquiry, which when a programme has expired often leads to just a polite boilerplate response that simply says the programme has expired so there's nothing they can do, your concerns have been passed on, etc.

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  • Message 5. Posted by Onslow The Cat (U13672446) on Saturday, 20th March 2010 permalink

    Are you running Windows? If not, look away now....

    If you are try downloading the wmp file under the *more downloads* option. Then you can play in WMP and adjust the screen properties to stretch the aspect in the way you want.

    If you aren't using Windows I don't really hold much hope out for a resolution, as Andrew has already said.

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  • Message 6. Posted by Baflar (U14392427) on Saturday, 20th March 2010 permalink

    Thanks very much, Andrew and Onslow - that's really helpful. I had no idea that it could be that much of a problem! In fact, it would seem to me to be just a bit arrogant of the BBC if they do assume that they'll always get it right and that no-one will ever need to adjust the aspect ratio. I am using Windows XP 'Professional Downgrade' (i.e. the version that refuses to turn into Windows Vista). To be honest, I didn't know that you could change the aspect ratio in Windows Media Player, and I must try that on some other download - the Schubert prog. has expired. Mind you (don't go away, Onslow!) I'd appreciate being pointed in the right direction re. how to do it. I usually use other media players when I get the choice. I'll still let the iPlayer team know, however!
    Funny thing, this aspect ratio problem. It drives me batty that my wife seems quite happy to watch grotesquely fat-faced people on the TV screen (4:3 original in 16:9 display) rather than press a button and get the picture put right!

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  • Message 7. Posted by Andrew (U12804312) on Saturday, 20th March 2010 permalink

    I didn't know that you could change the aspect ratio of a video in Windows Media Player either. I just had a look through the menus but couldn't find anything; is it perhaps only in WMP 12 on Windows 7 (which I know can also play several different formats that earlier versions can't)? I'm on Vista (WMP 11).

    Enlighten us please Onslow smiley - smiley

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  • Message 8. Posted by Onslow The Cat (U13672446) on Saturday, 20th March 2010 permalink

    WMP - Go to Tools>Options>Devices>Click on Display>Properties and have a play with the Pixel Aspect Ratio.

    Pretty sure that's available in most later versions of WMP like 11 & 12.

    Hope that helps.

    smiley - blackcat

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  • Message 9. Posted by John99 (U13871221) on Saturday, 20th March 2010 permalink

    smiley - blackcat correct, I have WMP 11 on XP , that does have pixel aspect ratio settings,

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  • Message 10. Posted by Baflar (U14392427) on Saturday, 20th March 2010 permalink

    Onslow and/or John99: Doesn't changing the pixel parameters automatically reduce the picture resolution quality?

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  • Message 11. Posted by Onslow The Cat (U13672446) on Saturday, 20th March 2010 permalink

    Baflar I don't know, you might want to try it and see.

    The original stream quality will not be changed, so I suspect whether the quality is lowered will be your perception of the resulting image on the screen display, and also, of course, how good your display device is in coping with the altered pixels.

    Of course seeing the video in the correct aspect may well more than compensate and add to your viewing pleasure. smiley - winkeye

    Let us know what happens.

    smiley - blackcat

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  • Message 12. Posted by Andrew (U12804312) on Saturday, 20th March 2010 permalink

    Thanks for the tip on where to find it, Onslow, it is in WMP 11. However, when I just tried downloading a WMV programme from iPlayer and then changing the pixel aspect ratio (all the way left to 0.5 and all the way right to 2), nothing changed and the programme was still displayed in 16:9. Maybe just something wrong with my computer?

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  • Message 13. Posted by Onslow The Cat (U13672446) on Saturday, 20th March 2010 permalink

    Andrew - I used it to re-display a Mock The Week download from 4/3 to its correct 16/9 aspect and WMP seemed to cope, which is why I suggested the possibility.

    Perhaps you're right about it depending on your video device and or graphics card.

    Hope the op has some luck....

    smiley - blackcat

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  • Message 14. Posted by Onslow The Cat (U13672446) on Saturday, 20th March 2010 permalink

    Oh as an afterthought maybe it's something to do with your display settings in Control Panel?

    smiley - blackcat

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